Updated: October 16, 2018

How to Extend a Home Network

extending-home-network-iconMost people want to access the Internet from any room in the house/office and maybe even in the garden or summer house.

However, in many houses, and not just large houses, you will find that the WiFi coverage can be poor or non existent in some locations.

In this tutorial we look at various ways of extending a home/home office network so that you can connect to the Internet from any required location.

Although most people will want Wireless (Wi-Fi) access we will also look at how to extend wired access and wireless access.

If we start with a basic home network consisting of a single Wireless access point (WAP) that is part of the Wireless router as described in building a home network.home-networking-diagram
Now if the current Wi-fi signal is inadequate in parts of the house/office or in an out building then we will need to extend the network.

However before you go to the trouble of extending a network it is a good idea to try an get a better signal by relocating the router if possible.

Extending the Network

If we assume that the present WAP (Wireless Access Point) covers area 1 but not area 2 and our task is to extend the network to cover area 2.

To extend the Wi-Fi coverage to area 2 we will need a second  WAP (Wireless access point), and this second access point will need to connect to the WAP in Area 1.

extend-home-network-1

There are three methods available for connecting the Wireless Access Points ( WAPs) together. They are:

  • Use a WAP connected to the hub on network 1 using a UTP cable.
  • Use a WAP connected to the hub on network 1 using Homeplug adapters.
  • Connect with Wi-FI using a Wi-Fi range extender or repeater.

Using a UTP Cable

You can purchase UTP connection cables of various lengths which means that you don’t need to create your own cables.

However you will need to run the cable between rooms which usually involves drilling holes etc.

Although this is a very low cost method it is usually not the easiest.

Using Homeplug Adapters

Homeplug adaptors are the more flexible option as they can add network connectivity to any room that has a power outlet.

They work by using the home electrical wiring to carry the Ethernet signal between rooms.

Homeplug adapters can be used to extend a wired and wireless network .

Generally they work in pairs but you can use more than 2 on a network. They plug into the mains socket and usually provide an Ethernet connection on each end.

homeplug-ethernet

You simply plug the Ethernet cables into the WAPs at each end.

They also come with built in access points so that you don’t need an additional Access point.

homeplug-ethernet-wifi

Homeplug adapters with built in Wireless access points tend to be a little more expensive than standard Ethernet ones but are very convenient.  RefPowerline networking guide

Using a Wireless Repeater or Range Extender

Note You will hear the terms repeater,range extender and booster used but they are generally describing the same thing.

A Wireless Repeater takes a wireless signal and then re-broadcasts it. This means that the repeater must be in range of the original Wireless signal.

It also usually means that the throughput is halved. Some repeaters using different bands i.e. they could use the 5Ghz band for the connection to the WAP and the 2.5 Ghz band for connecting devices.wireless-repeater-extender

The repeater creates a second Wireless network which can have the same SSID as the original network.

Because wireless devices on network 2 must go through two wireless hops this connection method is much slower than using an extension cable or homeplug adaptors.

General Considerations

Network SSIDs

Regardless of how you extend the network you will likely end up with two or more wireless networks.

You can configure these networks to use the sane broadcast SSID so that they appear to be a single network.

You would also need to use the same security settings.

This configuration means that when a user moves from one location, and network to another they don’t need to switch networks.

However some devices have problems with this configuration, so you may want to use separate SSIDs. Ref- 

The Screenshot below shows my home network with multiple Access points and Network IDs.

multiple Wi-Fi networks

Using a Old Router as a Wireless Access Point (WAP)

If you have an old router you could use it as an access point or repeater. This PCworld article describes how.

Personally I’m not keen on this as the setup is convoluted, and easy to get wrong, and it is not possible on all routers.

Useful Devices

Wireless electrical power sockets are a new introduction to the market and function as wireless repeaters.

They are convenient because they don’t consume a electrical power socket. Here is a picture of a UK socket.

wi-fi-power-socket

Wi-FI Mesh Networks

These are also relatively new systems that aim to provide Wi-Fi access in larger homes.

