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How can I use powerline adapters and wifi access points to make a large wifi area?

Last response: in Networking
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September 29, 2013 8:08:49 PM

We have a very long L-shaped house, and my father demands an ethernet connection and control over the router (despite myself being a software/web developer and he not knowing anything about networks or computers).

I have convinced him to relieve me of my 1 MBps suffering and install the TrendNet TPL-406E powerline adapters.

I have 3 computers and a bunch of mobile devices that I would like to connect. I would also like to give my mother's corner of the house better connection, too.
My idea is that I would buy 3 powerline adapters- one to talk to the main router (dad's office, connected to modem), one in my corner, and one in mom's corner.

From here I was hoping that I could easily plug-n-play a wifi access point from each adapter. I've read http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1643510/combine-... and that told me that its possible, but I'm wondering the details as far as SSID/password, linking the client devices to the nearest or specific router, and installation processes.

I know I could use repeaters, but I have yet to see an affordable one that actually does the job well. Plus, the idea of having a wired connection close to each wireless transmitter seems optimal.

One side question- is there a *main* powerline adapter, or any pairing procedures for the powerline adapters? Or are they manufactured to detect their position in the network?
September 30, 2013 8:39:25 AM

I would highly recommend the new Zyxel PLA5205kit, as it is MUCH faster than almost all the other adapters out there right now (the kit is two adapters and is cheaper than buying them one at a time). If you cannot use an Ethernet cable, a pair of those is your next best bet.

There is no *main* adapter, you plug one near the router and run a cable from a router LAN port to the adapter. Then on the other adapter(s) run an Ethernet cable to either the computer or an LAN port of a cheap wireless N router configured as an AP (easy to do, I can give you a step by step if you go that way). Then the AP will broadcast a wireless signal and you have the other three LAN ports for wired connections.

There is software with the adapter that you can use to configure them if you want something special, but you don't necessarily need to use it.
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September 30, 2013 10:29:14 AM

Thanks for the quick response, Beast.

I've already ordered the TrendNet adapters. They claim 500Mbps. Hopefully it's not too far from that (They're half the price of the Zyxels).
And our internet here probably never exceeds 30MBps anyway. The woes of living with penchant parents at 21...

So the access points will all broadcast the same SSID as long as they are set up as a bridge, correct?
Will my devices pick the strongest signal, or will I need to explicitly 'sign-up' for a specific access point?
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Best solution

September 30, 2013 10:43:02 AM

I've used those Trendnet and you should get around 40Mbps over them, which is adequate for most stuff.

When you set up the wireless routers as access points you need to attach a computer by an Ethernet cable to configure them: turn off DHCP, assign them each a different static address that is in the network range (you will need to enter their MAC address into the main router where you will give them the same static address that you assign in the AP router, and that address should be in the network range but outside the DHCP assignment range -- you can also use address reservation in the main router and just reserve the same address as in the AP in the main router if your main router supports that feature).

In each AP you should change the SSID to be the same as the main router, use the same security type and passkey, but set a different radio channel (selecting from the three non-overlapping channels 1, 6, 11). Once the AP is set up, detach the computer and plug the Ethernet cable from the powerline adapter into one of the LAN ports of the AP.

You should get the connection with the best signal, but if you have issues and want specific devices to connect to specific APs you can set them up on different subnets -- if you need to do that just PM me and I'll give you directions.
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