I’m Jon, a home networking guru, and I have experience splitting Ethernet on my personal network. So, I put together this guide to show you all the options for splitting Ethernet in your home.
Let’s get started.
How to Split Your Ethernet Cable to Multiple Devices
Here are all the ways you can split an Ethernet cable to connect multiple devices.
#1 Split Ethernet Cable or Cable Sharing Kit
You can split an Ethernet cable using a splitter or a cable sharing kit. A splitter is the most basic way to split an Ethernet connection. It has two female ports that you can plug cables into. One end of the splitter goes into the router, and the other goes into your network device.
#2 Ethernet Switch
Another option to split your Ethernet cable is with an Ethernet switch, which allows you to split an Ethernet connection into multiple ports.
There are two types of Ethernet switches:
Unmanaged switches are the most basic type of switch. They have a set of ports that you can plug devices into. The switch automatically detects which devices are connected and splits the signal accordingly. For your home network, you’ll want an unmanaged switch.
Managed switches are more complex and allow you to configure the switch to split the signal in different ways. For example, you can set up port mirroring, which copies the traffic from one port to another. This is useful for monitoring traffic or for debugging purposes. You might need a managed switch if you’re an IT administrator or a network engineer.
#3 Ethernet Hub
An Ethernet hub is similar to a switch but is an older technology. Hubs split the signal equally to all devices that connect to it. This can cause problems if you have devices that need more or less bandwidth than others.
#4 Ethernet over Powerline Adapter
Another option for splitting Ethernet is with an Ethernet over powerline adapter to send Ethernet through your home’s electrical outlets. Powerline adapters plug into a power outlet and have an Ethernet port to which you can connect devices.
The adapters use the power lines in your home to carry the Ethernet signal, so they’re not as fast as other methods. But they’re easy to set up and don’t require any extra wiring.
#5 Use Your Old Router as a Repeater or Access Point
If you have an old router you’re not using, you can repurpose it as a repeater or access point and use its extra Ethernet ports to connect more devices.
To use your old router as a repeater or access point, connect it to your main router with an Ethernet cable. Then, set up the old router to repeat the signal from the main router. Then use the extra Ethernet ports to “split” your Ethernet cable.
Which Method Should You Use?
For most people, the best way to split an Ethernet connection is with a splitter or an Ethernet switch. These methods are easy to set up and don’t require any extra wiring. They are inexpensive and fast enough for most home networking needs.
Read our guide about routers, switches, and hubs to learn more about their differences (if you’re considering them to split your Ethernet).
What to Consider When Splitting Your Ethernet Cable
When you split your Ethernet connection, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The speed of your internet connection. If you have a fast internet connection (like 100 Mbps or higher), you’ll want to ensure that the devices you’re connecting can handle that speed.
- The number of devices you’re connecting. If you’re connecting many devices, you might want to use an Ethernet switch.
- The distance between the devices you’re connecting. If the devices are far from each other, you might want to use a powerline adapter or an Ethernet over coax (MoCA) converter.
- How much bandwidth each device is using. If you have devices that use a lot of bandwidth (like video streaming or gaming), you might want to connect them directly to the router.
- The type of devices you’re connecting. If the devices you’re connecting need access to faster Ethernet speeds, an Ethernet switch or Wi-Fi extender is a better option than Poweline adapters since they have a 200 Mbps max speed.
No matter your chosen method, splitting your Ethernet connection is an accessible way to get the most out of your home network.
Alternatives to Splitting an Ethernet Cable
Since we’re discussing how to split an Ethernet cable so you can connect more devices, here are some options for getting more Ethernet ports without splitting an Ethernet cable.
#1 Get a New Router with More Ethernet Ports
Getting a new router with more Ethernet ports is a great way to add more hard-wired devices to your network instantly. Some new routers now come with eight or more Ethernet ports, which should be enough for most homes.
However, a new router is one of the most expensive ways to add more Ethernet connections. But, if you need to get a new one anyway, keep this option in mind.
#2 Wi-Fi Booster
You can use a Wi-Fi booster or extender if you need to connect more wireless devices to your network. A Wi-Fi booster amplifies your router’s signal and extends your network’s range. This is an excellent option if you need to add more wireless devices but don’t have any spare Ethernet ports.
You can find Wi-Fi repeaters with multiple Ethernet ports to connect more devices, too, if you want to stick with Ethernet connections.
#3 Use Mesh Networking
Mesh networking systems are the latest trend in home Wi-Fi. They use multiple nodes that work together to extend the range of your Wi-Fi network.
And many mesh networking kits come with multiple Ethernet ports on each device. So, a mesh system is an excellent option if you need to add more wired and wireless devices to your network.
The main downside is that mesh networks are expensive, even more so than most routers.
#4 Hard-wire Ethernet Ports into Your Walls
If you’re building a new home or renovating, you can install Ethernet ports inside your walls. This allows you to add as many wired devices as you want without splitting an Ethernet cable.
However, this is a cost-prohibitive option. We recommend it only for new constructions or if you’re opening up your walls for renovations.
The easiest way to split a single Ethernet cable is with an Ethernet switch, Ethernet hub, or a Wi-Fi extender. If you have an old router in your closet, you can dust it off and use it like an extender. But if you plan to upgrade your router soon anyway, get one with plenty of Ethernet ports.
If you want more options to hardwire additional Ethernet devices to your home network, check out our top Wi-Fi extenders guide.