30

After a lot of window shopping and reading, I'm confused about how to share my WiFi with a building next door.

Should my router be able to broadcast powerfully enough? Or should I invest in some kind of auxiliary antenna for my wifi? Or should I put my money in a range extender, in the receiving building, like the Netgear EX8000 Nighthawk X6S AC3000 Tri-band WiFi Range Extender (which is not cheap)? Or should I buy several cheaper range extenders?

Please see the property map attached. The modem is in the attic of a small one-story building on the left. I want to share the wifi with a new 2-story 4-brdm building to the right. The centers of the two buildings are 66 feet apart.

My Spectrum connection is 400mbps. I am investing from scratch in a modem router. Right now, when I am in the receiving building, I get a weak signal, and on the farther bedrooms, wifi get disconnected. Wifi has to be strong enough to watch streaming content in the building next door. The walls are of stucco and plywood, not concrete.

enter image description here

property plot

  • 2
    i feel like this Q is for diy.stackexchange.com – aaaaa says reinstate Monica May 22 at 21:16
  • 6
    There we would just bicker over how to run the wire. No wire; we'd close it on principle, off-topic notwithstanding. – Mazura May 22 at 22:28
  • 3
    Unifi UBB-US is a wireless bridge with well over a gigabit bandwidth and no interference with Wifi signals, designed for exactly this use case scenario – Richie Frame May 22 at 22:35
  • 2
    What are you trying to accomplish by sharing WiFi? If you have Internet in both buildings, you cloud use a VPN to share resources. Anyway, check this Linus video: youtu.be/lYJFwXw1ZIc – DxTx May 23 at 5:13
  • 3
    Go with two directed antennas, creating a bridge over the yard. My place of work used a setup like that to cover a 2000 ft distance with free line of sight. It worked okay. Less reliable, but more convenient than a cable. – Hermann May 23 at 16:52

14 Answers 14

79

To be completely honest the best thing to do is get some armoured CAT6 cable and do it properly.

Wi-Fi might be "convenient" but over any real range it can be intermittent, affected by a whole raft of things such as weather, obstructions, interference from local devices such as microwave ovens and cordless phones and solar flares or the phase of the moon.

Get a good quality cable and a wireless access point. You will get a better quality, more reliable and potentially faster connection.

Your future self will thank you for doing it properly to begin with rather than wasting time buying and rebuying various "Wireless Booster" kits and devices to try and bridge that gap.

| improve this answer | |
  • 15
    If you're talking about standard omnidirectional Wi-Fi APs, sure – but sixty feet is not a problem for PTP bridges. They're not what I'd choose as the ideal solution if cable (or fiber) is available, but they can still work uninterrupted for years with a range of several miles. – user1686 May 22 at 8:44
  • 7
    For electrical considerations: Fibre. Buried cat6 might also be fine, but fibre is better. – Hennes May 22 at 16:47
  • 2
    +1 for the cable suggestion. It might be worth adding that unpowered ethernet works up to 100m (or used to). So it would really be only a matter of laying down one cable and then connecting a router/switch/wireless access point at the other end. – DetlevCM May 22 at 17:31
  • 15
    @Tim_Stewart only slightly. Local werewolf density is entirely dependent on the phase of the moon, too many werewolves in the way makes for a very weak signal, though many would argue that close proximity to werewolves could lead to other problems. The main problem being, of course, hunters. But yes, it is mainly a joke, but intended to imply difficult to nail down but apparently regular or cyclic issues that migrate around and generally cause varying levels of background annoyance. – Mokubai May 22 at 17:37
  • 2
    @Mokubai Although it does of course not matter for WiFi reception, there are some things which are surprisingly susceptible to the phase of the moon. – Graipher May 22 at 20:32
18

I have to disagree here. Sure laying Ethernet, or even better multi-mode fiber is the best option, but sometimes it's not an option at all. So I'm not going to mention wiring, I feel the other answers covered that.

At 66ft line of sight (LoS) a wireless bridge will be very reliable. Depending on the local wireless environment, I wouldn't recommend the 2.4Ghz band for the bridge, it's usually very crowded per channel in suburban areas and almost useless in city environments. Using directional antennas on each building should make a very robust bridge at this distance.

Speaking of yagi antennas, the ones you have listed are going for about $11 on eBay each, and unfortunately are 2.4Ghz only, and would need N-male to RP-SMA adapters for each antenna pigtail. (depending on the device chosen) The ones on eBay have RP-SMA connectors on the pigtails already. I would recommend two directional antennas on each building, connected to something like the Linksys WRT1900AC. (Doesn't have to be this model) but it has support for third party firmware (DD-WRT/openWRT) and a decent amount of horsepower under the hood, and has two physical radios in each band. (Make sure you connect the two directional antennas to the same physical radio on the device you wind up choosing).

A environmental survey of each band/channels should help here with the end performance of the bridge link.

You should form the bridge with the 5Ghz band acting as your backbone to the main network, and rebroadcast with a 2.4Ghz network. Or find a third party capable tri-band router. (Three physical radios) one 5Ghz for the backhaul, and one 2.4Ghz + 5Ghz radio for retransmission in the second building. (On non-conflicting channels) try to keep the antenna cables as close to the devices as possible to avoid signal loss from router to antenna.

If you need help with the setup just ask here with as much gathered details as you can.

| improve this answer | |
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Mokubai May 25 at 21:15
13

As a Wireless engineer, I can honestly say the best solution is to always use a cable, unless you can't.