They comprise 2 or more Wi-Fi nodes that work together to offer a single Wi-Fi network.

See Home Wi-Fi Mesh Systems- Quick Overview

Common Questions and Answers

Q-Can I use an old Wi-Fi router to extend my network.?

A- Yes but it will need to function solely as an access point. The setup can be tricky and because Wi-Fi access points are cheap it is easier to get a new access point.

Related Tutorials and Useful Resources:

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19 comments

  1. I am moving to a different location and my network will not be able to be configured the same as it is now.

    On the most upward level will be my office where I will have a computer, two printers and internet based phone . Additionally on that level , there will be an HDTV with Roku device, tablet and cell phone.

    On the level below that comma will be a laptop, Ring wireless doorbell, and cell phone.

    On the level below that will be, a laptop, tablet, 4K TV with Roku device, Ring wireless doorbell, and cell phone.

    On the level below that will be, laptop, c HD TV, and cell phone.

    The levels are separated by 7 steps, cso it’s not a full “floor” it’s split level. There are coaxial cable plugs in every room of the house. I’ve never had cable and I don’t know if these are live or not. I’ve always just had two floors with a very basic simple wire / wireless set up with AT&T that was like a souped up DSL connection. I’m just having a hard time imagining in my mind what it is I need and where and how I go about using (or not) all of the coaxial cable outlets in each room. I don’t want to spend $100 a month on cable bills (and if Iknew how and which cords to cut, I’d be a cable cutter for sure)! There must be a simpler way to go. Obviously, I could use some guidance. Thanks, Pat

    1. Pat
      Never had cable but I can only assume that it is for cable TV. However it might also provide your Internet access.
      You need to check if your area has Internet access via fibre, DSL or just cable.

      I have a 4 storey house It is also wired with normal TV sockets (not cable TV) in each room which I don’t use. I use a wireless access point on each level.
      The access point connect to each other using powerline adaptors and one of the access points is also my DSL router.
      Depending on the structure you might get away with an access point on each other level.

      Hope that helps
      Rgds
      Steve

  2. Hi I have two range extenders set up using the same main router : these are netgear range extenders – though they seem properly set up an unable to locate one of them – I believe it’s using the same extension name for both . How do I separate the two extenders ? Would be grateful for any advise

    1. Hi
      I found a manual for netgear online. You can change the SSID name of the extender in the Wireless settings.Below is a snippet of the instructions

      Extender Wireless Settings
      You can use the Wireless Settings screen to change the network name (SSID) for the
      Extender’s network and to set up wireless security. If you do not change these settings, the
      network name is NETGEAR_EXT, and the network is open (no wireless security is set up)

      Change it to NETGEAR_EXT2 and see if that works and let me know.
      rgds
      steve

  3. These are very helpful tips. I would not have ever thought of extending home and office network by myself until I read your step by step guide. Now I think the I can do it by self and save money.

  4. Steve can you clarify your own home arrangement please and roaming within your house.
    You say you have power line wifi access points on each level and I take from your earlier screenshot you have a unique SSID for each access point (?). Do you therefore have to manually switch to each access point as you ascend through your house to get the strongest possible signal; otherwise won’t your mobile device stay preferentially connected to the last access point, even if it is of poor signal strength?
    That seems to be the frustration in my house, overlapping network zones and having to manually switch our devices (tablets, phones, laptops) as we roam across our house.
    Thanks
    Mike

    1. Mike
      I have two access points one on the first level and the other on the third.On the first level I also have wi-fi range extender as the walls are thick and solid.
      The access points are linked by cat5 cable as I’ve had this arrangement for about 15 years.
      I use homeplug to connect a BT vision box to the network.
      The access points have different SSIds but it doesn’t really affect me as I use a desktop.
      Everyone on the top 3 floors uses the same access point and the coverage is good.
      The first level is rented and so it is effectively separate anyway so I don’t need to roam.
      Everything you say is correct. If you want roaming then you need to go for a wi-fi mesh but make sure that they can all interconnect.
      For example my first level is solid concrete and I get a very weak signal from the first level to the second so It would be difficult to get a mesh unless I could like the mesh access point via cable (homeplug).
      Hope that makes sense
      rgds
      steve

  5. When we built this singe story house we ran broadband to several points in the house, such as my wife’s “desk” in our open plan kitchen and to another point in the open-plan dining area to allow a hard wire connection to a Sonos amplifier, which drives in-ceiling speakers in our living/dining space.

