Whether your garden room is being used as an office, pub or even a games room, a reliable Wi-Fi signal is essential. Fortunately, multiple solutions are available to get internet in a garden room easily and on a budget.
For many of us, our devices are connected to the internet, pretty much all of the time while we are in the house. So naturally, it’s important for that to continue when we step into our garden room. If your garden building is not very far from the house, you may already be able to pick up a partial signal. The issue with Wi-Fi signal is that it does not travel very well through solid walls such as the exterior brick walls of your house. The experience is going to be patchy at best, perhaps okay for browsing Facebook but no way acceptable for streaming media or taking part in video calls.
How to get internet in a garden room is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to people purchasing their first garden building. We recommend planning an internet connection before installing a garden building. This may save time and cost later on, for example, if laying both internet and electricity cabling at the same time.
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How to Get Wi-Fi in a Garden Room Office Considerations
Reviewing how the internet is going to be used inside your garden building will allow for the optimal solution at the time of installation and also for future-proofing as your internet usage is likely to increase in the future as faster and more bandwidth-heavy content becomes available. For example, more videos are now available in 4k and in the future will also be offered as 8K which requires upwards of 100Mbps for reliable streaming
How fast is the internet from my ISP?
The speed of the internet connection coming into the house from your internet service provider can often be overlooked. The initial speed coming in will set the maximum possible speed which can be achieved in your garden building. By the time the connection reaches your garden building, there will be a slight degradation in performance. With a faster connection coming in, there’s more headroom available for a loss of bandwidth by the time the internet is connected to devices.
The speed offered by your provider will be listed in your internet package. Most fibre connections are available as 36MB/s upwards, with the best offering connections over 200MB/s. The speed being received by your router can be viewed by logging into the router or by running a speed test through many of the different speed testing services online. The aim of the connection between your router and garden room is to minimise the degradation in performance by as much as possible.
How many devices will be connecting at the same time?
While most routers can connect up to 250 devices to a wireless network, the performance is going to be unusable without a super-fast connection from your ISP and also effective sharing of the bandwidth. In reality, you are probably going to be connecting a handful of devices inside your garden room. The more devices, the better quality Wi-Fi signal is recommended to be able to effectively distribute the internet across each of these devices.
TV’s, smart streaming boxes, laptops and computers are the most bandwidth-heavy devices. A solid connection is essential for uninterrupted viewing of media content. Less internet intensive devices include smart technologies such as smart plugs, lightbulbs and heaters. While they will not consume much internet, the connection should still be strong to ensure you can connect to them when needed. In our experience, many low-cost smart home devices are not capable of picking up a Wi-Fi signal over a long distance and often need to be fairly close to a Wi-Fi access point.
How will my devices connect?
Most devices use a Wi-Fi connection to receive internet. But some may prefer or can connect only to a wired connection. For example, a Desktop PC may only have wired connectivity available. While a smart TV can connect to Wi-Fi, connecting to a wired internet connection is often preferred for better performance and smoother streaming. To connect multiple devices to a single wired connection, an internet switch will be required to share the connection.
If the internet connection to your garden building is coming in through a wired ethernet or powerline connection, an access point will be needed to convert it into a Wi-Fi signal once inside. While an AP looks like a router, it’s role is talk to your router over a wired connection and then provide its own Wi-Fi connection to the devices connected in your garden room.
Wired Internet (ethernet)
Best performance and average cost.
Installing a wired internet cable run between the router in the house and your garden building is our recommended method for guaranteeing reliable performance. The Internet connection is carried between them via an ethernet cable which directly connects both locations in the network. Ethernet cables come in a variety of numbered standards. We recommend using a Cat 6 cable which is capable of carrying a 1Gb/s connection up to 100 metres. Ethernet cables are available in both outdoor and shielded versions to for protection if being buried outside.
It can be easiest to install a wired internet connection to your garden room at the same time as fitting electricity. The ethernet cable can be dropped into the same trench as the power cables and both can be left buried underground and out of the way. For this, a shielded cat 6 cable is required, particularly if running parallel with electricity cables for a long distance.
The price of installing a wired internet connection depends on your technical ability. If you can do the installation yourself, the cable can be purchased at around £40 for 100m of outdoor cable or £180 for 100m of armoured cable. The connection should terminate into a faceplate at each end and the tools to punch-down the cable into the faceplate can also be picked up for a low price at most network equipment suppliers. With this being a wired internet connection, an access point will be required inside your garden room to convert the network connection into a Wi-Fi connection for wireless devices to connect to.
A wired internet connection is favoured due to its performance and reliability. There is very little loss of speed, even over extended distances. This differs from Wi-Fi extenders where the connection can drop off sharply. For those working or streaming from their garden room, a wired internet connection will allow for the best possible connection. There are also security benefits due to not extending your Wi-Fi signal to locations where neighbours may be able to access.
Very good performance and low cost.
Powerline networking is a clever concept which has been around for over 20 years. The system requires 2 powerline adapters. The first will be plugged in next to your router, with a wired internet connection into the ethernet port on the router. The second powerline adapter will be plugged into the remote location i.e. your garden room and will have an ethernet cable coming out to connect into your internet-enabled device.
