Powerline Adapters Not Pairing/Connecting (Fixes)

Powerline adapters can be great home networking gadgets, but it can be frustrating if you can’t even get them to pair up or connect to each other.

Most modern adapters have LEDs on the front to indicate what state of function they’re in, so you can tell whether they’re paired and working or not.

Here’s a basic key for understanding the different states of function:

  • Only 1 LED on – Just means that the adapter is powered on only. No pairing , no internet yet.
  • 2 LEDs on – Means that the adapters are powered on and paired (good first step), but no internet connection.
  • All 3 LEDs on – Means the adapters are on, paired, AND data is being transferred (internet connection).

Therefore when they’re not pairing, it’ll be the first scenario, where you’ve only got one LED on on each adapter (if even the power light doesn’t come on, then either the adapter or the wall socket is faulty).

One important preliminary step to check here is that your adapters are compatible. Experiences vary on this, and in theory any adapters that are on Homeplug AV/AV2 standard should work with each other.

However, in practice, using adapters of the same brand and model is best. Sometimes different models of the same brand can also work, and then the least likely to work are when you’re trying to combine different brands of adapter (although there are some success stories here as well).

But be aware that if you can’t pair different brands of adapter, it could be a compatibility issue that can’t really be worked around. See our article on mixing powerline adapters for more detailed analysis of this.

However, assuming the adapters are identical/compatible, then let’s look at some other troubleshooting steps if you can’t seem to pair them up.

Fix#1 – Pair The Adapters Next To Each Other

Assuming your adapters are definitely compatible, the first thing to do is try pairing them literally right next to each other in adjacent wall sockets. If they work this way, you know that they can work, and it’s just a case of trying them in different wall sockets from there until you get them to connect.

Here’s how you do this:

  1. Plug both adapters in next to each other, making sure the power light comes on.
  2. If the adapters don’t automatically “find” each other, press and hold the pair button on one of the adapters until the LED starts flashing.
  3. Then press and hold the pair button on the other adapter until it starts flashing, and then wait.
  4. Within 2 minutes (but usually a few seconds), the adapters should pair up, with two LEDs turning solid green on each adapter (powered on, and connected).

See the video below for a quick demo of how to pair adapters next to each other.


How you move on from here depends on what result you get:

  • If they pair up fine – Then you know they at least CAN work in your house as they do connect when right next to each other. See the next section for tips on moving them around
  • If they still don’t pair up – Then firstly the adapters might be faulty or incompatible and need replacing. Try in a different pair of adjacent wall sockets. If you’re not getting any luck with them anywhere, even next to each other, they might be broken. Try resetting them as detailed below as a last resort.

Fix #2 – Move The Adapters Around

If you’ve established the adapters CAN connect when right next to each other, but they don’t connect when in different wall sockets further apart, it’s a case of experimenting with where you install them.

Here are some things to try in this regard:

  • Try the adapters in different wall sockets in the same room
  • Try in different rooms altogether.
  • Move the adapters away from any high power use devices like washers, dryers etc.
  • Don’t plug them into extensions or power strips; go directly into the wall outlet.

And then some additional things to bear in mind:

  • Make sure the adapters aren’t too far apart. The maximum range the signal can travel along wiring is 100m or 328 ft, so you might be exceeding this in larger houses or outdoor building like garages, meaning they can’t communicate.
  • In older or larger houses where the wiring is in poor condition, the adapters may not work. They might be able to connect when next to each other, but further apart the wiring isn’t good enough to send a reliable signal.
  • Powerline adapters almost always cannot pair between different apartments, even if right next to each other in the same building. Within one apartment is fine.  But both adapters need to be within the same single residence.

More generally, powerline adapter performance can be temperamental and variable and you might need to experiment quite a bit before you get them to establish a consistent connection.

For one thing, they’re very susceptible to interference, so keep them away from certain other devices.

Also, be aware that they can work across phases within a circuit, but you may get a speed drop. It’s better when connecting them all across the same internal circuit.

They can work between different legs/loops/rings within a house, but again not always. That’s why in some homes, they seem to work and pair up fine in some rooms, but not in others. They can be really weird that way.

Fix #3 – Reset The Adapters

Sometimes the adapters might have already been paired with other adapters. Of they might have software/firmware faults. In which case it can be helpful to fully reset them, wiping all custom settings and reverting them to a default state so you start over.

There is a way to soft reset or de-couple/unpair/reset some powerline adapters, where you just repeat the pairing process detailed above for two connected adapters, to effectively reverse the pairing process and unhook them from each other. From that point on, you can try pairing them again.

Otherwise, most adapters have a factory reset hole somewhere on the device that you can use as a last resort to wipe all settings and revert them to the same state they were when you first got them. Or you can sometimes use the pair button again.

Here are the main ways to do this depending on the make/model:

Method #1 – Push a sharp object into the reset hole for 10-20 seconds until all the lights blink or go out. This wipes all settings (including any pairing) and resets them to factory default state.

Method #2 – If there is no reset hole, you can sometimes push and hold the pair button for 10-20 seconds again until the LEDs blink or go out, which does the same thing.

However, you do it, initiating a factory reset way wipe any faults or settings off the device, so you can try pairing them again as per above.

If even a factory reset doesn’t get you anywhere, the device is probably physically broken and needs replacing. See here for my powerline troubleshooting guide for more tips though.

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