Extending your home internet connection to a summerhouse or shed allows for streaming and browsing from the garden building. With an easy method install, you can soon be enjoying super-fast speeds.
We spend most of the day on the internet for everything from working to food shopping. With more of us working from home than ever before, a reliable internet connection is essential to go about our daily lives. We expect a fast internet connection inside the house, but for many of us, as we move further down the garden that connection begins to drop.
The challenge with Wi-Fi is that the signal does not travel very far. Add in some external brick walls and the distance is reduced even further. To get a reliable and fast Wi-Fi signal in a summerhouse or shed, we need to extend the range of our wireless network. There are several different approaches that can be used depending on the budget and performance required.
For the very best performance, we recommend a wired internet connection in a garden building. But simple steps such as a Wi-Fi extender will be fine for most of us.
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How to get Wi-Fi in a summerhouse or shed:
Take a look at some of our recommendations for internet in your summerhouse or shed.
Easiest: Wi-Fi Extender
The easiest way to extend your wireless internet signal to a summerhouse or shed is by using a Wi-Fi extender. The extender works by boosting the signal that currently comes out of the wireless router and increasing the distance that the wireless network is available from the router location. Extenders relay the original wireless signal by providing their own which is connected back to your wireless network.
The result of using an extender is the Wi-Fi range is significantly increased and when a device is further away from the router, it will get its connection from the Wi-Fi extender instead. Installation is extremely simple and ideal if you’re looking for a fast and easy solution. The process will usually involve pairing the extender to your current Wi-Fi network and then positioning it in the best location for your devices to access.
The challenge with a garden building is positioning a Wi-Fi extender to provide a reliable and fast connection. As an extender needs to connect to your current wireless network, it needs to be in a location where it can receive a good connection itself. This means that putting the extender inside your summerhouse that has a poor connection is unlikely to resolve the connection issues. The extender will simply be repeating the poor wireless connection that it is receiving.
To get the best results, a Wi-Fi extender needs to be positioned halfway between where you are currently getting a poor connection and the wireless router. This way it will receive a strong enough signal to be reliable and is close enough to your devices which are trying to connect. For garden buildings within 15m from a house, the extender can be positioned on the back wall of the house and work fine to provide a good connection. But for buildings further away such as at the bottom of a garden, the distance will likely be too far to be covered using a Wi-Fi extender.
Best Performance: Wired Connection
A wired (ethernet) connection is the gold standard when it comes to getting a fast and reliable internet connection. If your summerhouse is being used as a garden office or you are streaming movies from inside, a wired connection is the best way to go. While it may sound daunting, installation is relatively simple and can be completed without the need to call in a professional.
Wired internet connections are usually found in offices and less common in homes as most of us prefer the freedom that Wi-Fi brings. However, wireless can only extend so far and using a wired connection allows for a much greater distance. An ethernet connection can extend for up to 100m without a drop in performance and the connection is a lot more secure as the signal can’t be picked up by neighbours, as it could be with a wireless connection.
To install a wired internet connection we need to run an ethernet cable from our router all of the way to the summerhouse or shed. The cable should take the shortest possible distance to avoid any degradation in the signal and it’s common to install at the same time as an electrical cable. The ethernet cable is connected to the router using an RJ45 connection and can be terminated into a faceplate inside the garden building.
A wired connection does not mean the devices that are going to connect need to do so using a cable. Inside the summerhouse or shed we can use an Access Point to establish a separate wireless connection. An access point takes the wired internet connection and converts it into a wireless network. This way all of the devices connect to the new Wi-Fi network inside the garden building, which is connected through a cable to the router.
Fast Setup: Powerline
Powerline networking is a sort of hybrid between wireless extenders and an ethernet connection. It works by sending the internet signal over electricity cabling already in the house. A Powerline system includes two adapters that are connected at each end of the connection. The first adapter will connect to the router and the second adapter will be plugged in inside the summerhouse or shed.
As Powerline uses existing cabling, set-up is very easy, involving plugging in both adapters and pairing them to work together. The only challenge with garden buildings is that the adapters need to be on the same electrical circuit to work. This is fine in a house as all of the electrics are on the same circuit, but sometimes a garden building may be on a separate circuit. The quality of the cabling can also affect how fast and reliable the internet connection will be and thicker wiring usually results in the best connection.
