from my notebook

My head is full of thoughts, and I have to write them down.

How to Extend WiFi Without Running Cable

Several years ago I set up a wireless access point in our church tech booth mainly to be able to access our sound board on a (then) laptop (and now iPad). Our building is actually two separate buildings later connected by an addition stretching across the front of them. There are lots of brick and concrete for wireless signals to pass through.

We’ve had increasing need/desire to have internet access over the entire building, so I asked my Information Systems team to look into possibilities of making this happen. Running Ethernet to the other building wasn’t a viable option for us, and I really didn’t want to deal with setting up another access point. I wanted this to be simple. That’s when I came across the powerline conversion method.

I don’t profess to understand exactly how it works, but simply speaking, power line adapters “convert” the electrical lines in your building to network lines. Most kits come with two pieces, but not all kits provide wireless capabilities, so read descriptions carefully. Some kits only provide extension of wired connections.

I chose Netgear’s Powerline AV200 Wireless-N Extender Kit because it had the wireless feature and all the parts we would need. This first unit plugs into an electrical outlet and connects via Ethernet to your router, or in our case a switch, since the router is located in the office building a couple hundred feet away.

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The second unit plugs into a wall outlet in another part of the building and connects to the first unit through the “converted” power lines. This is the unit that provides the WiFi signal. Color coded lights on the unit indicate signal strength and help in finding a proper location for this second unit.

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The units are billed as plug and play, and I’d say they are, although there is some simple software to install in order to configure the units. You should follow the instructions carefully as to the order of initially connecting the units. The only difficulty I had was password securing the WiFi. I expected to find that under Security settings, but eventually located under Wireless settings.

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Now we have WiFi for staff and leaders to use throughout our buildings. It was easy to install, relatively inexpensive (this kit was $100 compared to the access point at $160), and can be easily relocated if needed.

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