Can Powerline Adapters Work Between Houses?

I know of some people that live in the house next to one of their family members. This got me thinking of ways in which they could potentially share an Internet connection and whether powerline adapters would work between houses.

Powerline adapters will not work between houses. Powerline adapters are designed to work only when connected to the outlets that are wired to the same electrical panel. The signal to access the Internet won’t go out to the mains power grid to reach the house next door.

If powerline adapters are out of the question, are there any ways in which you can share an Internet connection with the house next door? Let’s take a look at some of the options.

Why Won’t Powerline Adapters Work Between Houses?

If you were thinking of using powerline adapters to share an Internet connection with a neighboring home, I’m afraid you are out of luck and will need to find a different solution.

Powerline adapters will only work when they are connected to electrical outlets that are all wired back to the same electrical panel.

Your Internet signal won’t go out onto the main power grid and so there is no way of your neighbor being able to receive the signal through the electrical wiring found within their home.

Regardless of how close both homes are to each other, the signal simply can’t be shared.

Don’t worry too much, though, as there are a few alternatives to consider that can allow you both to share the same Internet connection.

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Why Would You Want to Share an Internet Connection?

I personally wouldn’t want to share my Internet connection with a neighbor, but I can think of a few cases where you may want to.

Perhaps you live next door to a family member and are happy to share the connection. If it means you can split the monthly cost down the middle and still have enough bandwidth for everyone’s device, it does make sense.

Or maybe you live next to a friend who doesn’t live there permanently but still wants an Internet connection for the odd occasion during the year that they do visit.

In this case, it doesn’t really make sense for them to be paying for an Internet connection throughout the year when they aren’t there to make use of it most of the time.

I would advise strongly considering whether you should be sharing your Internet connection, even if it is with a close family member or friend before you commit and start getting everything set up.

Sharing your Internet connection does come with its risks, even if it is with someone you trust. Here are some potential issues that can arise when sharing your Internet connection goes wrong:

  • Your computer could be accessed

If you have the remote desktop feature enabled on your computer, all your neighbor would need is the IP address that is assigned to it and they will easily be able to login to your machine

  • Your devices could be infected with malware

Your entire network is only as secure as the least secure device that connects to it. 

You could find that the computers your neighbor is using are way out of date, haven’t received any security patches and have never had a malware scan performed.

For all you know, they could be riddled with malware which can put all of your devices at risk, too.

  • Your personal data could be accessed

If you have files that are accessible over the network, like those stored on a NAS device, if your neighbor goes snooping they could find personal files that you would prefer are kept private.

  • Your network performance could drop

If your neighbor is performing network-intensive tasks like streaming 4K video online, you could find your own network performance gets hampered, particularly if you don’t have a great deal of bandwidth in the first place.

Should they get blocked from certain sites, you could find that this block applies to you, too. It’s not uncommon for sites to use your public IP address, which will be associated with both you and the neighbor, as a way of putting these bans in place.

Keep these points in mind and make sure you fully trust the neighbor you are planning on sharing your connection with before making any commitments.

What Are the Options?

If powerline adapters can’t be used to share an Internet connection between neighboring homes, what are the options?

The easiest solution, if the houses are close together, is for one to piggy-back off the other’s Wi-Fi connection.

To see if this is possible, visit the home that has the existing Wi-Fi connection and see if the SSID is available by checking on your phone.

You’ll want to also check the signal strength whilst you are there, as there will be little point in trying to connect if the signal is simply too poor.

If you find there is no signal, or it is too weak to do anything with, you could consider moving the router to improve the chances of the signal being able to reach next door.

An alternative is to use a Wi-Fi range extender.

These work by repeating the wireless signal emitted by the router to expand the overall coverage.

They function as a bridge, taking the signal from the router and rebroadcasting it to other areas where the original signal previously wouldn’t have been able to reach.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to manually switch your devices over to connect to the range extender.

They won’t automatically connect to it, even if it is physically closer and the signal is stronger.

Now you could be thinking of running Ethernet cable from one home to the other, but getting it all setup would be a hassle, probably look quite untidy and cause significant signal loss if the distance spans more than 100 meters.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even consider a wired solution if you are looking to share Internet connectivity with a separate home.

Another wireless option is to set up an outdoor wireless point on the side of the house closest to the neighbor. 

This gives them the best possible chance of receiving a solid signal.

This setup is a bit more complicated than using a Wi-Fi repeater as you will need to run an Ethernet cable from your router, or network switch if you are using one, to the wireless access point.

If you are going to place it outside rather than inside and close to the exterior wall, you’ll want to make sure that the Ethernet cable you use to reach it is weatherproof, if the cable is being run outside at all.

You can get dedicated Ethernet cable that is designed to be used outdoors, which I would strongly recommend using rather than just hoping your regular old Ethernet cable won’t get potentially damaged.

In my opinion, the Wi-Fi repeater is the easiest, and probably the cheapest, option when it comes to wanting to share a single Internet connection between homes.

Final Thoughts

Powerline adapters won’t work between houses, so you will need to find a different solution, like the Wi-Fi range extender, or agree to just have separate connections.

There are some risks that come with sharing an  Internet connection, but if you do decide to go down this route, I would recommend using a Wi-Fi range extender as they are the easiest, and often the cheapest, solution.

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