As the UK housing market continues to stagnate, more people are choosing to work with what they’ve got rather than move to a new house. A survey by Money Supermarket found that 42% of Brits believe extending their property is a better financial decision than moving. Extensions, conversions and outbuildings all help create usable space for homeworking, family expansion and leisure. However, if you’re looking at investing in such a major home upgrade, you’ll need to think about what internet access you’ll need in your newly created space. It’s unlikely your home router’s WiFi will stretch that far. In which case what can you do if you need to extend WiFi to a shed, garage, garden room or outhouse?
How to extend WiFi to a shed or outbuilding: the options
There are a couple of cheap, cheerful DIY options you could try. These are particularly for those who 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 or games room – it’s probably worth investing in a professional WiFi networking solution. You’ll probably 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 connecting your router to a 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 then receives the signal via WiFi and transfers it to a wireless access point. This in turn broadcasts the WiFi which you can then connect your devices to.
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 to a hard-wired WiFi access point. This is a very reliable connection method as it’s effectively plugging an access point directly into your router. You’ll get your full broadband speed with 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 is a better solution.
- Getting a cable across your garden could be tricky. If you’re having electricity run to your outbuilding you could have the ethernet cable run 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.