Is it better to use PLCs via Ethernet cable or do I connect to them via WiFi?

The Powerline or PLC are one of the most purchased devices to bring the Internet connection to any place in our house, since communication is carried out through the electrical wiring of our home to have connectivity wherever we want. Currently there are PLCs with Wi-Fi or without Wi-Fi , depending on our needs and what we want to do, we can choose one model or another, but you must take into account the pros and cons of each connection to the PLC. Also, even if they have WiFi, you will always be able to connect by cable if they have an available Gigabit Ethernet port, which will increase the real performance of the connection.

Advantages and disadvantages of using them by cable

Is it better to use PLCs via Ethernet cable

Powerline devices that do not have WiFi connectivity were the first to hit the market, and in fact, today the main manufacturers continue to market this type of device and even release new models without WiFi connectivity. Although it may seem that buying PLCs without WiFi is a delay and doesn’t make much sense, below we are going to explain the advantages of these devices :

  • Cheaper . By not having a WiFi access point in the additional PLC, generally this type of Powerline is clearly cheaper than its counterparts with WiFi coverage. In addition, if it had WiFi coverage, we must take into account if they are single band or simultaneous dual band, as well as if they have Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 connectivity.
  • Greater synchronization in the electrical network . Models without Wi-Fi usually have a faster Powerline chipset than those with Wi-Fi, so they can sync at higher speeds, however, there are cases where they are exactly the same.
  • Higher actual performance . In this article we have found some cases in which PLCs without WiFi are faster than PLCs with WiFi even though they have the same electrical technical specifications, this is due to the fact that the main processor of the device is not capable of adequately managing the connections just as fast, that is, the main CPU is bottlenecking.

In addition, we must bear in mind that a cable connection will always give us better performance than a WiFi wireless connection, so we can make the most of the speed that they offer us through the Powerline network.

Regarding the drawbacks, it is obvious that we will not be able to connect wirelessly , but we can only connect via Ethernet network cable. In case you need WiFi connectivity, you have two possible options: buy an AP to connect it to the PLC and have one more device, or buy a PLC with integrated WiFi connectivity.

Some models that we can recommend that do not incorporate WiFi connectivity are the following:

And this new one from NETGEAR would be the fastest of all:

As you can see, all these models have a fairly competitive price, although both the devolo and the NETGEAR belong to the top of the brand’s range, respectively, neither exceeds €150.

Advantages and disadvantages of using Wi-Fi

Today in any home we need a WiFi connection that is robust, that provides us with a very good wireless coverage and the maximum possible speed. Currently there are Powerline models that incorporate a wireless access point, in order to provide us with this wireless connectivity and use the electrical network as a backbone or return network. The advantages of using this type of device and connecting wirelessly are the following:

  • Versatility . We can connect both computers, as well as smartphones or tablets that only have WiFi connectivity.
  • Comfort . Connecting without the need for cables is much more comfortable than worrying about which network cable I have to use, or where I should place the Powerline so that the cable is long enough to connect.

However, it is not always recommended to use wireless connectivity, below, we are going to explain some scenarios where using the cable is much better:

  • Gaming . For online games it is essential to have the minimum possible latency, both the PLC connection and the WiFi connection add additional latency to the connections, in addition, we will also have a higher than normal jitter (latency variation). For these reasons, it is recommended to connect via cable to “remove” the additional latency and jitter that we have due to WiFi.
  • Heavy use of the Internet . If you are going to use the connection intensively, downloading and uploading hundreds of GB, it is essential that you use the network cable instead of WiFi, because it will work clearly better for you, being able to squeeze the synchronization of the devices through the electrical network. In addition, we have found that in some cases, using the WiFi connection intensively causes PLCs to slow down due to the built-in processor.

Some models that we can recommend that incorporate WiFi and provide good performance are the following:

Another very good option would be this NETGEAR, with a great value for money:

As you can see, all of these models are priced significantly higher than their counterparts without wireless connectivity. Depending on your needs, our recommendation is that you choose one class of devices or others.