A wired internet connection is the best way to achieve fast and consistent performance inside a garden building. The best outdoor ethernet cables provide gigabit speeds for outbuildings where reliably extending Wi-Fi is not possible.
As we spend more time in garden buildings, we expect all the comforts of home such as heating and internet to be available inside. There are plenty of methods for connecting a garden building to the internet and lots of factors to consider. When the outbuilding is positioned next to the house, a wi-fi extender may be enough. As we move further away or demand higher speeds, a wired connection is the best solution.
An outdoor ethernet cable can connect the outbuilding directly to the router inside a house. The connection will terminate inside the garden building and can be connected to an access point to provide a separate wireless network.
Wired internet connections are widely used in commercial environments, but less common at home. There are many benefits of using an ethernet cable including a reliable performance at a range of up to 100m and eliminating buffering on connected devices.
As the outdoor ethernet cable will become the backbone of the connection to the outbuilding, we need to ensure a high-quality cable is used that will last for a long time. Once the cable is in position, it can be challenging to replace, particularly if it is buried underground.
Best outdoor (exterior) ethernet cables
Finding the best outdoor ethernet cable for a garden building can be difficult with so many options available. Lots of terminologies can make it hard to compare products.
Our recommendations are suitable for all outbuildings including summerhouses, log cabins, sheds and garden rooms. Let’s take a look at some of our favourite outdoor and exterior use ethernet cables.
The kenable brand produces a full range of networking equipment, including all of the accessories required to actually install the ethernet cable. This cable is suitable for direct burial, allowing for a clean installation as the wiring can be run underground until it reaches the garden building. Two lengths are available including a 50m and 100m version. Be sure to measure the total distance required for cabling before purchasing.
The double skin on this ethernet cable provides protection from damage and increased durability. Inside the cable is a gel that prevents water from running inside the cable if the outer skin becomes damaged. Ethernet cables with a double skin are best terminated into a wall box, as the increased thickness makes it a challenge to terminate directly into a plug.
This cable from Mr. Tronic is the value option from all of our cable choices but is also suited to those looking for a simple installation. The ethernet cable already has RJ-45 plugs terminated at each end, so it’s as simple as connecting devices to the cable. For those with little networking experience and unable to install a wall box, this makes a quick solution.
The cable is available in a variety of lengths from 10m to 100m and features a black weatherproof outer jacket. Thin and light 24AWG wiring makes it easy to hide this cable out of the way. We would recommend this cable for solutions that don’t need huge amounts of bandwidth.
This premium quality cable is certified for outdoor use and makes a great choice for long runs where a high bandwidth connection is required. Cat6 cabling provides the best performance and this external version is available in both 25m and 100m lengths. Twisted pairs inside are made from solid copper and the wiring has an AWG rating of 23.
The exterior skin of the cable is made from a UV-resistant material and the double skin provides protection even in harsh environments. A gel is used inside the cable for water-proofing and protecting the internal wiring. Be sure to terminate into a wall plug, as cables with a wide diameter can be different to terminate into an RJ-45 plug.
While cat6 is more than sufficient for today’s internet speeds and will be for years to come, Cat7 future-proofs the installation for an extremely long time. With this standard, cabling can support a 10Gb connection for up to 100m, compared with 1Gb over the same distance with Cat6. This cable from Oren features a 900MHz bandwidth capacity to maximise data communication.
The high-quality cable is made from 23 AWG bare copper and insulated in PE. The flame retardant cable is ideal for long runs that will be in position for years into the future. Direct burial allows for the cable to be hidden underground in between the house and garden building. The challenge will be finding equipment that is currently able to take advantage of the huge speeds.
Kenable External Shielded Cat6 Cable (Amazon)
Shielded Ethernet cables contain aluminium foil inside of the cable to protect against interference and crosstalk. If the cable is run alongside the electricity for the garden building for a long run then a shielded cable is recommended. This cat6 version from Kenable is available in both 50m & 100m lengths.
Full copper 23AWG twisted pairs provide a high-quality connection for fast and stable performance. The exterior features a UV-resistant PE sheath and an inner film protects against compensation build-up. This cable can be buried underground or attached directly to the exterior of buildings.
How to find the best outdoor ethernet cables for a garden building
Searching for ethernet cables online can often result in lots of different options. To understand the differences, we need to know what the terminology means. Everything from the outer shielding to the internal cable material can be different.
Cat 5e vs Cat6
The standards and protocols used for internet cabling are continuously evolving. The most common decision is whether to use Cat5e or Cat6 ethernet cables, with Cat6 providing the best performance.
Both standards can support a 1-gigabit connection speed (Cat6 supports up to 10 gigabit in small runs) but Cat6 has considerably more bandwidth compared to Cat5e. This allows the cable to process more data at once, similar to a motorway having an increased amount of lanes available to support higher throughput.
The inside of an ethernet cable contains copper twisted pairs of cabling. Cat6 cables contain more isolation to reduce noise and cross-talk. This results in fewer errors and allows higher data transmission rates.
