If you are planning an office to garage conversion getting a reliable internet connection will be paramount. Second to the reliability is the speed/bandwidth factor, with Teams or Zoom video calls a large part of the working from home norm, having the speed to support these is imperative to effective working.  

Hopefully the connectivity is something you are considering prior to the building work completing and you havent arrived here seeking to understand why you can’t get Wi-Fi in your garage after the conversion. If you have found yourself in this unfortunate situation don’t worry, we have 4 great solutions for you. 

  1. Trench and CAT6 cable
  2. Powerline Extenders
  3. Wi-Fi Extenders
  4. Point to Point Extenders

Read on to find out my recommendation and when to opt for the alternatives.

Optimum solution for Wi-Fi in garages and outbuildings.

In my opinion the best option is a hard-wired connection ran from the main router in a trench to the outbuilding. A physical connection using CAT6 cable is arguably the most reliable and highest performing way of getting the internet to your new home office. The caveat being that the two buildings are within 100m of each other, over 100m the Point to Point solution is normally the preferred option.  

Trench for CAT6 internet Cable

How to get a hard-wired internet connection to your garage. 

  1. Dig a trench between the garage and the main house, aim for a convenient point as close to where the router is inside your home. The depth of the trench should be 250-350mm.
  2. Run CAT6 standard cable inside a conduit or alternatively use external grade CAT6 cable. Longer runs will require cable bought in reels or drums such as 100m and once laid to the required length can be terminated with a RJ45 connector.
  3. While you can simply connect one end of the new cable to a spare port on the existing router and the other to your computer in your new office, it is better practise to install wall RJ45 wall outlets.
  4. Test the connectivity of the cable with a testing tools or live equipment before backfilling the trench. When backfilling it is advisable to bury a warning tape above the cable, roughly 100 mm below the surface to inform future workers of the cable’s presence.

With a live connection in place a new router can then supply connectivity via wired or Wi-Fi to the devices in your home office.

Note – This will be a second wireless network and you will need to register devices such as mobile phones and iPad with the second router.  

If you or your builder is not confident with the technicalities and equipment necessary, I recommend you ask the electrician or get a specialist media/AV/Networking company involved in the project. At North East Garage Conversions this connection will be included as part of your quotation.

Alternative internet connectivity solutions

If the cost or practicalities of digging a new trench is prohibitive there are alternative solutions which we recommend you test.

Powerline adaptors

These adaptors use the existing electrical circuit to transmit data and provide an internet connection. I recommend you test these thoroughly within your returns period if you are considering them over digging a trench. Remember digging a trench while the main project is underway is far easier than getting a separate team in later.

Wi-Fi Extenders, Relays, Booster or Repeaters

Personally, I would not want to rely on Wi-Fi extension methods if your intended use of the detached garage is a home office. The reason for this is the range is low, normally around 30m and the reliability can be effected over time. This is because they are likely to require firmware upgrades or a software upgrade issue that will involve maintenance.

We all know the Wi-Fi has a knack of going down at the most inconvenient of times and this method adds another wireless signal to the existing network which increases the probability. They may be fine for other types of conversions such as home gyms where the connectivity is not so important, but I cannot recommend them for office conversions.

Point-to-Point (PtP) - Wi-Fi Line of Sight Extenders.

This is a better solution than the short-range Wi-Fi extenders discussed above. Point to Point offers a more reliable internet connection in your garage and is capable of longer distances. Some manufacturers claim a reliable transmission over 4 kilometres.  Hence, they may prove invaluable in applications where your garage or outbuildings are separated by large distances or public footpaths such as on a farm.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between CAT5 and CAT6 cable?

CAT6 is capable of faster speeds 10 Gbps vs CAT5’s 100 Mbps, in my opinion for the small cost increase CAT6 should be the minimum you install. Furthermore, if your garage is over 50m away from the main house and router you should install CAT6A cable which sustains the 10Gbps speed for up to 100m. After 100m consider the Wi-Fi Point to Point solution.

Why has the Wi Fi signal strength reduced in my garage.

If you have converted your garage to an office and noticed the signal strength has degraded it is probably due to the type of insulation fitted during the garage conversion. Modern PIR and Multi-Layer insulation contains foil which interferes with the transmission of signals.

Note If you are testing Wi-Fi extenders prior to a garage conversion their performance will normally be worse after the garage has been converted and the insulation is in place. Powerline adapters do not suffer from this issue as the signal is transmitted by cables and not airwaves.

References

https://www.stl.tech/blog/cat-6a-cable-all-you-need-to-know/


About the Author Michael NEGC


Michael is the Architectural Designer and Surveyor at North East Garage Conversions.
Michael has a HNC in Civil Engineering and a HND in Construction Management. Previous experience includes multiple renovations, a self build plus working as an Architectural Technician, Designer and Project Manager.

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