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New Video – Getting Internet To Outbuildings (7 Different Ways)

If you’re looking to put smart devices (or any other WiFi based device) in an outbuilding, you’ll almost certainly need internet access.

I’ve recently needed to do the same for my Ring Indoor Cam (which I put in my garage), which got me thinking of the various ways you can get internet in an outbuilding which only has power.

The 7 approaches I came up with (and their timestamp in the video) are:

  • WiFi extenders/repeaters – 0:26
  • WiFi mesh – 2:23
  • Point to point – 3:57
  • 4G or 5G hub – 5:03
  • Satellite internet – 6:10
  • Run Ethernet cable – 7:43
  • Use powerline adapters – 9:09

Video Transcript

Hey YouTube, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. I recently bought a Ring Indoor Cam to put in my garage, which is an outbuilding and I don’t have any internet there, so it got me thinking about the different ways you can get internet in an outbuilding if you don’t already have internet there. And I came up with a list of seven different methods you can use to get internetin your out building, so I wanted to do this quick general video today and just talk through the seven methods that are available to you.

The first method open to you is to extend your wi-fi network out throughout your house, so that hopefully it can be reached in your out building. You can do this with two different methods, called wi-fi repeating or wi-fi extending. Now, although they’re actually slightly different methods and how they work, they’re all sold under the same bucket. So for example, you might see routers that say they ‘boost your wi-fi network’ or they ‘extend the reach of your wi-fi network’, and so I’m grouping these two as one method. So in essence what you’d have is – right by your back door, for example – you might plug in a device, and this will boost your wifi range so that then in your out building, you might have another device to plug in, and this can hopefully speak to the device you’ve plugged in by your back door. It can reach that, and as a result your wi-fi network is extended – your wi-fi range is extended – and then in your outbuilding you can actually access that wi-fi network. Wi-fi repeating and wi-fi extending are slightly different under the hood, uh wi-fi extending is actually where your wi-fi network – your existing wi-fi network – gets extended and put up as a brand new wi-fi network. The devices then connect to it. The Ring Chime Pro is an example of this. Your Ring cameras and your Ring doorbells will actually connect to a brand new network that’s published by your Ring Chime Pro. You won’t actually see this when you’re actually setting up your Ring device in the Ring app, it just says “do you want to use your Ring Chime Pro?”. It’s not going to actually say: “do you want to use your wi-fi extender device”? Uhm, equally a wi-fi repeater – such as a router or another plug-in device – that’s slightly different in the sense that it takes your wi-fi network and re-broadcast it, just like a relay tower does with TV and radio. But because – although they’re different under the hood – wi-fi range extenders and repeaters, they actually look fairly similar to the end user, so I’m grouping these as one method, but they are quite a good way of extending the reach of your wi-fi network out to out buildings.

The second approach is a slightly newer or better way of doing what I just described, and it’s called wi-fi mesh. You may have seen this marketed as ‘whole house wi-fi solutions’ or ‘whole house mesh solutions’, and the Google wi-fi system is a great example of this. This actually uses a slightly newer technology called mesh wi-fi, and you have your main router – your main hub – and then throughout your house you’ve got different wifi points you purchase to extend the reach of your wi-fi network, and this actually uses meshing technology. A bit like ZigBee mesh or Bluetooth mesh, to actually more cleverly extend the reach of your network. Uhm, it’s quite cool technology because if one of your nodes – when your points fails – your mesh can – sort of – reconfigure itself, so that instead of going from A to B, your connection for example might go from A to C… a different point… and you won’t know any different. All the routing tables will just be flipped internally, and as I say Google wi-fi is an example of this. So what you could do in this case, similar to the first method, is you could have a Google wi-fi point in your backyard, for example, and then in your out building you’ve got another Google wifi point you plug in, and then obviously hopefully the reach will be extended via this – sort of – Mesh wi-fi method. Uhm, this works really well but if you’re finding the range just isn’t good enough, maybe you need something more direct because wi-fi is always going to be a little bit limited, even if it’s mesh wi-fi. So I’ll talk to you through some other methods as well you can use.

Okay, so the third method I want to cover is a bit of a strange one, and it’s called point-to-point internet and this is actually more of an expensive solution, you don’t tend to see it on houses to be honest. But it’s basically where you have the transmitter on your house – or a building – and then on your building… uh… you actually have a receiver, and the internet connection gets sent from that transmitting point to that receiving point. This usually uses radio waves such as 2.4 gigahertz up to 60 gigahertz. It can also use lasers which is really cool. It’s not like in the films where people get cut up or whatever, but you can use laser for short distances. To be honest, point-to-point connections have flaws in the sense they’re really expensive. They’re more designed for industrial applications where you might have a big complex, and different buildings on that complex, and then you’d actually use point-to-point internet – point-to-point connections – to actually transmit that internet connection around that industrial complex. Unless your house or your grounds are absolutely massive, then point-to-point internet may not be suitable for you.

My fourth method for getting internet into an out building is quite a simple standalone solution: and is to use a 4g or 5g mobile hub, or mobile hotspot as they call them. What this actually does… it’s a really small device, uh here it is, it’s A really small device that actually has a SIM card put into it, and then you actually buy a data plan with your cell provider for… for your SIM card… and then this little device will actually act as a wi-fi router, or wi-fi hotspot, and it’ll transmit wi-fi out into your out building. It’s completely standalone, you can literally just use it in your own building, and it’s a completely separate internet connection then to your home wi-fi. It’s quite a good solution, the downside is – of course – you’ve got to pay for a separate plan for your cell data, for your internet data, for this device. And you’ve got to buy the device as well, so if you’ve already got internet in your house you might want to actually use that internet instead of buying a brand new plan. But certainly this can work really well. It’s a good standalone solution, and 4g and 5g internet is really fast nowadays so this could work really well.

