How to boost Wi-Fi and get the Internet in your garden
Patchy outdoor internet? Stream to your sundeck like a pro with our guide to wired and Wi-Fi solutions for every outdoor occasion.
We’ve all been there. You’re relaxing with a movie on your tablet or simply endlessly scrolling through Instagram as usual and – hey – the sun is out so why not continue in the garden? You take two steps outside and… ‘loading’… [spinny wheel]… ‘loading’…
Fact is, while Wi-Fi may be one of the modern era’s greatest miracles, the little box in your hallway is the Internet's weakest link, doing your downloads a disservice, and letting the world wide web down.
Don't worry. We're here to help with a brace of connection-boosting tips guaranteed to bring broadband to your borders and gaming to your greenhouse. And – good news – some don't involve particularly lifting a finger or breaking the bank, starting with some basic router knowledge and housekeeping that might just work wonders.
How can I get Wi-Fi Internet in my garden?
Incredibly, it may be that all you need is a little rearranging of your furniture to get your garden connected.
Wi-Fi hates all of the objects and materials that make up a modern home, meaning that by the time the signal gets to your garden… there's not a lot of it left. By minimising the amount of furniture, objects and people between you and your router and you’ll finally – for perhaps the first time – see what it's actually capable of.
What materials block Wi-Fi signals?
Concrete, stone and brick
Avoid. In that order. Worst to ‘best’. Of course, avoiding walls altogether is impossible but do try to cut down the number of obstacles (ie, walls) between your router and where you need your internet.
It may be that moving your router just a few feet from its usual spot will suddenly increase its range as signals bounce around in new ways. Be mindful of chimney breasts and fireplaces. They feature TWO walls to block signals, rather than the alcoves beside them which only feature one.
The less walls, the stronger your signal.
You’re probably thinking that you’ve no metal walls in your home (cosy, right?) but chances are that if you live in a modern construction, internal walls could be within metal frames, filled with insulating panels covered with metal foil. They’re great for reflecting heat back into the room, but are also brilliant for blocking and confusing Wi-Fi signals too.
Try to get a line of sight through openings and doorways instead.
Glass, mirrors and tiles
All are great for redirecting Wi-Fi signals… While a mirror in the hallway is great for reflecting light and making the room look that little larger, it does no favours to your Wi-Fi.
Avoid placing your router by a mirror, window or low down on a tiled floor.
Everything from fish tanks to furniture
It’ll come as no surprise that large bodies of water and lots of heavily stuffed furniture (with lots of water-based bodies sat upon them) are your Wi-Fi’s enemy, so if you always sit in the same spot to work or play, try to clear a path to your router to stop signals getting lost on the way.
Wi-Fi 5 Vs Wi-Fi 6… 2.4Hz Vs 5GhZ…
A basic knowledge of (boring) standards could help nail your Wi-Fi problems.
Wi-Fi comes in an increasing number of flavours all beginning with the prefix ‘802.11’. Mercifully standards have simplified in recent times, renamed to ‘Wi-Fi 5’, ‘Wi-Fi 6’ etc with 6 being the current ‘best’.
Older routers made before the current standard use an older wavelength – 2.4GhZ. This transmits further (perfect for reaching the garden) but 5Ghz goes faster, letting you ‘see’ more of the internet speed that you’re paying for.
So if you’ve not replaced your router for five years or more you may be stuck with a slow 2.4GhZ router – Google its make and model for more info – so you could enjoy an instant Wi-Fi win by getting an upgrade from your internet provider or buying a new router using one of the later modern Wi-Fi 5 or 6 standards.
So 5 is faster… but 2.4 goes further… And having both gives you the best of both worlds.
THE simplest AND fastest solution for better garden Wi-Fi
Sounds obvious, but why not just bring the router closer to you? Investing in something as simple as a longer cable to use between your phone socket and your router can free it up to be lifted onto a windowsill overlooking your garden.
Better yet actually placing your router on a sill, or table actually outside will (albeit temporarily) work wonders. Just remember to bring it in out of the rain when you’re done…
So if you don’t mind the wire, a simple phone extension lead such as this one is all you need to move your router to a more garden-friendly position. Just choose the length you need.
