Trying to use Wi-Fi in garages can lead to problems with a weak or unreliable signal, particularly when the garage is a detached building some way from the main house. What options are there for solving this problem of weak Wi-Fi in a garage?
Garages are often the favourite place for “man caves” and play-dens to be set up, where the man of the house can watch TV, stream movies and play video games online. Otherwise some guys like to be able to watch TV or movies while they work on their latest project in the garage. The same principles also apply to any other detached building; for example some people convert detached buildings into work studies
Here are some quick tips to reduce weak Wi-Fi problems in a garage:
- Run a long ethernet cable into your garage.
- Switch to a powerline adapter instead of Wi-Fi if your wiring allows it.
- Wi-Fi Mesh may work in some cases, depending on distance.
If the garage is wired together with the rest of the house, then powerline adapters are an excellent home networking solution which can deliver a strong, wired internet connection out to your garage for higher bandwidth activities like streaming.
If the wiring of the garage does not allow for this then an advanced Wi-Fi extender such as a Mesh system can be an alternative which may deliver an enhanced wireless signal good enough for what you need, depending on the distances involved.
For things like streaming and gaming, the internet connection to these places needs to be strong, and there are devices which can help you with that, even in detached buildings. Let’s look now at some of the home networking solutions that can be used in a garage or any other detached building separate from the main house.
Wi-Fi Degrades Over Distance
The crucial thing to remember is that Wi-Fi naturally degrades over distance, as do all radio frequency or RF waves, of which Wi-Fi is a type. It is largely built into how it works, though there are some tricks which can be used to try and concentrate the signal and reduce dispersion a little. Router technology does improve with time and the new 802.11ax wifi standard represents another step up for wireless connectivity.
However, Wi-Fi will always have a finite range and become weaker the further you get from the router. This can be more of a problem if the garage is detached and some way from the main house. The signal from the router may be weak or non existent and not deliver a usable connection to the garage.
Garage walls can also be thicker than other walls so that even if the garage is an extension to the main house or very close by, the signal can still be weak and unreliable, meaning videos can buffer and pages can be slow to load. What options are available to solve this problem?
Powerline Adapters as a Possible Solution
Powerline adapters are an excellent first choice solution to look into if trying to deliver a stronger internet connection to the garage. Powerline adapters consist of a pair of adapter plugs, one of which is plugged in and connected to the router, the other of which is plugged in in the room it is to be used in.
The two adapters then communicate through the existing electrical wiring of the house, delivering a much stronger, more reliable connection than Wi-Fi to the room, allowing for devices to effectively have a wired connection directly to the router. The adapters are just using the copper wiring of the house instead of having a long ethernet cable running through the house.
TheTP Link Nano TL-PA4010 Kit model is an entry level, best selling no nonsense powerline adapter model with just one ethernet port and no passthrough. Click here to view on Amazon. It will provide a solid, wired ethernet connection to your router using the existing electrical wiring of your house. See our full review of the product and our Powerline Adapters page. Our Product Comparison Table compares all the wired and wireless powerline adapter models at a glance by feature and functionality.
If your house circuitry allows then they are an excellent home networking solution, allowing for high bandwidth connections in any room of the house, even at distance from the router.
Standard powerline adapters only allow for a wired connection; if you also want to connect portable devices like tablets wirelessly in the garage, then a Wireless Powerline Adapter which also produces a cloned Wi-Fi access point at the receiving end, is the product of choice.
When Will a Powerline Adapter Not Work in a Garage?
An important caveat to this is that the electrical wiring of your house needs to be able to allow a connection between where your router is plugged in and the plugs in your garage. The adapters need to be able to “talk” to each other through the wiring and this may not be possible in some cases, depending on how power is wired to the garage.
As a general rule of thumb, if the garage is wired on the same general circuit and off the same meter or feed as the rest of the house, then powerline adapters should work in the vast majority of cases, delivering a strong or decent internet connection. If the garage is wired separately in some way or runs off a different meter, then you may not be able to get the plugs to communicate.
See our full article on whether powerline adapters will work in garages. Looking through forums on this, we came to the conclusion that in most cases they will work. Any problems with signal quality seemed to be limited to the older models of powerline adapters which not so good at filtering out electrical “noise” or interference.
The newer models we feature on this site are vastly improved and are much more reliable across all types of circuitry, even to detached buildings. In some cases throughput, or data transfer, may be reduced compared to if you were using them in the house, though the connection will still be usable and in many cases more reliable than wifi.
This is usually due to the quality of the wiring to the garage and devices like circuit breakers which can interrupt the signal. If you do run into any problems with powerline adapters then see this excellent FAQ guide plus our own Troubleshooting article for more help.
What if a Powerline Adapter is Not Possible?
If you do find that a powerline adapter is not an option in your garage, as it is not on the same mains as the rest of the house where the router is plugged in or due to other obstructions or faults to the circuitry, then there are two other options available. Let’s look at them in turn now.
Option 1 – Wire an Ethernet Cable Directly to Your Garage
This is the most difficult option, requiring some DIY and possibly some digging, but will deliver the strongest possible signal to your garage providing you can get the cable to reach from your house.
Depending on how far your garage is from your router, you may need quite a long ethernet cable – cables up to 30 meters are available in our Gamer’s Section, and even longer ones of up to 50 or 100 meters are also available on Amazon. It is best to wire the cables in such a way as they are protected from the elements.
Various guides are available online on creating wired home networks; see here and here for two excellent ones which will list all the tools you need to do this. Be aware though there you ideally need to run your ethernet cables to the garage away from any electrical wires, since the current from the electrical wiring will interfere with that of the network cables if they are too close together.
Option 2 – Use a Wi-Fi Mesh System
A possible solution requiring less DIY but possibly more expense is to use a Wi-Fi Mesh System to carry out a stronger wireless signal to the garage. These are more advanced home networking kits usually consisting of two or three pods or cubes which are placed strategically around the home to pick up and amplify or boost the existing Wi-Fi signal from the main router to make it reach all parts of the home.
These can be very effective if you cannot run a wired internet connection to your garage by any means, though it does depend on distance and even the best kits may not be able to reach your garage if it is too far away from the main building. They may however be an option for reasonably close detached garages.
The more basic single plug Wi-Fi extender models probably won’t work well in most cases for outdoor buildings, but may in some cases offer a limited signal boost. For detached buildings, Wi-Fi Mesh offers the best chance, but as we said even this will deliver varying results in many cases.
Wi-Fi boosting technology does tend to work better indoors within the same building rather than from indoors to outdoors, but can help in some cases. It’s just difficult to tell beforehand how well it will work in garages.
The Netgear Orbi RBK40 Mesh System is an entry level kit which will spread reliable wireless coverage for an average 4 bed, 2 floor property up to 3000 sq ft. In some cases it may be able to extend coverage to a close by outdoor garage. Click here to view the model on Amazon. See our Mesh System page for links and product reviews for more brands and models of mesh systems which can cover larger properties.