In houses with a lot of internet users and higher bandwidth demands, it may be preferable to deliver a wired ethernet connection to several or all rooms so that everyone can extract the most possible bandwidth out of their internet package for gaming, streaming and downloading. What ways are there to do this?
There is of course the old fashioned way of doing some DIY work to feed network cables from your router to all different rooms in the house, which may require sending the cables through walls, ceiling or windows and up stairs. This will deliver the best connection but can be tedious, costly, time consuming and messy, so we will also explore the alternative option of Powerline Adapters as a much simpler and sometimes cheaper way to basically get the same result.
There is no doubt that in some houses wifi does a perfectly fine job of giving every user the bandwidth and responsiveness they need to do whatever it is they do online. In other houses wifi can fall short though and deapspots in larger or older houses can make streaming and gaming difficult for example.
In these cases a wired connection is definitely preferable for getting the strongest and most reliable connection possible to the router. Let’s look at the different ways we can extend wired connections to all parts of the home below.
The Old Fashioned Way – Wire Ethernet Cables To Every Room in The House
This is the most obvious and most effective way but obviously the most time consuming as you have to simply feed the ethernet cables through to every single room in your house where you want a wired connection.
This will undoubtedly deliver the strongest, most reliable connection and the maximum bandwidth to every room which will help downloaders, streamers and gamers in particular. There is enormous variability between houses but in some cases wired connections can be far faster than wireless ones, eliminating problems with lag and buffering and allowing movies and other files to be downloaded much faster.
We will not go into detail too much about this as it is the best known and well covered method of creating a wired home network. There are plenty of guides on how to do this from a DIY perspective online and we will link to some below:
Guides on creating a wired ethernet cable network in your house:
The video above also gives an excellent lay person’s summary on the general process of running ethernet cables through your house to deliver wired connections to different rooms. The process is much the same as installing a new power socket, so if you have an electrician or handy person around maybe they could do it for you.
It basically involves at the extreme end drilling holes in walls at each end and feeding the ethernet cables through the wall cavities, which are usually empty, making sure to keep a distance from electrical cabling as they can pick up interference.
At a lesser level it may involve running cables along walls and up staircases, for which you will need various tools and extras to crimp and fix the ethernet cable down to make it look neat along whichever surface it is travelling. See the Lifehacker article linked above for a full breakdown of the tools needed and approximate cost.
Here are some considerations if you are going to use this method of creating a wired network:
- You will need high quality Category 5e or Category 6 ethernet cable to ensure the best speeds (up to a gigabit) and future proof the work against any increases in available bandwidth. Click the link to check on Amazon.
- If you really have a lot of devices and want to wired every single one of them then you may need additional switches with more ports as most routers only contain four ethernet ports. See on Amazon for ethernet switches with 8 ports, 16 ports or 24 ports if you really want to add a lot of devices to your wired network.
- It can be quite messy and time consuming work and requires drills, screws, crimps, saws and other DIY tools to do it properly. If you get someone in to do it then the work can be expensive, depending on how many rooms you want to feed the wires through to.
- It may also be unsightly having holes in the wall or cables running through the house, even if tied down
- See our second option of Powerline Adapters as an easier and sometimes cheaper option
Powerline Adapters as an Easier Option
If all of this sounds like too much time and messing around, (or the significant other refuses to allow it!), then an easier option to basically deliver the same result is possible. By using Powerline Adapters it is possible to create wired internet access points in every room you need it by using the house’s existing electrical wiring.
Powerline Adapters consist of a pair of adapter plugs, one if which is plugged in and connected to the router, the other plugged in and connected to your device. The two plugs then communicate through the house’s copper electrical wiring to deliver a strong, wired internet connection to the device wherever it is in the house.
TheTP Link Nano TL-PA4010 Kit model is an entry level, best selling no nonsense powerline adapter model with just one ethernet port and no passthrough. Click here to view on Amazon. It will provide a solid, wired ethernet connection to your router using the existing electrical wiring of your house. See our full review of the product and our Powerline Adapters page. Our Product Comparison Table compares all the wired and wireless powerline adapter models at a glance by feature and functionality.
They are an excellent home networking solution, and crucially in the context of this article, are plug and play devices with no messing about and no DIY needed. You simply plug the two adapters in, pair them if necessary (most of the time they will pair up automatically), and then you have a wired connection wherever you want in the home.
This gives you all the benefits that being on a wired connection brings over wifi in terms of the quality and stability of the connection and the ability to extract the maximum bandwidth out of your internet package even at some distance from the router. You also avoid the network congestion that can result over wifi. See our full article on the benefits of wired connections over wireless ones.
Adding additional adapters to get more access points round the house is easy, and one huge benefit over wiring ethernet cables directly is that there are almost no wires trailing around since the (hidden) electrical wiring of the house is doing most of the work.
You simply need small ethernet cables at each end to connect the adapters to your router and devices; there is no need for any other cables running through walls or up stairs. Powerline Adapters tend to come in pairs so purchasing two sets will give you three access points for the home, with three sets giving you five access points.
In terms of strength and quality of the signal powerline adapters often stack up very well against wifi, delivering a connection almost as strong as if you were running ethernet directly. They are prone to signal loss and unreliability from time to time but this usually boils down to issues with the electrical wiring or circuitry in the house. See our articles here and here for problem solving and troubleshooting with powerline adapters.
With the release of newer generation models of powerline adapters with the capacity to transfer more data and filter out noise and interference better, problems people experience with powerline adapters have tended to lessen and in most houses they will work fine and deliver a very strong, reliable signal across the home for gaming, streaming and downloading.
If you have any doubts it may be worth purchasing and testing just one set of adapters at first, seeing that they work fine in different rooms across the home, and then purchasing more sets if you are impressed with the results and wish to expand to create a powerline network for wired access points in multiple rooms. In most cases there should be no problems, particularly in newer houses.
If you want an easy, relatively cheap and hassle free way solution to creating a wired home network that does not require drilling holes in walls and other cumbersome DIY, then powerline adapters are well worth considering as an alternative home networking solution to running ethernet cable directly.
Some considerations for using Powerline Adapters:
- They work best over well maintained, high quality electrical wiring. Worn or old wiring may not transmit the signal very well. In most modern and semi modern houses you will be fine
- They will only work across circuitry that is covered by the same meter or feed. Again in most houses this is the case and you will be fine but be careful with annexes, extensions etc which may run off separate meters. In this case a Powerline Adapter will not work.
- Powerline Adapters can be susceptible to interference with certain high consumption electrical devices; keeping them away from these kind of appliances will usually sort any problems.
- Overall in the vast majority of cases powerline adapters will deliver a signal as good or almost as good as if you were plugged directly into the router and are an excellent home networking solution for those looking for wired access points around the home.
- Additional powerline adapters can easily be added at different power outlets in the home to form a powerline network of 3, 4 or more adapters giving access points all around the house. See our article on this.
See our page on Powerline Adapters for a selection of makes and models.