Repairing a dead TP-Link TL-PA211 Powerline Ethernet Adapter (Part1)

I’ve been using a pair of TP-Link Powerline TL-PA211 Ethernet Adaptors for about 18 months and they’ve been brilliant; far superior to using a wireless signal to bridge the house sized gap between the ADSL modem and my computers.

TP-Link PA211 Powerline Adaptor

My TP-Link TL-PA211 At Home

Within the space of about 6 weeks the adaptors died in the same way, both suddenly not powering on, showing no signs of activity whatsoever. I bought some new devices and went to throw the TP-Link ones in the recycling but, unable to throw them away without knowing why they had stopped working, I decided to open them up and have a look inside.

An opened TP-Link PA 211

This is an opened TP-Link TL-PA211 showing the failed capacitor

They were tough to open but I eventually prised them apart where I noticed that both were had  the same fault! A single failed capacitor was the culprit. I know my way around a soldering iron and a circuit board but only usually enough to re-flow existing solder around a problem joint or broken track but after seeing that the replacement capacitors I needed only cost 99p from eBay I decided to attempt the repair.

Dismantling the TP-Link TL-PA211 Powerline Ethernet Adaptor:

The failed capacitor

The failed capacitor

Undo the only screw keeping the thing together. It’s located underneath the information label on the plug side. This will break your warranty if you still have one. Only continue if you are out of warranty or happy to never be able to return it.

Once you have removed the screw you can pop off the white plastic cover from the black base. I used a small screwdriver to prise it apart. It was quite tight and I did break one of the plastic clips so be careful :(

At this point of the dismantling I wasn’t sure how to go ahead. Something was holding the PCB down to the base of the casing, preventing it from lifting up, but still allowing for some movement. I managed to get the PCB out by pushing the network port side in and pushing up. It took a lot of force and I broke the plastic rod of the push button reset switch but I eventually got it open. This reveals what was stopping the PCB from coming out.

An opened adaptor

An Opened Adaptor

As you can see from the picture the Live and Neutral pins of the plug attach to two metal strips that are soldered to the top edge of the PCB. I really should have de-soldered these before attempting to remove the PCB. If you don’t want to risk damaging the network port or reset switch then de-solder these strips before proceeding. You can also see my damaged reset button. I wasn’t too bothered about the damaged reset button as it still worked. I’d need to stick a pen in there in future to reach the switch. One benefit of this is that nobody will accidentally be able to press the switch and reset my network.

You should now have a fully opened adaptor with the PCB accessible on both sides.

I’ll cover the actual repair in my next post and show you just how simple it was.

Disclaimer: If you do attempt to open up and fix your Powerline adaptor I cannot be held responsible for any damage that may occur to you, the adaptor or your surroundings. Be careful! Make sure you replace the parts with the same type and rating.

47 thoughts on “Repairing a dead TP-Link TL-PA211 Powerline Ethernet Adapter (Part1)

  1. Thanks for the information!
    I changed two PA201 (old) under warranty with the same symptoms.
    Later I bought four PA211 and three of them have the same problem.

    I will try your solution next week with the PA211.

  2. I’ve made the repair you proposed and the three PA211 now work as new ones.

    To avoid future problems i’ve used 2200uF 10V capacitors instead of 1500uF 6.3V.

    Thanks.

  3. Hi Xavier,

    It’s certainly much cheaper than replacing the whole unit!

    I only replaced like for like because I didn’t want to anger the gods of incompatibility. What benefit will the 2200uF capacitor provide?

    I’m glad the repair went well :)

    • Stepping up the voltage will give you an extra safety cushion – capacitors tend to go pop if you put more volts through than they are rated for, so going up is never a bad thing. It’s hard to say what difference changing the capacitance will do without reverse engineering the circuit, but something that size is probably there because it seemed an OKish sort of value to use. I suspect that size was the deciding factor, as in will it fit. I’ve just pulled apart what must be a newer version, and suspect that lots of others failed that way because the cap you swapped is now a 10V 1500uF one.

    • opened up my tp link PA211 – although its o0bviously dead, no lights or anything, there is no sign of the main capacitor (or the others) having burst, bulged scorched or any obvous sign. If capacitor has failed, would there be anything obvious? haven’t taken out pcb yet, as not really clear whether its as simple as de-soldering the 2 metal tabs at the top and prising pcb up and out.

      • Hi Graham. Not sure what else it could be :( I was quite fortunate that the fault was staring right at me when I opened up the TP-Link. Sometimes capacitors can bulge out of the bottom on the PCB side (although I’ve only ever seen this once) so maybe you should look there. Do all of the soldered parts feel secure in their positions? Maybe something has come loose?
        Getting the PCB out is simple but a bit tight. If you think they may be dead already it might be worth getting the PCB out to look for damage on the other side. There’s nothing to lose!

