Ethernet extenders or media converters are a favorite solution for cost-conscious networking teams trying to balance technical needs with budget requirements and space restrictions. These useful little devices are extremely flexible — they come in a wide range of sizes and offer features for many different applications.

We’ve put together this “Ethernet Extender 101” guide to help network designers and integrators like you choose the best Ethernet extender for your unique network.

In this article:

Keep reading to find out more about Ethernet extender benefits and applications — and how to figure out which model works best for you.

Example of CopperLine® Kit: Point-To-Multipoint Ethernet-Over-Coax Extender

Basics & Benefits of Ethernet Extenders

Ethernet extenders are also called Ethernet repeaters — and both names are accurate. These devices extend your Ethernet network by boosting or repeating the signal so it can travel beyond the standard 100 m limit for Ethernet transmission over coax and UTP.

Network designers often choose to use multiple Ethernet extenders in series to link devices. Ethernet extenders are also often embedded in a larger multi-port Ethernet switch node.

Ethernet extenders allow you to use basic coax cable or copper UTP instead of fiber optic cable to connect devices — even if the distance you need to cover is more than 100 m. With the right device, you can extend your Ethernet limits up to 3000 ft (914 m) at 10 Mbps or 2000 (610) ft at 1000 Mbps over UTP. You can go even further over coaxial cable — up to 5000 ft (1524 m) at speeds of 10 Mbps.

The ability to transmit data over longer distances using coax and UTP is a huge benefit for networking teams and the major reason why Ethernet extenders are such a popular network device.

Ethernet Extender Applications

Ethernet extenders are used for a wide variety of applications. Here are some of the most common:

  • IP video
  • High-speed computer links
  • CCTV systems in airports, schools, offices, casinos & other places
  • Ethernet speeds of 10/100 Mbps
  • Factory automation enablement (UTP)
  • Network retrofits to connect existing analog devices to Ethernet-based systems
  • Security cameras and surveillance systems
  • VDSL retrofits
  • Transportation systems
  • Metering systems
  • Outdoor wi-fi access points

How to Select the Right Ethernet Extender for Your Network

Once you’ve determined you need an Ethernet extender, the next step is choosing the right one for your network. This list of questions to ask and things to consider will help focus your search and make sure you choose a device that meets your needs.

1. What is your bandwidth requirement?

Ethernet extenders are great for speeds of 10 - 100 Mbps, but your bandwidth determines how far you can extend your Ethernet signal. The higher the bandwidth, the shorter the distance you can extend your network.

2. What type of cable will you be using between extenders?

You can use Ethernet extenders to transmit Ethernet over coaxial cable or UTP. Most devices are designed for one or the other, but not both. So make sure the device you choose is compatible with your cabling.

3. What’s the path length between devices?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but overlooking the obvious is an easy (and costly) mistake to make. Avoid it by making sure you understand the distance you need to cover, and choosing an Ethernet extender that can handle your requirements.

4. What are your power requirements?

Some Ethernet extenders are designed to provide pass-through power over Ethernet (POE) while others may require a separate power source. If you need POE capability, make sure it’s included in the specs for the device you choose.

5. What kind of switch functionality do you need?

We’ve already mentioned that Ethernet extenders are often used in conjunction with Ethernet switches to make sure Ethernet traffic reaches its destination at full strength.

If you’re buying an extender/switch combo, you should think about whether you need an unmanaged switch, a self-managed switch, or one with advanced uplink management functionality.

6. How many devices are you connecting and how many ports do you need?

This will determine the size of the Ethernet extender you choose — the last thing you want to do is buy one that doesn’t have enough ports for your needs.

7. What are your operating conditions?

Temperature, vibration level, humidity condensation, high-line voltage, low-line voltage, mechanical shock risk — all these things matter and determine whether you need a standard Ethernet extender or one that’s specially hardened for tough conditions.

8. Does your system use Unicast or Multicast transmission? How about jumbo frames?

Ethernet extenders are often designed to support different transmission modes. It’s important to make sure the extender you choose supports the mode you use — especially if you use jumbo frames.

9. Don’t forget about signal protection, compatibility & installation requirements.

High-quality Ethernet extenders are designed for ease of installation, compatibility with a wide range of equipment, and signal protection from power surges and other voltage transient events. It’s worth taking the time to make sure you’re buying a device you can trust instead of a low-quality model.

High-Performance Ethernet Equipment & Expert Design Support from ComNet

As we’ve discussed, Ethernet extenders help you with cost-effective network expansion, but there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the right one. Fortunately, we’re here to help!

Our CopperLine series of Ethernet extenders use advanced and unique technology to extend your network well beyond the 100 m limit.

ComNet CopperLine Ethernet Extenders:

  • Extend your ethernet up to 5000 ft (1524 m)
  • Are designed for broad compatibility with data encoding formats and protocols and equipment from major manufacturers
  • Support reliable, secure data transmission at 10/100 Mbps
  • Support the use of Multicast, Unicast & jumbo frames
  • Are made in the USA and offer a lifetime warranty

Our high-performance devices are designed for everything from small office networks to large networks in tough industrial environments — and that’s not all.

We also offer free design support from a team of Design Center Experts ready to answer your questions and make recommendations about bandwidth, compatibility, power requirements, and anything else you need to know to find the right solution for your network.

Click the buttons below to see our Ethernet extenders or get in touch with our expert Design Center Team.