Given that it's going outside you want to use external grade cable. The problem with external grade cable is that you shoulnd'nt have more than 2 metres of it internally before converting to internal grade cable. This is where fibre has the advantage as you can purchase internal/ external grade fibre and run it from the source to destination. Use a duct tor conduit too as it will help protect it ideally without any joins.

As for cat6 or cat6a. Buy the best you can afford for future proofing. As your only 66ft away you should be able to do 10gb over cat 6. So potential for a cost saving there with little impact for the future.

As someone else has said run more than one cable, minimum of two. The cable should also be solid core and not stranded (which is used for patch leads) and buy a branded cable, nexans, commscope and legrand are to name a few.

Do you live in an area that gets a lot of lightning? If so might me saver going down the fibre route to help protect the equipment at either end

| improve this answer | |
  • Plus one for fiber. Also, plus one for running additional spares. In addition to that, run a guide string that allows you to pull additional cables whenever you want. – Jörg W Mittag May 24 at 19:33
  • 7
    Hi @Andrew, could you explain why "the problem with external grade cable is that you should not have more than 2 metres of it internally"? Why is external grade cable bad for internal use? – Philip May 25 at 4:58
8

There are a couple of possibilities I can think of to handle this.

In descending order of preference:

  • Lay a fiber run, ideally in a sealed dry pipe. This is potentially expensive (not the fiber itself, but getting switches or similar with SFP+ connectors), but is likely to be the single most reliable option you can choose for this. If you're willing to seriously invest in it though, it gives you better options for future-proofing, as you can easily get muti-gigabit links.
  • Lay a shielded twisted pair cable run (also ideally in a sealed dry pipe). Go for at least Cat 6A for future proofing reasons, and make sure shielding is properly grounded at each end. This will usually be just as reliable as fiber, but may actually end up being more expensive than fiber (shielded Ethernet cabling is expensive).
  • Same as above, but unshielded (or alternatively with the piping being shielded). This won't be quite as reliable as either of the above options, but should still be reasonably reliable.
  • Set up a directed wireless bridge between the two buildings. This will require special hardware (either specialized antennas for an existing pair of access points, or more ideally dedicated wireless bridge hardware). In an ideal situation, I would set up two links and configure the network for failover so that any issues with one link wouldn't disrupt communications. Doing this reliably will require a reasonably clear line of sight between the two buildings, as well as mounting the wireless bridge antennas outside or in a way that they have a view of each other that is unobstructed by materials that are opaque to radio waves. Short of specialized hardware, this will face wireless spectrum competition from other things using the 2.4GHz band (so even somebody walking between the buildings while using Bluetooth devices with their phone may cause issues. Note that this will not provide wireless coverage to anybody who is between the buildings.
  • Set up a wireless mesh network covering both buildings and covering the space between them. Based on dimensions in your post, you're looking at probably 3-6 nodes for such a setup, or most likely twice that if you want to avoid a single point of failure other than the main router. You can technically do this with 'regular' AP's, but it's going to be much better to use dedicated wireless mesh networking hardware. getting good coverage will also require setting up external weatherproof enclosures between the two buildings for some of the nodes (unless of course you want to shell out lots of money on high-end enterprise hardware).
  • Powerline networking. Seriously, don't waste money on this, it either won't work at all, or won't be remotely reliable or high bandwidth.
| improve this answer | |
5

You have a number of options, depending on cost.

  1. If the ground between the two is not paved concrete and you can easily bury some network cable, I’d go that route. Bury cable between the two buildings and install a second access point in the remote building. The cable in the main building would plug into your router network port. You can keep the same wireless SSID and passcode, if desired. If you use a router for the WiFi in the remote building, I recommend you turn off DHCP so no issues with double NAT, etc. This method will probably give you the best results with the least amount of trouble down the road.

  2. You can buy two wireless bridge devices, and dedicate them to do what a network cable would function as between the buildings. Can sometimes have issues. I avoid these setups.

  3. I personally own a lower end Nighthawk 6700 and it works great for my needs. Not too expensive either. This alone might be good enough. Especially will be good in building 1. Then if you decide to go with the network cable or wireless bridge between the two you’ll still have great WiFi.

Personally, two Nighthawks, some cable buried and all is probably your best bet to get this going and for most reliability.

| improve this answer | |
  • Hello. Ground will be covered with pavers but I can dig right now. Thank you for your message. Definitely put cable in pvc, correct? Is there difference in cable quality? This cable is suspiciously cheap:bestbuy.com/site/dynex-100-cat-6-ethernet-cable-dark-blue/… – polaatx May 22 at 23:38
  • Ah, good question. I recommend laying some PVC as a conduit to easily lay new cable down the road, or additional cable. You may want to use 1-2" diameter PVC to allow additional cables if you find you want it down the road. I recommend something that suggests is rated for outdoor / buried use. Something like this might be better: amazon.com/dp/B07CYK97BC/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_gHnYEb6Y01ZW2 Also, make sure that you have included enough length to get to where you want the access point located. – Senturion May 23 at 8:01
  • Another option, which most professional installs would use: get a spindle of 1000' of ethernet cable and run the wire into the outside facing walls from underground and punch them down into actual plugs in the wall... or run from there up into an attic or down to a crawl space to get to where the access point needs to be located (someplace central, like you're already thinking). – Senturion May 23 at 8:05
  • 3
    If OP goes to the effort of running a cable, run two cables, or even 4 cables if possible. