With the increasing demand for internet access across a wide range of devices, there is sometimes a need to extend internet coverage in our homes and businesses.
A great way to extend your home’s internet coverage is using a Wi-Fi range extender or Wireless Access Point (WAP).
However, of the two devices, wireless access points are the better option since they are able to extend the signal much further away from the source without subjecting it to a lot of degradation. But the question in most people’s minds is; how easy is it to set them up?
Wireless access points are not exactly plug-and-play. Once you have plugged in your Wireless Access Point to the router’s LAN port via an Ethernet cable, you need to take a few extra steps to configure your device. You can configure your WAP using a proprietary app on your phone, downloadable software on your computer, or a web browser.
The configuration process usually involves creating passwords for your new account, setting the bandwidth you prefer to use (if your WAP is dual band), renaming your Service Set Identifier (SSID), etc.
While the configuration process may sound complicated to those who are not tech savvy, the good news is that most manufacturers have a set-up wizard designed to make the process more straightforward for the end user.
How To Set Up a Wireless Access Point
To set up a wireless access point you need an ethernet cable, RJ-45 connector, RJ-45 crimping tool, Wireless Access Point, and a router (or switch connected to the router). The following is the step-by-step process of setting up your Wireless Access Point:
1. Find a suitable location to mount your Wireless Access Point
Your WAP should be placed inside the room where you want to broadcast the Wi-Fi signal so that it is closest to the connecting devices. Mounting your WAP on the ceiling is better than mounting it on the wall since it provides the RF signal with a clear and direct path to the devices below without anything getting in the way.
2. Prepare the mounting plate
Once you have found an ideal location, the next step is to install the mounting plate that comes with your WAP. This is where the WAP will clip into in order to be securely attached to the wall.
3. Run an Ethernet cable from your WAP to your router or switch
An Ethernet cable is used to connect the WAP to the router or switch, usually, a CAT6 Ethernet cable is used. Once you have cut the Ethernet cable to the desired length, use RJ-45 connectors to terminate the ends of the cable using an RJ-45 crimping tool. To keep the cable out of sight, you may have to drill some holes through the ceiling or walls.
NB: Wireless Access Points do not connect directly to a power supply. Therefore, if you are running a non-PoE (Power over Ethernet) switch or router, you will need to add a PoE adapter that will supply power to the Wireless Access Point.
4. Configure your Network
The last step is to configure the WAP or network, in general, to integrate security and ensure all the devices within the new network communicate seamlessly with each other.
Usually, the configuration process is described in detail in the user manual. You may have to install software on your computer, use a particular IP address (address noted on the manual) using your browser, or download an app on your phone to initiate and complete the configuration process.
The following video explains the configuration process in more detail (the process may differ slightly depending on the particular WAP device that you have):
How To Power A Wireless Access Point
Most Wireless Access Points are powered using Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology, meaning that they are powered using the same Ethernet cable that connects them to the router or switch. Using PoE technology, both DC power and data can be sent simultaneously along the same Ethernet cable.
In cases where the router or switch is non-PoE, meaning it does not supply power over Ethernet, a separate device known as a PoE adapter is used to inject power (about 30 watts) into the Ethernet cable so that it can be transmitted to the WAP. A PoE adapter is plugged directly into your power supply and is installed somewhere between the router (or switch) and the WAP.
Connecting a wireless access point to a powerline adapter
You can connect a wireless access point to a powerline adapter using the ethernet port provided on most powerline adapters. However, you may find that you experience a weaker signal and less coverage than if you connected the access point directly to the router.
Additionally, you may need to use a PoE injector to supply power to the wireless access point as the powerline adapter will likely not be able to power the access point on its own.
How To know if Your wireless access point is working
You will know your Wireless Access Point is working if you are able to connect your Wi-Fi devices, such as a smartphone or computer, to it using the WAP’s Service Set Identifier (SSID) and Wi-Fi password and access the internet.
When testing, make sure your router and WAP are not sharing the same network name (SSID) so that you are able to differentiate the two networks.
Wireless Access Point Power Usage
Wireless Access Points do not use a lot of electricity, most of them consume between 10 – 30 watts. However, if you need to power other devices via the Wireless Access Point’s USB port or take full advantage of the latest Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) access points you’ll likely need more than 30 watts.
Painting a wireless access point
It is not advisable to paint a Wireless Access Point because it could void the device’s warranty, affect the thermal properties of the device, block air intake vents, or degrade the quality of the RF signal (especially if metallic paint is used).
If you decide to go ahead and paint your Wireless Access Point ensure that you only paint the enclosure and are using non-metallic paint that’s designed to adhere to plastic, such as Krylon Fusion.
Also, make sure that paint does not get into certain parts, such as the Ethernet and USB ports. Air vents and water drainage holes should also be masked so that they do not become blocked with paint.
The mounting plate as well as the back of the Wireless Access Point should not be painted because if a thick layer of paint is used it could interfere with the mounting of the device.
Wireless access points and interference with each other
Two wireless access points can interfere with each other if they are close to each other and are broadcasting using the same frequency channel. This is known as co-channel interference and can lead to both speed and connectivity issues.
To resolve this, you can configure each wireless access point to use a separate frequency channel so that there is no overlapping of signals.
Wireless access points connect to your router or switch using an Ethernet cable. If the router or switch is non-PoE a PoE injector is integrated into the connection in order to send power to the Wireless Access Point. However, once plugged in, for the Wireless Access Point to work, it will need to be configured using a browser on your computer, an app on your phone, or downloadable software.
When setting up multiple wireless access points in your home, you’ll need to configure each device so that it uses a different frequency channel in order to avoid multi-channel interference.
If you are noticing WiFi connectivity issues or Wi-Fi black spots in your home, a wireless access point is a really effective way of fixing these issues!