Can I Use a Powerline Adapter in my Garage?


Garage

What about using a Powerline Adapter to send your internet connection to an outside building such as a detached garage? You may want to do this for several reasons, like listening to internet radio or watching TV whilst working on something in the garage or shed, or maybe you have a games or leisure area set up in a detached building somewhere. Is it going to be possible to get a Powerline internet connection to these buildings?

In most cases you will be able to use a Powerline Adapter in a detached building such as a garage as long as it is running off the same meter as the main house. Performance does vary though depending on the quality of the wiring and interference.

In this case most people’s experience seems to be that they can get a decent or good internet signal with no problems. There may be some exceptions and precautions you should take which we will go over in this article.

Detached Garage

Powerline Adapters can often help extend an internet connection to detached buildings such as garages which are on the same meter as the main house

Different Ways to Get Internet to Your Garage

There are a couple of ways to get an internet signal to your garage or other outside building. Firstly, you could run a long ethernet cable to your detached building depending on how far away it is. Our products page has links to cables up to 20 metres long, but even longer cables up to 50 or 100 metres long are also available on Amazon which could send you internet directly from your router to your garage.

The problem with this is that it is usually difficult and time consuming, often requiring digging up the ground so the cable can be buried and fed to the detached building without being in the way or exposed to the elements.

Digging trenches in the ground just to send internet to an outside building is not really most people’s idea of fun. Equally it is not a good idea to just leave them on the ground where people may trip over them and they may be damaged by bad weather.

Equally some kind of wifi extender may help to boost the signal to the garage or maybe even the wifi signal from the main router will be strong enough to reach the garage. This depends greatly on the distance between the house and the detached building though; the further away you get the more unreliable and weak a wifi signal will be.

For light browsing and checking emails that might be fine but for anything that needs a stronger connection like gaming and video or movie streaming will preferably need a wired connection.

This is where a Powerline Adapter may come in handy. As long as you have power fed to the garage from the same meter as the main house then there is usually no reason why a Powerline Adapter cannot be used in the same way it would be in the house.

Plug one adapter in where your router is, the other in a socket in your garage, and in theory the signal should be sent over the power cable to your garage or outside building and give you a wired internet connection there. Say hello to an entertainment den!

Man Cave

Garages and other detached buildings are often where man caves and offices are built – getting a good internet connection out to these buildings is often essential.

 

Possible Problems

Distance and Wiring

Sifting through the different forums on this topic we have found some potential pitfalls and things to be wary of. The first thing is the distance from the house to the garage. Powerline Adapters usually have a stated range of around 300 meters; that is, they can send a signal along 300 metres of cable. Any longer than that and you are not guaranteed to get a good connection.

This technically covers the distance the data has to travel from the router, along the copper wiring in the house and along the wiring into the garage. This can add up to quite some distance but realistically you should be fine in almost all cases.

If for whatever reason your garage or other detached building is several hundred metres away from the main house then you may run into problems, but in reality this is quite rare as most garages are within 50 metres of the main building.

Just as in Powerline networking within a house, the quality of the wiring also has an impact on how much and how fast data can be sent on Powerline networks, so if the wiring that takes the power to the garage is old or damaged then signal strength may be reduced.

Signal Interference and Reduced Speeds

Just as in using Powerline Adapters in the main house, they can be susceptible to interference from other electronic equipment that is being used at the same time. In a garage that may be anything from radios to phone chargers to machinery like drills, pumps and saws – high energy use devices or devices with an electromotor

Basically anything with a switching or alternating power supply, such as phone chargers, can affect the performance of a powerline adapter. Try to keep the powerline adapter away from these kinds of devices if possible to maximise performance. Also they are best plugged directly into wall sockets and not into extension leads or power strips.

As these devices are effectively using the same powerline at the same time, they may interfere with the signal being sent between the Powerline Adapters and affect the quality of the connection. In reality though this usually just means a somewhat reduced speed coming over the Powerline network; it does not often stop them working altogther. It just means you may not get as good a download or upload speed as you were plugged into your router directly in the house.

Phone Charger

Phone chargers and other devices with an alternating or switching power supply can interfere with a powerline adapter if plugged in too close to it.

Unfortunately there is no way of knowing how this will work for sure until you try it in your own garage. Check this forum page for a decent cross section of different experiences people have had using Powerline Adapters in their garages. Some get excellent download and upload speeds, as good as anywhere else in their house; others get quite reduced speeds but still good enough to work with.

In reality most people won’t need the full speed of their internet package sent to their garage, especially if they have a really good package delivering 100 or 200 mbps download speed.

Even a fraction of that, like 10 or 20 mbps, will still be plenty good enough for browsing, videos, gaming, radio and so on. So even if some speed is shaved off the connection because of wiring, interference or other issues it is not usually a deal breaker for most people’s internet needs.

Circuit Breakers, RCDs and Other Devices

It may seem like having safety “trip” devices in the way of the signal being delivered to the garage, like circuit breakers, RCDs and other stuff, may weaken or stop the data being sent between the Powerline Adapters. Looking around different forums, we found mixed evidence on this.

