About Ethernet Cable Alternatives, For most people, running ethernet cables through their walls or digging a ditch is enough to make them cringe.
After all, who wants to deal with the hassle of digging ditches or drilling holes in walls and fishing cables?
Fortunately, you do not need to run ethernet cables as there are many wireless alternatives that provide the fast, stable, and reliable internet connectivity you need.
Keep reading to learn more about ethernet cable alternatives.
Table of Contents
- Powerline Adapters
- The Pros of Powerline Adapters
- The cons of powerline adapters
- 1. They only work if both ends are on a similar circuit.
- 2. They can be impacted by electrical interference.
- 3. They lose speed.
- 4. They work better alone.
- 5. They are limited by socket locations.
- 6. Different brands do not work together.
- 7. They have limited configuration options.
- 8. They release low-frequency RF pollution.
- How to set up powerline adapters
- The MoCA adapters
- WiFi Extenders
- The Pros of WiFi extenders
- The Cons of WiFi extenders
- How to setup WiFi extenders
- Wireless Mesh Systems
Powerline adapters are devices that use the home’s electric wiring to transmit communication signals. They (at least two) hook into the wall socket and use ethernet cables to connect to your device (PC, gaming console, TV, etc.) at one end and to the router at the other.
Unlike WiFi which provides a wireless connection, powerline adapters provide physical connections between the router and your device.
Moreover, they are well-established technologies, and their speeds have increased steadily over time to theoretically match the WiFi speed (1300 Mbps).
The Pros of Powerline Adapters
1. They provide a wired connection without ethernet
Powerline adapters use your home’s electrical wiring system. Therefore, you do not need to install any extra cables. Unlike ethernet cable installation, which can be expensive and time-consuming, installing power adapters can save money and time.
2. They free up your WiFi
It connects to the LAN ports of the router through an ethernet cable. So, if you connect your device through a powerline adapter instead of WiFi, it will provide more capacity to other devices by taking some load off your wireless network.
While you may not notice much of a difference for low-demand devices, you will see an improvement in the performance of your wireless network if you use powerline adapters instead of WiFi to stream 4K content.
3. They can extend your WiFi
While a WiFi extender can be perfect for extending your WiFi network when there is a long distance from the router, powerline adapters are the best option if the distance is reasonably large.
4. They are flexible.
You can move them around and use them on various devices without any problem. Once hooked in, powerline adapters only take a few seconds to reconnect.
5. They are super easy to set up.
Powerline adapters are easy to set up, even for technologically impaired individuals. You only need to hook it in, pair it, and you are done! They also have a user-friendly app that allows users to change a few settings, such as the WiFi’s SSID.
6. They can bolt onto any network.
You will unlikely run a powerline network exclusively and, at the very least, use a wireless network from the router. Therefore, you can use powerline adapters to strengthen an existing network. Besides, they can be a temporary fix for an ethernet network solution you may be planning to have in the future.
The cons of powerline adapters
1. They only work if both ends are on a similar circuit.
While this may be a problem for most homes, if your home has two or more circuits because of an extension, then you will have issues.
In our experience, we haven’t seen this problem occur regularly, but usually, they do not work for our garden, buildings, or large properties with 3-phase systems.
You should also note that domestic electrical practices and standards differ from state to state (country to country). For example, a powerline adapter is likely more effective in the UK than in the US.
2. They can be impacted by electrical interference.
While this is a common issue, the impact is temporary for some devices, such as microwaves, tumble dryers, etc. However, for other devices (freezers and fridges), the impact can be consistent.
This issue should be easy to spot because powerline units will have a red or orange indication light if your connection suffers from interference. The impact of electrical interference is often the degradation of your connection speed, which is the most common with powerline adapters.
However, in most cases, a powerline adapter unit impacted by electrical interference is still faster than a weak WiFi signal.
NOTE: Sky TV have stopped the use of powerline adapters for reasons that they are too unreliable. And they have started using extenders (repeaters).
3. They lose speed.
Regardless of how little load is on your circuit, its core function is to supply electricity, and you will often experience some loss of speed. How much speed you lose determines how much of a problem this is.
For example, losing 120 Mbps from 300 Mbps is not s significant problem. However, losing 6 Mbps from 8 Mbps is a huge problem. In this situation, you may want to extend your internet with other methods or increase your speed (if it is an option).
4. They work better alone.
Powerline adapter units have several end units depending on the model, which allows for multiple connections from your router.
However, from our experience, having more units reduces the reliability and stability of the connections. Therefore, power adapters are ideal for connecting to a single point but not perfect for a complete home network solution.
5. They are limited by socket locations.
While it seems obvious, powerline adapters do not work as well on extension leads. If you are using a powerline to feed your television on the end of a 20-meter extension lead, you will likely discover it does not work well or doesn’t work at all. Even in short extension leads, you may find a massive loss in speed.