Both cabling types support a distance of up to 100m with a gigabit connection speed, making them suitable for long runs to an outbuilding. Cat6 cables are slightly thicker due to the increased insulation and copper thickness.
The cost differences between both have shrunk in recent years and are small. We recommend choosing Cat6 cables to maximise the potential performance and reduce any degradation of the internet connection.
Exterior vs armoured cable
One of the biggest differences when it comes to external ethernet cables is the outer jacket. This is the material that you can see on the outside of the cable which is keeping the internal twisted pair wiring protected.
Exterior grade cables are different from internal-only as they feature UV protection. This stops the cable from breaking down as it’s exposed to the sun over a long period of time. Another feature to look out for is a double outer jacket. Using two separate layers provides increased protection if the exterior becomes damaged to avoid leaving the internal wiring exposed.
Some premium outdoor ethernet cables feature a gel coating on the internal wiring. This protects the cables in the event of water getting inside the outer jacket. Gel stops the water from running down the internal wiring and touching the copper that carries the data.
If the cable is being buried underground, be sure to choose an option that is suitable for direct burial. Not all cables will support being buried underground and replacing a cable after a few years can be a big job.
Armoured ethernet cable goes one step further and features a layer of Steel Wire Armour (SWA) inside of the cabling. The thick steel provides protection against insect attacks or accidents with gardening equipment.
While armoured cabling is essential for electricity supplies, it’s generally not used for ethernet connections at home. The steel wiring can make the cable difficult to work with and hard to terminate at either end. A professional installation is often required when using armoured cabling.
Shielded ethernet cable
Another decision is whether to use an unshielded or shielded ethernet cable, with most being unshielded. The difference with a shielded cable is an aluminium foil that is inside the cable and wrapped around the twisted-pair wiring. Shield cable is used to prevent interference that can slow down or cause errors in the internet connection.
Shielded cables are slightly thicker due to the aluminium foil inside. They can also cost more compared with an unshielded cable. If there isn’t a requirement for shielding then an unshielded cable will allow for an easier and lower cost installation.
Shielded cables are used when the ethernet cable is run in parallel with electricity cabling. If the cabling for garden building electricity is run next to the ethernet cable, then a shielded cable is recommended.
How AWG rating works
All ethernet cables will list their American Wire Gauge rating, which is a common measurement for the diameter of the cable. This can be used to compare the quality differences between similar products.
A lower gauge product will have a thicker diameter and therefore lower resistance and heat. High-quality cables and those designed for long distances will have a lower AWG rating.
How to get wired internet (ethernet) in a garden building FAQ
Installing a wired internet connection into a garden building can be daunting if you are not familiar with networking. Thankfully, the installation is fairly simple and can be completed within a few hours.
Type of garden building
The installation of an ethernet cable is the same for most outbuildings, although their use may be slightly different. Summerhouses and log cabins can be used for streaming music or movies when converting the building into a space for entertainment. Garden rooms are often turned into a garden office and fast internet connectivity is essential for video calls. Even a shed being used as a workshop can benefit from ethernet to keep mobile devices connected.
Most garden buildings feature timber walls where a small hole can be made to feed the ethernet cable into the interior. Be sure to seal around the cable to prevent water from getting in during the winter months.
Some additional equipment is needed for installation, with most being available at a low cost. The end of the ethernet cable must be terminated and we recommend using wall boxes at each end of the connection. A wall box allows for a separate ethernet cable to be connected and keeps the installation tidy.
A cable crimping tool and punch-down tool are also used for pushing the inside cabling into the wall box. Testing the connection can be completed with an ethernet cable tester that will confirm all of the wires inside are active and functioning. As the wiring may be run across the exterior brick wall of a house, good-quality cable clips are used to keep the wiring in position.
Our main garden building is an insulated summerhouse that’s used as a garden office throughout the year. For calling and productivity applications, a fast and reliable internet connection is essential. As our outbuilding is positioned far away from the house, we were not in range of the wi-fi connection from our home router.
We installed a wired outdoor ethernet cable as soon as the summerhouse was installed. We used the kenable outdoor Cat6 cable with gel inside and the connection has been working great for the last several years. The speed is the same as being positioned next to the router inside our house, with little degradation in performance.
The outdoor ethernet cable terminates into a wall box inside the summerhouse and an Access Point is then connected. Using the Access Point allows us to connect multiple wireless devices at the same time and also gives us a wi-fi signal in the garden.
Overall, an outdoor ethernet cable is a great way to get a fast and reliable internet connection inside a garden building. Wired connections a great if the outbuilding is out of wi-fi range from the house or needs a high bandwidth connection such as for watching movies. There are plenty of options available when choosing an external ethernet cable so it’s important to make the right decision.
We recommend using a Cat6 cable for the best performance and also a shielded version if the ethernet cable is next to electricity cables for a long stretch. Installing an ethernet cable can be completed within a day. Be sure to check out our guide on how to correctly install an outdoor ethernet cable for a garden building.