There are two main ways to extend the range of a home network, which work well for most users but for a few reasons don’t for a minority of users.
A range extender or repeater is a device that extends the range of a wireless network. It should be plugged into the mains about half way from the router to the area that needs the signal. It uses the IP address and login information of the router and broadcasts the router’s signal into areas of the home or outside it not receiving a good enough signal. The latest range extenders are adapters that have a built-in mains plug and a mains pass-through socket so that other non-related devices can be plugged into the adapter and use the socket.
Powerline network adapters can now be used to extend both a wired and a wireless home network by using the mains cabling (circuitry) of the house. The adapters come in pairs. One of the adapters is connected by an Ethernet cable to the router and the other adapter, which can either only be connected to by using a wired Ethernet cable or also wirelessly, depending on the type of homeline setup you purchased. The adapters have to support a wireless connection to have one.
Some people have immediate success using both types – range extender and powerline adapters. Others don’t have success using one or the other or sometimes even both. Powerline networks can be finicky. For instance, they can only be used on a single mains circuit. If the house has more than one electrical circuit, powerline can only be used on one of them because a wired network requires continuous cabling and a powerline-based network is using the mains cabling of a house.
Powerline adapters broadcast a strong signal to where it’s needed, creating a cloned Wi-Fi hotspot, not just repeating the signal as range extenders do.
Here is how I installed the TP-LINK WiFi Powerline TL-WPA4220KIT adapters, which provide both wired Ethernet and wireless connections. The installation was simple. I plugged the smaller unit into a nearby mains socket and connected it to my router with one of the two Ethernet cables that came with the adapters. Next, I plugged the Wi-Fi adapter where I want to extend the router’s wireless signal. The connection was made instantaneously. Next, I pushed the Wi-Fi clone button on the adapter followed by WPS button on my router. After a minute or so, the wireless connection was up and running. There is now a strong signal all around the house and garden and even in my shed.
Powerline adapters can be finicky. It is stipulated that they are to be kept on the same mains circuit and recommended that they are not used in extension sockets, especially ones that are surge-protected. That said, I have not encountered any problems using them in surge-protected extension sockets.
If you need a password because your router doesn’t have a WPS button that connects new wireless devices to your home network automatically, the password that you get asked for is written on the actual powerline adapter. You then have to change the default user name and password to those used by your wireless network, which you may or may not have changed from the default ones. Pressing the WPS button, if available, just makes the equipment use the wireless network’s login information automatically. Default login information should *not* be used because they are public information that hackers can use to access your router or wireless home network. The default SSID and encryption key that your wireless network uses is usually provided on the bottom of your router.
To change login information requires accessing the router’s web-based configuration page by entering the router’s IP address that opens it. To find out what that IP address is in Windows 7, enter cmd in the Start => Search box. A link called cmd.exe is supplied. Right-click on the link and choose “Run as administrator”. Doing that brings up the black-windowed Command Prompt. Enter ipconfig at the prompt. The item called Default Gateway is the router’s IP address, which is 192.168.1.254 for my router. To bring up the router’s configuration page just enter that number, as is, into a web browser. You then have to enter your router’s login user name and password in order to be able to access the settings and change them.
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