How To Run Ethernet In Your Apartment (Without Fighting Your Landlord)

So, as I’m looking for potential apartments to move into this coming Summer, I’m finding that not a single apartment I see has Ethernet ports in their walls.

This isn’t too surprising, but as someone who likes to have most (if not all) their devices on a wired internet connection, I’d like to know if there is an alternative method than having my landlord walk in on me tearing down walls to run wires through them.

Turns out, I was in luck. There are, in fact, 2 options I and many other renters have when it comes to getting our devices wired.

Option 1 involves just simply getting longer cables to run along the floor of your apartment, but doing it in such a way that it doesn’t look like a tangled mess.

Option 2 involves the use of MoCA adapters to get the same speeds as Ethernet without worrying too much about cable management.

Let’s go into depth about these 2 options, along with some potential questions one might have regarding them.

1st Option: Running Ethernet Cables Along Your Floor

This concept is pretty straight-forward.

You just get one or multiple really long Ethernet cables and run them from your router to whatever appliance you wish to be wired. You get Ethernet speeds throughout your apartment and it’s quite literally plug-and-play.

At first glance this can be seen as an incredibly simple, yet potentially messy solution to your networking problems. And it most certainly can be that, if you go about doing it all willy-nilly.

How To Do This Correctly

Going into this, it’s probably best that you have a good idea of what all you want to be on a wired connection to your network.

That way you can have something of a mental map of where your appliances are in relation to where your router is.

Next you’ll want to measure the length at which these appliances are from your router. I’d recommend doing this with a flexible tape measure that you can wrap around things, like your walls, as you go from one point to another.

Think of the tape measure as the Ethernet cable as you do this to get a better idea of where you want the cable to be to keep everything as concealed and tidy as you can.

This is so that there isn’t just a straight line on the floor going from your router to your computer, for example.

Of course, there may be areas where you have to run the cable just kinda on the floor in the open, but we’ll get into solutions for that when we talk about cable management.

Once you’ve measured out the length, the obvious next step would be to buy the cable closest to that length.

Something to keep in mind here: I’d recommend buying cable that is above your measured length.

You’ll probably have to do that anyway since Ethernet cable doesn’t really come in lengths specific to your measurements. On the off chance that it’s really close, though, just buy the closest length above it.

Doing this will give your cables extra slack so you don’t have to worry about them ending up being too short when you start cable management.

Another thing to note before we go on to cable management: since internet signal tends to degrade over distance, I found that the limit for how long Ethernet cables can be is around 300 feet. This most likely won’t be an issue if you’re like me, and either will be or already are in a smaller apartment.

Managing The Cables

Once you have cables appropriate to your desired length and have them connected to everything, it’s time to make it all look presentable!

In this, you have multitudes of options for cable management, including one that is absolutely free-of-charge should your situation allow for it.

Starting with the free one first, if you have carpet and there is a gap between it and the baseboard (the usually white colored board running along the base of your walls), you can most likely tuck the Ethernet cable inside, since the cable itself has such a small diameter.

This of course works best when you have the cable running along where your floor meets the walls, and you would only need to bring the cable out of that gap wherever the ends of it need to plug into something.

However, you may not have carpet, a gap wide enough to tuck cables in, or your situation calls for cable to run somewhat in plain sight. In that case, here are some other options involving tools made specifically for managing cables.

One cable management tool you can use is an on-wall cable raceway. These things are great for covering cables and look pretty slick.

They have adhesives on the back of them so you won’t have to worry about damaging your walls when installing them. You can also paint them to match your wall color, too.

Something else you can use is a floor cable cover. They’re pretty similar to the cable raceways, just not quite as concealed and slick looking, in my opinion.

As far as I know, they can work on any floor surface, and can be cut to size to match your needs. They use double-sided tape for adhesion, but I believe some also come with adhesive already on them.

2nd Option: Using MoCA Adapters

If you’re looking for the tidiest looking way to run Ethernet in your apartment, without wiring your walls, I’d say MoCA Adapters are your best bet.

Right off the bat, I wanna say that this solution can be a bit pricey, with each adapter costing around $50.00, and you’ll need atleast two of them.

If you’re willing to shell out the cash, let’s look into the basics of what these things are and how they work.

Bare Basics of Using MoCA Adapters

From what I’ve found, MoCA stands for “Multimedia over Coaxial Alliance,” and uses your coaxial inputs to transmit a wired internet connection.

You’d connect one adapter to your router via Ethernet as well as a coaxial port on your wall, and then connect another adapter to whatever needs Ethernet along with an additional coaxial port elsewhere in the apartment.

Most adapters that I’ve seen come with two coaxial inputs on them, and I’ve gathered that these allow you to share coaxial signals with another device.

If you have a cable box connected via coaxial, you can screw it into the second coaxial input on the MoCA adapter and use it simultaneously along with the adapter.

And since different types of signals are being transmitted between the cable box and the adapter, you won’t have to worry about losing internet signal to cable or vice-versa.

I’ve also seen some adapters with multiple Ethernet ports on them, so you may be able to just buy two for your home network situation.

Why MoCA?

If you already have some general knowledge about expanding your wired network, you might be wondering why I never mentioned powerline adapters as a solution.

While I think powerline adapters are an okay budget or temporary adapter alternative (I’ve even used them before), there are factors that I’ve found that make them less desirable if you want the most out of your internet service.

Since powerline adapters use your apartment’s circuitry to transmit internet, other devices that are also plugged into the circuitry can interfere with your signal.

One issue that I’ve personally had myself pertains to exactly where you plug in your adapters. In a multistory home, with one adapter plugged in on one floor and another plugged in on a second floor, the signal tended to drop randomly.

This was a pain for me and can definitely be a pain for you, especially if you’re in a heated online gaming session.

I plan on expanding in a later article on the comparison between Powerline and MoCA, but the reasons listed here are enough for me to seriously consider saving for MoCA to fit my adapter needs.

Closing Thoughts

As someone who likes to plan ahead about certain things, I’ve put in quite a bit of research for running cables through a hypothetical, imaginary apartment I might get in the near future.

Through all my digging, though, I never really found a singular source of info that answered all the questions that I had.

That’s why I made this (hopefully) helpful guide to compile nearly everything I learned in my research on tool-less Ethernet wiring in a home that you’re only just renting.

So, thanks for reading this far and, should I find any more helpful tips or tricks regarding this topic, I’ll be sure to either update this article or link to a new one.

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