Getting Internet and WIFI To Outbuilding
If you have an outbuilding that you use for an office or just somewhere that you would like an internet connection. This blog is for you. In this article I will discuss how to get an internet connection to your shed, outbuilding or your “man cave”. There are several ways in which this can be achieved and within the blog there will be a solution for you. So lets begin.
Sharing WIFI/ Internet From House To Outbuilding
Rather than going and getting a second telephone line installed to your outbuilding or separate internet connection, if you already have a broadband connection in your main building with a decent internet speed you could connect this so that it shares it’s internet connection with your:
Outside Office and so on.
This can be done either via a wired connection or a wireless connection.
Ethernet Cable (Wired Connection)
The method I would recommend as it would deliverer the most reliable connection and internet speed would be to install a physical Ethernet cable between your main building and outbuilding, shed etc. To do this a cable will need to connect into one of your Ethernet ports on the rear of your router and then out to your outbuilding. You could buy a ready terminated long cable for this task or you could purchase your own Cat5/6 cable and terminate the RJ45 plugs yourself. The latter is a bit trickier and requires a bit of skill and the cable can be cut to the exact cable length that you require so no need for any guesswork. Plus it will be much easier to route as the the cable without the RJ45 plugs attached can be fed through much smaller holes in your wall. If you find that the RJ45/ 8P8C plugs are too tricky to install you could instead terminate the with RJ45 data ports at either end which is very similar to terminating telephone cable.
Once you have the cable installed between the two buildings, you could install a network switch for wired internet connections for multiple devices and/ or a wireless access point for WIFI coverage.
Cable To Use To Connect Internet To Outbuilding
There are a few different cables that you could choose for running cable to a detached building on your property. The cable you use depends a bit on what where it will be installed, the speed required at the other end and soon. In the cable is going to be surface run outside like cable clipped along a fence, on a wall or has any exposed parts you’re going to need to purchase a data cable or Ethernet cable that is for external use and is UV stable. Failure to do this means that the cable is likely to quickly become brittle and fall apart in the sunlight. Once this happens rainwater also usually quickly enters it and you have a waterlogged cable. The next thing your know the cable no longer works.
Also if your going to be running the data cable to your outbuilding near electrical cables you will also want to purchase some screened (FTP) cable. This is especially important over longer lengths. The internal screen inside the cable will help protect interference from entering inside and ensure that the cable works as best as it can.
The following cables could be used to connect your outbuilding to an internet connection:
Cat5e – Perfectly fine most of the time, suitable for 1GB internet over short distance and 100MB over longer distance. Relatively inexpensive to buy.
Cat6 – Costs about 20% more than Cat5e, Good for 10GB Ethernet over short distance and 1GB over longer distance. May be worth it over Cat5e to future proof your system. Better if you intend to connect multiple devices.
Cat6a – An improvement Category 6 cable. Capable of delivering Cat6 speeds over longer distances.
Cat7 – Overkill in most situations. Can support 100Gbps Ethernet over short distance and 10Gbps over longer distances. Only really necessary for large office set ups. Expensive to buy.
Fibre Optic Cabling – Very tricky to terminate, needs expensive fusion splice equipment but pre-terminated cables can be purchased. Cable of serving distances in the kilometres if your outbuilding is very faraway, can support the fastest speeds and most future proof.
Methods Of Routing Data Cable To External Building
There are few ways that the cable itself can be routed. Here are a few:
Surface run – If you have a wall or fence simply clipping the cable to this to reach your outbuilding (remember to use external grade data cable)
Catenary Wire – An overhead catenary wire could be installed between your main building where the internet is and your outbuilding where the cable needs to go. Once up the cable can then be cable tied onto this. (Again,remember to use external grade cable)
Buried Underground – The method that requires the most elbow grease, physically dig a trench and and lay the cable in here and cover with earth/ soil that you have dug up. Direct burial cables do exist but I would recommend routing the cable in a conduit first and burying this. This will protect the cable when underground. You may also want to route a spare cable or a pull wire to help cables to be pulled at a later date.
Wireless & WIFI Out To Shed/ Outbuilding
If routing a cable isn’t for you, maybe it seems like to much hard work. Is not worth it because the outbuilding is very near or the outbuilding is too way away. Either way there are other ways that this can be done using wireless technology. Just so that you’re aware, wireless doesn’t always mean no wires need to be installed. It just means that the link between your house/ main building and your external building will be provided via radio-waves (wireless).
WIFI – WIFI Range Extender/ Access Point
You may find that your WIFI already reaches your outbuilding so that you can just login into that. This may be the case if your shed/external building is very close to your main building where the internet is. If it isn’t. You could relocate your router so that’s it’s nearer to your outbuilding. For instance if your internet router is in your hallway and your outbuilding is in your back garden. You may find relocating your router so that it’s in a room that’s closer to your back garden will help your existing WIFI reach the outbuilding.
