Installing a wired internet connection into a summerhouse, log cabin or garden room provides a fast and reliable signal. Whether your garden building is used as an office, pub shed or games room, installation is simple and can be completed by yourself.
While Wi-Fi is great around the home, it often leads to challenges when extended to a garden room. And that’s because the wireless router inside your home is designed to provide a connection to devices only inside that building. Wi-Fi signals do not penetrate exterior walls very well and are certainly not going to provide a super-fast connection in the building at the bottom of your garden. Instead, the experience is going to be frequent buffering and disconnections, making it impossible to use your new garden room for video calls or even streaming music.
Many different approaches are recommended for achieving a good network signal but none of them beat an ethernet connection. Wi-Fi extenders don’t work very well because they are designed to be placed halfway between the router and the garden room in which you want a fast connection. The problem being the halfway point would often be in the middle of the garden, not somewhere it is possible to just plug the extender in. Powerline extenders are a better choice but will not be possible if the electricity supply for the garden building is on a different circuit to the one where the router is connected.
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The benefits of Ethernet
Wired internet connections are generally not used in homes as we favour the freedoms that Wi-Fi allows us, such as being able to walk around and always remain connected. Ethernet networking is widely used in business networking and offices where the requirements differ. In our use case, we will be using a wired network to re-establish our wireless network connectivity inside our garden room.
The speed provided by ethernet is far greater than a wireless connection. This is particularly true over a larger distance, as wireless drops off with each step we take further away from the location of the router. Ethernet can maintain the same connection speed consistently over a 100-metre range. We will be creating a 1Gbps connection between the router and the garden building, which is multiple times faster than your current wireless connection.
A hard-wired Internet connection also provides increased security vs a wireless connection. Extending the range of Wi-Fi allows more people to see the connection from their devices. If left unsecured, anyone in the local neighbourhood could potentially gain access. Ethernet is also extremely reliable due to no interruptions from radio frequencies a.k.a lots of other wireless networks from neighbouring properties.
Step 1: Planning your wired network
Before we begin ordering equipment, we need to plan exactly how our network connection will be achieved. There are many considerations to take into account to achieve maximum speed and reliability.
When is the best time to install?
A wired internet connection essentially involves running a cable from the router to the garden room. It is most convenient to do so at the time of installing the electrics. The ethernet cable can be dropped into the same trench and buried to remain protected and out of sight underground.
If running a network and electric cable in parallel, at least a 50mm distance between should be observed and a shielded cable used. This will reduce any electromagnetic interference and maintain the integrity of the high-speed connection.
Which path should the connection take?
An ethernet connection aims to take the shortest and straightest path possible. While Cat 6 ethernet cables are rated for up to 100m, this is a maximum connection in ideal conditions. Using a shorter distance means the data does not have to travel as far, reduces failure locations and lowers latency.
Ethernet cables work best when the cable is straight. Any kink or sharp bends can have a negative impact on performance and reduces the quality of the cable. The minimum bend radius to avoid degradation is approximately 1 inch.
How will we terminate each cable end?
For our connection, each end of the ethernet cable will terminate into a faceplate. Using a faceplate allows for a clean installation which will come from the wall at both the router and garden room side of the connection. Faceplates protect the cable long-term by reducing any movement and also allow for the secondary cable into devices at each end to be swapped when required e.g. if the location of the router moves.
Between the router and the faceplate, we will use a small ethernet cable that plugs into an RJ45 port on the router. At the garden room end, we will use another small ethernet cable that plugs into the RJ45 port of an Access Point. We won’t use a single RJ45 cable as we would have to fit the terminated connection through the wall.
Step 2: Equipment & components
The below list includes all of the equipment and materials we purchased to install our wired internet connection. We purchased all from the same supplier to ensure consistency and compatibility.
2x 1m Cat 6 RJ45 cable (Link) – Required at each end of the connection.
2x Cat 6 faceplate wall sockets with keystone jacks – A standardised package for mounting an ethernet connection to a wall box. Each should contain the faceplate and keystone snap-in.