6. Different brands do not work together.
Based on our experience, if you have a Divola powerline adapter installed in your home and then you add a TP link, everything will stop working. While you may sometimes see devices on their competitors’ apps, it does not always mean they work together.
7. They have limited configuration options.
Powerline devices’ selling point is that they are effortless to set up. However, this is a double-edged sword because, in some areas, such as a block of flats, there may be many WiFi networks, and specific frequencies may become crowded.
Having many people on a similar frequency can cause interference and signal problems causing your WiFi to be unreliable and slow. While switching frequencies can resolve this problem, most powerline adapters do not have the “switching frequency” option. Therefore, you will be stuck with a poorly performing unit.
8. They release low-frequency RF pollution.
Using powerline adapters causes their electrical circuits to produce (emit) low-frequency RF waves that are bad for amateur radio enthusiasts.
How to set up powerline adapters
As mentioned above, it is straightforward to set up a powerline adapter. You only need to plug one powerline adapter into an outlet near the router and plug another adapter into an outlet near your device (laptop, computer, etc.).
Caption: Powerline adapter setup
The MoCA adapters
MoCA is an abbreviation that means Multimedia over Coax Alliance. MoCA adapters allow us to establish a hardwired internet connection with the already installed coaxial cables rather than investing in a new infrastructure and ethernet cables.
The Pros of MoCA adapters
1. Seamless implementation process
Multimedia over Coaxial Alliance adapters are plug-and-play devices you can easily connect to coax cable lines installed in your home. MoCA adapters often come in pairs, so you can connect one to your computer and use the other at the router.
2. Existence of high-band signal
MoCA provides at least 175 Mbps bandwidth, which should be enough to transfer multimedia content from your computer to TV, play online games, and stream two HD videos.
3. Highly secured
While MoCA will help you implement a cabled internet connection, an intruder interception is entirely nullified, a prevalent security problem with wireless connections.
4. Minimal interference
Although MoCA uses coaxial cables to transmit signals, it is less prone to interference (has minimal interference) from your other wireless systems.
5. Highly compatible
Multimedia over Coaxial Alliance (MoCA) adapters are highly compatible because they do not rival other wireless signals at your home.
The cons of MoCA adapters
The number of Multimedia over Coaxial Alliance adapters you can use in a network is restricted to sixteen. However, most home requirements do not require more than four MoCA adapters.
Using these adapters is relatively expensive, as the average cost of a MoCA adapters pair from a reputable manufacturer is over $100. However, this is cheaper than setting up ethernet cables around your home.
How to setup MoCA adapters
Like powerline adapters, MoCA is a plug-and-play device. You only need to plug one MoCA adapter into an outlet near your computer and another adapter hooked into an outlet near the router.
Caption: MoCA adapter setup
They are external devices that amplify the existing signal from a wireless Access Point or router and rebroadcast it as a secondary signal.
The Pros of WiFi extenders
1. Better coverage in Wide Open Area
Integrating a WiFi extender into your home will broaden your wireless network’s range throughout the premises, thus strengthening the router’s signal.
2. WiFi extenders are easy to setup
Most WiFi extenders include a plug-and-play functionality with an automatic configuration. So you do not need technical expertise to set up and use a WiFi extender. You only need to unbox your WiFi extender and plug it into your power socket, which will launch within minutes.
3. Reusing existing router
You can use an old router as a WiFi extender without any issue because the old router and extender bear similar SSID.
Installing a WiFi extender helps you to reuse the signal throughout your premise and save you laborious effort and time. This way, you can use your existing (older) network device to its optimum life.
Installing WiFi extenders does not require extra legwork, wires, or network equipment. They are pre-configured, so you do not need to worry about buying new cables to use them or additional installation costs.
5. Multiple users can connect
One of the main cons of using a shared wireless network is the reduced connection speed whenever new users join your home network. Imagine someone streaming HD content as your Wikipedia webpage takes a thousand years to load. It is normal to find yourself in this situation when the bandwidth of your shared wireless network diminishes as more users connect to it.
However, WiFi extenders come in handy as it provides multiple frequencies and channels, which allow multiple users to connect or access the network regardless of their location inside your premise.
The Cons of WiFi extenders
1. Poor signal
Even if your WiFi extender and router are new, the extender often halves your network’s bandwidth for any connected computer or device.
A WiFi extender receives, processes, and rebroadcasts signal across various channels. This is often a bidirectional process,i.e., from router to computer and vice-versa, reducing the signal strength.
2. Lower speed
Due to a weak signal, you will most likely experience a downgraded speed from your wireless network as the signal goes through the extender.
A WiFi booster does not turn out as an ideal solution in most instances because it operates to extend the signal in your home as the network quality gets worse.
