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How to Get Internet to a Shed, Garage, or Barn (2022)

Learn how to extend your home Internet or Wi-Fi to reach a shed, garage, barn, or other outbuildings.

Village with spaced out buildings Sven Fischer / Unsplash

Last Updated: November 17, 2022

Written by Kevin Jones

Your shed, barn, or garage may not be as far from your house as the buildings in the photo above. However, I will show you how you can provide Internet connectivity at any distance.

For this article, I'll assume that you have Internet access in your house and want to extend it to another building. Perhaps you want to use your phone while in or around your second building, which I'll refer to as your "outbuilding." Or maybe you want to have a computer set up in the outbuilding too. In either case, the solutions are about the same.

There are three main categories of strategies for extending your Internet connection to an outbuilding. These strategies include connecting the buildings via wireless communication, a wire, or a fiber optic cable.

In the remainder of this article, I'll show you how you can use each strategy and its advantages and disadvantages.

Wireless Network Extension

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The primary advantage of using a wireless solution for connecting your outbuilding to your network is that it may not require digging trenches for cables. Additionally, it can reduce your network's risk of lightning surges.

Wi-Fi Repeater

The simplest way to connect to buildings wirelessly is via a Wi-Fi repeater (range extender). A Wi-Fi repeater connects to your Wi-Fi devices and a Wi-Fi router in your home and retransmits any data it receives. A Wi-Fi repeater will only work if it can connect to your home's Wi-Fi router with a good enough signal.

Wi-Fi repeaters may also have Wi-Fi bridge capabilities, which allow you also to connect wired network devices.

Advantages of a Wi-Fi Repeater:

  • No or minimal outdoor wiring
  • No additional risk from lightning strikes when located indoors

Disadvantages of a Wi-Fi Repeater:

  • Connection speed and reliability will drop with distance (usually will reach less than 100 meters)
  • Weather and obstructions and reduce signal quality
  • Wi-Fi adds some latency, which isn't great for fast-paced online games
  • Requires power in the outbuilding

Long-Range Wireless Bridge

If a Wi-Fi repeater doesn't meet your distance needs, long-range wireless may be a good solution. A long-range wireless bridge requires that you have a clear line of sight between two buildings or can create a clear line of sight by using a pole.

Advantages of a Long-Range Wireless Bridge:

  • Can extend your network for many miles/kilometers!

Disadvantages of a Long-Range Wireless Bridge:

  • Requires a pair of bridge devices
  • Requires that you mount the devices outside on a building or pole with a clear line of sight
  • In addition to the wireless bridge, you'll probably need an extra Wi-Fi router or wired network switch in your outbuilding to distribute the network access
  • Some additional risk from lightning strikes, depending on your mounting location
  • Requires power in the outbuilding
  • Can reach 29 kilometers (18 miles) and speeds of up to 867 Mbps
  • An excellent solution for buildings with a line of sight
TP-Link 5GHz AC867 Long Range Outdoor CPE TP-Link 5GHz AC867 Long Range Outdoor CPE Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Wired Network Extension

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Wired solutions generally provide faster speeds and lower latency than wireless solutions. However, the faster speed options often have a limited range.

Additionally, wired solutions often require digging a trench to hide the cable. However, even underground copper cables have an increased risk of exposure to lightning strikes. Check out my article Ethernet Surge Protection for Home Networks for suggested equipment that you can use to protect your network.

Ethernet Over Powerline

Suppose your outbuilding is on the same circuit as your home and is relatively close to it. In that case, Powerline adapters may be a great solution. I discuss this same-circuit requirement more in my article, Do Powerline Adapters Need to Be on the Same Circuit?.

A pair of Powerline adapters allows you to use AC wiring for Ethernet communication. Powerline adapters behave like an extension for an Ethernet cable. You can create an Ethernet network by simply plugging a pair of Powerline adapters into your wall outlets. Powerline adapters can communicate over the same wires as you use for AC power transmission.