2x Surface mount backbox – Paired with a faceplate to hide wiring and allow mounting onto a wall.
1x Cable crimping tool (Link) – Used to strip the wiring sheath and provide access to the twisted pairs inside.
1x Punch-down tool – Punches the wire down inside a keystone jack without any difficulty.
1x Cable clips – We recommend purchasing separately from a homeware store. Cable clips supplied with ethernet cables have short nails and will fall out of exterior brickwork.
1x Access point (Link) – Provides a wireless signal inside the garden room
1x Clear sealant (Link) – A waterproof covering where the cable feeds into exterior walls.
2x Brick buster plate (Link) – Optionally used to stop water ingress where the cable enters each building.
1x Network cable Tester (Link) – Optionally used to test the ethernet cable if there is no connection.
Which type of ethernet cable is best?
A common mistake is using an indoor ethernet cable that will not stand up to the elements outdoors. The main difference is the cable jacket, which is designed to handle constant weather changes including temperature and moisture. Outdoor qualified exterior Cat 6 cable protects against UV rays from the sun. While Cat5e can be used, Cat 6 can handle gigabit networks better over a long distance due to increased insulation.
While armoured ethernet cables can be used, we find them difficult to work with and terminate correctly. Externally shielded outdoor cable is great for running alongside electric cables for a long distance to reduce interference. We used a double sheath gel-filled cable. The inner sheath provides protection from moisture and insulates the cable, while the outer sheath is weatherproof to provide protection from UV. A gel-filled cable protects against water ingress if the outer layers of the cable become damaged.
The AWG rating of an ethernet cable is the American Wire Gauge, a common measurement for the diameter of a cable. A lower gauge indicates a thicker diameter and therefore lower resistance and heat. Better quality long-distance cables will have a lower gauge.
Step 3: Installing the backbox & faceplate near the router
Ideally, the backbox and faceplate will be installed on a wall within 1 metre of the router. First, we need to feed our cable through the wall. As we were using a partitioning wall, we drilled a hole to feed the cable through. If using a solid wall, you need to cut a channel out to feed the wire through and then patch the plaster over. A simple installation is to run the cable along the wall using clips or trunking.
The backbox will come without any holes. To allow for wall mounting and the cable to feed through, we need to cut out the plastic markings. As we will be installing inside, they don’t require any water protection and we used a drill to make a large enough space for our cable and screws to fit through.
Next, we strip our ethernet cable by cutting into the plastic sheath. Using our cable crimping tool, we cut into the cable at 2.5cm from the end. We need to be careful not to cut into any of the interior wires. If we do, cut away that part of the cable.
Inside the cable exposes 6 wires wrapped in twisted pairs to protect against electromagnetic interference. The wiring should be untwisted for the shortest distance possible. Pair the wires in similar colours and straighten them out.
The rear of the faceplate contains markings indicating which colour cable goes into each slot. T568A and T568B wiring diagrams are labelled but we only need to use one standard. Just make sure that the wiring termination inside the garden room uses the same standard. We used the B standard which is labelled on the outside of the diagram and most commonly used.
While maintaining the twisted pairs until as close to the termination point as possible, place the individual wires into the terminal slots. Use gentle pressure to push the wire inside the slot to hold it in place until all of the wires are lined up and in position.
Use the punch-down tool to push the wiring into the keystone jack. The cutting side of the tool should be pointing outwards and will cut the end of the wiring. The wires should be fully connected to the pins inside each terminal and secured in place.
The faceplate can be screwed into the backbox and will be ready to accept an ethernet connection once the opposite end of the cable is also terminated.
Step 4: Running the ethernet cable
Once our hard-wired internet connection is in position next to the router, we need to run the cable to our garden room. Remember, we want to take the shortest and straightest route possible to avoid unnecessary degradation in our connection.
For us, the easiest way to the outside of the house was through the partitioning wall, and under the floorboards where there was already a vent. But without this, we would need to drill a hole in the wall which would allow us to feed the cable through the brickwork and onto the exterior wall.