    While I have the modem in my home office, close to my computer and my other Sonos hardware, I now use a tablet more in these others part of the house, so I am considering ways to enhance wi-fi distribution.

    So is there a device that I can use these broadband connections to boost wi-fi in these other parts?

  6. Hi Steve, great article.

    We have an extension to our house behind a very solid brick external wall, and the only way I could get a Wi-fi signal in the room, or connect my BT vision box, was by using BT Home hotspot 600, whiCh worked fine for 15 months. It then started to only work erratically, even though my BT homehub 6 is fine and provides a strong Wi-fi signal in other parts of the house. I replaced the Hotspot 600 but get the same erratic (or no) signal. Do you have any experience of what might stop these powerline systems from working? I dug out my old Comtrend Powergrid 9020s, which BT had supplied me years ago when I first signed up to BT vision, and they seem to work OK, but of course don’t provide a Wi-fi signal.

    thanks

    1. Mike
      If it was working for so long and has stopped working then it is probably that something in your home wiring has changed or you have added a device that is causing lots of noise or maybe a neighbour.
      The good news is that the old ones work so I would get a cheap Ethernet wireless range extender/switch like this one.
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edimax-EW-7228APn-Wireless-Access-switch/dp/B004JV42A0/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1534766385&sr=8-16&keywords=wi-fi+extender+ethernet+hub
      Its sold out but you should find something similar.
      Rgds
      steve

  7. Steve
    I’m so glad I found your website. I’ve been struggling with the BT HomeSpot devices for the last 12 months to provide both an ethernet connection and wi-fi into a granny flat that my in-laws live in at the back of our house. Some times it works but more often than not it doesn’t. I use the RJ45 in the Homespot for onward connection into the shed where I use a turbo trainer for my bike that links to an online cycling platform – this is essential for my training so I need to get it sorted before the bad weather kicks in. I’ve been trying to find a local broadband engineer to come and fix me up with a network that will perform properly but nobody is interested. Now I’ve read your article I think I understand why, its something I should do myself!
    So im just looking for some reassurance for my plans. I’m going to buy a 40m length of external Cat 6 cable and run this from my BT Hub to a new Wireless router in the granny flat, mainly in soft ground but i will put it in plastic conduit. I will then use one of the RJ45’s in the router to provide a hard wired connection to my computer in the shed, which is about 30m away from the granny flat and I’m assuming the router will also provide wi-fi in the granny flat. Could I also have an IP phone so that the in-laws have there own phone rather than using ours?
    Does this make sense? Also what sort of router should i buy – theres a huge range and costs are £30 – £500!
    Thanks in advance.
    Garry

    1. Gary
      Glad you find the site useful.
      Your solution sounds good. I have a cable linking my basement to the second storey that I put in about 20 years ago before homeplugs were available. It works fine.
      What you need in the granny flat is a wireless access point not a router. You only need 1 router which is the BT one which connects to your phone line.
      Access points are cheap around 20-30 pounds
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/TP-LINK-TL-WA801ND-Wireless-Access-Point/dp/B004UBU8IE/ref=pd_vtph_bs_tr_t_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B004UBU8IE&pd_rd_r=1a62e2cd-b123-11e8-9d19-530a15f05916&pd_rd_w=gKfoB&pd_rd_wg=YDFdF&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_p=aa5506dc-74c9-4184-9c87-9196ba535834&pf_rd_r=27G4CP057JSK87F3MJ27&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=27G4CP057JSK87F3MJ27.
      However you are probably better with a combined access point/switch
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edimax-EW-7228APn-Wireless-Access-switch/dp/B004JV42A0/ref=pd_sbs_147_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B004JV42A0&pd_rd_r=1a62e2cd-b123-11e8-9d19-530a15f05916&pd_rd_w=k8Usg&pd_rd_wg=YDFdF&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_p=85d62760-2a0e-407d-aa36-f3c03afc01c3&pf_rd_r=27G4CP057JSK87F3MJ27&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=27G4CP057JSK87F3MJ27

