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Will Powerline Adapters Work Between a House and Garage?

Learn about whether Powerline adapters will work between a house and a detached garage or shop.

Powerline Adapter Kevin Jones / TechReviewer

Last Updated: December 28, 2021

Written by Kevin Jones

Will Powerline Adapters Work Between a House and a Detached Garage?

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Powerline adapters require that each adapter be on the same circuit. If your garage and house 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.

Powerline adapters can be on one or more circuit breakers. However, they need to be using the same wire from your power company's transformer. 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.

Many houses in the US have a split circuit panel with a 120-volt circuit down each side. A two-pole split circuit panel will effectively partition your rooms into two circuits. These circuits are sometimes referred to as having different or multiple phases.

Technically, you may be able to get Powerline adapters to communicate across multiple phases. However, the performance impact will be considerable, and the connection may be intermittent if it works at all.

More specifically, many homes in the US support higher-powered 240-volt outlets by combining two 120 volt hot leads in a two-pole breaker. Each of the 120-volt leads has a wire going to the power company's transformer. The 120-volt breakers that go to various rooms will alternate between the two poles in the electrical panel. For example, the odd-numbered breakers may connect to one pole, while the even-numbered breakers may connect to the other. Only rooms connected to the same pole will be able to communicate at high speed via Powerline.

If your home has a split circuit panel with two poles, then your detached garage may only be able to connect to rooms that are on the same pole.

US homes without 240-volt outlets, such as those with gas stoves and no laundry appliances, might use a single-pole breaker. In this case, your house and garage may be on the same circuit.

Check out my Recommended Powerline Adapters below.

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Powerline vs. Alternatives

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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 Cases for Powerline Adapters

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  • 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.

Pros and Cons of Powerline

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Pros:

  • 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)

Cons:

  • 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
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How to Set Up Powerline Adapters

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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:

  1. Plug one Powerline adapter into a power outlet and connect it to your Internet router via an Ethernet cable.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Building Your Network

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If you want to learn more about internet equipment, networking, wiring, or troubleshooting, check out these articles:

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