Powerline adapters come with different performance levels with the best rated for 1GB/s performance. The real-world performance is likely to be slightly less and so we recommend going for a high-performance model to offset any slowdowns in the connection. Some Powerline models will provide a Wi-Fi signal at the receiver end in the summerhouse where devices can connect to. However, most will provide a wired connection and an access point will be needed to turn that into a wireless connection for Wi-Fi enabled devices.
Garden Coverage: Outdoor Access Point
Sometimes, wireless internet inside a summerhouse or shed is not enough and we want to cover the full garden. This makes a great solution if you spend a lot of time outside and want a reliable connection everywhere. An outdoor access point creates its own wireless network and will connect back to a router. Installation is usually completed using a Power Over Ethernet (PoE) cable. PoE is a single cable that can be used to carry both data and power. This allows a clean cable solution for powering and providing an internet connection via the access point.
An external access point can be installed on the outside wall of a house. There is no need to run a cable all of the way down to the summerhouse or shed. As the access point is outdoors and will usually have a line of sight, the connection is very fast and comparable to the W-Fi speeds achieved inside the house. The biggest part of the installation is drilling a hole to run the wires through to the outside and most access points are plug & play with the existing internet connection.
Independent: Mobile Broadband
Sometimes getting a reliable connection in a summerhouse from your home broadband can be challenging. When it’s not possible to establish a connection or maybe you don’t have home internet, mobile broadband can be used instead.
Mobile broadband works by using an internet dongle that connects to the internet using a mobile phone network. In many locations, a 4G or 5G mobile internet connection is much faster than a home fibre connection at over 150MB/s and the signal is just as reliable. The only difficulty will be in rural areas where a strong mobile data signal is not always possible.
A mobile internet connection comes straight to your device wirelessly from a mobile tower. Therefore missing out all of the intermediate connections in your house such as through a router or wireless extender. This can result in lower latency and performance comparable to a wired internet connection.
The downside is the additional cost of a separate internet connection. A mobile internet dongle or router is often bundled into a subscription or can be purchased separately and just requires a sim card. The connection is best suited to a few wireless devices at a time as any more than 5 will work better from a home internet connection.
Internet speed – The actual speed of the connection which your device will receive is based on two factors. The first factor is the strength of the Wi-Fi signal. As a device moves further away the wireless signal becomes weaker and the speed is reduced. To test your current Wi-Fi speed use a website such as fast.com or the mobile application wifi sweetspots. Start by taking a measurement next to your router to get the maximum speed that can be achieved with ideal Wi-Fi conditions. After, run the same test from inside your summerhouse or shed to compare the difference. If the speed is much lower, this shows that Wi-Fi signal strength is the issue.
The second factor is the internet speed provided by your internet service provider (ISP). Fibre home broadband connections start at 36MB/s and can go up to over 200MB/s advertised speed. The actual speed received is usually slightly lower but should still be near the speed advertised. If your ISP is providing a slow speed, the internet connection in your summerhouse or shed is not going to improve much even with extending the wireless network.
Number of connected devices – The number of devices connected to a wireless network can affect its performance and may lead to a slow down in internet speed if the connection is overwhelmed. Most routers claim to support up to 250 simultaneous connections but a slow down can occur with far fewer devices connected. If your house has lots of devices connected to the router, this could be causing poor signal inside your garden building. We can often forget just how many devices we have connected with everything from fridges to alarm clocks being connected to the internet.
As we add more devices, a higher performance Wi-Fi connection is required to handle all of the traffic. An upgraded router or access point can provide increased bandwidth for more devices. A benefit of using a wired internet connection for a summerhouse is that we can use a separate wireless network inside instead of sharing the existing home wireless connection.
A Wi-Fi connection in a summerhouse or shed allows us to browse the internet and stream from the comfort of our garden building. The connection from a house is often unreliable and slow due to wireless signals struggling to penetrate through thick exterior walls.
Many options are available for a fast wireless connection in a garden building. For an easy solution, a wireless extender works as a relay to boost the current Wi-Fi signal and expand the range further away from the house. For use as a garden office, where a reliable connection is required, we recommend wired internet for the best performance.