      again around 20 -30 pounds.
      There is no need to spend more than about £40 on one.
      Yes you could use an IP phone in the granny flat but they don’t appear very popular as most people use a mobile.
      Rgds
      steve

        1. If you go with the wap/switch then yes. Here is one here
          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edimax-EW-7228APn-Wireless-Access-switch/dp/B004JV42A0/ref=sr_1_11?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1536240577&sr=1-11&keywords=wireless+access+point+with+switch

          It is out of stock but that is what you are looking for. If you look at the back of the device a WAP has only 1 ethernet port whereas the combo has several usually 4.
          Again you could go for a switch and a wap as separate devices and wire them together.
          I would guess that you already have wireless access points from BT if so use the cable to connect to an ethernet switch and the switch connects to the access points.
          Send me a sketch of your proposed setup and the devices you currently have and I will outline your options.
          Use the ask steve page to send it
          Rgds
          Steve

  8. Great information you have here Steve. I have been doing a lot of research here lately over extending my internet service. I live on a farm and my mother, just bought a mobile home and moved next to me. What I want to do is fix it so she can use my internet. Streaming movies, surfing the web, playing games on her tablet. She is about 300 feet away from me. I can get a weak signal at her front door, but when I walk in I loose it all if I’m not in the window. What is the most best cost efficient way to get internet to her?

    1. Hi
      Personally I would go for a direct cable and terminate it on a Wireless access point in the mobile home.
      The access points are about 20 pounds.
      You can get terminated cable but I have only seen it in 50m length but a bit more searching and you might find 100m.
      Longer cables you will need to terminate yourself. This kit here has the crimping tool and the connectors
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00I4REUX4/ref=sspa_dk_detail_0?pd_rd_i=B00I71B0O4&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_p=b0023f58-ff8d-4694-adc6-43892d3a8107&pf_rd_r=DWSQXZ0W57CXSNTRAB18&pd_rd_wg=CtmzX&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&pd_rd_w=2BZ5e&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pd_rd_r=8273948c-b82a-11e8-bf9b-3740536f8a98&th=1

      Hope that helps
      Rgds
      Steve

  9. Hi Steve,

    We are planning a new build house, two floors and approx 400 sq metres floor space. Internal walls are either 6-8″ concrete (ICF) or concrete block, and ground floor ceiling is concrete block and beam. How best to provide coverage? BT cable will enter the garage, at periphery of house. First question is should we keep master socket (and router) in garage and connect to central switch via CAT5e, or use telephone extension cable from master socket to site router centrally? I suppose the answer to that then affects how we provide coverage throughout the house. One suggested option is to run CAT cables to all rooms, and some advise putting several CAT points in every room, wherever you think you may need a connection in future. Otherwise we could use WAPs and home plug adapters to extend network. I believe that the wired connection is faster and more reliable, but many CAT sockets do we need? Or is a hybrid solution of wired and wireless most practical? I’d be grateful for any help. Thanks.

    1. Because you are doing a new build I would go for a cat 5 connection in each room or at least on each floor.
      If on each floor then try to get one each side of the house.
      You can plug a wireless access point into the connector to give Wi-Fi coverage on each floor.
      As you said if you do find you need an Ethernet connection in a room that doesn’t have one you can use home plug adaptors.
      Generally cable is used for backbone connections were it needs to be fast.Most peripherals use Wi-Fi and most can only use Wi-Fi.
      So plan first for the backbone that is the most important and don’t forget storage rooms as this is often where you want to place equipment so it is hidden.
      As a side note My house came with TV sockets in almost all of the rooms however none of them were anywhere near were my wife wanted a TV.

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