Outbuildings are widely used as an additional room at home to create a separate space for hobbies and work. A reliable Wi-Fi internet connection is essential for connecting electronics such as a TV, Mobile phone or laptop.
A fast and stable internet connection has become an expectation in recent years, as we connect more devices than ever before. This trend is set to continue, with many household devices becoming smart enabled and taking advantage of the internet to share data. For many of us, we rely on an internet connection for large amounts of our daily routine, including everything from working to streaming.
The internet connection in a house is enabled using a router that is usually positioned in the centre to provide a reliable signal throughout the building. While Wi-Fi technology has improved considerably in recent years, most household routers are not cut out to provide wireless connectivity to an outbuilding on their own.
The challenge with Wi-Fi is that the range is often very short. This is particularly true when there are dense walls in between devices, such as the external brick walls of a residential building. The results are a slow connection or frequent drop-outs when connecting devices to Wi-Fi from in the garden or a detached outbuilding.
How to get a reliable internet connection in an outbuilding is a question we get asked regularly. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to extend the connection from a house and into a separate outbuilding.
Which outbuildings can I extend Wi-Fi to?
An outbuilding is a small separate building that is often detached from the main property. The separation and exterior walls of both buildings are the reason we struggle to get a reliable Wi-Fi connection.
We can extend Wi-Fi to an outbuilding without the need for any specialist installation, provided the structure is not too far from the main property. A 100m distance from the router inside the house to the outbuilding is often the limit, as this is the furthest distance we can run an ethernet cable without seeing a degradation in performance.
Wi-Fi in a shed or detached garage can be useful when the space is being used for hobbies or even a small workshop. An internet connection can allow for streaming music or videos to keep entertained.
It’s common to install Wi-Fi in a summerhouse or log cabin as we can spend considerable amounts of time inside these outbuildings during the summer. Cabins and summerhouses are commonly turned into garden offices during the warmer months and a fast connection is essential for video calls and productive working. Other examples where reliable internet is essential include a garden bar or cinema room.
We can extend Wi-Fi to plenty of other outbuildings including man caves, barns, studios and a pool house. As long as the structure is dry and has an electricity connection, Wi-Fi can be installed without much difficulty.
How to extend Wi-Fi to an outbuilding or detached garage
There are several ways to extend a wireless internet connection to an outbuilding. The best method will depend on the level of performance required and how far away the outbuilding is from the main property.
Wi-Fi Extender: If the outbuilding is close
If the outbuilding is close, you may already get some connectivity inside, but the connection could be slow or drop out regularly. A fast and easy way to stabilise the connection is to install a Wi-Fi extender.
The extender will connect to the original Wi-Fi connection coming from the router and will amplify the signal to create a stronger connection for devices nearby the extender. This can extend the range of the Wi-Fi network considerably, as any devices further away from the router will have their connection relayed through the extender.
One of the benefits of a Wi-Fi extender is that installation is extremely quick and easy. There are no additional cables required and all the extender needs is a free plug socket to get power from. Set-up is often completed through a mobile application and will involve connecting the extender to your Wi-Fi connection so that it knows which signals to boost.
To get the best results, a Wi-Fi extender needs to be positioned in a location where it can pick up a reliable signal. This is often somewhere halfway between the router and the outbuilding, such as near the rear door of the house. If the extender is positioned inside the outbuilding, it may struggle to maintain a reliable connection back to the router. This can make a Wi-Fi extender unsuitable for garden buildings that are located more than 15m away from the main property.
TP-Link RE605X Extender (Amazon)
The best performance when extending a Wi-Fi connection comes from taking advantage of the latest wireless technologies. This extender from TP-Link uses Wi-Fi 6 (AX) that provides higher throughput and fast connectivity compared with older wireless standards. There is also the ability to create a mesh network when using a OneMesh router to allow for a seamless connection when moving between the house and outbuilding.
Set-up is quick with the TP-Link Teather application from a smartphone. The gigabit ethernet port allows wired devices such as a smart TV to be connected directly to the Wi-Fi extender. Two external antennas provide a reliable signal boost and impressive range.
Wired Ethernet Access Point: Top performance
When it comes to getting the best performing internet connection possible, there’s little doubt that wired ethernet is the best solution. Ethernet cables are the backbone of business networking but are often not required at home where Wi-Fi is more convenient and easy to install.
If the outbuilding, such as a summerhouse or log cabin, is being used as a garden office then we recommend installing a wired ethernet connection. When there are lots of devices connecting, ethernet also makes sense to ensure everyone gets a strong connection.
One of the benefits of running a wired internet connection to an outbuilding is the range that can be covered. Most Ethernet cables can be extended to 100m without any degradation in performance. The connection speed will be similar to a wireless device connecting from next to the router in the house.
Installing a wired internet connection requires running an ethernet cable from the router in the house and terminating into the outbuilding. The connection could be buried underground with a suitable cable and should take the shortest route possible to maximise performance.
Once the ethernet cable is in position, it can be connected to an access point inside of the outbuilding. An access point will convert the wired connection back into a wireless connection, extending the Wi-Fi connection to the outbuilding. The wireless network from the access point will be separate from the one provided by the router, allowing an independent Wi-Fi network for use inside the outbuilding.
When running an ethernet cable over a long distance, we need to ensure a high-quality cable is used to support maximum speeds and reliability. This Cat6 cable from Kenable allows for a 1GBe connection speed up to a range of 100m. Using an outdoor cable is essential, as many indoor cables will not provide UV protection and begin to crack due to the sun.
