Powerline Adapter vs WiFi – Benefits Compared

Last Updated on September 12, 2020

Everyone who has used a Wi-Fi connection can admit that minor issues can cause network instabilities. This is certainly not ideal because users prefer to have their networks as stable as possible.

The answer to this has for a long time been Ethernet networks. However, this also seems to have some disadvantages, the first of which being the necessity to have the cables installed in the workplace or at your home to be able to use it.

However, there is a third option that can leverage the connections you already have in your house to provide an internet connection. We are talking about Powerline Adapters

Read more to find out more about the difference between Powerline Adapter vs WiFi.


Also Read: Best Motherboards with WiFi

Powerline Adapter vs WiFi- Introducing Powerline Technology

Nothing beats a new technology that can make use of pre-existing infrastructure.

Powerline technology makes use of the pre-existing electrical cabling in buildings to transmit information.

In other words, you can get internet access simply by being plugged into the electrical grid. However, it’s not as direct as sticking a plug into an outlet and browsing, you will still need to do some set up before the system can be up and running.

Powerline Adapter

Powerline adapter vs wifi
Powerline adapters plug-in to you wall socket and transmit internet and data through the per-existing electrical grid.

A powerline adapter is a device that can send your internet traffic over your electrical connection and make it work just like an Ethernet cable would.

Also Read: Best Motherboards with Bluetooth

Working Principle

The intricate working of this technology relies on the basic working principle that AC (Alternating current) oscillates at a certain frequency, usually about 50Hz or 60Hz depending on where you’re from.

For the data to be transmitted on the same line, you will need to use a higher frequency so that the two do not interfere with each other.

Setting Up

Powerline adapter 1
First powerline adapter connects to the modem. Source: Plus.net

To set this up, you will need at least two powerline adapters so that you can send and receive your data in different locations.

Once you plug in both adapters, you will establish the network component.

Note: the adapters will both need to connect directly to the sockets because having them behind any voltage regulators could result in loss of data as the regulator can mistake the data’s frequency as unwanted electrical fluctuations.

One of the adapters will ideally be plugged in next to a a router and will have a physical Ethernet connection to it.

The other can be connected to a power outlet in a different room. This will create a stable internet connection between the two. The second powerline adapter can then be connected to a device requiring the network connection via a short Ethernet cable.

Benefits of a Powerline Adapter

There are plenty of reasons why Powerline Adapters are excellent

1. Stability

Wired networks are typically more robust than wireless networks. You, therefore, get better stability with a powerline adapter than you would get with a Wi-Fi network.

2. Great for Expanding Network

If you live or work in a building with thick walls, you will find that Wi-Fi signals do not spread well and you will often need to get extra routers or a Wi-Fi repeater.

With a powerline adapter, you can bypass these challenges by connecting different rooms to the same network via the power outlets.

When installed properly, powerline adapters can provide network connections throughout an entire building with little loss.

3. Uses Pre-Existing Infrastructure

Powerline adapter is convenient and does not require long and ugly Ethernet cables. Source: Linksys.com

The fact that you do not need to lay down meters upon meters of Ethernet connection for stable connectivity makes powerline adapters an excellent tool.

As mentioned earlier, powerline adapters use the preexisting copper wiring of your PC to transmit data and internet.

However, while the current travels at 50Hz or 60Hz frequency, powerline transmits data at at least 3 KHz frequency. As such two signals never coincide and there literally no interference of one signal on the other.

4. Great for Smart Grids and Smart Homes

It also has applications in industrial settings where it provides support for smart grids for facilitating better energy management, smart home applications, and facilitates security systems such as CCTV cameras. It’s also useful for remote electrical metering and billing.

Drawbacks of Powerline Adapters

Most buildings and offices use WiFi since any device that requires a physical Ethernet connection is considered old fashioned.

However, this issue can easily be sorted via the use of Powerline WiFi adapters. With this, the first powerline adapter is plugged into the main router, where as the second one installed in a remote location acts as a WiFi Range Extender.

Also, while this may not be a powerline-specific issue, powerline networks need to be secured. If they’re not properly secured with access control, the network could be exposed potentially leaving your network vulnerable.

Some powerline adapters are rated for high speeds that can almost rival those of Ethernet connections. However, you will rarely get to enjoy the advertised speeds. While a few hundred Megabits per second aren’t too bad, power users may feel the drawback.

Wi-Fi Networks

Wi-Fi networks are very common in this modern age. They provide wireless access to network resources and internet, allowing users to connect with great ease.

Wi-Fi networks allow the connection of multiple devices to a single access point and for mobile devices, they are great because cable networks can quickly become a hindrance in a widely connected area.

Benefits of Wi-Fi

There are plenty of Benefits to WiFi.

Ease of Use

It is the most Widespread and Easy-to-Use networking method

WiFi requires absolutely no Ethernet connectivity and it is a network interface that almost everyone is familiar with.

WiFi allows connectivity not just for computers or home theater systems, but also all sort of devices including your smart phone and even IoT enabled appliances.


Wi-Fi is not too expensive to set up since you can get good routers cheaply. Furthermore, almost all devices are capable of receiving Wi-Fi signals meaning that there’s compatibility with a wide number of devices.


Wi-Fi also allows mobility which is great for people. It is also much easier to use a wireless network to connect many people than it is to use a cabled network.

Problems with Wi-Fi Networks

Of course there are certain issues with WiFi network that make them less idea l in certain situations.

Limited Range

Wi-Fi networks use radio waves to connect devices. One problem with these is that they travel short distances and depending on the wireless router you’re using, the device can only be effective up to a certain distance from the source.

In the remote parts of your home the WiFi signals can get frustratingly unstable. Which brings us to our next point:


WiFi signals, especially at longer distance, tend to become highly unstable. This can become a huge nuisance especially when performing tasks that require stable connectivity.

Gaming, work, and even watching videos on Youtube may become a chore when using unstable WiFi connections.


There’s also the problem of obstructions. Wi-Fi signals aren’t good when it comes to passing through thick walls. You will always end up needing an extra router or two or a couple of repeaters if you need the signal to reach more rooms.

Then there is the issue of making sure the repeaters too are getting the proper source signal from your primary router.

Dead Zones

There’s also the problem of Wi-Fi dead zones, places where the signal can’t get to for one reason or another. This limits the number of places you can work from.


And finally, you can get interference from other wireless signals with Wi-Fi. This can result in network instabilities or total loss of connections. Neither is ideal.


When most people need network access, they opt for WiFi because it is one of the most flexible options you can get. With support for most devices and its ease of use, this is a great choice.

However, it faces some problems that require extra resources and sometimes, expertise to overcome.

Another alternative for a home or office networking is powerline adapters. With this option, you get the benefits of a cable network without having to spend a fortune on Ethernet cabling.

The good news is that powerline adapters too have WiFi solution as mentioned earlier. But then again, when it comes to stability for critical work, there is no alternative to physical Ethernet cables.

Here we reviewed Powerline Adapter vs WiFi networking methods. They both certainly have their own applications. However, for a robust home or office network, the combination of two can be quite fruitful.


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