Can You Use Ethernet With A Wi-Fi Extender?

Wi-Fi extenders/boosters/repeaters can be very useful home networking solutions, but they’re mainly thought of as being primarily wireless devices. And they are, because they are most commonly connected to the host router, and the devices on the receiving end, wirelessly.

But can you use wired ethernet connections with Wi-Fi extenders? Is it possible to connect devices to a repeater with a LAN cable so they have a hard wired connection to the extender instead of a wireless one?

It is possible to connect a device to a Wi-Fi extender with an ethernet cable, since almost all extenders have at least one ethernet port. This can allow for a slightly more stable connection for games consoles and other devices which may benefit from a wired connection.

However, realistically the benefits of doing this are likely to be limited in most cases, and there will always be a loss in speed and higher latency using Wi-Fi extenders over distance.

However, let’s explore how you can do this, and when it might be best to.

Using An Ethernet Cable With An Extender

Setting up an ethernet connection with a Wi-Fi extender is really quite easy – you just configure it as normal, then plug the device you want to into the extender’s ethernet port with an RJ-45 cable.

For totally new users who’ve still to set up their extender, here are the steps:

Step #1 – Connect the extender to the main host router – You need to configure the extender to draw off the router’s network and set up it’s own access point. You’ve 3 main methods of doing this:

  1. WPS Method – Quickest and easiest way. Plug your extender in, then press the WPS button on your router, then within 2 minutes press and hold the WPS/Pair/Wi-Fi button on your extender and wait for the two devices to sync. And you’re done and ready to go!
  2. Browser Method – Allows more customization. Plug your extender in, connect to it’s default open network, and use any browser to log in to the settings panel via the default credentials on the extender label, and manually connect to your router via the “Setup Wizard” or “Quick Setup Guide” within the extender’s menu.
  3. Tethering App – For TP Link models only. Works very much the same as the browser method, but you do the set up via a special app you can download to your phone, instead of using a browser.

Once your extender is properly configured, you’ll know, because it’ll broadcast it’s own unique network that you can connect in range devices to, with a very similar, but not identical SSID to your main router, unless you set it otherwise.

Normally, you’d just then connect devices wirelessly to this new extender access point, using the same password as your router, but since we’re covering ethernet connections here:

Step #2 – Connect a device to the extender via ethernet – Once the extender is configured, there is nothing stopping you plugging an ethernet cable into the extender’s ethernet port, and then connecting this in turn to a device on the receiving end for a hard wired connection.

The ethernet port is usually under the extender on most models:

Just connect up a device like a games console via this port, and it’s now drawing it’s connection from the extender via a wired connection instead of wireless. There are no double NAT or other conflict issues, since the extender belongs to the router’s device/DHCP list and does not issue it’s own IP addresses.

This way, you can connect up streaming/gaming devices which benefit from a stronger wired connection up to this port. There’s nothing stopping you even using an ethernet switch to connect several devices up via the ethernet port, though be aware that bandwidth will start to get diluted from the already reduced level you’ll get anyway using an extender.

Does It Really Make A Difference Using The Ethernet Port?

The ethernet port might be there on most Wi-Fi extenders/repeaters, but does it really matter or make a difference using it? The honest answer is not really in most cases in my opinion.

There might be some excellent use cases, such as with devices which ONLY have an ethernet connection mode and no Wi-Fi capability. Some older games consoles have this issue for example, plus some streaming devices. In this case, it makes total sense to run a cable to the device, since this is your only way of getting online with it.

You could also in theory feed a really long ethernet cable round a few walls or up the stairs to connect a device to an extender. This should actually provide a much stronger connection than using a wireless signal which has to travel through a few walls and will be significantly weakened along the way. Hard wiring a connection makes a lot of sense if you’re willing to do this and the device really benefits from a stronger ethernet connection.

But if you’re using a shorter ethernet cable, then honestly it’s not likely to make much of a difference. If the extender and device are close enough that you can connect them with a short cable, then they might as well just connect to the extender wirelessly anyway.

You can test it if you like, but it’s not likely to make much difference in terms of speed or latency at close range, running a cable versus using the repeater’s wireless network.

The Most Common Way Of Using Repeaters

Wi-Fi extenders/repeaters are most commonly used totally on wireless connections, both on the router and device side, meaning:

  1. The extender is connected to the router via a wireless connection
  2. The extender then broadcasts it’s own wireless network name/SSID, with the same Wi-Fi password as the router.
  3. Devices in range then connect to the extender’s network wirelessly if they can get a better signal versus the main router.

In most cases, this is going to provide a connection almost as good as running a cable from the extender to a device, unless you’re running a longer cable round a few walls and really covering some distance to the device.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts