Using A Powerline Wireless Adapter To Extend Wireless Around The House

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, wifi networks are slow and unreliable if the signal is broken up by walls or your room is too far away from the 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 wifi 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 wifi 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.

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 wifi network.

Once both adapters are plugged in – internet access will be provided to the extender adapter and it will also create a new wifi network that you can connect to with your laptop or phone.

Note: you MUST then configure this wireless network (easy to do using the included software) to set up a strong password because, like most new 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 router to provide a new wifi 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 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.

11 Responses to: "Using A Powerline Wireless Adapter To Extend Wireless Around The House"

  1. andrea says:

    Thank you for these useful information
    I need a last clarification aboiut this.
    I have two wifi adsl routers, ont in my brother’s room and one in my room.
    When he turn of his router to go bed I turn on mine when I need to work with Internet (This is why I have a router also in my bedroom).

    I would like to extend wifi range of both two routers by powerline as described above in the article.
    My question is: can i connect a standard adapter to the router of my brother and another standard adapter to my router and just on larger wireless-N extender adapter in the kitchen?
    Does the larger wireless-N extender adapter in the kitchen work with togheter these two adapter (I assume of course just one of the two routers is working).
    Does someone sell the second standard adapter I need alone ?

    Could you kindly help me about this?
    Thank you very much.
    regards

    • Joe90 says:

      that’s a strange setup if both are adsl routers connected to a phone line. Can’t you get wifi from brother’s router in your room? If not (too far away) you could just use a standard adapter in your brother’s router (left on all the time) and a wifi-N extender in your room – i.e. you get wifi from the extender (get rid of your router) and he gets wifi from his router. That would save buying a 3rd extender.

      It would give you 2 wifi networks which, unlike now, are both online permanently – if you can get a decent signal from one of the two wifi networks from the kitchen/other rooms (test coverage with your current 2 wifi routers) that should do the job more simply

      • jonathansab*tch says:

        couldn’t you just use the second router as a wireless extender? sure, the firmware has to allow it, but then it would still be one network.

      • Roy says:

        As she’s got to buy 2 powerlines anyway (to connect between bedrooms) it would be easier to just buy 1 std plus 1 wifi-n extender adapter

        However your suggestion would be cheaper – depends how hard to configure the 2nd router (if it needs flashing etc)

  2. FishNChipPapers says:

    I have been able to extend an AirPort Extreme to an AirPort Express with ethernet over powerline using TP-Link’s TL-PA211. However, periodically the extension is lost – both devices are working perfectly because I can connect to each AirPort independently. One of the features of the TL-PA211 devices is “Patented Power-Saving Mode automatically reduces power consumption by up to 65%”. Given that I notice the problems first thing in the morning and if I don’t use the network actively for a little while, I wonder whether this could be the culprit. I wonder if you or any of your readers have encountered similar behaviour.

    • Joe90 says:

      i haven’t seen this type of ‘power saving’ on other powerline adapters – given it is so specific, probably best asking in TP-Link forum/support, not much on the web about it

  3. Andrew says:

    I wanted to know if the powerline with wifi (linksys Plwk400 to be specific) will decrease network speed. Thx in advance.

    • Roy says:

      @Andrew – as a guide, the ‘actual’ speed of Powerline (and wireless) adapters may be a third of the ‘theoretical’ maximum i.e. the Plwk400 is 200 Mbps so speed may be 60-70Mbps. A magazine review shows its backup speed for a 1GB test file was 60Mbps which is about right.

      60Mbps is close to the true speed of standard 100Mbps ethernet cable and it far exceeds the speed of most people’s internet. If you needed quicker, look at 500Mbps adapters which may give a speed of 150+ but you would need Gigabit ethernet cables (and Gigabit router) to take full advantage

  4. david says:

    Hi
    I have a standard wireless router that works in all rooms but one bedroom
    I do not want to disturb the arrangement as we have good signal in all rooms except this one bedroom
    If I buy a powerline wireless adaptor can I use it with the present system to get on the internet better in the one bedroom without disturbing the good wi fi signal we get in the rest of the house
    Thank you
    David

    • Roy says:

      @David – if you need wifi in the bedroom then yes, you’d need 1 standard adapter (to router) and 1 wifi-n extender adapter. There should be no issues having 2 wifi networks in the same house as long as they use a different wifi channel (or else they could overlap and interfere with each other).

      If you’re lucky they will be on different channels by default but if not you would need to change the channel on one of them – it’s not that hard to do, especially as you’ll be setting up the new wifi network anyway – see https://techlogon.com/2011/12/22/prevent-interference-from-other-wireless-networks/