The idea is that the internet connection is sent over the existing electricity cables in your home from one adapter to another adapter. This makes Powerline adapters very easy to install as there are no new wires required. It is often as simple as turning on both adapters and syncing them to each other. Using existing wiring is quick and simple. However, Powerline connections require the adapter to be on the same circuit to be able to transfer the data. For some garden rooms, a different electricity circuit is used, meaning a Powerline connection is not possible.
The performance of Powerline networking can be slightly slower when compared with an ethernet connection, but much better than most Wi-Fi connections. Adapters advertise several speed options including 100MB/s and 1GB/s performance. In real-world conditions, the speed is usually closer to half of the advertised speed, which is often still fine for most users. The performance can be impacted by the wiring in your house.
Powerline adapters are very affordable and can be picked up for around £50. We recommend going for a faster speed option where possible to allow more headroom for any potential speed loss. Powerline adapters terminate into an ethernet connection at the remote location. This means that if you want Wi-Fi in your garden room, an access point is required, which will connect to the cable from the Powerline adapter.
Easy to set-up and lowest cost.
At first, a Wi-Fi range extender may seem like the perfect option for getting an internet connection in your garden room. Many of us use Wi-Fi extenders around the house and they provide a low-cost option to boost the signal to rooms which may receive a patchy signal.
For best results, the Wi-Fi extender needs to be placed halfway between the router and garden room. Too near to the router and it will not extend the signal sufficiently enough to improve performance further away from the router. However, too far away (i.e. inside your garden office) and it may not be able to connect to the router reliably enough to improve performance. This leaves Wi-Fi extenders only suitable for those where the garden building is not very far away from the house.
Wi-Fi extenders are one of the most affordable ways to extend the range of your wireless network. All you need to purchase is the Wi-Fi extender itself and no further equipment is required. The downside is often that the performance deteriorates quickly and any further than 25 metres or through thick walls is going to offer very little in terms of real-world boost in performance.
The set-up of Wi-Fi signal boosters is very simple and just requires the device to be connected to your existing wireless network. The extender can be left plugged in to continue boosting performance. Due to the low cost and ease of installation, Wi-Fi extenders are best suited to those with little technical experience that are looking for a simple solution to boost Wi-Fi range. But for those needing a solid internet connection (think Zoom calls in a garden office), there are better options available which are worth the investment.
WiFi Point to Point
A complex set-up and high cost.
A point to point (PtP) Wi-Fi connection is specifically designed for connecting 2 buildings together where it is physically not possible to run a cable between them. Think of a business which has a building each side of a road. The connection is established between them using 2 dish style devices, usually known as links. For point to point Wi-Fi to work effectively, line of sight is required for the connection. The links are usually placed high up, often on a pole or on the roof of a building to avoid any objects lower down.
With a clear line of sight between each device, the connection is fast and much better than trying to extend a standard Wi-Fi connection. But the installation is difficult and requires a dish to be placed both on the garden room and also the house, which is not going to look great. The cost is mixed, with some kits starting at around £100 and some costing thousands. The level of kit required will depend on the internet speed you are aiming to achieve and also the distance between the house and garden room.
Mobile 5G Broadband
Easy to install and great performance.
If you have incredibly slow home broadband or it is just not possible to get a solid connection between your home and garden room, mobile broadband can be a great alternative approach. Typically mobile broadband has been a 4G connection which often maxes out at up to 200MB/s. Recently launched 5G is even faster and can theoretically offer speeds over 1GB/s. Of course, both of these rely on a strong mobile data connection being available in your location, which can be difficult in rural areas.
Mobile broadband is purchased through a mobile network such as EE or Vodafone, rather than your home broadband supplier. There will be a monthly fee and often the data limits are far less when compared with home broadband. For a typical home broadband connection, the last mile from the exchange to the house (& then onto the garden room) is where the signal becomes most degraded and the bandwidth reduced. With mobile broadband, this is eliminated as there is a wireless connection straight to the mobile tower.
Mobile broadband requires a mobile router which is usually supplied with the service. This router only needs to be plugged into power, so can be positioned anywhere. With no additional wires, the set-up is simple and requires no ethernet wires coming through the wall. Both the performance and reliability vary widely and are dependent on the local mobile data signal. This can easily be tested on your mobile phone. In an area with a strong signal, it’s realistic that you will reach speeds greater than your home broadband connection.
Mobile broadband is an excellent option for those who need a very fast and consistent internet connection for video calls or streaming. Especially if they suffer from poor home broadband speeds. But the cost and need for additional broadband service will mean for many that it is just not feasible.
Asking how to get internet in a garden room or outbuilding should be carried out early on in the planning process. Consideration should be made to the type of internet use inside the garden room, for example, a garden office or cinema requiring a high-quality connection. While there are many options available, we recommend a wired internet connection where possible to ensure consistent and stable performance. Planning early on will allow for an ethernet cable to be installed at the same time as electricity cables, saving digging up your garden for a second time.
If your garden room is already up and running, Powerline adapters could provide a quick and easy solution, as long as your garden room is on the same electric circuit. Do you have any questions around how to get internet in a garden room? Let us know in the comments below.