Do you want to connect your TV or console to the Internet via cable, but don’t want to run a 20-meter cable through your house? Powerline kits may be the answer – here are the best powerline devices in this guide.
Let’s say it right away: the golden age of PLC is over. Having had its heyday in the 2010s, the technology has now been stagnant for a few years, and the standard hasn’t been updated for quite some time. In question: devices that use fewer and fewer wired connections and especially Wi-Fi with increasingly impressive performance.
However, the CPL can be useful in certain cases. In fact, it’s significantly cheaper than quality mesh Wi-Fi systems and can be more reliable, especially over long distances or where there are thick walls.
The CPL is a simple and inexpensive alternative that allows you to wire your devices while avoiding the tedious step of running a network cable through your apartment or house. It is a perfect item in a connected home kit.
For this reason, we offer you a complete buying guide that will introduce you to the best powerline kits of the moment as well as all the elements to take into account to choose a set adapted to your needs and your use.
Feel free to read our Wifi Mesh guide for a strong internet connection anywhere in your home.
Devolo Magic Wifi 6: powerful and complete
Devolo is a German brand whose specialty is none other than CPL kits. The Magic 2 range offers theoretical speeds of 2.4 Gb/s with boxes equipped with removable sockets so as not to “lose” those to which they are connected.
Beyond its high theoretical speed, the Magic Wifi 6 kit also benefits from two RJ45 ports on the satellite box, as well as Wifi 6 connectivity that can also work in mesh mode if you equip additional boxes.
Only shadows on the board: the boxes of the Magic 2 range only work with the boxes of this same range and the price is definitely quite high since it costs about 240 euros to offer you a starter kit. However, it is interesting because of the number of functions it offers.
In some points:
- 2.4 Gb/s theoretical throughput
- 2 RJ45 ports on the satellite
- Wi-Fi 6 integrated in the satellites
Devolo Magic 1 Wifi Mini: the alternative for large houses
If you do not need a flow as high as the one offered by the Magic 2 kits, the references of the Magic 1 range are always interesting. Here you will enjoy a maximum theoretical throughput of 1.2 Gb/s with a more complete kit with two satellites.
Due to their “Mini” name, the satellites do not have a removable plug or additional RJ45 ports, but for 40 euros less than the Magic 2 kit, you will have an additional satellite that will allow you to connect two devices, in two different rooms while transmitting Wi-Fi in these two rooms.
In some points:
- 1.2 Gb/s theoretical throughput
- 2 satellites with Wi-Fi
- Ideal for large houses
Netgear PLP2000: efficient and affordable
If you’re just looking for a powerful and affordable CPL kit without the need for extra features like Wi-Fi connectivity, then you can turn to the Netgear PLP2000 kit and its advertised theoretical speed of 2 Gb/s.
This kit goes to the essentials by offering a removable plug in each of the two boxes with a satellite equipped here also with two RJ45 ports that allow two devices to be connected. Its main advantage, compared to the Devolo kit mentioned above, is its price: it is offered for almost half the price.
In some points:
- 2 Gb/s theoretical throughput
- 2 RJ45 ports on the satellite
- pragmatic and efficient
TP-Link TL-PA7017P: the most affordable
This TP-Link TL-PA7017P kit is undoubtedly one of the most interesting in this selection. Very simple, it will simply provide you with a theoretical speed of 1 Gb/s that will be more than enough for your TV decoder, a console or your television for example.
We still benefit from a removable plug on both boxes with a single RJ45 port and no extra features like Wi-Fi for example. Its main advantage is being available for less than 70 euros at the time of writing these lines.
In some points:
- 1 Gb/s theoretical throughput
- removable sockets
- effective and accessible
to go further
What is PLC?
PLC stands for online carrier currents and allows you to create a computer communication network on the electrical network of your home. Thus, we will use the electrical cables present in the walls to transmit information, in addition to the usual electrical current.
In practice, installation and operation are quite simple as it suffices to be equipped at least two CPL boxes. The first is to be connected to your internet box and the second to the device you want to connect to your box. So there is no configuration step, you plug it in and it works.
