Advice on powerline adapters

Like everyone working from home these days, my wife does lots of Zoom calls, and I’d prefer to give her the stability of a wired connection rather than wifi, if possible.

Seven years ago, I bought a couple of these powerline adapters. I didn’t use them much back then, but I dug them out and set them up to connect my wife’s laptop in the dining room, her interim home office. Needless to say, there is no ethernet or coax drop in the room (I use MOCA elsewhere in the house).

The connection I got through them registered about 14 Mbps using Ookla’s speed test. But our wifi in that location averages almost double that!

I know powerline technology is limited, but I had hoped for better performance, especially since these units are rated for up to 500 Mbps.

So my question is, has powerline tech improved sufficiently in the last seven years that I might reasonably expect a new set of PLAs to do substantially better than the 25 Mbps we get over wifi? Any specific recommendations?

Or is the connection speed more likely to be limited by the vagaries of my 20-year-old house’s wiring, over which no PLA is likely to provide 30+ Mbps?

I’ll bet that you would get better than that if you unplugged all loads inside your house…
Surge suppressors kill power line adapter performance.

I’m using a couple of power strips that may have nominal surge suppressors, and I have four UPSes: one for each of three PCs and one for the cable modem and wifi router. The PLAs are plugged directly into the wall, not into a UPS.

I suppose I could unplug the UPSes to test the theory, but it wouldn’t much matter what the results were: I’m not going to stop using them.

One test I could run is to check which breakers control which outlets in the rooms in question, to see if it’s possible to have both PLAs on the same circuit. I doubt that it is: I strongly suspect that all outlets in each room are on the same breaker but that the two rooms are on different breakers.

I’m hoping to learn if my fellow Dopers can say, from their experience, whether more up-to-date PLAs are likely to provide better throughput than these seven-year-old units.

I wonder about the slow WiFi speed. What speed do you get with a wired connection to the router? What speed do you get with the WiFi in the same room as the access point? In other words, is the problem with your internet connection speed or your access point?

FYI, 25 mbps should be more than adequate for most Zoom calls. Even streaming a full HD movie via Netflix or Hulu only needs about 8-9 mbps.

I get about 20-25Mbps with my powerline adapters, and I’ve used them in multiple houses with different wiring, so I think that 500Mbps number is total nonsense. Maybe if you had two outlets side to side on a circuit with nothing actually running you’d get that? I think mine are about 4 years old.

But, I agree with bump. 25MHz should be plenty for Zoom calls.

I’ve run a PLA network for a while in my home that had 6 PLAs. They could be monitored with a little desktop program that would show the Tx/Rx speeds between the PLA connected to the router and the remote PLA. As there were on varying circuits, some PLAs were notably faster than others. As you have MOCA elsewhere in the house, would it be possible to change the location of the PLA connected to the router? In other words, the location of the PLA in your wife’s office is fixed, so try to experiment with the location of the other PLA, assuming you have some options with moving it around to different circuits.

What range of speeds have you been getting over the PLAs, and how does that compare to what you get straight out of the router?

At the place where I work in IT, we issue PLAs to some of our employees who routinely work at home (which is exceedingly common now-a-days) but have their incoming Internet equipment in a different room than their office space. The remote PLA acts as a wired connection to the VOIP phones (which we also provide) that can’t be wireless. Since we do workers’ compensation, it would be ludicrous for us to suggest running a 50ft cable along a hallway for people to trip over…

The PLAs we originally supplied in the early 2010’s were 500mbps models. Now, for the same price, it’s possible to get 1.2gbps units that act as PLA’s and will also act as WiFi access points on the remote ends.

The trick with the 1.2gbps models is that they need 3 wires (real grounding, not adapters or inspection fakes), rather than 2, at the sending and receiving ends.

Once you’ve paired the PLA’s, don’t plug them into any surge suppressors; plug them directly into the wall*. PLA’s are designed to ‘broadcast’ the Internet signal over all of the wiring connected to a panel (or sub) but not beyond (I don’t remember why). Note also that they are rather defeated by surge-protection and line-conditioning units, which are designed to dampen (or strip) the surges and noise on the power line that PLAs are using as networking signals for network equipment (switches, routers, modems, NICs, et cetera).

BUT, to be honest, I recently replaced the PLA’s with a Wireless Access Point (WAP) that I mounted on the ceiling of my house so now the WAP handles all WiFi traffic in a circle that fully covers my property and actually extends around to some of the neighbors’ properties, as well. The desktop and laptop computers are hard-wired via ethernet cables for better security, but the SMART devices and cell-phones are using the WAP.


*My tendency, by the way, was to prefer the PLA’s that have a pass-through plug/outlet. Then I wasn’t losing an outlet when I plugged in the PLA. Then I plugged my UPS/Surge Suppressor into the outlet on the PLA and plugged my other stuff into the UPS/suppressor.