Using Multiple Powerline Adapters (2 Or More) – Detailed Guide

The most common scenario for using powerline adapters is the simple setup where you use a single pair of adapters. One adapter is plugged in and connected to your router, the other adapter is plugged in somewhere else in the home and connected to a nearby device. The two adapters then communicate across the house wiring to deliver an ethernet connection to the receiving end.

In this scenario, you’re using two adapters effectively as one always needs to connect to the main host router, but you’re only really using one in terms of having a connection to a device. What about if you want to use more than one adapter (2, 3, 4 or more) in different parts of the house? Can you do this. It is possible to use multiple powerline adapters together in the same house?

You can install and use multiple powerline adapters to create different internet access points in the home, including 3 or more if desired. Additional adapters just need to be paired to the host router adapter the same as the first one, to create and expand a powerline network.

However, be aware that bandwidth is always shared across a home network and speeds will be reduced the more devices you have. Also, reliability can be sketchy installing powerline adapters in different wall sockets in the home, and they don’t always work well or at all across different circuits.

There’s also several different configurations and methods of using multiple powerline adapters in the home. Therefore I’ll try to make this guide as complete as possible, listing the different ways if using 2, 3 or more powerline adapters in the same residence, plus the caveats and cautions of doing this.

Installing And Using Additional Adapters (Simplest Method)

Let’s start with the simplest way to add more powerline adapters to a network. Let’s assume you’re starting off with the default setup of having one adapter connected to your router, and then one other adapter connected to a device somewhere else.

Here’s how you’d add a third adapter in another wall socket to use with a different device:

  1. Plug in the third adapter where you want to use it and hold the “pair” button on it for around a few seconds.
  2. Within 2 minutes find and press the pair button on one of the other two adapters on the network for a few seconds.
  3. The lights will start flashing on each adapter to indicate they are searching for each other. Wait around 60 seconds for the process to complete. Once paired all lights will stop blinking and go solid to indicate a connection.
  4. You have now securely added the third adapter to the other two. All three adapters are now on the same powerline network
  5. Connect a device to this third adapter and you should have an internet connection on this device as well.
  6. You can add a fourth, fifth and more adapters if needed using this same method. Just install and pair them with any of the other adapters already on the network.

If you’re having trouble coupling the new adapter with the others at a distance, try plugging them in right next to each other and pairing them that way. Then, once they’re fully paired, you can unplug and move the third adapter around to where you need it.

If the new adapter can’t communicate with the others, it may be a house wiring/circuitry issue (more on this below). Try a different wall socket or room.

Pairing Powerline Adapters – Simple Setup

Creating Multiple Separate Powerline Networks Across The Same House/Wiring

The above scenario is how you string together multiple powerline adapters all in one network, all connected and paired to each other.

A slightly more specialized setup is when you want to use multiple powerline adapters in the same home, but in separate networks, not all connected together. For example, you might want to use 5 powerline adapters with 5 different devices, but with adapter A, B and C in one network, and adapters D and E connected to their own network separate from the other three.

Here’s how you’d do this:

  1. If you already have adapters A B and C on their own network, leave them alone and don’t press any pair buttons on them
  2. Plug adapters D and E, the new ones you want to be on a separate network, into a pair of wall sockets close together (reset them first if necessary).
  3. Press the pair button on one adapter (some models you may need to press and hold for a few seconds), then within 2 minutes press the pair button on the other, and wait a few seconds.
  4. When the adapters are connected the first two lights (power and pair) will stop flashing and turn solid.
  5. Your D and E adapters are now on their own secure separate powerline network, separate from A, B and C. You can move them to wherever you need them in the house.

See my full guide on creating separate powerline networks on the same house wiring for more detailed steps on this.

How Many Adapters Can You Use?

Another logical question when wanting to add more powerline adapters to a network is to ask how many of them can you use all connected together? How many powerline adapters is it possible to connect and use together?

Depending on the brand and model, you can add anything between 8 to 64 adapters in total to a single powerline network. You can however also create multiple separate powerline networks within the same wiring, so you can effectively have as many access points as you like.

This means that even at the low end of 8 maximum, most users are going to be able to have more than enough access points for their home network needs. Multi-port powerline adapter models with 2 or 3 ethernet ports are also available.

Bandwidth restriction considerations are also likely to come into play before you reach any of these upper limits anyway, since bandwidth is always shared across a home network and this includes on powerline networks as well.

Most modern models allow between 16-32 “nodes” or access points or anything up to 64 access points, so almost all domestic users are going to be fine.

Can You Use Different Brands/Models Together?

Another common question will be if you mix and match powerline adapters of different brands/makes/models, connecting them all together in one network.

It’s complex and will vary with each case, but here’s a bottom line answer:

You should be able to mix modern powerline adapters as long as they all meet Homeplug AV standards, as cross compatibility is a requirement to be certified to that standard.

However, here’s some caveats to this:

  • You’ve got a much better chance mixing different modern models within one brand rather than different brands (New TP Link adapters for example are all cross compatible).
  • As soon as you start trying to mix older models of different brands, or old models with newer ones, you’re more likely to run into difficulty.
  • “Slower” adapters can work with “faster” ones, but you’ll also be limited to the slower speed.

See the guide on mixing powerline adapters for more info.

Caveats To Using Multiple Adapters

Powerline adapters in general have a reputation for being somewhat variable and temperamental in reliability and performance in some homes. And that’s just when you’re using one of them. When you start adding multiple adapters, then the potential for issues starts to go up even more.

Here are some caveats and reservations when using multiple powerline adapters:

Speeds – Even with optimal performance, speeds will always reduce the more adapters you’re using, and bandwidth is always limited to your internet package and shared across the entire home/network.

Reliability – Powerline adapter performance can be fickle and variable even within the same home. They may work fine in one socket/room and not in another. Therefore you may need to test, tweak and persevere to get them to work.

Different circuits – This is perhaps the most variable factor of all. Sometimes you can get adapters to work across different circuits/legs/loops/phases/rings, and sometimes not. It varies between houses and there’s not way to know beforehand with trying them unfortunately.

Interference – Powerline adapters are prone to interference and signal loss if placed near high power consumption devices, so be careful with where you install them.

Older houses – The reliability of powerline adapters often goes down when using them in older houses with worn/complex/old circuitry that may not allow the adapters to communicate properly. In newer houses/apartments, they’re mostly fine.

See my post on when powerline adapters won’t work for more on this, plus the fixes guide for solving any connection problems.

Can You Chain Adapters On Top Of Each Other?

Everything I’ve covered so far concerns the ideal solution for using powerline adapters, where they’re all separately but directly connected to the main router adapter.

A more complex setup could be where you piggy back or chain powerline adapters together, where you have one adapter feeding it’s connection into another one, and then starting a new powerline network on it’s own. Is this kind of setup possible?

It is theoretically possible to chain powerline adapters on top of one another, but not recommended. At best, they will work but speeds will be drastically reduced, and in some cases they won’t work at all.

Any time you’re adding more steps or “hops” to a network, you’re going to be reducing speeds at best, and sometimes devices won’t work period. It’s better to install powerline adapters in a simpler network setup, where they’re all directly connected to the main adapter that’s connected to the router. You’ll get the best performance and reliability out of them using them this way.

I’ve posted another article coming soon on stacking/chaining powerline adapters, with more info on this kind of setup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts