According to UK government figures, more than a third of employees spent time working from home last year. Of course a major driver for the homeworking boom was the coronavirus pandemic. It’s currently unclear what the longer-term impact will be, but the signs are that workplace flexibility is here to stay. As a result, extensions, garden offices and outbuilding conversions are increasingly popular. This creates more usable space for homeworking, not to mention family expansion or leisure activities like home gyms and games rooms. However, if you’re planning to invest in this type of major home upgrade, you’ll need to include suitable internet access in your plans. It’s unlikely your home router’s WiFi signal will stretch that far. In which case what can you do if you need to extend WiFi to a shed, garage, garden room or outbuilding?
How to extend WiFi to a shed or outbuilding: the options
DIY – Do It Yourself
There are a couple of cheap, cheerful DIY options you could try, particularly if you aren’t too bothered about signal quality. If you’re thinking any connection is better than nothing, one of these may be for you.
Boosters, extenders or repeaters
Firstly, you could try a WiFi booster/extender/repeater. Position it as close to the outbuilding you’re trying to reach as possible – preferably in a window to minimise any interference from building materials. (If you have a whole home mesh system for your house you could try using one of the mesh units.)
If you’re very lucky, and the building is close enough, you may get the signal to reach. However this would be very much trial and error, so you could end up wasting money on something that doesn’t work.
Best for: tight budgets, users willing to put up with a weak/unreliable signal
Another option is a powerline adapter. This is only viable if you have mains power running to your outbuilding. It uses the power cable to transmit your internet connection. Because of this, it is generally referred to as an ethernet over power connection. These can work well for some, however that may depend on how up to date your electrical wiring is. They are also vulnerable to loss of signal and deterioration over time.
Best for: buildings with existing electrical wiring, users willing to put up with signal deterioration
DIP – Do It Properly
If you’re looking for something more reliable – maybe for a garden office, home gym or games room – it’s probably worth investing in a professional WiFi networking solution. You’ll likely need help from a networking specialist, but the results will be far better than DIY-ing it.
External access point
Depending on your situation, an external WiFi access point may be all that’s needed. A good quality device, hard wired to your router and positioned on an outside wall as close as possible to the target. If you’re looking to extend your WiFi to a more traditional shed structure this is probably the most cost effective option. Bear in mind, the further away your outbuilding, the weaker the signal will be.
Best for: outbuildings of light construction (e.g. wooden shed) that are close to the main premises
If the building you’re trying to cover is of a more solid construction, or it’s further from your main house, this probably won’t work. Instead you’ll need to chose one of the following methods:
A point-to-point WiFi link connects your router to a network point and/or WiFi access point in the outbuilding. This consists of a sender connected to your router and positioned within line of site of your outbuilding. It would normally be mounted on an external wall and pointed in the direction of the outbuilding. A receiver on the outbuilding receives the signal via WiFi. This is then connected to a network point (for a hard-wired connection) and/or a wireless access point which you can connect your devices to wirelessly.
This is a very reliable way to transmit a WiFi signal over long distances, but there must be clear line of site between sender and receiver for it to work well.
Best for: reliable & high speed connections to buildings further than 100m from the main house, but within clear line of sight
Hard wiring with ethernet cable
An ethernet network cable running from your router to the outbuilding, terminating with a network point and/or a WiFi access point. As it’s a direct, hard-wired connection to your router, this is a very reliable method. You’ll get your full broadband speed with virtually no loss of performance.
There are, however, a few caveats:
- It’s inadvisable for distances of more than 100m due to signal degradation over longer cable runs. If your outbuilding is further away, point-to-point may a better solution.
- Running a cable across your garden may be tricky. If you’re having electricity run to your outbuilding, consider running ethernet cable at the same time to save cost and hassle. If not, it means either digging a trench to bury the cable or laying it above ground.
- Going below ground means you’ll need more expensive shielded gel-filled ethernet cable to protect the internal wires. Any breakdown in the cable could be costly and disruptive to fix.
Best for: reliable & high speed connections to buildings less than 100m from the main premises
Get help extending your WiFi to a shed, garage or outbuilding
Need help getting a reliable internet connection to your outbuilding? Contact us today if you’re in the Bristol and Bath area and want to discuss your options.
We install professional external WiFi solutions, point-to-point wireless links and cabled networks to get your WiFi where you need it.