Powerline adapters require that each adapter be on the same circuit. If your garage and rooms are on the same circuit, they should be able to communicate via Powerline adapters.
Garage sub-panels should not be a problem, with the other restrictions in mind.
The biggest problem for newer detached garages in the US is the requirement for GFCI outlets on all detached garage receptacles. Powerline adapters will not work on GFCI outlets.
Most Powerline adapters indicate that they will only work when connected to the same circuit. Let's dig into the details of how this works.
How Electrical Panels Are Wired
First, let's discuss how home electrical panels are wired in North America.
Three lines run from the power company's transformer (the thing that looks like a can on a power pole) to your home: a neutral and two hot leads (line 1, line 2).
There are 120 V between line 1 and neutral and between line 2 and neutral.
There are 240 V between line 1 and line 2.
Circuit breakers are labeled for various rooms or appliances on your electrical panel. Circuit breakers limit the current from exceeding the desired threshold to ensure that your wires don't melt.
Lights and outlets in rooms need 120 V, so circuit breakers for those rooms connect to neutral and either line 1 or line 2.
Larger appliances need 240 V, so those circuit breakers connect to line 1 and line 2.
Each row in an electrical panel alternates between line 1 and line 2. Because 120 V breakers only need to connect to either line 1 or line 2, but not both, they take up a single row of an electrical panel's left or right column.
Here's an example electrical panel layout:
|Line||Left Column of Electrical Panel||Right Column of Electrical Panel|
|Line 1||Circuit Breaker 1||Circuit Breaker 2|
|Line 2||Circuit Breaker 3||Circuit Breaker 4|
|Line 1||Circuit Breaker 5||Circuit Breaker 6|
|Line 2||Circuit Breaker 7||Circuit Breaker 8|
|Line 1||Circuit Breaker 9||Circuit Breaker 10|
Note that lines 1 and 2 may not always be the same for an electrical panel's left and right columns. For example, whether breakers 1 and 2 both use line 1 will depend on the manufacturer.
Similarly, 240 V breakers need to connect to both line 1 and line 2, so they use two rows of a column of the electrical panel.
Legs and Phases
Each of the lines described above is considered a circuit or leg.
With North American "split-phase" electrical systems, communication between legs would go through the power meter and transformer. Going through these hurdles makes communication difficult.
In some countries, where "multi-phase" installations exist, communication between legs is even more problematic.
Powerline technology is not able to communicate well across legs. The performance impact will be considerable if attempting to communicate across legs. The connection may be intermittent, if it works at all. Communication across phases or legs is often the cause of slower than expected speeds.
Only rooms on the same leg will communicate at high speed via Powerline.
This requirement means that in some cases, you may only be able to use powerline adapters between particular rooms, depending on your home's wiring.
How to Use the Same Circuit
For North American installations, you can use the table above to determine if rooms will be able to communicate. For example, Circuit Breakers in positions 1 and 5 should be able to communicate because they both use Line 1.
However, keep in mind that the same may not be true when comparing the left column to the right column of an electrical panel. Whether breakers 1 and 2 both use line 1 will depend on the manufacturer.
Check out my Recommended Powerline Adapters below.NETGEAR Powerline Adapter Kit, 2000 Mbps Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
|Ethernet Cable & Alternatives||Setup Complexity||Supported Speeds||Supported Distance||Latency||Reliability|
|Ethernet Cable - Ethernet over Twisted Pair (e.g., Cat 6a)||Excellent||Excellent||Good||Excellent||Excellent|
|Powerline - Ethernet over Powerline||Excellent||Fair||Good||Fair||Poor|
|MoCA - Ethernet over Coax||Good||Good||Good||Good||Good|
|Wi-Fi - Wireless||Good||Fair||Fair||Poor||Fair|
If you would prefer a high-speed connection to your garage and are willing to lay new cable, then I would recommend using a fiber optic cable connected with two fiber to Ethernet media converters. This setup will help to protect your network from lightning strikes. I discuss this more in my article Set Up a Fiber-Optic Network in Your Home or Office and Ethernet Surge Protection for Home Networks.
