Plug sockets can sometimes be in short supply when using powerline adapters, so people often want to know if it is safe to plug them into extensions or power strips if necessary.
The performance of powerline technology does vary widely from situation to situation, but here is a bottom line answer to this:
It is not recommended to plug powerline adapters into plug extensions or anti surge power strips. Whilst they may or may not work, they will most often not give the best signal even if they do work. Powerline adapters work far better when plugged directly into wall outlets.
Lets look at the issue in more detail now.
Powerline adapters may or may not work in power extensions or strips, but generally work much better when plugged directly into wall outlets
A Powerline Adapter May or May Not Work Plugged Into an Extension/Strip
A powerline adapter may work when plugged into an extension or power strip. This is often the case in cheaper model extensions which do not have any advanced filters in them to block out certain signals. They have certainly been known to work in some cases when plugged into power extensions. They just do not tend to give off the best or most reliable signal.
In more advanced power extension models they will often not work however, as they will have special filters built in to block out the EMI and RFI signals that powerline adapters rely on to communicate with each other. In these cases no signal or only a very weak signal will be delivered between the adapters.
You will find cases though where people have got them working through extensions and strips. Let’s cover of my experiences with this, that had opposite outcomes:
Scenario #1 – I had a case a few years ago where I could not use a powerline adapter directly into the wall socket because it was mounted too low and I could not get the ethernet cable to fit in the port as it was on the underside of the adapter, which was already snug against the floor with the low mounted wall socket.
There was no other plug socket nearby so I had to use an extension strip to plug the adapter into, and it actually worked fine with no problems. There were a couple of factors that made this possible though:
- It was a cheap extension strip that did not have any filtering in it.
- Nothing else was plugged into the extension apart from my adapter so there was no congestion.
- The two adapters were very close together in the house so there was not much distance for the signal to travel along.
In most other cases it probably would not have worked.
Scenario #2 – I had a more recent example which I struggled with using them in a power strip. I had both powerline adapters at each end plugged into multi-plug power strips, and whilst they did work some of the time, I kept constantly getting an “Error-DNS-Probe-Finished-No-Internet” error on my browser, where the internet connection would intermittently cut out and then come back again.
This error disappeared as soon as I stopped using them in the power strip and instead went straight into the wall socket at both ends. I technically could use them, but it was too annoying for me having the connection constantly dropping.
So bottom line:
Powerline adapters can sometimes work in extension strips; it is just not the most reliable way of using them and they will likely suffer from too much interference and signal loss in most cases.
They work much better when plugged directly into power sockets.
Is It Safe Using Them In Power Strips?
I have had some readers asking whether it’s even safe to use powerline adapters into power strips. The short answer is yes – it’s safe, just not very effective.
I have heard of no safety issues of using them into extensions or power strips. In most countries these strips have to conform to certain standards that protects the user, so there is no problem plugging powerline adapters into them just like any other device.
It’s just not usually the most effective way to connect them.
Extensions vs Power Strips
Let’s also differentiate these two things, because different people can mean different things in different countries. What I have been referring to so far is mostly the power strips – some kind of multi-plug device that itself is plugged into a wall outlet, that has several plug sockets in it to connect more devices to. Like what is in the images above.
It is these multi-plug devices that tend to hurt the performance of powerline adapters more. But there can be a confusion, since in some countries like the UK, these strips are also called extensions, when this term means something else to others.
If by extension, we mean a simple single plug device that itself is attached to a long cable just to provide a single power socket over distance, then this may have a better chance of working, since it’s not a multi-plug strip. Again though, performance isn’t guaranteed, and you are better going into the wall socket.
Use A Powerline Adapter With Passthrough to Solve This Problem
To get around this whole problem of extensions and power strips, Powerline Adapters are available that have an integrated plug socket or passthrough. This means they have a plug socket embedded in the front of the adapter, so you can plug the adapter into the wall and then plug another device into the front of the adapter to use. You don’t lose the plug socket you are using the adapter for.
So if you are running short on plug sockets in the area you need to use the adapters, then getting a model with passthrough will help as you can plug another device or even an extension itself into the adapter and use it at the same time.
The TP Link TL-PA 7010 Kit is a widely available, best selling powerline adapter with a passthrough socket in the front so you don’t lose the plug socket you are using it for. Click here to view it on Amazon. You can plug devices into the front of the adapter itself while you are using it. See our Powerline Adapters page for more models with this passthrough socket in the front. Our Product Comparison Table compares all wired and wireless models side by side so you can see at a glance which models have passthrough and which don’t.
Our links are also geo-optimized so don’t worry if the plug socket you see in the pictures is not the socket that is used in your country.
We have customized our link system so you will be redirected to the equivalent product that is compatible with the plug socket(s) used in whichever country you are visiting our site from.
Modern powerline adapter models with pass-through have become better at filtering our noise, so in most cases it is perfectly fine to plug devices into the front of them and there should not be any interference in signal.
However if you have an extension lead going into the adapter and lots of heavy power use appliances going into the extension itself, then you may have problems with interference on occasion.
In this case you will have to either move some of the bigger appliances away from the adapter or move the adapter itself to a plug socket where it is more isolated from heavy power consumption devices, and maybe use a longer ethernet cable from Amazon to connect to your device from more distance.
This problem is pretty rare with modern powerline adapters though as they are far more reliable at delivering a signal through noise than the early models were in the early 2000s.
A Comparison Table of All the TP Link Products
For a full comparison of all the wired and wireless TP Link powerline adapter models, see our Quick Product Comparison Table, which puts all the products side by side so you can see the different features, including which ones have passthrough and which don’t.
That way you can clearly differentiate the products based on all features, like number of ethernet ports, transfer speeds, Wi-Fi capability (yes or no) and finally passthrough to get the exact product you need for your situation. See also our pages for Netgear and Tenda powerline products if you prefer these brands.