Do Powerline Adapters Need to be on the Same Circuit?

If you have to wire a long Ethernet cable in your home, can you use powerline adapters instead?

They will work on your electrical wiring and provide Ethernet ports. They come in pairs – one for the router and one for where you need the ethernet connection. So you might be wondering whether they need to be on the same circuit.

Although powerline adapters can technically still function while connected to separate electrical circuits, connecting them on the same circuit is recommended. They will work more efficiently this way.

I’ll explain why this is a better way of using them, how to connect them in different types of circuits, and also a bit about how they work so you can better understand what will work best for you.

Why Use Powerline Adapters

Powerline adapters come in handy when you need an ethernet connection in a spot that is too far from your router.

You could get a long ethernet cable instead and wire that either externally or internally, but powerline adapters do away with the need to do that. They can easily extend your home or office network’s reach.

You must connect a short ethernet cable at the site to your computer, smart tv, or second router to extend your wifi network, security camera, or another ethernet device.

How to Connect Powerline Adapters

When using powerline adapters, there are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Ethernet cables: You’ll still need to use Ethernet cables, but only two short lengths. One will be used to connect the router to the first adapter, and the second will be connected between the target device and the second adapter.
  • Pairing: You need to buy at least two powerline adapters. Only one will not do it. You need to install them at both ends.

Here are two pictures showing the setup: one diagram and one real-world connection. The two sockets or outlets are each in separate locations, one near the router and the other near the device, which may be another room or the other end of the house, as long as it’s on the same circuit.

powerline adapters diagram

powerline adapters plug and play
Arranging a pair of power adapters

Types of Circuits

Now let’s consider what circuits are best suited for use with powerline adapters.

There are three types of AC circuits in homes: ring, radial, and lighting.

Ring Circuits

Ring circuits are the most common. They allow you to have rings for each room, section, or floor. The sockets form a continuous loop to and from the main panel.

This circuit type is ideal for powerline adapters because you usually have more sockets, options, and two paths for the current. The loop helps to reduce the load on the cable and minimize the risk of interference.

Radial Circuits

Radial circuits also have electrical cables running through the sockets, but the circuits terminate at the last socket.

As in ring circuits, power only travels in one direction instead of two. Radial circuits are, therefore, only ideal for smaller areas or single rooms, as otherwise, the load would be too much.

Although you can use powerline adapters on radial circuits, they will work less efficiently than on ring circuits.

Lighting Circuits

These circuits are designed only to be used for lighting appliances.

They are usually also radial circuits but made for lighter loads. They are unsuitable for powerline adapters, although you can technically use them without any other choice.

Pros and Cons of Using Powerline Adapters

You might be wondering how powerline adapters compare with using traditional Ethernet cables.

The table below lists some pros and cons of using powerline adapters instead of Ethernet cabling.

– They provide a wired connection without ethernet cabling. (less clutter)
– They can extend your Wi-Fi network.
– They can free up your Wi-Fi network’s capacity. They are convenient to install and easy to use.
– They can be used on any network.
– They offer flexibility, as they can be moved around.

– They only work efficiently if connected to the same circuit.
– They work better alone (when nothing else is using the same circuit).
– You are restricted to only using them where your sockets are located.
– The configuration options are limited.
– They can be affected by electrical interference.
– They can lose speed.
Different brands don’t work well together.

After considering these pros and cons, you can decide if using powerline adapters is a good idea.


If speed is the main concern, let’s see how well powerline adapters do.

Powerline adapters offer varying speeds, some more or less than others, depending on the model or quality you buy.

Earlier models were generally more limited. For example, the Home Plug 1.0 offered a maximum speed of 14Mbps. This is unsuitable for streaming HD video content.

Newer models offer faster rates of up to 1,200Mbps, but the actual speed you will experience will be less. That’s because various other factors also affect the speed, such as the circuit you use, the distance between them, how fast your internet speed is, how many users use them simultaneously, and so on.

They offer a good alternative option if you use reliable powerline adapters with reasonable speeds.


How a Power Adapter Works.

A Pair of Powerline Adapters.

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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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