The cable is run along the wall using cable clips spaced 0.5m apart. We used 7.0mm clips but the size will vary depending on your ethernet cable diameter. Good-quality cable clips will attach firmly to the mortar without coming loose.
The ethernet cable will run along the side of the brickwork and down towards the trench for electric cabling. As our electric cable had already been installed, we filled the trench by 50mm before laying the ethernet cable to provide enough shielding to avoid interference to the connection. We then filled the trench and the cables are now safely out of the way.
Step 5: Terminating inside the garden room
Once we reach the garden room, we need to create a hole in the wood to feed the cable through. The position chosen should be near where the access point will be placed, keep in mind the AP will also need to be plugged into electric.
We drilled through the wall from the inside to get our internet connection positioned exactly where we wanted inside. As the room is an insulated summerhouse, we made sure we were not drilling where any battens were placed, which allowed the drill to quickly go through the interior walls and exterior cladding. The size of the drill bit should be only slightly larger than the diameter of the cable.
A top tip is to drill the hole so it is on a slight incline coming from the outside inwards. This will stop any water from dripping in overtime.
Run the cable through the hole so you have enough to work with inside and cut away any excess. We pulled slightly more through than required to allow for extra cable if we make a mistake on the first attempt.
The process is now the same as installing the faceplate and backbox next to the router. Follow the same steps to strip the cable, punch-down the wires to the keystone jack and attach the faceplate to the backbox.
Now that we have our ethernet connection installed on the wall, we can tidy up the exterior of the garden room. We used sealant around the wire entry-point to prevent any water ingress over time. For added protection, we also placed a brick buster cover over the top of the wire but had to be careful not to create a short bend radius. Using cable clips, we attached the wiring neatly to the side of the garden room wall.
Step 6: Connecting the access point & router
With our ethernet connection installed and faceplates screwed on the wall, we now have the difficult part complete. Next, we take our 1m Cat 6 RJ45 cables and connect the first one between the router and the corresponding faceplate.
The second Cat 6 cable we use inside the garden room between the faceplate and the Access Point. Once both cables are connected, we have completed our connection, which now creates a long-distance hard-wired connection between the router and AP inside the garden room.
If you are wondering why you need an Access Point instead of a router, it is because a home network should only have one router, which creates the Local Area Network. The access-point is a sub-device inside of that network, used to connect more devices and extend the network. While the router has many roles, the only job for the access point is to provide a wireless signal to allow devices to connect back to the router.
We used the TP-Link TL-WA1201 Access Point due to its good price point and range of features. When purchasing an Access Point, look out for the type of Wi-Fi signal which it provides. Wireless N is older technology with lower speeds. For streaming and high-bandwidth requirements, a wireless AC or AX Access Point is recommended.
The set-up for most Acess Points is quick & easy, with minimal configuration required. Ours required connecting to the Wi-Fi network produced by the device and creating a password. While there, we also changed the SSID and created a custom password for our network.
Step 7: Testing the connection
After completing the above steps, your garden room should be receiving a fast and reliable internet connection. To test the quality of your connection, run a speed test from inside your house to a device connected to the router. Then run a speed test inside the garden room with the same device connected to the Wi-Fi network of the Access Point. For us, the speed of the connection was the same, indicating a reliable and fast connection.
If your connection is not working or the internet speed is slow, it’s time to start troubleshooting the connection. We recommend first checking the cables are in the correct positions inside the keystone jacks and the same wiring pattern is followed at each termination point. The individual wires should be firmly clamped down in position to make a connection with the pins. A network cable tester can be used to confirm all the wires are in the correct position and functioning.
A slow connection may be due to electromagnetic interference. This could be caused by electric cables running close to ethernet cables or by the twisted pairs being separated too much at the terminations.
Overall, we recommend using a wired internet connection for fast and reliable speeds inside your garden room. While Wi-Fi extenders may be easy to install, they struggle to provide the coverage required for a consistent connection.
Planning the connection and purchasing all of the required parts in advance makes for a seamless installation. For us, the install took less than two hours and we now enjoy the same internet speeds inside our garden building as we do in the house.
Do you have any questions about installing a wired internet connection? Let us know in the comments.