Connecting your printer is a relatively easy process. You will need to connect to the hotspot with the network information and password, much like when connecting your phone or computer to Wi-Fi.
Being able to print from anywhere is one of those features that, while not technically a necessity, has become a luxury that we enjoy. Who needs wires when you can print documents from your laptop when the high-performing printer is on the other side of the house?
While printers are great when connected directly to a computer, we will explain how to use a hotspot if you can’t directly connect your printer.
- Wireless printers can connect to hotspots for mobile printing needs.
- The process for connecting a printer to a hotspot is similar to connecting it to a computer.
- Some AirPrint printers support creating hotspots to allow other devices to connect directly to the printer.
Can You Connect a Wireless Printer to a Hotspot?
The answer is yes but with some limitations. Hotspots are access points that allow various devices to connect with a wireless network.
So, for example, a hotspot can support wireless connections for tablets, smartphones, and laptops. You can use Airprint if you own an iPad to connect to a wireless printer and Print Directly. In short, if you know how to connect a wireless printer to a computer, you can do this setup easily.
Common types of hotspots are often seen with public WiFi access where multiple users can connect to the Internet. Although they’re incredibly effective for less power-hungry devices like smartphones and tablets, hotspots often struggle to maintain fidelity for heavier-use devices like computers.
On the other hand, if you’re not using a hotspot for a connection, you’ll want to know how to print wirelessly using WiFi.
Even though the end user’s perspective of a hotspot feels just like connecting with a wireless network elsewhere, it’s not. Hotspots are nothing more than intermediaries that provide a connection point.
Unfortunately, having your printer on a network does open it to security threats. In that case, you’ll want to learn how to secure a wireless printer from online hacks and threats.
Types of Hotspots for Your Printer
There are several different types of hotspots, each with unique benefits and drawbacks. In general, you’re most likely to come across public WiFi hotspots, mobile WiFi hotspots, and prepaid hotspots.
- Public WiFi Hotspots – As the name implies, these hotspots are usually free and found in public places such as parks, coffee shops, or even airports. While the connection is usually stable, they’re not as secure.
- Mobile WiFi Hotspots – Some smartphone users have the benefit of turning their cellular data connection into a hotspot. Alternatively, you can also purchase mobile hotspots from mobile carriers, which can be used with laptops and other devices.
- Prepaid Hotspots – Similar to mobile hotspots, the main difference with a prepaid model is that there’s a data cap. Once the data limit for the specified period has been reached, you’ll need to purchase more data.
Connecting a Printer to a Hotspot
Connecting your wireless printer to a hotspot isn’t much different than if you were connecting it to your wireless network in your home. Just like with a traditional wireless network, you’ll select the hotspot from a list of local hotspots using either your computer or the printer’s touchscreen panel (if it has one).
Connecting a wireless printer to Windows 10 is also not that hard. You can read this quick guide on how to go about it.
And just like with a regular configuration process, you might need to install printer drivers or software. Note that every wireless printer has a unique setup process. So, it’s best to follow the installation instructions that came with the make and model of your printer.
STAT: Unlike home and office access points, mobile hotspots offer a limited number of connections, usually four or five. Most have limitations or charges based on Internet data flow but not local data between connections, including wireless printers. (source)
Some Printers Have Their Own Hotspots
Even though you can connect a wireless printer to a hotspot, one nifty workaround can support a reverse connection from your laptop to your printer.
AirPrint-enabled printers are a unique kind of wireless printer that can do more than simply connect to an external wireless network.
Many of these printers also support creating independent hotspots that can be used to connect to your devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
While this won’t get you online, the hotspot gives you printer access so you can send documents to the printer.
This is ideal if you’re in a location where you can’t access traditional wireless networks or if you have a mobile printer and need to print on the go but there’s no WiFi.
Drawbacks of Using a Hotspot for a Wireless Printer Connection
While hotspots do give you the freedom to print virtually from anywhere, they’re not without drawbacks. The main problems center around connecting to mobile hotspots.
Although convenient, these hotspots feature the most limitations, such as restrictions on the total simultaneous device connection and a higher chance of data restrictions.
Although they’re incredibly effective for less power-hungry devices like smartphones and tablets, hotspots often struggle to maintain fidelity for heavier-use devices like computers.
Will a wireless printer work with a hotspot?
Yes, but not all hotspots are equal. Mobile hotspots tend to have the most limitations because of a limit on total connected devices and data usage restrictions.
Can wireless printers work without WiFi?
It depends on the type of printer you have. Some wireless printers only support direct printing from mobile devices through alternative methods such as NFC or printer access.
Does a wireless printer have to be connected to a router?
A direct router connection isn’t always required, but you need some kind of connection to communicate wirelessly with other devices.