ASNQ RJ11 to RJ11 Telephone Extension Internet Wire
The (even better) hardwired option
Don’t fancy the messy router-moving cable-draping DIY option? No problem, an old-fashioned hardwired connection is, and always will be faster than ANY Wi-Fi over-the-air.
Your computer WILL need to be fixed to a set spot here – i.e. we’re literally plugging it in on a wire – but if your machine is always at a desk in your new garden office then creating a hardwired link is as simple as buying a cable that reaches between computer and router and drilling a couple of holes.
Your only consideration is that you’ll need to buy outdoor/weatherproof/’burial’ Ethernet cable but with the right wire you can feel free to dig a small trench and lay your own internet!
Good places to get into the house are wooden window frames, through an airbrick (then up through a hole in the floorboard) or simply drill through your external wall. Wrap the plug in tape before pushing it through to prevent it from getting damaged.
It’s really no more scientific than that.
Outdoor CAT 7 Ethernet Cable 40M
One final thing: If you’re using a modern laptop or desktop the chances are that your computer now lacks the ‘old’ hardware internet ‘Ethernet’ port these days. No problem. This simple adapter connects to your computer via USB-C and returns the super-reliable hardwired Ethernet port of old to modern PCs and Apple Macs.
ICZI USB-C to RJ45 Ethernet Adapter
How to get the internet over power cables
Don’t fancy a potentially messy Ethernet connection? Perhaps you’ve already successfully ran power into your garden and are currently enjoying a place to plug in your power tools or have a whole outdoor office and games room up and running?
If so, you’ve already done all the hard work, getting power to your place of work. All you need now is what’s called a ‘pass through’ internet connection.
Pass throughs incorporate the internet signals into your existing home power lines with one box acting as a ‘sender’ – turning the internet into signals ready to pass along the wiring already in your home – and another box acting as a ‘receiver’ – turning this internet-via-power-cables back into code your computer can understand.
Now you can get power AND internet down a single cable and if your garden office is on the same loop, that includes there as well.
Plug the sender into your router, and then plug your computer into the receiver and you’re done. It’s not quite as fast as the hard-wired computer connection above, but it’s a lot less hassle and – over long distances – is a LOT more reliable than a patchy Wi-Fi connection.
Devolo dLAN 550 duo+ Pass Through Powerline Starter Kit
We love this devolo unit thanks to its neat design that goes the extra mile, and the breadth of add-ons that make the system that bit more powerful and flexible to your specific needs.
First of all the units feature not one, but two Ethernet ports allowing you to connect up more gear at either end, making it something of an exception. Now you can run computer and network printer off a single extender, or TV and games console etc. And thanks to the front face featuring a full three pin socket, you don’t even lose a place to plug in once you get connected.
And you can expand this starter kit with more adapters, including a Wi-Fi unit that will broadcast the wired signal giving you that bit of extra freedom at the receiving end.
The best Wi-Fi extenders for bringing internet to your garden
So you don’t fancy hiding cables, moving routers and simply don’t want to go back to the hard-wired stone age. And the idea of changing your router for a multi-aerialed, more modern monster brings out your inner technophobe. We hear you.
No problem. You need a Wi-Fi booster – aka a Wi-Fi extender.
These small boxes – often built into a three-pin plug – sit within reach of your existing Wi-Fi signal, take it on board and then rebroadcast it from their position. They’re like mini ‘repeater stations’, the same as the masts you see on hill tops, rebroadcasting TV signals to the masses below.
A Wi-Fi extender at the end of your kitchen could therefore take the weak Wi-Fi from your hallway and blast it all the way down your garden.
It’s also worth noting that many of the extenders we’ve featured have Ethernet ports on board so you can choose Wi-Fi or wired at any stage across the journey from router to extender to computer. Whatever works best to get that valuable Wi-Fi all the way to where you need it.
TP-Link AC750 Universal Dual Band Range Extender
TP-Link are a big name in internet hardware, making a huge range of gadgets to cover every wired and Wi-Fi purpose. Our pick of their extenders is this mid-range model that gets the balance right between price and performance.
It’s not the most powerful model on our list but for ergonomics and ease of use it’s hard to beat. Connection via their app or internet gets the trickiest hurdle over with as quickly as possible. A simple on board light indicates if you need to move it closer to your router, and once connected it’s a case of forgetting all about it and enjoying its benefits.