Failing that a WIFI range extender may help repeat the existing WIFI so that it extends to reach the outbuilding. These can be very hit and miss and need to be strategically positioned so that the WIFI extender is installed in a position where the WIFI is still strong enough from your broadband router and also in a place where it can help extend the WIFI to the outbuilding.
Alternatively and a more reliable away of doing things would be to install an access point. This acts like a secondary wireless connection that can be installed closer to your shed/ external office etc. If you buy one that is POE compatible, which means Power Over Ethernet the same data cable can be used to provide to internet connection and power to the access point. If you purchase an outdoor access point this could be installed to serve both your outbuilding and garden with a WIFI connection.
Point To Point Connection
A point to point connection is two separate antennas installed outside, usually with line of sight angled towards each other. When using a point to point connection to provide internet to an outbuilding you would install a cable between your internet hub or LAN one antenna installed externally on your main building and one installed on the exterior of your secondary building with a cable data cable entering that building. Both pieces of equipment would usually be POE compatible. A point to point connection can be set up to cover great distances of kilometres so it could save a heck of a lot of hard work trying to install a cable and fast speeds like 10Gb. The equipment at the latter gets very expensive so is only really suitable for large networks like used in schools etc or with a very large number of devices connected. A good simple relatively easy to set up point to point connection perfect for sheds, external office/ gym etc is the Ubiquiti M5 Nanonstation.
Other Ways Of Getting Internet To Separated Building
If none of the suggestions above are feasible, do not despair. There are other methods in which an internet connection and/ or can be provided to your detached outbuilding. These are:
Power Adapters, sometimes called Homeplugs are a two part unit that sends internet data over existing mains cables. Potentially you could install one of these by your internet router/ hub and connect with an Ethernet cable and then connect another one in your outbuilding. From here you could connect this to your computer or on to a wireless access point to deliver WIFI. Some makes/ models have the WIFI feature built in so no need for an additional access point. The downside and one of the main reasons why this may not be possible with your set up is that Powerline adapters need to be connected to the same electrical circuit or ring main meaning that if electric supply that feeds your outbuilding/ shed etc is on a different circuit you can not use this method.
3G/ 4G External Antenna
If you have a good 3G or 4G signal near your outbuilding, a high gain directional antenna for both of these services can be installed on the exterior of your detached property with cable (usually a coaxial) into the inside that feeds a 3G/4G wireless router. The router then accepts a sim card like any smart phone and volia you have internet and WIFI in your outbuilding. Obviously you are then going to have to pay to bills for the sim card but good deals with a generous amount of data can be obtained for ￡20/$20. When installing the external 3G/ 4G aerial you will need to know a rough idea of where the nearest masts in your location. I recommend doing this research first as you will want to buy the match the sim card to that telecom providers coverage. You will also need to align the antenna in that direction.
You may or may not be aware that it’s possible to get broadband via satellite. There are different satellite broadband services all over the world but in the UK the main ones are Tooway & SES Broadband. The Tooway domestic tariffs are full in the UK however. There are some big limitations to satellite broadband, the big one in terms in internet speed is the latency. Because the signal needs to go up to the geostationary satellites in space and back down the earth. There is a delay on the line, usually about a second. This isn’t usually a problem for general web browsing or streaming video but it pretty much means that it’s useless for VOIP telephone systems as there is a delay or the telephone line and fast action gaming. It’s also quite expensive due to the equipment that needs to be installed so this should be taken into consideration. All that being said it could save the day. I recently did a job at Branching Out Adventures which is a an outbuidng surrounded completely by trees. It was too far away for it’s own telephone line as they quite that they received was in the 10’s of thousands. A point to point connection to the main building was out of the question and the mobile reception was rubbish. So Tooway satellite broadband was installed which got the business up and running.
Tether From Mobile Phone/ Tablet – Create Mobile Phone Hotpot
If you have a good 4G mobile phone signal inside your outbuilding you can get a reasonable internet speed on the phone itself. Within the settings of your phone/ tablet most phones allow you set the phone up as a mobile hotspot. This will allow to to create an SSID and a password like a conventional WIFI set up. Then of your other WIFI compatible devices search for wireless networks, find your hotpsot from your phone and log in. You can now use the 4G connection from on other devices from your Smart phone/ tablet. The good thing about doing it this way is there is no hard graft, no materials are required and you’re already paying for your phone. You may need to increase your data allowance if you will be using a lot of data in the out building.
Ask The Neighbors
Bit of a cheeky one this one, but if you have a good relationship with the neighbours you may find that if your existing WIFI doesn’t reach your outbuilding or shed. Your neighbours might! You can simply take your wireless device down to your detached building and search for wireless networks and see what comes in. Or you could download a free WIFI analyser app that would allow you to see the strength of the WIFI networks also. Once you have identified whose network is whose. You could go around baring gifts and ask them if the mind sharing their network with you. You could even come to an arrangement where you share their internet bill or pay a proportion. I advise that you approach with caution mind, there are security issues associated with wireless networks and their internet provider may not be happy about it.
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