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How to extend your Wi-Fi network with a power line adapter

Learn how to clone your Wi-Fi network with the TP-Link Wi-Fi Range Extender.

Power line adapters are a cheap and easy way to create a wired network throughout your home, and some models include Wi-Fi capability. I recently installed the latter variety in the form of the TP-Link TL-WPA4220KIT and now have a strong Wi-Fi reception in every corner and both floors of my home.

Like most power line kits, my TP-Link kit includes two adapters: one that plugs into the wall and connects via Ethernet cable to my Wi-Fi router and another that I plugged in upstairs that broadcasts a wireless signal. The two adapters were paired out of the box as their own secure Wi-Fi network, but I didn't want a second Wi-Fi network that I would need to switch to when I was upstairs. Instead, I wanted to give my existing Wi-Fi network greater range.

Matt Elliott/CNET

According to TP-Link's instructions, I could hit the WPS button on my router and the Wi-Fi Clone button on the second adapter to set the adapter's settings to my router's network name and password. Like my experience with most networking matters, this feature did not work. No matter, I found a way to do it manually. I am using the TP-Link as an example here, but I would wager that a similar approach will work with power line adapters from other manufacturers.

After failing to clone my Wi-Fi network using the Wi-Fi Clone button, I went to TP-Link's Download Center and downloaded the utility for my adapter that let me customize its settings, including the wireless network name and password. And all I needed to do was connect my laptop to the adapter's Wi-Fi network, set the network name and password as the same as my existing Wi-Fi network, and reboot the adapter.

In the Wireless section, I went to Wireless Settings and changed the name of SSID, which just network jargon for network name. Then in the Wireless Security section, I changed the password. After each of these steps, I scrolled down and click the Save button. Lastly, I went to the System Tools section and clicked the Reboot button, which reset the adapters with my customized settings.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Now, instead of having a second Wi-Fi network that I need to switch to when I am upstairs with a weak Wi-Fi signal, I have a single Wi-Fi network that I stay connected to with a strong signal no matter where I my home I may roam.