Powerline Adapter VS Wi-Fi Extender: Which One To Choose?

Hi, this is your friend Nurul Islam, the founder of the site “Technab.” I am a computer hardware engineer. After graduation, I joined a renowned...Read more

Setting up effective and high-speed networking in a busy workstation becomes too much hassle for various reasons. To make things work smoothly, several newer technologies such as a Powerline adapter, wifi extender, or wifi repeater have been introduced.

But each has its benefits and drawbacks that depend entirely on the user demand and setup area. Powerline adapters are suitable for avoiding wiring hassles and extending a network over a large distance. On the other hand, a Wi-Fi extender is good for high-speed connectivity.

You might go through this article till the end to learn in-depth about the powerline adapter vs wifi extender and the working principles between them.

What To Know About Powerline Wi-Fi Adapter?

A powerline wi-fi adapter is a newer networking technology as compared to the other technologies being active in the marketplace.

It is a small portable device that can be directly plugged into an electrical line in a workstation or home. This enables the use of the electrical line as both network extender and source of electrical power.

What To Know About Powerline Wi-Fi Adapter

Sometimes a scenario pops up where you may want to connect a device at a certain position in an office or home. But extending the existing internet line (Wi-Fi) or a DSL line is impossible because of excess surrounding interference, wiring hassles, and distance.

For these situations, you can use a Powerline Wi-Fi adapter without compromising the quality and speed of the internet.

How Does A Powerline Wi-Fi Adapter Work?

A powerline Wi-Fi adapter works on the principle of conversion of electrical frequencies. This networking technology enables ethernet connectivity over electrical power.

This device has RJ-45 ethernet connectors and a connector for inserting into an electrical socket. You would need a pair of such devices to extend and share existing internet connectivity over a distance with the same electrical line.

You must connect the host Wi-Fi adapter to an electrical socket near the main modem and router. An ethernet cable runs from the modem to the adapter. The host adapter converts the internet signal or frequency to an electrical frequency.

How Does A Powerline Wi-Fi Adapter Work

Another receiver adapter is connected to the area far from the host but within the same electrical wirings. This adapter converts the electrical frequency back to the internet and sends connectivity to the receiver device via ethernet cable or Wi-Fi (if a router is used).

This technology works similarly to the DSL, where a telephone line is used to carry voice and internet data. But in this case, the same source can carry internet data and electrical signals.

Benefits Of Powerline Wi-Fi Adapter

It can extend the internet over a long distance within the same electrical range of the house, apartment or workstation.

  • No hassle of physical connections via ethernet or coaxial cable for network extension.
  • The host electrical sockets can be used for multiple purposes.
  • Decent bandwidth can be shared to the receiver device with lesser latency and network drop.
  • Cheap setup price for multiple internet sharing.

Drawbacks Of Powerline Wi-Fi Adapter

  • Decreases the network bandwidth compared to the host.
  • Can be manipulated by strangers using the same electrical line.

What To Know About Powerline Wi-Fi Extenders?

Powerline Wi-Fi extenders are one of the most widely used devices for extending the existing wi-fi or ethernet internet connectivity. It is good for extending internet coverage over a short distance in the office or home.

Similar to a Wi-Fi adapter or Wi-Fi repeater, it is a small device that uses an existing Wi-Fi/ethernet line and boosts the network by creating a separate and unique network profile.

Sometimes, you might want to connect a device to your Wi-Fi, but the device cannot track the network due to a lack of coverage.

It helps maintain the original bandwidth without any sort of data loss. That is why Powerline Extenders are a good choice for gaming and streaming high-quality content.

How Does A Powerline Wi-Fi Extender Work?

Powerline Wi-Fi extenders are compatible with any electrical sockets in the house or workstation. It can also use an extension cable as a power source.

You can directly connect the Wi-Fi extender to an internet modem or an active router using a coaxial and ethernet cable. Afterward, the device creates a bridge between the internet host (modem/router), modifies the network profile with a new one, and boosts a fresh Wi-Fi signal.

How Does A Powerline Wi-Fi Extender Work

As a result, the range of the original Wi-Fi gets extended to cover more area without any sort of network drop and loss of data packet. Sometimes users confuse a Wi-Fi extender with a Wi-Fi repeater.

A Wi-F repeater boosts the network by amplifying the frequency from the host. Whereas a Wi-Fi extender creates an entirely new profile from the physical connection via ethernet cable to generate a new range of internet connectivity.

Benefits Of A Powerline Wi-Fi Extender

  • It helps share the internet via Wi-Fi without compromising bandwidth.
  • Suitable for high-end internet connectivity such as gaming, simulation, and streaming.
  • It cannot be hacked/manipulated by strangers and neighbors.
  • A separate SSID (Wi-Fi name) and security password can help protect the connection.
  • The device acts as an independent router; thus, you can customize the settings.

Drawbacks Of A Powerline Wi-Fi Extender

  • The power socket becomes reserved for only a Wi-Fi extender.
  • Hassling of ethernet/coaxial wirings and routing the wires.

