Have you ever looked at one of your Ethernet devices and thought about connecting it to the internet? Maybe you've been put off by the thought of dragging meters upon meters of cable throughout your house?
Top Picks: Wi-Fi Bridges
There's more on these bridges below. The links above will take you over to Amazon.
Or maybe you struggle with wifi signal within parts of your home, you thought about setting up a new network, but don’t want it to be separate from your existing network?
If so, a wireless bridge could be the answer! To find out more about what they are and what they do, please read on.
Why Use a Wireless Ethernet Bridge?
A bridge is a really useful bit of equipment that has two significant uses.
The first use is to connect two wireless networks together to create one big network. This allows the range of your network to be significantly extended without any of the signal problems you likely get if you simply used a wifi repeater.
By connecting two networks together all the devices on one network will be able to see and interact with the devices on the other network. You will also be able to share applications and devices such as the internet, printers and scanners over the two networks.
Wireless bridges are usually used for this purpose in large buildings like schools, and offices, although if you are having trouble with your wireless signal at home it can be a great way to extend your network to more clients .
The second use for a wireless bridge (and this is what we're focusing on today) is to connect devices that only have Ethernet connectivity to a wired network. If you have devices such as Blu-ray players or games consoles that only have an Ethernet connection, you can simply use this Ethernet connection to connect to a bridge, and then use the bridges wireless capabilities to connect to the network.
This can give these devices connectivity without you having to rewire your house or without you having cables running all across your home. There's also the advantage of convenience. Should you need to move your Ethernet-only device, you simply need to move the bridge with it to stay connected.
Lengthy Explanation of Bridging
How to Set Up a Wi-Fi Bridge?
Fortunately, setting up a wireless bridge is actually one of the more simple things you can do on your home network.
Using WDS to Bridge
- Most modern routers and bridges will have a feature called Wifi Protected Setup (WPS). This allows you to connect devices to your protected network without having to input a password, simply by pushing a button on your router.
- If your devices allow this, then you will simply need to set up your bridge in a place where it can both access your wireless network and also connect via Ethernet to the device you need to connect to your network, and then press the WPS button on both your router and your bridge.
- This will connect your bridge to your router, and therefore your network, automatically.
If your router or bridge does not have this feature, you will have to connect your router to a computer via Ethernet and manually connect to the wireless network. In fact, given the security issues with WDS, this is often the preferred option.
- After connecting your router to a computer, simply type the bridge’s IP address into a web browser to access its setup page.
- Log into the bridge. Check the manufacturer's manual for the login credentials. If they have been changed and you don't know them, you can factory reset the bridge.
- From here, you will need to find your network and connect to it by entering the Wi-Fi password.
The next step is also super simple. Now your bridge is connected to your network, you will simply need to a plug an Ethernet cable between your bridge and the Ethernet-only device. This will give the device access to your network!
If your bridge only has one Ethernet port, but you have more than one device that needs to be connected, you should consider buying a switch. A switch has multiple Ethernet ports. This will take your one Ethernet connection and allow you to connect multiple devices to it. You can spend big or small on these. A lot of people get by with a basic unmanaged switch.
Have An Old Router? You Could Try That!
While many parts of a home network can be quite expensive, if you have an old router lying around, you can actually bridge your network for free!
While not quite as simple a process as using a dedicated bridge, the fact that it doesn't cost anything can more than makeup for it.
Make sure that the router supports bridging. Each manufacturer and model will have the configuration option in different areas within the menu. It's usually a good bet that the option is within 'Settings' or 'Wireless Settings'.
The other option (which is slightly more complicated) is to replace the firmware on your router with a Linux-based firmware called DD-WRT. This is not the path to take if you are not confident with technology. Incorrectly installing DD-WRT can end up leaving your old router inoperable.
Once this is done, you can access the router’s menu by connecting to it using a PC, and then change its settings in the DD-WRT menu to make it a wireless 'Client bridge'. You'll also need to modify the firewall, DHCP and other wireless settings. The video below helps the explanation.
Once this is done you will simply need to connect the converted router to your network wirelessly and then connect it via Ethernet cable to the device you want to bridge!
Video Demonstrating Wireless Bridge Connection DD-WRT
Best 3 Wireless Ethernet Bridges
1. EZ-Bridge-Lite EZBR-0214+ Point-to-Point Bridge
- Connect networks up to 3 miles apart in perfect conditions.
- Comes with two bridges so you can wireless connect two networks straight from the box.
- Very simple setup and the possibility of connecting more bridges.
The EZ-Bridge-Lite EZBR-0214+ is designed for bridging over longer distances. Setup is fairly simple and can be done by someone without much networking experiencing.
If you are just looking to connect some Ethernet-only devices to your wireless network, this product will also do that, although you will be able to find products that do the job for smaller distances for a cheaper price. If you need to connect over distance - this isn't too bad a choice at all.
2. Edimax CV-7428nS N300 Wireless Media Bridge
- Great for connecting Ethernet-only devices to a wifi network.
- One touch WPS setup makes connecting your network a breeze.
- 300mbps 802.11n wireless connection.
- 5 Ethernet ports for multiple connections using one box.
This is a perfect bridge for connecting Ethernet devices to your wireless network internally. It has five Ethernet ports which means you could connect a DVD player, TV, Console and more using the one bridge.
It is easy to set up and install using the WPS button and has two aerials for good wireless coverage.
3. TP-Link TL-WA801ND Wireless N300 Access Point/Bridge
- Works as both a wireless access point, a wireless repeater and a wireless bridge.
- 802.11n wireless and 2 antennas.
- Cost effective solution when compared to the other devices on the list.
This is a versatile product that can be used as for a number of different functions including as a wireless access point, repeater, and a bridge.
Despite these added uses it is a very cost effective product and is a useful way to cheaply bridge your network within smaller coverage areas. However, due to its many uses, set up can be a bit more problematic than on some of the other bridges on this list.
It also lacks some of the more high-end features such as WPS, multiple Ethernet ports or a particularly strong signal range.
Briefly Wrapping Up
Wireless bridges offer you a great way to connect either two networks or Ethernet-only devices to your network.
They are a simple and fairly cheap solution to a frustrating network problem, and can be even cheaper if you already have a spare old router lying around the house.
Hopefully, you have enjoyed our article on wireless bridges! If so please share it. Also, if you have any questions then feel free to comment below.