Powerline wireless adapters may be the best way to extend wireless access around the house. Early this year we discussed how to use Powerline adapters to extend wired internet around the house (or office).
However, wireless networks are slow and unreliable if the signal is broken up by walls or your room is too far away from the wireless router – and you may not want to rip up floorboards or drill through walls to lay an ethernet network cable instead…
Powerline Adapters are also called ‘HomePlug’ adapters – they extend an internet network from a wireless router through the existing mains electrical wiring of your house to whichever room you want. Instead of using wireless signals to transmit data, Powerline adapters use the mains electric power cables in your home (no electrical work required, you just plug them in).
Our original article concentrated on the standard Powerline starter kit sold in most shops which consists of 2 adapters – one is connected to the router via the supplied ethernet cable. The second adapter is plugged into a power socket in the room you want to extend internet access to and this adapter is connected to your computer/device via the supplied ethernet cable to provide internet access.
This solution is fine as long as you are happy to connect your computer (or Xbox/PS3 etc) to the second adapter via ethernet cable but it does not provide internet access to them via wireless. We have received so many queries on the best way to extend wireless access around the house that we are providing this update.
Extending Wireless Access Around The House
If you do not have any Powerline adapters yet: The best solution is to buy a Powerline Wireless-N Extender Kit – an example kit from Amazon is shown below:
Typically such kits consist of 1 standard adapter and 1 larger wireless-N extender adapter. The extender adapter still includes an ethernet socket (to provide internet access via ethernet network cable) but it also has integrated wireless-N networking capability to provide a new wireless network.
Once both adapters are plugged in – internet access will be provided to the wireless-N extender adapter and it will also create a new wireless network that you can connect to with your wireless devices.
Note: you MUST then configure this wireless network (easy to do using the included software) to set up a strong wireless password because, like most new wireless networks, this one may initially not be encrypted and therefore not secure i.e. wide open to your neighbor’s prying laptop!
If you already have the standard starter kit (2 standard ethernet/wired Powerline adapters):
The best solution is to buy a cheap wireless-N router designed for cable internet connections. You would connect the second Powerline adapter via ethernet cable to the cable wireless router, then set up the cable wireless router to provide a new wireless network to connect to – effectively you are using the second Powerline adapter to take the place of a cable modem in providing internet through to the cable wireless router – if you need help setting up the router see set up a cable wireless router.
Any Practical Issues?
Manufacturers recommend that ALL Powerline adapters should be plugged directly into a wall power socket (not an extension lead or surge protector) to prevent any interference from other attached electrical devices. And as the adapters are bulkier than a standard plug, make sure you have enough space around the wall socket to plug it in.
What If I Want More Than 1 Ethernet/Wired Device Connected?
E.g. let’s assume you have a home office room with 3 PCs and an Xbox and you want to connect all of them via ethernet network cable to the second Powerline adapter – but the adapter only has 1 ethernet socket. You can achieve this quite simply by buying an ethernet switch to add more sockets which can ‘share’ the internet to more devices.
A 5 port ethernet switch only costs about $15 and there is no configuration needed. You would just connect the ethernet cable from your second Powerline adapter to one port (socket) on the switch and then connect your PCs and Xbox via ethernet network cable to the other 4 ports on it. Job done.