The speeds offered by the CPL kits are now high enough to enjoy a more than decent experience. However, you need to be careful when installing them, for example by avoiding plugging them into an extension cord or worse, a power strip. Therefore, we always recommend connecting PLC boxes directly to a socket.
What are the characteristics of a PLC kit?
Powerline boxes generally do not offer many features. Its main objective is above all to be able to “take” your computer network from point A to point B. The main characteristic to consider is then the speed offered by the kit. Depending on your expectations, you will need to choose a kit with sufficient performance, taking into account the fact that the advertised theoretical performance is very different from the actual performance (we will explain this later).
Since it’s easy to run short of power outlets in your home, most PLC boxes are now equipped with a removable plinth. Thus, you can connect the box without “losing” the power outlet. In this way, you can connect the devices of your choice “into” the PLC box.
In some higher end kits you may also find more than one RJ45 port on the satellite boxes. so we can connect multiple devices, without the need to buy or use a second network equipment such as a switch or hub. This feature may make sense in particular if you want to connect equipment to your TV cabinet, such as a box or amplifier.
Finally, some kits include wifi connectivity in the satellite boxes. In this way, in addition to bringing the wired network to a place in your home, the kit will allow you to extend the range of your Wi-Fi network.
What alternatives to PLC kits and what advantages?
The first alternative to the CPL kits is none other than the very classic network cable, and it is rather the CPL that is an alternative to the latter. In fact, running a cable from your box to your computer is simply the most efficient and reliable solution. You’ll get best possible performance (subject to the use of a quality cable) and the induced latency will be negligible. Unfortunately, running a cable through an apartment or house isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.
When it is not possible (or not easy) to pull a cable, power line kits and their alternatives come to the rescue. One of these is on Netgear with the Orbi kits that we’ve talked about in the past. These kits are composed, like the CPL kits, by a base and a satellite. Both communicate via Wi-Fi and their main strength is to extend the Wi-Fi coverage of your home and thus overcome the weaknesses of our operators’ boxes.
Where the Orbi stand out is the presence of RJ45 ports on the back of the satellites. Thus, you can connect any equipment via cable, as you would with a CPL kit, even if the latter is at the other end of your house. It is therefore a more expensive alternative, but also more complete and offers similar or even better features. There are also similar teams in Ubiquiti.
Finally, if you don’t necessarily need to connect your device via an RJ45 port and only Wi-Fi is enough, you can equip yourself with an access point such as Orbi or Google’s Nest Wifi. Thanks to this type of equipment you will enjoy better coverage than with your box as well as greater speed. Everything is a matter of necessity and if Wi-Fi is enough for your use, it is certainly the most practical solution.
Pay attention to the speeds announced by the manufacturers!
All manufacturers advertise a speed (often very high) for each of their PLC kits. Currently we can find kits advertised for 1.2 Gb/s or even 2.4 Gb/s for the latest Devolo models. These values far exceed the speeds offered by most French Internet service providers.
Unfortunately, these rates are theoretical and, in fact, you will never achieve such performance, either within your local network or to the Internet. For example, during our tests, a Devolo kit advertised at 1200 Mbps, did not exceed 400 Mb/s in actual use under optimal conditions (both boxes installed on the same power strip).
In addition to this, and like Wi-Fi, PLC technology is sensitive to disturbances. Therefore, all electrical devices connected to your electrical network become “obstacles” to the proper flow of your data in the PLC and directly impact the performance of the latter. In the same way, the electrical panel, the meter and the fuses are also disturbing elements.
The image above gives you a summary of the speeds measured with this same Devolo kit advertised at 1.2 Gb/s. The base was installed in “B”, at the level of the electrical panel and the satellite was moved to different places. Flow measurements were performed for one minute with the iperf utility. So you have an overview of the performance of a CPL kit, in a recent apartment of around 50 m².
In any case, the actual speeds are still largely sufficient for most uses and will allow you to connect a computer or TV box, for example, without any problems. Freebox users are already familiar with this technology, which Free has been using for years for its decoders.
As an indication, Netflix recommends an Internet connection of 25 Mb/s to play Ultra HD (4K) content and 5 Mb/s for a Full HD (1080p) movie. Suffice it to say that all of the kits we offer in this buying guide are capable of providing such flow rates.
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