3. WiFi extender Vs. Electronic interference
Every person has multiple electronic devices and equipment in their homes.
And the presence of prevalent obstructions, such as electrical fittings in the wall, wireless monitors, Bluetooth devices, cordless phones, and Microwaves, can lower your network signal.
For instance, your wireless network signal gets absorbed, refracted, or even reflected by obstruction.
So, to optimize your network, you need to identify the best location to set up (place) your WiFi extender.
4. Incompatibility issues
Always configuring a WiFi extender from a different manufacturer (brand) with your router can lead to incompatibility or inoperability issues.
Therefore, we recommend purchasing the same extender brand as the router.
WiFi extenders often have their own SSID (network name) and password, which differs from the router’s SSID.
Therefore, setting up a completely different brand can be complicated.
5. Compatibility with future WiFi standards
We recommend checking if your WiFi extender’s firmware gets frequent updates, as outdated firmware can turn your WiFi extender useless.
Therefore, if there are no available patches, then avoid purchasing them.
How to setup WiFi extenders
Setting up a WiFi Extender entails plugging it into the outlet and connecting it to a wireless network it emits.
Caption: The WiFi extender
Wireless Mesh Systems
Wireless Mesh System is an ethernet cable alternative that creates a uniform blanket for radio signals, allowing all devices connected to your network to access the internet.
Every device in your network communicates directly with the nearest node with the strongest signal.
Besides, the nodes communicate via a separate WiFi (backhaul) channel. This is essential in maintaining the maximum transfer speed.
While most mesh nodes connect to the internet by WiFi, they can connect by wire, depending on your chosen system.
What is worth noting is that you can expand the mesh network at any time using new nodes if you want a wider area coverage.
The Pros of Wireless Mesh Systems
1. Ease of installation and management
You can use the connection to your already installed WiFi router to extend your network coverage, plug the WAN cable from ISP (Internet Service Provider) into one of the nodes, or plug it all into the socket.
Configuration is done through a mobile app that also allows you to manage your connection.
For instance, you can see the number of nodes you have installed, the signal quality, the number of devices connected at any given time, and what each one is doing.
Besides, you can create guest networks for your guests and set priorities.
Newly added nodes can automatically be configured and recognized.
2. Firmware updates
The mobile app allows for automatic and quick software updates of the nodes each time the manufacturer releases new firmware. In contrast, you must visit the manufacturer’s page to download the latest version for traditional wireless devices.
Most mesh WiFi systems come with a simple but modern design, no multi-colored LEDs, and no visible antennas, all to blend harmoniously into the design of your premise.
The most vital aspect for users connected to a mesh network is that you do not need to worry about switching your existing wireless network immediately after reaching a problem area.
Changing the connection is done automatically to an optimal node and is transparent to all the devices in your network.
This can not be possible when using WiFi extenders and access points.
Most mesh WiFi systems are multi-band, and they understand how to use different bands for communication between nodes.
This allows for the maintenance of maximum speed for all connected devices. In contrast, in the case of WiFi extenders, the speed will automatically drop by 50%.
Moreover, mesh nodes understand how to change the wireless frequency and channel band automatically.
This is essential in avoiding an overly congested radio spectrum, which is done without the user’s intervention.
The Cons of Wireless Mesh Systems
Mesh WiFi systems are costly because you can expect to pay more for a premium 3-node system.
For instance, you can get away with buying a router and a few access points/repeaters, bridges, or two routers with powerful antennas.
However, the price will decrease over time as Mesh WiFi systems often diversify.
2. Advanced configuration
Generally, the idea of configuration and installation simplicity is at odds with the concept of advanced configuration.
This needs to be improved in Mesh WiFi systems as you can have complexity and simplicity simultaneously.
That is why we highly recommend connecting your Mesh WiFi system to an existing (old) router used for advanced connection configuration to the outside world and securing your network.
3. Compatibility with other brands
While the WiFi Alliance Consortium developed new connection standards, only a few systems currently use them.
This means that the network expansion of the Mesh WiFi system can only be done using nodes from the same brand or manufacturer.
Therefore, you must purchase the same node model to complete your existing network.
However, while this compatibility issue between different manufacturers doesn’t seem good from this point, we expect the problem to improve in the coming years.
How to Set up Wireless Mesh Systems
Wireless Mesh Systems consist of the main base station, which is used to connect to the modem.
They also include one or more satellite units you can set up around your premise for coverage.
Mesh system setup
One of the many ways to get fast, stable, and reliable internet in your home is by running ethernet cables through your wall.
However, there are many wireless alternatives that can give you the coverage and speed you require without all the hassle.
If you need assistance setting up any of the ethernet cables mentioned in this article, Cloom Tech got you covered!