Read MoreHow Do Wi-Fi Range Extenders Work And Why You Need One?

Powerline Adapter Vs. Wi-Fi Extender: Comparison Table

Both Powerline Wi-Fi adapters and Wi-Fi extenders look alike but come with many differences in functionality and effectiveness. Some basic differences between the devices are stated below.

Powerline Adapter Vs. Wi-Fi Extender

Differences Wi-Fi Adapter Wi-Fi Extender
Function Uses electrical signal for internet sharing Uses the original frequency for network sharing
Power Socket Usability Multiple uses Single use
Security Not secured Highly secured
Bandwidth Less bandwidth High bandwidth
Wiring Requirement No wiring Requires wiring

What Are The Differences Between Powerline Adapter And Wifi Extender?

It is important to know their differences to get a better clearance of the concepts of Wi-Fi adapter and Wi-Fi adapter. This will help to understand the usability of the devices before choosing one for internet sharing.

Principle of operation

A Powerline Wi-Fi adapter uses electrical signals to share the internet to a distant area. It reverts the electrical signal to a data-sharing frequency and vice versa while sending data to the receiver.

On the contrary, a Wi-Fi extender uses direct internet connectivity from the modem/router and amplifies the network to increase coverage.

External antennas

Powerline Wi-Fi adapters do not have any sort of antenna for amplifying an internet network. In comparison,  Wi-Fi extenders come with built-in antennas to extend a network’s coverage by boosting it.

Usability Of Power Socket

Wi-Fi adapters convert the power socket for further uses such as powering up any electrical devices. But, the power socket becomes completely reserved once you have connected a Wi-Fi extender to it.

Quality Of Network Security

Using a Powerline Wi-Fi Adapter is less secure than network sharing. It can get manipulated by others using the same electrical line. On the other hand, Wi-Fi extenders are Highly secured due to a separate network profile and internal ethernet connectivity.

Bandwidth Of Shared Network

Bandwidth can decrease for several reasons, such as external interferences while using a Powerline Wi-Fi adapter. Moreover, using powerful electrical appliances such as microwaves and heaters in the same socket may decrease the internet speed.

In contrast, the bandwidth remains optimum, similar to the host, while using a Wi-Fi extender. It is because a high-speed ethernet cable is used for sharing the internet.

Requirement Of Wiring

However, none of the devices require an external cable as a source of power. But Wi-Fi extenders require ethernet or coaxial cable connection to receive and boost the internet. Hence, there is a hassle of cable routing if you use a Wi-Fi extender.

Are Powerline Adapters Better Than Wi-Fi Extenders?

Both Powerline Wi-Fi adapters and extenders are good in terms of their functionality. The suitability and performance of the devices depend upon the demand of the user.

Considering you want a completely wireless network sharing to a place where it is hard to route internet cables. Then the Powerline Wi-Fi adapter works better than the Wi-Fi extender. Because the setup only requires working electrical sockets to transmit the internet data over an electrical signal.

But if you want a more secure and high-speed internet over Wi-Fi, the Wi-FI extender device would work better than the Wi-Fi adapter. Since the setup requires a direct ethernet connection, there is no data loss while transmission.

FAQ’s

The following questionnaires can help you decide more effectively when choosing a Powerline adapter or Wi-Fi extender.

Do Powerline adapters boost Wi-Fi?

Powerline Wi-Fi adapters do not boost the wifi network to increase its range of connectivity. It extends the network coverage using the electrical wire routings inside a building by converting the electrical signal to internet frequency and vice versa. That is why this device is suitable for sharing the internet over a distant corner of a building structure.

Do powerline Wi-Fi extenders really work?

The Powerline Wi-Fi extenders work effectively to increase the range of a Wi-Fi network. It receives the network over an ethernet cable from the modem and amplifies it for better coverage and bandwidth.

Is Ethernet over powerline faster than Wi-Fi?

The ethernet connection over the Powerline has a similar or slightly lesser bandwidth than the Wi-Fi. Powerline adapters receive a lot of interference from the surrounding electrical signals. Moreover, electrical appliances from the same power source interrupt the internet speed.

Do Powerline adapters increase electric bills?

Powerline Wi-Fi adapters have a minimal effect on the monthly electric bills. It only uses 2W to 4W of electricity which is negligible compared to other electrical appliances in the household. On average, a powerline adapter uses only 110mA per device.

Conclusion

A Powerline Wi-Fi adapter and Wi-Fi extenders are great for increasing the range of an internet connection. But some major differences need to be accounted for when it comes to choosing one for a better result and effectiveness.

The Wi-Fi extenders work fine If your preference is good wireless (Wi-Fi) internet with better speed and security. But if you avoid the hassle of any wired connections and need to transmit the internet to a hard-to-reach place, the Powerline adapters can get the job done.

We hope this powerline adapter vs Wi-Fi extender comparison has been informative to help you differentiate yourself between the devices and decide wisely.

Hi, this is your friend Nurul Islam, the founder of the site “Technab.” I am a computer hardware engineer. After graduation, I joined a renowned networking tools manufacturing company as an IT specialist and hardware technician.

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