When Is It Time For A Powerline Wi-Fi Extender?
Are you having difficulties extending your WiFi coverage? A Powerline WiFi Extender may or may not be the answer. If your home contains a lot of brick, concrete, and metal you’re going to have difficulties getting WiFi coverage throughout your home. Unfortunately, WiFi does not travel through brick, concrete, or metal. Even if you try WiFi extenders and Mesh you may still end up frustrated. It may seem like the only option is to run ethernet cables through your walls and that can be expensive, messy, and even dangerous.
Thankfully, there’s another technology called Powerline that may be just what you’re looking for. A Powerline WiFi Extender uses the existing electrical wiring in the walls of your home as network cabling. Your first reaction to hearing about Powerline may be, “Oh well that sounds kind of dangerous!” but actually it’s perfectly safe.
In this article, we’ll be using a TP-Link Powerline WiFi extender to demonstrate Powerline as a way to extend your home wireless network. When shopping for powerline adapters you’re going to notice very little in the way they name these things that resembles the English language. You’ll see some pictures some numbers and letters that don’t make a whole lot of sense.
For example, this is the “TP-Link AV-600 300 Mbps” adapter. Say what? OK, so what does that mean? You’re probably used to seeing an “N” or “AC” followed by megabits per second on other Wi-Fi devices. So what does the “AV 600” part mean? The reason “AV 600” is a separate number from the “300 Mbps” part is that “AV” designates the Powerline rating. The other number is the Wi-Fi rating.
A Powerline WiFi Extenders AV rating can start at 300Mbps and go all the way up to 2100Mbps. Obviously the faster this rating the more expensive the powerline wi-fi adapter. Here’s another adapter (Below.) It has a power line maximum speed of 1300 Mbps maximum wi-fi speed of AC 1200 Mbps. It also has dual-band wi-fi built-in.
This Powerline adapter below has no Wi-Fi and is specially designed to provide only very fast Powerline and Ethernet speeds.
One of the most popular Powerline WiFi extender manufacturers is TP-Link. They like to start you off with a “Starter Kit.” Starter Kits usually come with one adapter and one extender. You can then expand your powerline network with other individual extenders if you want.
When you get a powerline starter kit it will typically come with an adapter and an extender. Typically you’ll connect the adapter directly to one of the LAN ports in your wireless router and then “pair” the adapter and the extender.
Once these two have identified and are communicating with each other you can basically take the extender and put it anywhere in your home with an electrical outlet and depending on the quality of the wiring in your home the two will be able to communicate. You’ll be able to connect other devices in your home either with Ethernet or Wi-Fi using the Powerline Wi-Fi extender.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong here. If you have an older home the wiring in your home may not be able to provide a good connection between the adapter and the extender.
Also, if you have a larger home with several breakers and circuits the signal may not be able to jump from one circuit to the other. There’s really no way to predict whether a Powerline WiFi extender will work for you other than to take one home and try it. Save your receipts!
Pairing Vs Cloning
Many Powerline extender kits will offer different ways to hook them up. The TP-Link AV 600 offers the option of “pairing” or “cloning.” This can cause a lot of confusion so let me break it down for you.
When you use the pairing button on the adapter and the extender these two devices will end up on the same network as each other but on a different network than the wireless router and your other devices. That means you’ll have to type in a completely different network name (SSID) and password to connect to the extender.
Of course, you should be able to go into the extender’s web interface and change this if you want to.
The other option is to “clone” the extender directly to the wireless router just like you would with a wi-fi extender. In this case, the extender and the router end up on the same exact network. I’ll get into the specifics of this setup below.
One thing you want to look out for when using Powerline extenders is that you don’t want to connect them to power strips. The way electrical current travels through power strips and surge protectors can confuse and degrade the performance of a power line extender.
When you’re setting up your power line extenders it’s perfectly fine to plug them both into the same power strip but once they’re paired up you don’t want to keep the adapter or the extender plugged into a power strip.
Pairing Your Powerline WiFi Extender
To pair your adapter with the extender you simply plug the adapter into a WAN port on your wireless router, plug the extender into an outlet that’s really close by, and then hit the little pair button on the bottom or the side of both of the devices within two minutes of each other.
Once the power lights on the adapter and the extender are solid green they’re connected and ready to use. You’ll be able to place your extender anywhere in the home you want and connect using the SSID and passphrase found on a sticker on the side of the device.
You’ll need to manually switch from the wireless routers SSID and the extenders SSID until you go into the web interface of the extender and change the SSID and passphrase to match your wireless router
Cloning Your Powerline WiFi Extender To Your Router.
To clone the Powerline WiFi extender with the router we don’t connect the adapter right away. Instead, set it aside and hit the “clone button” on the extender and the WPS button on the wireless router within two minutes of each other.
The cloning process will copy the SSID and passphrase settings from the wireless router to the extender. This puts the Powerline extender on the same wireless network as the router and all your devices!
Once it’s done you can connect the adapter to a LAN port in the wireless router and plug it into an electrical wall outlet and the adapter will automatically create a connection with the extender. You can then move the extender to an area of the house that needs wi-fi coverage.
Any devices that were connected to the wireless router before should be able to automatically connect to the Powerline WiFiextender. To add additional extenders simply use the pairing button on the new extender and pair it up with either the original extender or the adapter. This may vary with different models.
Setting up a Powerline WiFi extender may not always go as smoothly as reading this article or watching a Youtube video but once you get through it you may very well have all the WiFi connectivity you need in all the nooks and crannies of your home without breaking the bank.