Powerline adapters are an excellent home networking solution to the problem of weak wifi, as we have covered in detail on this site. With bandwidth demands growing each year for gaming and video streaming especially, we find the problem coming up more and more of people needing a strong internet connection even when they are a long way from the router.
Powerline adapters solve this problem by delivering a strong, wired internet connection between a device and a router by using the house’s existing electrical wiring. This allows the user to extract the maximum bandwidth out of their router even when several rooms away, and avoids having to deal with the problem of wifi dropping out and becoming unreliable over distance.
In this article we will specifically cover TP Link’s entry level Nano Powerline adapter model, the TL-PA 4010 Kit. This is their cheapest, no frills powerline adapter model, with just one ethernet port and no passthrough plug socket. it is a great model for people new to to powerline adapters who just want to try out this ingenious and underused type of home networking technology.
Powerline Adapters as a Solution to a Problem
Powerline adapters consist of a pair of adapter plugs. You plug one adapter into a wall socket and and connect it to your router with a small ethernet cable, supplied with the kit. You then plug the other adapter into another wall socket and connect it to a device you want to use (like a games console, PC, streaming device etc) with another supplied ethernet cable.
The two adapters then almost always pair up with each other automatically, meaning they can now “talk” to each other through the house’s existing electrical wiring. You now have a strong, reliable ethernet connection between your device and your router without needing to run long ethernet cables through the house.
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 Powerline Adapters page for more models, with passthrough plug sockets and more ethernet ports. Our Product Comparison Table compares all the wired and wireless powerline adapter models at a glance by feature and functionality.
The Features of the TP Link TL-PA 4010 Kit at a Glance
Here are the main features of the TP Link Nano kit at a glance:
- Kit consists of two powerline adapters, instruction manual and two short ethernet cables to connect the adapters at each end.
- Theoretical 600mbps data transfer rate, actual throughput usually around 100mbps, plenty enough for most users.
- One ethernet port at the receiving end to connect up a device.
- Plug and play devices – no setup required; adapters almost always pair up automatically when plugged and and you are ready to go
- Ability to manually pair the adapters up to create a secure 128 bit AES encrypted connection between them for greater security
- Ability to easily add more adapters to create a powerline network around the home – see our article on this.
- Universal cross compatibility with all other TP Link models – can all be used together. See also our article on mixing powerline adapters.
- Works across different voltage outlets – 110V, 220V etc. Up to 300 meter range over house circuitry.
- Low power consumption and power saving feature which switches adapters off when not in use to further reduce consumption.
- Very small, discreet model which blends in very well in power outlets. It is not recommended to plug them into power strips or extensions.
Powerline adapters can be an excellent product for gamers and streamers especially, since they mean that you no longer need to be right next to the router to get a wired connection to it. Gamers can benefit from keeping their latency or ping low versus using unreliable wifi at a distance, and streamers can access more of the available bandwidth from their router for smoother buffer free streaming.
In reality all internet users may notice a difference though. Even though general browsing is a little less sensitive to bandwidth and can still be easily done on wifi, you will still notice that pages will load faster and downloads will complete quicker when on a wired connection that a powerline adapter can provide.
Are there any negatives to the TP Link Nano Powerline Kit? There are some potential downsides and limitations, but most of them are not deal breakers and can either be worked around or avoided by buying a slightly different model with more features.
Here is a summary of the main potential drawbacks:
- Powerline adapters may not work in houses where the circuitry is old, worn, or wired in such a way that the adapters cannot communicate. This tends to be very rare these days. In most houses they will work. See our article for the cases when they won’t work.
- The 600 mbps transfer rate is only an absolute theoretical maximum and will never realistically be reached in reality, though most people don’t need these speeds anyway. Even 100 mbps is plenty for most people and the Nano model can easily deliver this.
- The Nano Model has only one ethernet port, so you can only connect up one device. For more ports to connect more devices in the same room, you will need one of the other models.
- The Nano model has no passthrough plug socket, so you will lose the plug socket you are using if for at each end. For a model with a passthrough, so you can plug the device you are using into the front of the adapter itself so you don’t lose the plug socket, you will need one of the other models.
- The Nano model is also wired only and does not have wireless functionality at the receiving end. To get this, you will need one of the other wireless powerline adapter models.
- Powerline adapters can be susceptible to interference if used close to certain appliances, like washer, dryers, phone chargers etc. Moving them away from these devices usually solves the problem. See our troubleshooting guide if you do run into this or any other difficulties with them.
- You may get lower transfer speeds using them in certain parts of the house, where the power outlets they are plugged into are on different circuit breakers. The connection will still be reliable and solid, just with lower speeds.
The cases when they most often don’t work at all is in very large houses or annexes or extensions which run off separate meters or feeds. In these cases the adapters cannot “talk” across the different circuits. They can communicate across phases, but there may be a drop in data transfer every time they cross to a new phase. Most times they work fine.
The interference issue tends to be the most problematic, but can usually be worked around by simply moving the adapters away from the appliances which are causing the problem. They don’t like being used next to heavy consumption devices or devices with an alternating electric current or motor, like phone chargers and certain tools.
If you want to connect more devices, are short on plug sockets or want wifi functionality on the receiving end to connect tablets, iPhones etc, then it is simply a case of gettting one of the more advanced models instead which has these features. The TL-PA 4010 Kit is an entry level model with just the basics.
The Bottom Line
Powerline adapter technology can be a fantastic home networking solution which can allow for a more reliable internet connection in rooms further away from the router which may have struggled with the unreliability of wifi before.
They allow you to extract the very most out of your internet package even when several rooms away from your router, often giving a connection strength and speeds almost as good as if you were plugged directly into the your router right next to it.
For this reason they can be especially useful for gamers and streamers, who can benefit the most from having a strong connection to their router. They can also help people who download large files a lot, since wired connections often deliver more bandwidth than wireless ones, particularly at distance from the router.
You may run into difficulties in a small number of homes where the electrical wiring is not conducive to powerline technology, either because it is too old or worn or wired in such a way that the adapters cannot communicate.
In most modern and semi modern homes they will work fine. Any other difficulties you run into are usually solvable; see our own troubleshooting guide for more on solving any problems you run into.
We are happy to recommend the TP Link Nano Powerline adapter, or in fact any other model in their range, as an excellent product to improve internet connectivity around the home.
Click here to view the TP Link TL-PA 4010 Kit on Amazon. See also our Product Comparison Table for a quick breakdown of the differences between all the different TP Link models so you can select the exact one you need