Wi-Fi keeps you connected, but there's only so far the signal can reach, especially outdoors. When you want to stream music and download e-books while you're on your deck or in your yard, learn how to extend your Wi-Fi outside.
How Do I Extend My Wi-Fi?
In addition to common hacks that extend the overall Wi-Fi range, there are two commonly used options to extend Wi-Fi: Repeaters and mesh networks.Keith Williamson / Flickr
Repeaters are small antenna that clone the router's configuration, like its password and other credentials. Then it looks and acts like the regular router you have to log in to as you move around, piggybacking off the signal from the original router. Repeaters are also called boosters or extenders.
Alternately, set up a mesh network. Mesh networks are a set of routers that connect to and amplify each other. These only need one internet connection and hand off the signal depending on proximity.
Can I Extend My Wi-Fi Outdoors?
Before looking at any solution, ensure that extending your Wi-Fi makes sense in the first place.
Make a note of outdoor outlets, other power sources, and the proximity of interior spaces like garages and sheds to the area where you want Wi-Fi. Equipment next to exterior walls will have a good range. If there's a plug next to the door on your deck, you may only need one device in that outlet for good coverage.
Humidity, temperature, and rainfall can interfere with Wi-Fi signals. These weather events reduce the power and range of any device you use. Choose equipment with enough power and weatherproofing features to compensate for these factors.
Use a Wi-Fi signal testing app to see how much range you currently have and how strong it is.
Look for natural and manufactured features that may interfere with Wi-Fi, such as thick walls or metal fencing.
What Should I Use To Boost My Wi-Fi Outdoors?
There are a few options to help boost your Wi-Fi signal outdoors. Wi-Fi range extenders and mesh networks are both viable solutions. Make sure you understand what is involved in the design and setup of each. Below is a detailed comparison of each type of signal booster.
Wi-Fi Range ExtendersWhat We Like
Some models prevent interference and cross-talk.
Decent signal range.
Easy to set up.What We Don't Like
Many require repeated login for relocation.
Interference with routers is common in cheaper models.
Compatibility issues with some routers.
The range and signal depend on the distance to the router.
If money is tight, a range extender may be the right choice for you. Make sure you do your homework, however. You'll need to ensure that the model you choose won't interfere and is compatible with your interior router. If technology isn't your thing, range extenders are easier to setup.
Wi-Fi Mesh NetworksWhat We Like
Faster and more consistent connections.
A single login for a network connection.
Built-in redundancy reduces signal blackout.What We Don't Like
More costly compared to extenders.
May require a router upgrade.
May be overkill depending on the size of the house.
Wi-Fi mesh networks are not for the uninitiated. While these are typically faster and have a more robust connection, mesh networks can be challenging to set up. However, the built-in redundancy reduces some setup issues without the hassle of logging in every time you relocate it.
Extend Your Wi-Fi Outdoors
After you decide on a solution to extend your Wi-Fi, next comes the critical part, the setup. You'll need to figure out where you want to boost the signal. Keep in mind structures, weather-proofing, and power. With a bit of thought, extending your Wi-Fi outdoors should be painless.
Determine what areas outdoors need a Wi-Fi signal. Limit how far the Wi-Fi extends to stop people you don't want on your network from attempting to log on.
Use weather-resistant Wi-Fi equipment.
After you buy the equipment, test several locations. Plug it in and run a Wi-Fi testing app at several different ranges. Balance coverage, accessibility to the equipment (in case you need to disconnect it and take it inside), and overall speed.
Start with one device and add more as your coverage needs become clearer.