  4. I’d love to see your second post on repairing this Powerline adaptor.
    I already ordered some new ones, but if fixing this is as easy as you make it sounds like, well… I want to try and repair it of course!
    Hope you’ll describe a way to open it without the damage yours did take though… I really don’t want to damage it.

    Thanks for your insight!

    BTW, I’d love to know what the benefit is of the 2200uF capacitor as well, as I think it was meant to avoid future problems with the default one.

    I’m no technician, so…

    Kind regards,
    Rolf

    • Sorry for the delay! I started a new job so have been pretty busy of late. I should have taken more pictures of the actual soldering stages but I was pretty engrossed in the repair and forgot! The key to not damaging the unit is to de-solder the metal strips that connect the PCB to the plug pins.

      • The repair worked!

        I must admit I dodn’t repair the (2) dead usnits myself, but used your information to ask a friend who is an engineer.
        He ordered the 2200uF 10v capacitors and repaired both units without breaking anything. They now work like new!!!

        Thanks again for your info, without it I never would have guessed they could be repaired!

  5. Hi Kev,
    Thanks for the post. It was exactly what I was looking for. I had 4 dead PA211. I have replaced the capacitors and now they all work! I have used 1500µF/10; hope they last longer than the original ones. I have the model for Euro- power outlets. These are easier to open: the strips bringing the power to the PCB board are just plugged onto the Line and Neutral pins. You need to lift the PCB board at the end opposite to the network connector to unplug them ant take the board out. It’s a little tricky to reinsert the strips onto the pins, but it worked finally on all of them…

    • That’s good to know regarding the Euro style plugs. If mine ever break again I’ll try de-soldering the strips BEFORE forcing the PCB from the case :)

  6. Finally I could repair my unity, working like brand new one.
    I’ve used 2200uF 10V capacitor as Xavier proprosed above.
    Thanks everyone.

    • Nice to hear it worked! I only posted my repair because I couldn’t find anything else about these Powerline plugs on the Internet and couldn’t believe how simple it was.

  7. Pingback: Repairing a dead TP-Link TL-PA211 Powerline Ethernet Adapter (Part2) | KPH Online

  8. Excellent! Just revived a unit that died (again) after warranty replacement. Been reading the post too quickly and replaced it with 6.3V 2200uF instead. I wonder whether the caps had anything to do with the leds. The original unit blinks home network icon during traffic, but the unit that had the caps replaced doesn’t do the same.

  9. Hey there!
    Many thanks for your guide, I needed a quick repair and this lead me towards repairing instead of buying a new one.
    Bad news is I didnt have the necessary tools, so I went to a repair shop and, as it was very urgent, they charged 12€ ;(
    I hope that when the other link brakes, they wont charge that much :) because for 12€ I could buy all the needed things :)
    Thanks again, you rock!

    P.S I think they installed a 2000 10V, but I dont really know.

    • €12 is still cheaper than a new adaptor! I know time is money but I felt that it was worth an hour of my time & the small cost of parts to keep my adaptors running. If I get another year out of them I’ll be happy :)

  10. HI,

    Thank you very much for your wonderful post. I got the same problem, but after I changed the Capacitor with the same type , I have all LED blinking. Could youb please advice?

    Thanks

  11. Hi.
    Thank’s for the information. A little bit difficult to open the plastic case and take out the pcb without damage the switch plastic rod.
    But anyway all is right after change the capacitor.
    I put a 1000uf 35v long life series, but i think that also the other electrolytic capacitor are under dimensioned in term of shelf life.
    thank’s again

    • Yes it’s quite tough! I really should have desoldered the PCB from the mains pins but managed to prise it out. I lost a reset button on one of mine but that’s not too bad considering the savings made! Mine are still going too :)

  12. That’s why I love the Internet, thanks for taking the time and posting this, will get cracking on it, one of mine failed just few days back

  13. Hi
    Thanks for the information on repairing these power line plugs. Your description was great and I de-soldered the circuit board power tabs before removing it to save the reset button.
    I could only get hold of 2200uF 25 volt capacitors from my local supplier but works perfectly even though they are larger than the original so the tails have to be left a little longer to lay it over the circuit board to fit back into the case. Job all done for 0.80p each.

  14. One off mine has just broke but i think mine is beyond repair :-(
    after finally opening the unit i noticed there was some sort of burn damage to the unit on the PCB side its fairly bad there is no power whatsoever so my only solution is too get a long Fiber optic Ethernet cable for the time being with being 2 years old there is no warranty covering me great unit though while it was working well :-)

  15. I’m planning to use the same fix as well.
    I had 4 powerline adapters and 2 broke after 6 months! TPLink was a pain in the ass for warranty (although they give 3 years of warranty on the powerline adapters).
    It eventually cost me 25€ to just get 2 adapters replaced. (shipping costs).
    Now, a year later, 3 adapters are broken the same way. (1 is still working, but that wasn’t in use).
    I’ve already opened them up and the capacitor is indeed broken. –> Easier and cheaper to repair them yourself then it is to claim warranty… (I’m just waiting for the capacitors to arrive now)
    Bad points for TPLink in my opinion…

  16. Thank you so much, today I was trying to connect my PLC in a waterproof case when suddenly the PLC switched off :(, so I’m going to fix my PLC tomorrow.