Learn more about MoCA adapters in my article, Ethernet Over Coax?! A Complete Guide to MoCA Adapters.
- Use existing home wiring as a replacement for Ethernet cables.
- Extend wireless coverage.
- Backhaul for a Mesh Wi-Fi System (i.e., a wired backbone for the Wi-Fi satellites).
- Get Internet access into hard-to-reach places in your home.
- Use wired connections to avoid Wi-Fi interference from neighbors.
- Avoid the latency of Wi-Fi while playing games on consoles and computers.
- A secure alternative to Wi-Fi.
- Easy wiring using existing power outlets (connect an Ethernet cable)
- Low cost (compared to MoCA adapters)
- Encrypted (some products)
- Up to a 300-meter range
- Some models have built-in Wi-Fi
- Plug and play setup (no configuration required)
- Often a lower connection speed of around 150-350 Mbps compared to the advertised 1-2 Gbps
- Powerline devices need to be on the same electrical circuit
- May cause noticeable electromagnetic interference with some devices such as speakers (static sound)
- Power strip, GFCI outlets, and AFCI circuit breakers may degrade Powerline network signals
- Some models block an outlet when connecting directly into a wall outlet
Recommended Powerline Adapter: NETGEAR PLP2000 Powerline 2000 Mbps Adapter
- This model includes some great features:
- An extra passthrough Ethernet port
- An extra outlet (although the device will block part of a second wall outlet)
- 2 Gbps (theoretical) speeds
- Support for encryption
- Check the latest price of the NETGEAR Powerline 2000 Mbps Adapter Kit on Amazon (affiliate link). NETGEAR Powerline Adapter Kit, 2000 Mbps Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
- Additional accessories you may need: Tripp Lite Cat6a 10G Patch Cable 3ft Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
Powerline adapters can be very simple to set up. Conceptually, you can think of a pair of Powerline adapters as an extension for an Ethernet cable. More than two Powerline adapters behave like an Ethernet hub combined with Ethernet cables.
Most Powerline adapters are configured similarly.
To set up Powerline adapters:
- Plug one Powerline adapter into a power outlet and connect it to your Internet router via an Ethernet cable.
- Plug one or more additional Powerline adapters into power outlets in rooms where you want Internet access. Connect them to computers or other network devices via Ethernet cables.
- Pair the Powerline adapters by holding down the button on each adapter for a few seconds.
That's it! Your devices should now be on the network and have Internet access.
If you want to learn more about internet equipment, networking, wiring, or troubleshooting, check out these articles:
- Cat 5e vs. Cat 6a - Which to Buy? - This article compares the various categories of Ethernet cables.
- How to Connect Ethernet Cables - Network Switches & Couplers - This article explains how to use network switches and couplers for extending and distributing your network.
- How to Extend Your Ethernet Range Beyond 100 Meters - This article discusses long-distance Ethernet options.
- Ultimate Cable Internet Wiring & Optimization Guide - This guide shows you how to wire and optimize cable Internet for your home or office.
- Essential Equipment Guide for Cable Internet - This guide shows you the essential components required for setting up your cable Internet connection.
- Ethernet Over Coax?! A Complete Guide to MoCA Adapters - This guide discusses how to use existing coax cabling for distributing Ethernet and Wi-Fi throughout your house.
- Ultimate Cable Internet Troubleshooting Guide - This guide shows you how to troubleshoot cable Internet problems.
- The Best MoCA Adapters to Buy - This article discusses our recommended MoCA adapters and which accessories are needed.
- Ethernet Over Power?! A Complete Guide to Powerline Adapters
- Are Powerline Adapters Good for Gaming?
- How to Set Up and Use Powerline Adapters
- MoCA vs. Powerline
- Powerline Adapters vs. Wi-Fi
- Powerline Adapters vs. Ethernet
- Do Powerline Adapters Need to Be on the Same Circuit?
- Do Powerline Adapters Work in Apartments?
- Will Powerline Adapters Work Between a House and Garage?
- Will a Powerline Adapter Work With an Ethernet Switch?
- How Many Powerline Adapters Can You Use?