Powerline Adapters and RCD protection

Using a Powerline Adapter with an RCD

Powerline Adapter

Powerline Adapter

We had the following question from John Barham regarding the use of Powerline Adapters with electrical safety devices known as either RCCD (Residual Current Circuit Device) or RCD (Residual Current Device). These are special circuit breakers that are deigned to ‘trip out’ the mains power supply if a dangerous condition is detected.

” I have two power line adapters. They work within one building, but I can’t get them to work where one of the circuits, although on the same meter and distribution board and phase, is protected by an RCCD.  The RCCD does not trip when using them, the adapter does not transmit through it.

 Perhaps someone else has a workround, other than bypassing the RCCD”

We also had this in from Jim O’Connell:

 “We have a powerline adapter that was working fine on a particular circuit until an RCD was fitted to that circuit which seems to have caused a problem. It still works fine on circuits without rcds.  Have you come across this problem before?”

We’ve tried various online searches to find out about use of Powerline Adapters and the results seem to be that Powerline adapters are not too effective over long mains runs via an RCCD.  If you know differently, please let us know by adding a comment below

The options?

We’ve seen a couple of postings suggesting that newer Powerline adapters, typically the higher-power faster models cope better, and other reports that some types of Powerline adapter can cope better than others, but nothing conclusive, and no solid recommendations. If you have experience of a model that works well, please add the details in the comments section below to help others looking for a solution.

If you can’t get Powerline to work for you, your options are as follows:

 Powerline tripping RCD?

We had this in from Mark Preston:

 “Powerline adapters: can they cause a circuit to trip? I have three powerline adapters in the house ( one at the router to transmit, and two elsewhere in the house). The circuit within  which lies one of the powerline adapters (plus a wireless adapter, plugged in for the power supply), keeps tripping. Oddly, it takes a while before I can untrip it: just flipping the trip ( or pressing the test switch on an RCD protected circuit) doesn’t produce immediate results; can take an indeterminate period before I get the circuit back. Could this behaviour be caused by the powerline adapters?”

We’d not heard directly of people experiencing RCD trips as a result of Powerline adapters. If you’d seen his, please add some information below.

Please add your comments and suggestions below:

This entry was posted in Powerline Adapters.

15 Responses to Powerline Adapters and RCD protection

  1. alan mcclellan says:

    We have tried to install power line adapters and have had serious problems tripping out the rcd, as yet we have not got it to reset even though we have removed the power line adapters.

  2. Jai says:

    We’ve done an extension recently. Power is supplied to the

    extension via RCD from the existing mains to a separate fuse box

    for the extension. I connected TP-link av500 gigabit powerline

    adaptor within the old power network where the router is. I am

    using a TP-link wifi av500 in the new extension (which is on the

    new RCD protected main circuit). I am experiencing power tripping

    on the new fuse box and RCD box. I have 3 items plugged into the

    sockets (a profiling bed & air mattress pump and the powerline

    wifi adaptors), nothing else. In the last 4 weeks, on 3 occasions

    power tripped early in the morning.

    After reading some comments, are we in any danger of current


    We never had any power tripping in the past. The old power

    circuit is not a problem. The new RCD circuit is the problem.

    Electric wiring was done by certified electrician and certificate

    issued (prior to plugging in TP-link).

    Any suggestions please

  3. Brian says:

    I just installed three powerline adapters in my house. When I plug a GFCI protected hair dryer into the outlet closest to the outlet with the power line adapter, the GFCI pops over and over again. I have to confirm that with it disconnected this does not happen (plug is in the attic), but that’s the only thing that’s changed since we last used the hair dryer on that circuit.

    Anyone else seeing this?

    (pardon me, but I’m in the US, this is the only google hit I’ve seen for this)

    • John says:

      I installed tp-link powerline adapters in my house. When I switch-on new hifi amp which is in the same ring /circuit , MCB in fuse box trips. I tried removing powerline adaptor and its all working fine from past 2 days. No trips.
      I was told that this could happen if tp-link is faulty product. Not looking to buy powerline adaptor any more. Perhaps I would with the router bridge.

    • G Gordon says:

      Hi Brian, how yawl doin (sorry, couldn’t resist that as I used to live in the States). I am an electrician and fitted GFCIs on some work there and almost everyone, to a man, suffered from nuisance tripping. This was 2011. Technology may have moved on but these devices use electronic circuitry to analyse “noise” on the circuit. The theory being that when a switch is opened or closed an electrical arc occurs. This is “normal” and it has a specific noise profile and the GFCI should let it pass. Where there is a loose wire with intermittent arcing for example (due to movement of the connection) then this, in theory, has a completely different noise profile and the GFCI is tuned to not let this pass and it disconnects the circuit.

      If the GFCI is poor quality and/or your device has some dubious internal circuitry/connections (some light fittings from Lowes, at the time, had to be avoided as they had a permanent (electrical) noise on the circuit and the GFCI simply would not tolerate them) then you are likely to experience GGCI disconnects that would not really be an issue if there were no GFCI in place. They are for safety but if poorly designed they become an overkill as they are too poor at discriminating between normal/safe noise and fault/dangerous noise sources and they end being a sledge hammer that cracks a nut! Hope that helps.

  4. lyle shepherd says:

    I am using powerline adapters but I have an outhouse I want to use a powerline adapter to get internet there. The power to the outhouse is supplied from the rcd in the house however it passes through a smaller rcd to create a new circuit. Does anyone know if that will cause a peoblem in the internet connection?

  5. Most modern RCD’s found in the consumer unit conforming to BS EN 61008 have an inbuilt monitoring circuit which connects accross the L and N terminals. This detects any imbalance between the conductors indicating a fault ( Leakage of current to earth etc) . This imbalance causes the RCD to trip and disconnect the circuit in a predetermined time and at a predetermined current.
    The monitoring circuit can act as a filter to powerline signalling preventing powerline adaptors communicating accross an RCD.
    Powerline adaptors should work correctly when they are on the same side of the RCD.
    This can become a problem with Multiple RCD consumer units or outbuildings where different RCD’s are used.
    If you need to bridge an RCD , it is preferable to use wi-fi signal boosters rather than powerline adaptors.

  6. Jon says:


  7. JK says:


  8. Gerry says:

    I have had the same problem with a power line adaptor tripping the RCD, even on the same side of the RCD circuit. Would also tend to trip when a large data request sent (e.g. speedtest.) Any suggestions

  9. Mike Beck says:

    I’ve got 3 p/line adaptors on my ring main. This circuit trips out for no apparent reason (whilst the plugs are switched on).
    This has occurred about 6 times over the few months,sometimes early in a morning,most times weeks apart, when only the fridge and fridge freezer are the only other electrical appliances switched on.
    An inspection and test of the circuit by an electrician cannot find anything wrong.
    I can load the circuit with any number of high usage appliances but cannot trip the system. The circuit
    allows a reset almost immediately !.
    Just run out of ideas, unless these p/line plugs have something to do with it.
    I am turning off these plugs between 0100 and 0600 to eliminate this possible cause.

  10. Damien Thorn says:

    I can only write of my own experience, and my reluctance to drill holes through very pristine (and monstrously thick) walls.
    Our electrician fitted all our electrics on fused rings terminating each one with its own RCD bank.
    (typical of modern boxes, 2 or 3 fuses guarded by fuses on the route, and the rcd covering them all in the box)
    I have had NO issues whatsoever with the adapters causing any kind of trip.
    I strongly suggest those having trips seek a fully qualified electrician, just to be on the safe side they are not accidentally and unknowingly overloading their plugs without realizing it.
    I do not dispute you may well have adapters causing the issue, but its better to be safe than for an electrical house fire.

  11. Frits Schouten says:

    I have the D-Link DHP-W312AV and it does NOT communicate past RCD units.
    RCD units have an electronic circuit to detect earth leakage current and they are forming a RF short and therefore attenuating the Powerline AV signal to the point that it cannot be detected by the next Powerline AV.

  12. neilfw says:

    I have 8 of the TP-Link AV1200 series devices both 3 port and single port across multiple sides of multiple RCD’s with a common distribution panel. Each ring/circuit is individually RCD’d using MK single width MCB/RCDs and a master RCD. This have been working perfectly with 7 of the 8 connected. Since the eighth was added 2 weeks ago, the main RCD trips at various points in time, but most epsecially when the tumble drier or the washing machine are in use (no AV1200s on that specific circuit). This seems to have settled down now (last 2 days), but since I had already purchased an additional 3 AV1200 units, if any of them are plugged in anywhere on any ring, becoming the 9th device, then again the master RCD trips. Baffled… more testing to follow, incluing swappin gunit 9 for unit 8 or 7, and testing the 3 new items in another property.

  13. Martyn says:

    I have some D-Link powerline adapters that work fine on the first floor of my house or the ground floor. But, when I try to connect between floors give a very poor conection and the sync light shows red. Its a small house about 1 year old so I assume the electrics are pretty up to date. The ground floor and first floor are on different RCD’s. I assume the whole house is on the same phase. I also have solar panels with an inverter connected to the grid. I have tried isolating this but makes no difference. Any suggestions?

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