Manufacturers of Ethernet Powerline adapters always report the theoretical maximum speeds of the hardware. In reality, you will not get that speed, but aiming for as close to it as possible is not difficult. First off, we need to understand what causes the difference between actual and reported speeds. This can include many things, but generally speaking they are likely to be one of these:
- The age of the electrical wiring in your home – older wiring can reduce the stability of the signal as it travels round your home.
- Small fluctuations in the mains electrical supply can disrupt the signal.
- Interference from other devices such as phone charges, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, or microwaves.
- Use of extension cables can affect the signal strength.
Despite these issues, it’s worth remembering that even if you only achieve 60% of the maximum speed, that is still likely to be a whole lot faster than your current WiFi speeds. In fact in tests, such as these carried out by PC Advisor, a Poweline Adapter can boost your internet speed by up to 300% compared to a Wi-Fi only device in a room some distance from the router! You can see a list of which devices are widely considered the best Powerline adapters.
As a general rule of thumb, go for the fastest Powerline adapter you can. Whilst a cheaper 200Mbps adapter might be ok for web normal browsing it will struggle under the weight of a streaming movie or online game. Aim for a faster 500 or 600 Mbps Powerline adapter with the Gigabit Ethernet standard (up to 1,000Mbps) to get the fastest possible experience on your devices at home.
You will even find some devices such as the Devolo dLan 1200+ that have a theoretical maximum up to 1200Mbps!
Whatever device you go for, here are some tips on buying the best Powerline Adapter.