Advantages of Powerline Adapters:

  • Easy wiring using existing power outlets (connect an Ethernet cable)
  • Low cost (compared to MoCA adapters)
  • Encrypted (some products)
  • Up to a 300-meter range
  • Some models have built-in Wi-Fi
  • Plug and play setup (no configuration required)

Disadvantages of Powerline Adapters:

  • Often a lower connection speed of around 150-350 Mbps compared to the advertised 1-2 Gbps
  • Powerline devices need to be on the same electrical circuit
  • May cause noticeable electromagnetic interference with some devices such as speakers (static sound)
  • Power strip, GFCI outlets, and AFCI circuit breakers may degrade Powerline network signals
  • Some models block an outlet when connecting directly into a wall outlet

Ethernet Cable

Ethernet cables such as Cat 6a can reach 100 meters before needing an additional Ethernet switch to repeat the signal.

Learn more about Ethernet cable types in my article, Cat 5e vs. Cat 6a - Which to Buy?.

Advantages of Ethernet Cable:

  • Fast Speed
  • Low Latency

Disadvantages of Ethernet Cable:

  • May require that you dig a trench
  • It puts your network at risk of lightning surges
  • Limited cable spans of 100 meters
  • Requires power in the outbuilding
  • Finding Ethernet cables that comply with their category rating can be tricky. Some manufacturers use misleading or incorrect naming, and their cables do not allow you to get the maximum expected speeds. I recommend the Tripp Lite Cat 6a cable. Tripp Lite Cat6a Cable 10G-Certified Tripp Lite Cat6a Cable 10G-Certified Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
  • The TL-SG108 is a well-known and reliable network switch.
  • I own this exact switch model and have been using it without any problems for many years.
  • It supports Ethernet speeds of up to 1 Gbps.
  • Due to the fanless design, it is silent.
  • It uses solid capacitors, which means that it should last a long time.
  • It's an unmanaged switch, meaning that it's plug and play, and no configuration is required. TP-Link TL-SG108 - 8 Port Gigabit Unmanaged Ethernet Network Switch TP-Link TL-SG108 - 8 Port Gigabit Unmanaged Ethernet Network Switch Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

PoE Wireless Access Point

Using a Power over Ethernet (PoE) wireless access point, you can provide Wi-Fi access to your outbuilding even if it doesn't have power.

PoE Wi-Fi access points are supplied power via the network cable.

Advantages of PoE Wireless Access Point:

  • It doesn't require power in the outbuilding

Disadvantages of PoE Wireless Access Point:

  • May require that you dig a trench
  • It puts your network at risk of lightning surges
  • Limited cable spans of 100 meters

Ethernet Extender (low-Speed)

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If speed isn't a concern for you, VDSL2 extenders may help with extending Internet to your outbuilding.

VSDL2 Ethernet extenders typically drop speeds to 100 Mbps or less but can extend quite a long distance.

Advantages of VDSL2 Ethernet Extenders:

  • Can reach a long distance

Disadvantages of VDSL2 Ethernet Extenders:

  • Slow
  • May require that you dig a trench
  • It puts your network at risk of lightning surges
  • Requires power in the outbuilding

Fiber Optics

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Suppose you're looking for the trifecta of fast speeds, perfectly stable connections, and long distances. In that case, fiber optics are the answer. Depending on which transceiver is used, fiber optic connections can reach up to 160 km!

Another advantage of fiber is that you can use it to electrically isolate your equipment, minimizing the risk of lightning damage.

The easiest way to extend your network via fiber optics is to use a pair of fiber to Ethernet media converters. They act as a seamless extension for your Ethernet network.

Fiber to Ethernet media converters adapt between a typical copper Ethernet cable (e.g., Cat 6a) and fiber-optic cable.

Advantages of Fiber Optics:

  • Fast
  • Low Latency
  • Can reach a long distance
  • No risk of lightning damage (assuming you avoid fiber optic cable with copper insulation)

Disadvantages of Fiber Optics:

  • May require that you dig a trench
  • Adding connectors to the ends of your cables can be complicated/expensive, so pre-terminated fiber optic cables are the way to go
  • In addition to the fiber to Ethernet media converters, you'll probably need an extra Wi-Fi router or wired network switch in your outbuilding to distribute the network access
  • Requires power in the outbuilding

For an extensive guide to fiber optics, check out my article Set Up a Fiber-Optic Network in Your Home or Office.

Protect Your Long-Distance Ethernet Equipment From Surges

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If you're running copper cables outdoors, you may be putting your equipment at additional risk from lightning and power surges. Check out my article Ethernet Surge Protection for Home Networks for suggested equipment that you can use to protect your network.

Building Your Network

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If you want to learn more about cable internet equipment, networking, wiring, or troubleshooting, check out these articles: