How to Hardwire Home without Ethernet in the Walls

    Listen. I have nothing against WiFi. Wireless internet access is a miracle. There are many situations in which a wired connection makes no sense. Imagine if you had your phone connected to a wall.

    Since we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Ethernet, I would like to make an appeal for the humble and hardworking wired connections.

    It is much more stable, faster and has a lower latency with a wired connection. Sending a signal over copper wires is better than converting it to radio waves, which are then sent through walls, furniture and appliances. Wi-Fi doesn’t harm people, but people hurt Wi-Fi. Every device you remove from your Wi-Fi network will help all the other devices that are still connected to it. Hardwire all devices you can. This includes computers, gaming consoles and TVs.

    A little wiring can make a big difference in your Wi-Fi setup and save you from having to buy a mesh network system or worse, a WiFi extender.

    You can do two great things with wired networking.

    Move your router: The best place to put a WiFi router in your home is the middle. However, unless you have an ethernet connection, the internet connection is likely along the exterior wall. This was a convenient location for the ISP installer, but may not be for you. A wired connection allows you to place the Wi-Fi in the center of the home, while leaving the modem at the front. Everyone wins.

    As an example, my fiber gateway — the place where my ISP’s fiber optic signal enters — is located in my garage. The house I live in is about 10 years old, and it is wired with ethernet. However, the connection between my gateway and the network enclosure located in my laundry room was made by an indirect connection that is full of splices. This is due to the decisions made by previous ISP installers. My internet connection would drop. In the future, I will run a direct in-wall connection to bypass that mess. But in the interim, I have run a 50 foot patch cable from my garage to my laundry room and then into the wireless router.

    Replacing Mesh Backhaul:The entire reason mesh networking kits were popular was that they gave you a decent WiFi connection withoutwires. And here I’m suggesting that you put back the wires. Listen to me.

    Wi-Fi is used by mesh networking kits such as Eero, nest pro and Orbi to communicate with both the router and satellite nodes, as well as the client devices. They usually dedicate one Wi-Fi channel to backhaul, or the communication between mesh nodes. The other band is for the devices. Each node must be close to each other to receive a good signal on the backhaul channel. This means that you can have more Wi-Fi signals within your airspace. If your mesh system allows it, replacing even one of the backhauls from your main router to the satellite node by a wired connection dramatically improves your connection. This is especially true for devices that are further away from your main router. You can place your Wi-Fi Access Points further apart, improve communication between them and use less of them. This is how I fixed the Eero system of my in-laws last Christmas to mild applause.

    Many houses and apartments, particularly those constructed or renovated within the past decade, have ethernet installed in their walls. Some only in one or two locations, while others are in nearly every room. You can get started with a simple networking switch and some cables if you haven’t already. Most people do not have Ethernet in their walls. It is also not cheap or easy to install it, even if it can be done by poking holes in your wall.

    There are many alternatives. From cheapest to most expensive to… worst, you can buy a long ethernet cord, use your existing coax wiring or powerline network.

    Get a long cable.

    Here’s what I recommend: Get an ethernet cable that is really long. A 100-foot cable is about $25 from a reputable supplier. Connect the devices you wish to connect. This could allow you to put your Wi-Fi Router in the middle of the home. It could be used to hardwire a gaming PC so that it doesn’t lag during multiplayer matches. You can use it to hardwire your gaming PC and stop lagging out of multiplayer matches. Renters or people without ethernet and cable wiring can use this option.

    You’ve now spent $25 or $50. You can make a 100-foot Ethernet cable look more attractive if you are happy with its performance, but don’t like the way it looks. Use a Peel-and-stick Cable Raceway or tuck the cable under the baseboards, carpet edge or baseboards if possible. Is this elegant? It’s not that elegant. Does it really work? Yes.

    Use your cable wiring

    MoCA adapters such as this one can convert between Ethernet and Coax wiring so that you can use existing cables to extend your network.

    Coax is installed in most older homes, thanks to the many years of satellite TV, cable television, and cable internet installations. You may have pre-installed coax cable connections in your apartment or home built in the 90s. MoCA adapters can convert ethernet from coax to Wi-Fi and vice versa if you already have cable wiring. It might not be the cheapest or easiest option depending on your setup. However, it is as good as in wall ethernet and it’s more likely that you already have it.

    MoCA 2.5 can transfer data at speeds up to 2.5Gbps. The basic MoCA setup will require an adapter on each end. Look for MoCA adapters that have 2.5GbE Ethernet ports. There are still many people with slow internet connections, but 2.5GbE ports on desktops and network devices are becoming more prevalent. It’s not worth it to get MoCA adapters that only have 1Gbps ports.

    You will need a coax cable near your router to get started. Connect the MoCA adapter to your router’s Ethernet port using an ethernet cord. Connect the coax end to the nearest coax connector. You can then connect the Ethernet end of the adapter to a device, or to a network switch in order to connect multiple devices. One router-side adapter can be used to connect multiple endpoints. If your router already has MoCA integrated, like most FiOS Gateways, you only need endpoint adapters. Nilay Patel is the editor-in chief of ‘s The Verge . He uses MoCA adapters for his Eero backhaul.

    This assumes, of course, a direct connection between the router and the device, which is not guaranteed. Over the years, I have seen homes with multiple non-intersecting networks of coax cables. If you use coax cable for TV or internet, make sure that there aren’t any splitters between the two networks. You’ll also need a poE filter to ensure the MoCA network does not interfere with the other signals on your network. It may be necessary to do some cable archaeology, including pruning cables and splitters that are no longer in use.

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