How to Build a Hybrid Home Network
Can multiple devices that use different networking standards be combined in the same setup? Yes.
Should they be? Double yes! Each standard — Wi-Fi, wired Ethernet, and PowerLine — has its own strengths. Together, they form a dream team of complementary standards for building the perfect home network.
A Wi-Fi network lets you place devices wherever it’s most convenient and gives you the flexibility to move the device wherever your wireless network reaches, but due to environmental factors is neither as reliable nor as fast as a gigabit Ethernet connection. And, while a wireless connection works well for laptops and mobile devices, many wired devices — particularly HDTVs, Blu-ray players, and game consoles that might not sit near your router — benefit from a wired connection. A wired network gives you killer speed, but you have to string cables throughout your house to connect the devices. And for situations where the wireless signal doesn’t reach and cable lengths are costly, there’s PowerLine, a technology that routes network traffic through your home’s electrical wiring at Ethernet speeds.
All three networking standards are built into the D-Link Wireless N PowerLine Router (DHP-1320). Used strategically, they can ensure that your network reaches every corner of your space with maximum flexibility, signal integrity, and cost-effectiveness. Here’s how to do it.
1. Spread the wireless goodness. The latest version of Wi-Fi, also known as Wireless-N or 802.11n, gives you a long range and strong signal quality. If you’re using the D-Link Wireless N PowerLine Router (DHP-1320), you’re ready for business. Use an Ethernet cable to connect your router to your DSL or cable modem, then set the switch on back panel to router mode and use the included software to access the router’s configuration screen. You should see a button labeled Internet Connection Setup Wizard. This is a speedy, step-by-step tool for getting your Wi-Fi network online and operational.
2. Plug in the wires. Use a standard Ethernet cable to connect devices that are positioned near the router but lack wireless capability. Although wired speeds are faster, keep in mind that the actual speed will only be as fast as the slowest connected device. Match gigabit Ethernet router ports with gigabit Ethernet devices for highest performance.
If you run out of Ethernet ports, you can add a network switch. This turns a single port into multiple connection points, so you can make room for all of your wired devices.
3. Set up PowerLine. PowerLine lets you route data through your building’s electrical wiring at Ethernet speeds. Generally, it requires two PowerLine adapters: one that links the router to a power outlet and another that does the same for network devices.
The D-Link DHP-1320 router has PowerLine built-in; its own AC plug distributes the network signal through your electrical system, so making a PowerLine connection requires only one adapter. It’s also helpful to know that adapters come with a number of special features. The D-Link DHP-307AV is perfect for connecting one wired device. If you want to connect multiple devices in the same area, the DHP-346AV switch is a better solution. The DHP-W306AV lets you to use PowerLine to connect wireless devices.
Whatever PowerLine product you use, getting started is a one-minute affair. Plug an adapter directly into a wall socket — not a surge protector connected to the wall socket — wherever you want to extend networking within your home. Wait for the indicator light(s) to let you know that your PowerLine connection is up and running, then connect your devices.