How to Extend Wi-Fi Outdoors

Use a home Wi-Fi booster so you can connect from your back yard

A man plugging an ethernet cable into a Wi-Fi extender

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Wi-Fi keeps you connected, but there's only so far signal can reach, especially outdoors. If you want to keep the music streaming and the ebooks downloading on your deck or in your yard, you'll need to look into how to extend your Wi-Fi.

How Do I Extend My Wi-Fi?

In addition to common hacks that can extend your overall Wi-Fi range, there are two commonly used options to extend Wi-Fi: Repeaters and mesh networks.

Repeaters are small antenna that “clone” your router's configuration, like its password or other credentials. Then it looks and acts just like the regular router you have to log into as you move around, piggybacking off the signal from the original router. Repeaters are also called “boosters” or “extenders."

Alternately, you can set up a mesh network. Mesh networks are a set of routers that connect to and amplify each other. They only need one internet connection, and “hand off” signal depending on proximity. 

Can I Extend My Wi-Fi Outdoors?

Before looking at any solution, you should ensure that extending your Wi-Fi makes sense in the first place.

  1. Make a note of outdoor outlets and other power sources as well as the proximity of interior spaces like garages and sheds to the area you want Wi-Fi in. Remember that equipment right next to exterior walls will have good range. If there's a plug next to the door on your deck, you may only need one device in that outlet for good coverage.

  2. Research your overall climate. Humidity, temperature, and rainfall can all interfere with Wi-Fi signals and reduce the power and range of any device you use. Choose equipment with enough power to compensate for these factors.

  3. Use a Wi-Fi signal testing app to see how much range you currently have, and how strong it is.

  4. Look for natural and man-made features that may interfere with Wi-Fi, such as thick walls or metal fencing.

What Should I Use To Boost My Wi-Fi Outdoors?

Wi-Fi Range Extenders

What We Like
  • They're budget-friendly and easy to set up.

  • Higher-end models come with two radios to prevent interference and "cross-talk."

  • They usually have decent range, especially for their size.

What We Don't Like
  • You have to log in to each extender as you move your device around.

  • Cheaper models can interfere with each other or the router.

  • They can have compatibility issues with some routers.

  • Their range and signal strength depend heavily on their distance from the router.

Wi-Fi Mesh Networks

What We Like
  • They have faster and more consistent connections.

  • You only have to log in once and you're connected across the network.

  • The built-in redundancy means you're less likely to have signal blackout.

What We Don't Like
  • They're more costly compared to extenders.

  • They may require a router upgrade.

  • May be overkill depending on the size of your house.

Extending Your Wi-Fi Outdoors

  1. Determine what areas outdoors need Wi-Fi signal. You should aim to limit how far your Wi-Fi extends to stop people you don't want on your network from attempting to log on.

  2. Use “weather-resistant” Wi-Fi equipment. If you live in a climate with potentially harsh extremes, like high or low temperatures, heavy precipitation, this will be important even if you're keeping this equipment indoors.  

  3. When you've bought the equipment, test several locations by plugging it in and running a Wi-Fi testing app at several different ranges. Balance coverage, accessibility to the equipment in case you need to disconnect it and take it inside, and overall speed.  

  4. Start with one device and add more as your coverage needs become clearer.