A home network will link the many different electronic devices in your farm office, including two or more computers. Once your network is set up, your computers can share the Internet, plus printers, scanners and other peripherals. You also can manage controls within your home and office, such as temperature and lighting, through the network and even remotely through the Internet. And you can use the network for security monitoring with network cameras.

These are the major categories of home networking systems:

Conventional Ethernet requires special wiring as well as a server, hub and/or router to direct network traffic. Each device on the network must be connected to the Ethernet. Ethernet networks often require new wiring, a hub and add-in cards for older computers.

Phoneline (HomePNA or HPNA) uses the existing phone lines and wiring typically found in homes. The network can support up to 25 devices up to 500 ft. apart in offices and homes up to 10,000 sq. ft. HPNA operates with other networking technologies such as Ethernet and HomeRF and is compatible with high-speed Internet technologies such as cable modems and DSL.

Wireless is cable-free. There are three types of wireless networking services/standards being developed and sold today: IEEE 802.11 (wireless Ethernet), HomeRF and Bluetooth. A wireless network uses electromagnetic waves to transmit and receive data over the air. These waves are actually low-frequency radio signals that are not licensed by the FCC and are used mainly for microwave ovens and cordless phones.

Powerline networking uses existing power lines. Signals are encrypted before transmission; the signal reduces quickly so it will not leave the home. However, some Powerline technologies are more secure than others; an unencrypted household network may be accessible to neighbors sharing the same transformer. — 2Wire Inc.