In today’s digital age, having a strong and reliable Wi-Fi connection is essential for daily life. However, connecting your Wi-Fi network to devices outside your home can be a challenge. While you can move your router as close to your yard or front porch as your Ethernet cable allows, this may not provide sufficient coverage. Fortunately, there are ways to extend your Wi-Fi beyond your home’s exterior walls.
Weather-Resistant Devices: The Best Option
The most straightforward option for extending Wi-Fi outdoors is to install a weather-resistant device. These devices are specifically designed to withstand the elements year-round and communicate with your router wirelessly to provide excellent Wi-Fi coverage outside your home. Some popular brands offering weather-resistant devices include Netgear, Ubiquiti, EnGenius, and Hawking.
When selecting a weather-resistant device, consider its IP rating, which indicates its level of resistance to dust and water. Look for devices with an IP69 rating, meaning they are entirely protected against dust and can withstand extended periods submerged underwater.
Netgear’s Orbi Outdoor is a popular choice among consumers, providing excellent coverage of over 200 feet. However, it is only compatible with an Orbi mesh Wi-Fi router. Another option is the Access Point U6 Mesh from Ubiquiti, allowing you to set separate modes for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks. This setup requires a bit more technical know-how, but it doesn’t require drilling holes or running new cables.
Indoor Mesh Wi-Fi Systems: An Alternative Solution
Another option for extending Wi-Fi outdoors is to utilize an indoor mesh Wi-Fi system. These systems typically come with one router and one or two satellite units, covering up to 5,000 square feet. Although they may not provide the same level of coverage as a weather-resistant device, they are generally easier to set up and more affordable.
To use an indoor mesh Wi-Fi system outdoors, place the mesh router centrally in your home and situate the satellite units as close to the exterior as possible. The Linksys Velop mesh system can cover up to 6,000 square feet, including some outdoor range, depending on placement and environmental factors.
Keep in mind that mesh satellites typically link directly back to the router, not to the closest satellite and then back to the router. Therefore, you may need to experiment with different locations to achieve optimal outdoor coverage. Also, exterior walls can significantly weaken your signal, particularly on the 5 GHz frequency.
Signal Strength and Interference
Measuring Wi-Fi signals in decibel-milliwatts (dBm), a reading closer to zero indicates a better signal. Ideally, aim for a signal strength between -60 dBm and -30 dBm. Signals below -80 dBm or -90 dBm are considered poor and may result in unreliable connections.
Interference from other devices can further compromise your signal quality. To minimize interference, avoid placing your router near other electronics that emit radio frequencies, such as cordless phones, baby monitors, and microwaves.
Affordability and Expansion
While mesh systems have become more affordable, they can still carry a hefty price tag. However, you don’t need to spend excessively to obtain a reliable, modern system. Options like Amazon’s Eero 6 Plus and TP-Link’s Deco W7200 Mesh Router offer robust coverage at reasonable prices.
If you prefer a more affordable route, consider combining a standard router with indoor Wi-Fi range extenders or repeaters. Range extenders can duplicate the mesh setup, replacing satellite units with extenders. Although their setup may be more complicated, they can still provide adequate coverage.
Extending Wi-Fi beyond your home’s exterior walls can seem intimidating, but several practical solutions exist. Weather-resistant devices designed explicitly for outdoor use offer the best performance. Mesh systems and indoor range extenders provide alternative routes, balancing ease of setup and affordability. Assess your specific requirements, and choose the method that works best for you. Boost your outdoor Wi-Fi signal and enjoy seamless connectivity throughout your home and beyond.