    This tutorial is very useful. ;)

  17. Great post – have just had exact same issue with an 11month old TL_PA211.
    Couldn’t be bothered to faff around with the warranty so opened it up and bingo – just as your images show.

    Have repaired with a new CAP (same spec as original for now as all I had to hand) and it’s back up and running.

    Follow the guide on desoldering the mains connection – stripped mine down and rebuilt with no damage to switch or connector.

  18. Hi
    Following the directions on this page i was able to fix my adapter for just us$10 (this include 4 2200uf 10v capacitors, the tool to solder etc).
    Now, im not sure why nobody mentions that the 2200uf capacitor is large enough to not fit in the case. I did try to lay it over the circuit but some plastic was not giving me enough space. Anyway, i did install the case on one side and added some duct tape and voila, works. I just regret i did not buy the original capacitor, it was available but since everybody was talking about the large one, i did not want to go ahead on my own, especially when it is the first time in my life ive fixed a circuit :)
    Thanks for the guide anyway, you rule.

    • Thanks for the info on the size of the capacitor. It’s not something I thought about when others have suggested using the higher capacity one! Well done on your fist fix ( and subsequent semi-bodge!).

  19. As many have said before, many thanks for taking the trouble to post this fix. De-soldered capacitor from an old motherboard (same spec as original but slightly larger) and repaired unit now works perfectly.

  20. Thanks for posting about this repair. Saved forking out for new TP link. Just be wary of the height of the replacement capacitor. It is crucial you don’t get one too tall as it sits tight up to the white lid. I re-positioned mine in the case with flying leads but that’s not ideal and probably compromises some of the segregation between the mains and the network voltages. Rich

  21. I’ve just bought a pair of these adaptors (which currently work fine) but someone brought this fault to my attention and Google brought me to this webpage.

    I’m a chartered Electronics Engineer and would like to suggest that the failure mode of the electrolytic capacitor described is more likely to be due to excessive ripple current (causing overheating) rather than over-voltage. If/when I come to repair my units, I will obtain capacitors with “low ESR” (equivalent series resistance) with the same physical dimensions, rather than uprating the voltage or capacitance. (Although it is also fair to say that a physically-larger device will generally also be able to handle more ripple current.)

    Hope this helps.

  22. Thank you for sharing your knowledge! I have already fixed 2 of my tplink with just 1 euro cost for each capacitor! You are great! They work like new!

  23. Thank you.

    I have 2 pairs of these power line adapters and two of them failed in under a week of one another. I read your article yesterday, ordered 4 capacitors on eBay yesterday and they arrived today.

    After a 5min job on each of the failed adapters I’m now back in business!

    Thank you so much

  24. Clear and good instructions. Mine died the other week and a quick search found your site. I located two capacitors that looked dodgy, de-soldered both, ordered new off ebay – now awaiting delivery. Cost so far is £2.50, if it works (my soldering is not that good, so fingers crossed) then that’s a load of money saved

  25. I took mine apart after mine died and it was that cap that had gone.
    It appears they are “Startup” capacitors for the power side of things and they dont like being turned on/off they tend to blow if they are switched off then on, which was the case in mine as mine died after the power came back on after a powercut…

  26. Thanks for this.

    Just repaired mine thanks to your tutorial.

    I couldn’t get the exact same (or recommended) capacitor to fit, but fitted a 2200uf 16v capacitor instead. Due to the size, I had to lay it over the top of the board.

    58p from Maplins. Car parking cost more than the capacitor :-(

    £1.58 spent and I now have a fully working adapter :-)

  27. Thanks for this diy fix-it very informative. I had exactly the same issue with 2 of my tp-link TL-PA211. I have replaced the dodgy cap with a 1000uf 10v cap. It was a straight swap. No size difference and low and behold it is now working as it should. However on my 2nd unit I started un-soldering the live connection as I did on the 1st, however I used too much pressure and ended up stripping the copper from the circuit board. So just be weary of this. I have a working extra TP-LINK TL-WPA281 with wireless extender which i was and am now using for my Nintendo Wii and PS3. I will probably purchase with any luck an extra TL-PA211 for my desktop P.C. I am currently using and old 54mps wireless dongle which is so slow. For example I’m getting 180mps between my powerline adapters. Thanks again.

  28. B.T.W. my fix cost me zero as I took the cap off an old P.C. p.s.u that I had lying around. Lol not wanting to be big headed or anything. Lol

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