Can You Stack Or Chain Together Powerline Adapters?

I’ve already published a longer post on using multiple (more than 2) powerline adapters together in a home, but one particular thing might want to try if they’ve got multiple adapters lying around is stacking, piggy backing or daisy chaining them on top of each other.

In other words, connecting one or more adapters to the host router adapter as normal, but then connecting additional adapters directly to these adapters by cable to extend the powerline network. Is it possible to do this? Can you chain powerline adapters together?

It is possible to stack or chain powerline adapters on top of one another on a network, but performance is likely to be poor with much lower speeds and unreliable connections. Powerline adapters work best when they are all connected directly to the main router adapter and each other using the pairing method.

It’s much the same as with trying to piggy back or chain Wi-Fi extenders together as well – it can work, but it’s not the best way of doing it. If it does work at all, you’re looking at drastically reduced speeds and it’s a not a very efficient way of networking.

Nevertheless, let’s look at this potential setup for powerline adapters, including how you’d do and potential problems you’d run into.

How To Stack Powerline Adapters

To demonstrate how you would piggy back or chain together powerline adapters, let’s lay out the general structure like this:

Adapter 1 ————Adapter 2 ——(LAN cable)——Adapter 3————Adapter 4

  • Adapter 1 is the one connected to the host router.
  • Adapter 1 and adapter 2 are connected/paired the usual way, via the house wiring.
  • Then adapter 2 and 3 are connected, but by LAN cable, NOT via pairing. Therefore the existing connection delivered between adapter 1 and 2 is “passed on” to the third adapter by ethernet cable.
  • Then adapter 3 and 4 can be paired again as normal, exchanging data via the house wiring again.

This way, you’re effectively setting each pair of adapters up as two separate LANs or local networks, bridged by the ethernet cable connecting adapter 2 and adapter 3.

This kind of setup is theoretically possible and there are users that report successfully doing this, and could be useful for a number of different scenarios, such as:

  • Extending powerline network coverage to an external building like a garage, extension etc, using a long cable fed from one adapter to another
  • Getting around house circuitry issues where adapters cannot communicate across the wiring but could be connected by LAN cable instead.

However, don’t expect fantastic performance, as we’ll cover in the next section.

The Limitations Of Stacking Them

It’s a well understood rule of networking that adding an extra “step” or “hop” to a network (which you are doing when stacking powerline adapters in this way) automatically reduces bandwidth by 50%.

Therefore, piggy backing adapters or access points in this way is not an efficient way of doing it, and you won’t generally get the best performance. You may still get a usable connection if this is all you need. But it’s not likely to be very fast.

You’re also adding in general more resistance and interference to the network stacking devices on top of each other, leading to possible signal loss and further speed reductions. Powerline adapters in general can be temperamental in terms of performance even when set up in the normal way, and any errors or disruption to the signal are going to be amplified when you start adding “hops” to the network.

To expand and extend home networks, you’re generally better off doing one of the following if possible:

However, if you’ve got a very specific scenario and daisy chaining powerline adapters still gives you a good enough connection for what you need to do despite it’s limitations, there’s nothing stopping you doing it.

Other FAQs For Chaining/Stacking Powerline Adapters

Here’s some other answers to questions regarding chaining adapters together:

Q. Will I get good speeds chaining powerline adapters?
A. You’re get at least 50% less speeds than a direct connection, and possibly more speed loss on top that as well because of extra interference. But you may still get a usable connection depending on bandwidth needs.

Q. Can you chain together 4 adapters of the same brand?
A. Sometimes this may work, but also may not because of interference. Be sure to set the two pairs up as two different networks with two different “keys” to avoid clashes.

Q. Can I chain together different brands of adapter?
A. This can work, but you’re better off keeping the same brands together as “pairs” and not mixing and matching between the pairs. But having different brands between the two pairs can actually sometimes help avoid issues with interference you can get using all the same brand.

The Best Way To Install & Use Multiple Powerline Adapters

Chaining or piggy back powerline adapters together usually isn’t the best approach. For better speeds and reliability, it’s generally advised to connect adapters together the normal way using the house wiring.

Here’s how you do this to add more adapters to a home network:

  1. Make sure you’ve already got two adapters paired up the normal way.
  2. Plug in the third adapter where you want to use it and hold the “pair” button on it for around a few seconds.
  3. Within 2 minutes find and press the pair button on one of the other two adapters on the network for a few seconds until the LED flashes.
  4. Wait around 60 seconds for the process to complete. Once paired all lights will stop blinking and go solid to indicate a connection.
  5. You have now securely added the third adapter to the other two. All three adapters are now on the same powerline network
  6. You can add more adapters if needed using this same method. Just install and pair them with any of the other adapters already on the network.

See my guide on adding more powerline adapters to a network, and also on creating separate powerline networks within the same house wiring.

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