5 and 2.4GhZ signals are both output meaning your devices can flip down to the slower speed if you need the extra range while straight line performance is enough to reach the end of a small to medium garden.
BT Wi-Fi Extender 1200 with 11ac 1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi
If you have BT Wi-Fi and are looking for a seamless set up that’s guaranteed to work with your BT router then their own Wi-Fi extender 1200 could be the way to go.
Featuring wireless WPS setup, connection to your BT hardware is as simple as pressing the WPS key on both your extender and your existing router and allowing them to swap set up information. A neat ‘Too near / Too close’ indicator lets you pick the perfect spot to position it so it’s perfectly in team with your router. Once set-up is complete it’ll consistently find and lock into your BT router, appearing as a second and third source of Wi-Fi on your network, allowing you to turn it off when not needed and flip on when you do.
Cleverly taking your existing router’s identity and prefixing it with a ‘EXT5’ for a 5GhZ connection or ‘EXT2’ for the 2.4 it’s easy to see which connection your devices are using and manually switch between them if you decide you need more speed or want to stretch its range.
You pay a little more for the BT branding but set up and connection couldn’t be simpler for BT users.
Amazon Eero mesh Wi-Fi system
If you’re looking for a ‘whole home’ solution then you need what they call a ‘mesh’ system which takes the simple matter of extending Wi-Fi to the next level.
It may be that your living room has great Wi-Fi, your kitchen fair to middling and your bathroom zero… A mesh ‘whole home’ router reaches into every corner – including, potentially, your garden – and delivers consistent speed wherever you decide to get your Netflix.
Each element of the extender can either re-transmit the signal from your source router or take the signal from each other and push it further onwards. They ‘listen’ to each other and give a blanket of coverage that’s even with no dead spots – provided you equally space them around your home.
Placing one in a room overlooking your garden therefore will even give you the internet outdoors.
Amazon’s Eero system is the most popular, longest established example, with the Eero company acquired by Amazon 2019. Famous for its ease of use (it’s all done via an app) Eero is now firmly rooted in Amazon’s Echo (aka ‘Alexa’) range of home products.
These systems aren’t cheap but if your Wi-Fi woes extend beyond glitchy Disney Plus from your deck chair, then they offer a simple fix for all around the home.
BT Whole Home Wi-Fi, Pack of 3 Discs, Mesh Wi-Fi
The BT Whole Home set-up can be considered to be the local internet giant’s take on Eero’s famous mesh invention, but bearing familiar, friendly BT styling and integration that’s guaranteed to work with your existing BT router and internet connection with the minimum of fuss, though it does work with any router.
This time around the extenders take the form of three round discs that communicate between each other and pass your Wi-Fi around. While three ‘extenders’ may seem like fantastic overkill it’s worth considering that one of the units requires a ‘hard’ connection (ie, on a wire) to your existing router and, while powerful and exhibiting all the latest Wi-Fi standards for strength and speed and most likely covering a third of your home admirably, you only really get two remote extenders to play with.
Still, being far less expensive than market leading Eero it’s a great mesh alternative and there's a less powerful Mini and a more feature-laden Pro version, depending on your needs.
Wavlink AC1200 Gigabit Outdoor Access Point
If you’re serious about your external Wi-Fi then how about a solution that’s specifically made for outdoor use? The Wavlink AC1200 is an outdoor access point that you can safely leave outside, broadcasting the internet across – on paper, but dependent on your ‘real world conditions’ – 2000 square feet of garden.
This is the kind of ‘pro’ unit you’ll see attached to walls or poles, high up in pub gardens and parks and as such requires a little more technical set up than a simpler indoor extender positioned by a doorway or window
It has two modes, the most effective being a wired option that connects on a cable to your router. Yes, that means running a wire indoors and drilling a hole… The good news is that this is a single cable using PoE (power over ethernet) technology so this Ethernet cable carries both your internet and the power the unit needs.
Alternatively you can use the AC1200 purely as an extender, connecting wirelessly to your existing router then rebroadcasting your internet. Do be aware that you’ll still need to connect it on a cable to provide power though, so either way you will have to drill a hole and connect somewhere.
Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest home and entertainment brands in the world. He is a serial house-renovator and home improvement expert, taking on everything from interior design and DIY to landscape gardening and garden design.
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