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If you have several sets of powerline adapters, it begs the question as to whether they can be daisy chained together, with two of the adapters being physically connected to each other using an ethernet cable.
Powerline adapters can be daisy chained together, but they can interfere with each other as they share the same electrical wiring. This is regardless of whether they are set up to operate on a single LAN or their own separate LANs, both of which have their own pros and cons.
In this article, we’ll look at the different ways you can daisy chain powerline adapters together, how to get everything setup, and some of the alternatives you might want to consider instead.
What Is the Best Way to Daisy Chain Powerline Adapters?
When it comes to daisy chaining different pairs of powerline adapters, you have two options: to have them operate on the same single LAN or their own separate LANs.
Both approaches come with their own pros and cons.
Let’s assume that you have two pairs of powerline adapters.
The first option is to have all four adapters work together as part of a single LAN, however having them all run on a single LAN comes with the possibility of degrading the quality of the network a bit.
The other option is to have one pair of the adapters work together as their own LAN, and have the other pair of adapters be isolated and work with each other on their own separate LAN.
The two different LANs would not communicate with each other in any way.
Although having the four adapters work together as a single LAN can impact network quality, there is less overall impact compared with the two different LANs not knowing about and competing with each other.
One advantage that having the pairs operate as separate LANs is that often the long distance signal is often too weak for all four adapters to work together properly.
But it is not so weak that they can work together in their separate pairs.
Regardless of whether you choose to go down the route of using a single powerline LAN or separating them, something to keep in mind is that they ultimately share the same electrical wiring.
Using more than two powerline adaptors works a bit like a network switch where the traffic flows between them.
However, unlike a switch, bandwidth is the limitation given how the electrical wiring is used to make powerline networking possible in the first place.
Based on this, there isn’t really a best way of daisy chaining powerline adapters.
You simply need to choose whether to have them operate as one, or keep the pairs separate on their own individual LANs by weighing up the pros and cons for each.
To summarise these pros and cons, having them work as a single LAN doesn’t have as much impact on overall network quality, however the signal is often too weak for them to work together over longer distances.
On the other hand, having the two separate LANs does result in the overall signal generally being better, but there can be a great impact on network quality as the two sets compete with each other.
If I were to recommend one of these approaches, I would suggest having both pairs operate on their own LANs rather than trying to get them working together on a single LAN. Based on the research I have done, more people seem to see success using this method.
How to Daisy Chain Powerline Adapters
Regardless of whether you choose to have all of your powerline adapters work together as a single LAN or have both pairs working as their own separate LANs, how they all physically connect together in practice is the same.
Again, let’s assume you have two pairs of powerline adapters. The first set we will refer to as A1 and A2 and the other set will be B1 and B2.
First, take A1 and plug it into a mains power outlet that is close to your router as you’ll need to run an ethernet cable from the router to the adapter.
The next step is to plug in A2 and pair it with A1, just as if they are forming their own powerline network. If you’re not sure on how to pair them together, refer to the instructions that came with the adapters or look it up online.
It is very easy, though, and usually just involves pressing the pair button on each within a couple of minutes within each other.
With A1 and A2 now communicating with each other, it’s time to get B1 and B2 setup.
Plug in A2, take an ethernet cable and plug one end into one of the ethernet ports found on it. The other end of the cable needs to be connected to one of the ethernet ports on B1.
With B1 now connected to A2 using an ethernet cable, next plug in B2 and pair it with B1 just as you did with A1 and A2.
The setup should now look something like this:
- A1 and A2 paired together
- A2 and B1 connected via an ethernet cable
- B1 and B2 paired together
Are There Better Alternatives to Daisy Chaining Powerline Adapters?
An alternative you may want to consider over daisy chaining pairs of powerline adapters together is to instead connect a network switch to one of the adapters.
Given how the primary powerline adapter is generally positioned near the router as they need to be connected using an ethernet cable, you likely won’t get much value from connecting a switch to this adapter.
You would simply connect the switch directly to the router and forgo using the powerline adapters completely.
Where you will see more benefit is from connecting the switch to the secondary adapter instead as this is usually positioned further away from the router itself.
Powerline adapters will generally only have one, or maybe two if you are lucky, ethernet ports, which does somewhat limit you in terms of the number of devices you can connect to them.
Take your living room for example.
This is a prime example of where you can have several devices all wanting to use an ethernet connection, but be stuck having to decide which devices to connect to the nearby powerline adapter.
Regardless of which devices you choose, there will be some that will be stuck having to use Wi-Fi, or possibly not being able to receive a network connection whatsoever.
To solve this problem, instead of connecting an individual device or two to the powerline adapter, you connect a network switch instead.
This will provide you with a much greater number of physical ethernet ports for you to connect your devices to (depending on the number of ports on the switch of course) and you don’t have to worry about connecting two pairs of powerline adapters together with an ethernet cable.
Something to keep in mind with this approach is that all of the devices connected to the switch will ultimately share the powerline connection to the network, so your bandwidth for all of the devices will be limited to the speed of that particular connection.
This means you could potentially see poorer speeds when compared with having your network switch connected directly to the router and not having to rely on powerline networking.
Although daisy chaining powerline adapters together is certainly possible, there are downsides regardless of whether you choose to have all of the adapters work together as a single LAN, or keep them separate on different LANs.
They ultimately still share the same electrical wiring as their source of power, which will have an effect on the bandwidth they are able to transmit.
I would recommend avoiding daisy chaining powerline adapters if possible, with connecting a network switch to one of the adapters being an alternative option to consider. This will provide a great number of physical ethernet connections and means you don’t have to run a long ethernet cable between the two sets of adapters.
You could also consider using powerline adapters that come with Wi-Fi built in if you are looking to use a wireless connection instead of ethernet. These often provide a dedicated wireless network for you to connect to with a unique SSID and password, but also act as a Wi-Fi extender and allow you to improve the coverage of the existing Wi-Fi network that originates from your router.