The next option available to you is satellite internet. Now traditionally, satellite internet hasn’t always been that good but due to Elon Musk [heaven noises play]… I joke but Elon Musk has really improved this area, which I’ll speak about in a second… but satellite internet, it basically revolves around having a satellite dish on your outbuilding, just like you’d have for satellite tv. So you have a satellite dish on your out building, you run a cable in and then you literally plug that cable into your internet modem or internet router inside your out building, and then that provides internet as normal inside your out building. As I said at the beginning, this method has traditionally been quite expensive, but Elon Musk’s Starlink program – which is funded by SpaceX is a 10 billion dollar program – this Starlink actually involves sending tens of thousands of satellites up into the sky, and then the idea of this is that you can actually pay Starlink for satellite broadband – for satellite internet. This will work by having a Starlink terminal outside your property somewhere, whether it’s on your wall or your ceiling, and Elon Musk has said you literally just point it to the sky, plug it in and it’ll reconfigure itself to look at one of the thousands – or the tens of thousands – of satellites that are launched into the sky. We don’t know prices just yet, they’re going to come out later this year, I think America will be the first market this will be launched too, but this might be a really good way of actually getting internet through an out building, because this program will actually bring down the cost of satellite broadband a lot, and it’ll be cheaper and more accessible than ever before.

The sixth method available to you is to actually run a hard link – an internet cable, or an ethernet cable – from your inside, internet router, into your outbuilding. This might not always be easy because it might involve running it under floors or inside walls, and then certainly you’d have to run it outside your external wall. You might then need to run it under your patio, or dig a big trench through your garden (your back garden) – and then eventually run it into your out building, so this isn’t always the easiest approach. But if you can do it, it’s the most reliable because then in your building you literally take the end of your ethernet cable, and you plug it into an internet router – like this – and then you have a wi-fi network available to you in your outbuilding. Alternatively instead of relying on an internet router in your out building, you can literally just have a network switch and then you have lots more ethernet cables coming from your network switch and go into your individual power over ethernet devices. Uhm, the… the downside of this is that not that many smart products actually support power over ethernet. Uhm, I know the Ring doorbell elite does, and the Ring stick up cam elite does, but most other devices don’t. So if you are going to run an ethernet cable in, it’s probably better to have an internet router anyway to provide your internet. But certainly this is a good option, even though it is more complex. If you’re able to do it, this is probably the best option available to you.

Okay my final option is instead of running an ethernet cable out along your house and then out into your backyard and into your outbuilding, you rely on what’s called ‘powerline adapters’. So what these are is they plug into your wall socket inside your house, the first one, and then you’ve got an ethernet port either at the top or the bottom. And basically inside your house, your ethernet cable plugs into this, and then plugs into your internet router. And then in your out building, what’ll actually happen is you’ll either have the same – sort of – device, or a slightly smaller one that again plugs into the wall socket in youre out building, and then obviously you connect your ethernet cable there, and then from here it’s very similar to the last point. You can literally plug this ethernet cable into your router – or network switch – and at that point you have internet in your out building. This actually works – these powerline adapters work – by using your electrical cabling to actually transmit internet data. It’s not always the best method if your house has very old electrical wiring, but if your house has newer electrical cabling – you don’t tend to have any electrical problems – then powerline adapters can work really well. The benefit of this approach – same as the last approach – is you’re actually creating a wi-fi access point – or wireless access point – inside your outbuilding and this is quite a good – sort of – persistent way of creating internet, while still only using one internet connection, unlike a 4g or 5g hub which actually has multiple internet points and multiple internet subscription plans. So if your internet works quite well, powerline adapters will work really well for you and the benefit of this is you don’t need to rip apart your house by running ethernet cable everywhere.

While on the topic of powerline adapters, the other thing you can do in your outbuilding, instead of having a plug-in device which has a ethernet port and then from here plug it into a router to create your access point, you can actually get some power line adapters that have a built-in wi-fi hotspot. So what actually happens is you plug it in, instead of having an Ethernet port, the powerline adapter actually publishes its own wi-fi network, its own wi-fi access point. This can be quite convenient if you are just planning on connecting – you’re connecting your power line adapter to a router – because instead of that, you’ve simply got a single plug-in device. You don’t have to worry about any extra devices or any ethernet cables.

Okay that wraps up today’s video. Thank you for watching it. As you can tell from the seven different methods that I’ve covered, some of them have pros and cons. They can vary depending on where your outbuilding is located, such as how far it is from your house. They also vary depending on whether you’re able to get satellite internet or a 4g hub or 5g hub in your outbuilding. For example, if your cell reception is not good in your out building, then a 4g or 5g hub might not make sense. Uhm, but overall some… all… of these methods can be used for different purposes, so hopefully at least one of them is good for you. For me personally, I’m going to use powerline adapters when I put a Ring indoor camera inside my garage which doesn’t currently have internet. This should be fairly reliable for me, but if not, I’m then going to go the whole hog and actually run an ethernet cable up out of my loft (because I have a network up there). I’ll run it out of my loft, down my house, under my patio and into my garage, which will probably be a day’s work so I’ll try to avoid that if I can, and just rely on powerline adapters instead, but I’ll see how I get on and at least I know I’ve got a few different options available to me.

Okay I hope you found this video useful. If you did, please click the thumbs up button, and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you!

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

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