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The easiest way to add ethernet ports around your house

Even now, in the year 2020, some internet-connected devices still lack Wi-Fi, and have to be connected via ethernet. That's not a huge deal if they're located next to your router, but it can pose a massive logistical challenge if you want to use them anywhere else in your home. But before you call an electrician to rip out your walls and put in new data lines, you should give a Powerline adapter a shot.

Powerline adapters piggyback off of the electrical wiring that's already in your home, and transmit data over them as if they were ethernet wires. The resulting connection is usually slower than a dedicated ethernet line, and more prone to interference from certain electronics attached to the same circuits, but it'll generally be reliable enough to connect a computer, DVR, printer, or game console, and trust that you'll have internet access.  

Powerline adapters are always sold in pairs: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter plugs into an AC outlet, and connects to your router or modem directly via an ethernet cable. The receiver then plugs into any other power outlet in your house (though you'll get the best performance if it's on the same circuit as the transmitter), and usually provides a couple of ethernet ports, and in some cases, can even broadcast Wi-Fi on its own. In between, all of the 1s and 0s will move between the two devices via your home's electrical wiring, no construction required.

Wi-Fi Enabled

TP-Link AV1300 Powerline WiFi Extender
TP-Link AV1300 Powerline WiFi Extender

If you have one spot in your home that doesn't get a good Wi-Fi signal, this powerline adapter from TP-Link has a miniature Wi-Fi router built into the receiver, in addition to three ethernet ports for wired devices. You can either make your network name and password identical to your main network's so your devices move between them as you move around the house (though they'd still show up as two separate networks), or give it a different network name and password if you want to connect specific devices that will always be in the same location.

A Budget Option

TP-Link AV1000 Powerline Adapter
TP-Link AV1000 Powerline Adapter

This set only costs $50 (at the time of this writing), and is generally well reviewed, but it only includes one ethernet port on the receiver, and no Wi-Fi. But both the transmitter and receiver feature passthrough AC outlets, which is a nice touch.

Consider A Mesh Network

Amazon eero mesh WiFi router
Amazon eero mesh WiFi router

Pretty much any situation that can be solved by a powerline adapter could also be solved with a modern mesh Wi-Fi system. You'll pay more upfront, but you'll have whole-home Wi-Fi that actually acts as a single network, and seamlessly shuffles devices between your routers so everyone gets the best possible signal. Most mesh systems also include ethernet ports on all of their access points, so you can plug legacy devices into your second or third router, even if they aren't connected to your modem.

Amazon's new Eero mesh Wi-Fi system is incredibly affordable at $99 per router, or $249 for a pack of three, and includes two ethernet ports on each router, with none of the interference that you can experience with a powerline kit.


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