What we are looking at here is a AC1750 WiFi Range Extender AV 1200 Powerline edition from the folks at TP-LINK.
If that sounds like a technological mouthful, it certainly is. Most of us are pretty familiar with WiFi extenders as they have become pretty standard in bigger homes. Powerline adapters have been around even longer but are less familiar to most. A powerline networking adapter transmits an internet signal over your home’s electrical wiring, so it’s a good way to get internet access to a distant part of your house without running additional cables or using a Wi-Fi extender.
Current powerline adapters like this TP-LINK are more efficient than earlier models. They use the new AV2 standard which uses all three wires with MIMO to provide better performance to distant areas of the house. Now I am obsessed with getting the full 120Mbps of my internet connection via WiFi everywhere in my house and so far standard WiFi extenders can’t quite do it. So I thought I would see what the TP-LINK TL-WPA8730 Kit could do.
- Plug the Powerline adapter into an outlet close to your router. The design allows access to the other outlet and a pass through outlet on the adapter means you don’t even lose an outlet.
- Connect an ethernet cable between a router lan port and the port on the adapter.
- Plug range extender into an outlet near where you need an ethernet connection…there are three Gigabit ports available…or the best location for a WiFi Extender. Again the second outlet remains uncovered but there is no pass through outlet on this device.
- Press Pair button on each device and within two minutes your network is set up.
This procedure sets up the extender with distinctive SSID’s for the 2.4 and 5GHz networks. You can copy your home network settings to the extender by pressing the WPS button on your router and the WiFi button on the extender. Then your devices can roam throughout the house automatically connecting to the strongest signal.You can also use the extender’s web interface or the tpPLC app for Android or iOS to set the configuration.
Now to test the performance. I found it to be great to not so great…speed fluctuated way more than my router alone or router to extender both of which on long term testing fluctuate no more than 10% up or down. The TP-LINK fluctuated as much as 100%. Measurements using iperf3 over a three week period. The top and bottom figures recorded for my two dead spots were:
Family Room: 128Mbps and 65Mbps compared to my WiFi extender 85Mbps and 95Mbps
Front Porch: 76Mbps and 14Mbps compared to 72Mbps and 81Mbps
Bandwidth at the ethernet port of the extender varied between 126Mbps and 186Mbps.
I was surprised to see such a wide fluctuation. I tested with the furnace and/or refrigerator running or not and those big motors made no significant difference; performance was all over the place motors running or not.
Coincidentally the very first test I did produced the highest figure and I had hoped that this kit was almost the answer to delivering my full 120Mbps internet bandwidth throughout the house. Sadly that proved not to be the case.
While the TL-WPA8730 KIT did not meet my hopes for superb WiFi throughout the house this kit is still an excellent solution to expand your home network into those places where WiFi just won’t reach at all. It is available pretty much everywhere networking gear is sold for $229.99 or less. If you don’t need the WiFi extender you can save a few bucks by buying a power line adapter alone. Take a look at the TP-LINK website for the possibilities.