We found that more recently most people have got modern Powerline Adapters working fine, even with circuit breakers and RCDs in between the two plugs. Sure, the more stuff the signal has to pass through, the more likely it is to be disrupted or slowed down. This may explain the shaving off of download and upload speeds that some people get when they feed internet to an outside detached building.

We did find some older forums where people have struggled with RCDs and other devices tripping out when using Powerline Adapters, but these are quite old posts, more than 5 years old at the time of writing, and Powerline Adapters have grown more sophisticated and reliable over the last few years. Older generation models of Powerline Adapters struggled more with interference and tripping; with newer models there appear to be less problems with this.

Nowadays in most cases a perfectly usable and functional internet connection was still delivered, even having to go through lots of barriers and obstacles. It appears that signal interference from other equipment being used is more important than any breakers or RCDs that are in the way; see here for a good explanation of this.

One thing to watch out for though is to never plug Powerline Adapters into surge protectors as they most likely will block the signal and prevent them from working. It is a very good idea to plug other devices into surge protectors to reduce the interference but the powerline adapters themselves need to be in their own socket.

Surge Protector

Surge protectors are a great tool that can reduce the interference from other devices in the garage but never plug powerline adapters into them as they will usually stop them working

Power Curcuits, Rings and Plug Sockets – Choose a Modern Powerline Adapter

Looking at the forums we again found the claim that Powerline Adapters will not work unless the garage or detached building is on the same “ring” as where the adapter is plugged in in the house next to the router. Nowadays this almost always isn’t true; see this forum for one example of many of people who have Powerline Adapters on different rings working fine even to an outside building.

The reason for this is that Powerline Adapter technology has evolved and refined over the last few years and newer models are just generally better at pairing up and communicating even across different “rings”.

The issue of powerlines and circuitry is however complex; here is a quick summary:

  • Powerline adapters will not work between separate residences and apartments within the same building that are on separate feeds.
  • Powerline adapters may or may not work across different circuit phases within the same house. Most of the time they will, but there are exceptions.
  • When they do work across phases, there can sometimes be a drop in speeds each time they cross over to a new phase. This covers the scenario for most garages.
  • They will not work when trying to connect two places supplied by separate meters/feeds. If your garage in on a separate feed, then you will struggle to get them working.
  • See our full articleOpens in a new tab. on using powerline across different circuits for a very detailed breakdown of this issue.

People that struggle across different rings are usually using older models that were not so good at pairing up across different rings within a house. The TP Link Powerline Adapters we promote on this site are up to date models and almost always work fine across different rings and to outside buildings.

TP Link TL-PA 4010 Kit Nano Powerline Adapter

TheTP Link Nano TL-PA4010 Kit model is an entry level, best selling no nonsense powerline adapter model with just one ethernet port and no passthrough. Click here to view on Amazon. It will provide a solid, wired ethernet connection to your router using the existing electrical wiring of your house. See our full review of the product and our Powerline Adapters page. Our Product Comparison Table compares all the wired and wireless powerline adapter models at a glance by feature and functionality.

 

The only certain difficulty you may encounter is if a garage or part of a house is on a different meter altogether with it’s own power supply. This is a more difficult scenario and Powerline Adapters will probably not work when each end is being fed from a fundamentally different supply and meter.

This is rare though and usually in extremely large properties. Anywhere where it is one meter suppying the power to all parts of the house, including detached buildings, modern Powerline Adapters will work fine the vast majority of the time.

Once you have your Powerline network set up in your garage though, there are some things we you can do to ensure the best connection.

It is best to avoid plugging certain things with switching power supplies in next to your adapter that can interfere with the signal, such as phone and USB chargers and computers. The way these plugs operate can disrupt the signal to a Powerline Adapter if plugged in adjacent to it so it may be best to move them to another socket if you notice a drop in signal.

Also Powerline Adapters do not always work best when plugged into Multiplugs or Powerstrips; they deliver the best performance when plugged directly into a wall socket.

If you struggle getting them to work in one particlar wall socket it may be useful to try them in other available sockets in your garage as it can happen that idiosyncracies in wiring and circuitry mean that a Powerline Adapter may not function well in a certain socket.

See our article for more information on scenarios when Powerline Adapters may struggle to work properly.

Summary

In summary then, we believe that in most cases Powerline Adapters are worth giving a go if you want to send a wired internet connection to a detached building such as a garage.

As long as your garage is being fed its power from the same meter as the main house, then there is a good chance that a modern Powerline Adapter will give you at least a functioning wired internet connection, sometimes even a fast one no different from if you were in the main house.

There are some factors to take into consideration, such as distance to the garage, quality and age of the electrical wiring, and possible interference from other devices.

These problems are either rare or are not deal breakers in that they often reduce the speed you may get but they don’t prevent the internet connection from being sent. Circuit breakers, RCDs and other safety devices also do not normally prevent a Powerline Adapter from working.

It is often entirely possible then to send a wired internet connection to an outside building such as a garage using a Powerline Adapter.

There are no guarantees that they will work in every single scenario but our research into the topic has shown a high rate of success in getting a usable or fast internet connection to a detached building. They are an affordable options to try for any outside building on the same meter as the main house.

See also:

Oliver

Online gamer and general home networking enthusiast. I like to create articles to help people solve common home networking problems.

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