How to get Wi-Fi outside

Keeping devices connected both inside and outside the home 


AUGUST 27, 2021

how-to-get-wifi-outside desktop

It’s a sunny day, and you’re working from home. “I’ll take my laptop on the porch and enjoy the sunshine,” you think. You select your favorite beverage, settle into your lounge chair, and open your laptop only to find you have a weak Wi-Fi connection. Fortunately, there are easy, affordable tricks and tools to extend your Wi-Fi signal to your garden, front yard, or whatever outdoor space you like, so you can bask in the sun while knocking out your to-do list. Plus, with the increasing number of outdoor smart security devices like wireless security cameras, you’ll need a good Wi-Fi signal coupled with some strategic planning to efficiently connect to your home network.

Check your router

Most service providers offer a stock router during initial installation. Modestly investing in an upgraded device, however, may increase your Wi-Fi speed and range. You also can enhance your router's performance by updating its firmware, the device’s embedded software. Older router models may require a visit to the manufacturer’s website to download the updated firmware file and upload it to your router. Even if your router operates appropriately, you can improve performance and heighten security by upgrading your firmware. Third-party firmware options also can help boost performance and offer advanced networking features, such as a virtual private network (VPN).

Invest in a router antenna

Some routers only use an internal antenna, so upgrading to an external one can boost Wi-Fi strength. If your router didn’t come with an external antenna, you can find one online via your router’s manufacturer. Choose between omnidirectional antennas, which send signals in different directions, and directional antennas, which project signals toward a certain location. Typically, built-in antennas are omnidirectional, so if you’re purchasing an external antenna, select one labeled “high gain” to ensure increased range.

Consider upgrading your devices

If your computer or laptop is already slow, try using a USB Wi-Fi adapter, which reduces interference between your router and device. Top-of-the-line routers may be a moot point, though, if they’re connecting to outdated devices, so now may be the perfect time to purchase a new computer or tablet if you’ve been contemplating it anyway.

Place your router in an optimal location

Routers typically aren’t the prettiest things to look at, so you may have hidden the device in a cabinet or behind decorative objects. While this is more aesthetically pleasing, it can make a significant impact on your Wi-Fi reach. An exposed router positioned in the center of your home away from walls and other obstructions, such as heavy-duty appliances and electronics, will likely produce the best signal. Simply eliminating one or two obstructions could boost your router’s performance. Elevating your router also may produce a better signal.

Get a Wi-Fi extender

A Wi-Fi extender (also known as a Wi-Fi repeater) can expand existing networks when your primary router doesn’t reach outdoors. This extender may save you from purchasing a higher-priced internet plan or dealing with extra equipment; however, it’s not always effective. The device, which plugs into an AC outlet, connects to your existing W-Fi network and duplicates or rebroadcasts the signal to cover more space. Set up the extender midway between your primary router and any dead zone. Keep in mind the extender needs to be close enough to the router to duplicate the signal. If positioned too far away, the extender will not be effective.

It’s also a good idea to purchase an extender that rebroadcasts on the same network as your router; otherwise, you’ll find yourself managing multiple networks. An extended network created by a Wi-Fi extender can stretch farther but may yield less bandwidth, which can result in lower speeds.

If outside access to Wi-Fi is top priority, your best option is an outdoor Wi-Fi extender. These can be pricey, but it’s the only device you can use outdoors. This enterprise-grade option needs to be compatible with your current router; otherwise, you’ll need to purchase a new router.

Consider a mesh router

If consistent high speeds are important (and your connection needs to reach farther than an extender can handle), mesh networks may be the way to go. To remedy multiple dead zones or extend your signal outside, mesh routers are an effective tool to increase signal in a variety of directions. Connect one module to your router, and place others throughout your home to create a multidirectional Wi-Fi network. Just be sure you position the external modules close enough to the primary router to obtain optimal signal. Mesh routers also operate on the same channel or network signal, which means you won’t have to create or manage multiple networks like you may have to for extenders.

These routers, however, can be more expensive than traditional extenders, but they typically produce higher-quality results. You still may still experience some performance loss at the farthest reaches of your network, especially if your Wi-Fi bounces between multiple units. In this case, it’s best to position your router in the center of your home and use mesh routers to extend the signal outward.

Another option is to invest in an indoor mesh Wi-Fi system, which typically includes one router and two satellite units that can cover up to 5,000 square feet. To achieve optimal outside signal, place a satellite unit as close to the exterior space as possible. (Just don’t position them outdoors as they could be damaged by rain, cold, or heat.) Exterior walls may still interfere with a wireless signal, so you may experiment with placement to fully achieve your desired results.

Extend signal with a cable

If you prefer a nice, tidy home, running a cable through your kitchen may not be ideal; however, pretty or not, the best signal comes directly from the router. If good outdoor Wi-Fi is critical to your work-life balance, consider a cable from the internet connection junction to a strategically placed router that sits just inside your outside space.

Now that you are ready to extend your Wi-Fi outdoors, don’t forget to extend your outdoor security to cover more of your property. Visit our website to shop Brinks Home™ products that seamlessly connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network and help your entire property remain safe.

Allison Clark is a senior writer for Brinks Home. She enjoys educating others on the benefits of smart home security and using technology to simplify everyday life.

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