The shielded cable reduces interference from other connections or electricity cabling. A number of sizes are available including 50m and 100m options. Working with outdoor ethernet cables can be difficult due to their thick exterior cover. We recommend terminating into a wall box as it’s easier to get the cable in compared to an RJ-45 connector.
TP-Link WA1201 Access Point (Amazon)
With the ethernet connection terminated into the outbuilding, we can use this TP-Link access point to provide a Wi-Fi signal. Despite the low cost, this model utilises dual-band wireless AC technology with a high throughput rate of 867 Mbps on the 5GHz connection. We found installation to be easy and the wireless network can be enabled within minutes.
The design is modern and the white colour allows the access point to blend into the room easily. There are multiple different modes including the ability to extend the range of the current wireless network. Four antennas provide plenty of range for signal in the garden surrounding the outbuilding as well.
Powerline: If the outbuilding has electricity
If the outbuilding already has electricity installed, you may be able to take advantage of Powerline networking. Powerline is a hybrid solution that provides a mix of the benefits of Wi-Fi extenders and a wired ethernet connection.
The benefit of Powerline is that it does not require running a separate internet cable to the outbuilding. Instead, Powerline leverages the existing electricity cabling to send data over. A Powerline kit contains two adapters, which are connected at each end of the connection. The first will be plugged into the router and the second will be connected inside of the outbuilding.
Not all outbuildings will be able to use Powerline. The house and outbuilding must be on the same electrical circuit for the connection to work. An electrician will be able to tell you if both buildings are using the same circuit. If they are, then installing a Powerline system is fast, and the connection can be running within minutes. The set-up process involves both adapters detecting each other and syncing.
The real-world performance of Powerline networking can vary widely and is also dependent on the quality of the electrical wiring. While the best products support speeds of 1GB/s, most connections will be slower. We recommend opting for a high-performance model to offset any loss of speed over the connection.
Not all powerline models provide a Wi-Fi signal. An Access Point is often needed to convert the wired internet connection back into a wireless network inside of the outbuilding.
TP-Link AV1000 Powerline Adapter (Amazon)
Lots of different Powerline adapters are available and we recommend choosing one with high speeds to maximise performance. This TP-Link AV1000 model provides transfer rates of up to 1000 Mbps on an electrical line of up to 300m. The one-touch configuration allows for a fast set-up to get online in no time.
One of the unique features of this Powerline adapter is the built-in Wi-Fi. This allows the adapter to provide a wireless connection inside the outbuilding, without the need for an additional access point. A pass-through power socket also means the adapter is not taking up a plug socket next to the router.
Mobile 5G Broadband: Separate connection
If all else fails or it’s not possible to extend the existing internet connection into an outbuilding, it may be time to consider a separate mobile broadband connection. Mobile internet has made massive improvements in the last few years and is often faster than many homes’ fibre broadband connection. With 5G, the speed is increased even further, providing high bandwidth internet connectivity.
Instead of connecting back to the router, a mobile broadband connection will connect directly to a mobile data network provided by mobile carriers. Mobile broadband routers can be purchased where a sim card is installed and will provide their own Wi-Fi signal. The drawback is that it results in paying for a separate internet connection. If you live in an area with a bad mobile internet signal, home broadband may provide better results.
A simple solution is to tether an existing mobile phone when using the outbuilding. For occasional use, this is an easy way to create a Wi-Fi network and take advantage of mobile data that’s already available.
TP-Link Mobile Wi-Fi Router (Amazon)
A mobile router can be easily installed inside an outbuilding and allow multiple users to connect at the same time. The TP-Link mobile router range offers several different models depending on the speed required. The detachable antennas allow for strong signal pick-up to ensure a reliable connection is maintained.
There is no configuration required, just put the sim card into position and enjoy fast internet connectivity. LAN ports allow for devices that don’t support Wi-Fi to easily connect to the internet.
Wi-Fi Considerations in a Outbuilding
When choosing the best way to extend your Wi-Fi connection to an outbuilding, it’s key to know which devices will be connecting and whether they need a lot of bandwidth
Distance from the router – The best way to extend a Wi-Fi network to an outbuilding will depend on how far away it is from the router. For buildings that are very close, a low-cost solution such as a Wi-Fi extender can often be the best solution. When the extender is able to pick up a reliable connection from the router and boost it far enough to remain stable in the outbuilding, there’s no need for more complex solutions.
Home broadband speed – The actual connection speed achieved on a device will depend on many factors. The most noticeable will be the internet speed provided by your ISP, which will be the maximum possible speed we can achieve on a connected device.
Most fibre connections start from 36MB/s but can go up to over 900MB/s. Starting with a higher speed coming into the property allows for more degradation in performance before the connection becomes unstable. To get a good understanding of the speed coming into the router, a speed test can be run on a device plugged directly into the router using an ethernet cable.
Amount of connected devices – Internet-connected devices all share the same Wi-Fi connection, meaning that the same connection is split across a large number of devices at once. When there are lots of devices using high bandwidth (e.g. steaming or video calls) at the same time, it can begin to affect the performance of other devices on the network.
A higher-powered router is often required for large networks that have lots of devices connected at the same time. When using an access point in the outbuilding, this will provide its own Wi-Fi network, eliminating some of the congestion and allowing more devices to achieve a reliable connection.
Overall, it’s possible to extend a Wi-Fi network to a wide range of outbuildings. All types of structures including sheds, summerhouses, cabins and detached garages can have a wireless connection extended to them.
How the internet connection is extended will depend on the performance required and how far away the garden building is from the main property. If the outbuilding is close, start with a Wi-Fi extender which may be able to boost the signal enough for a reliable connection. In most cases, a wired ethernet connection combined with an access point will be the best solution.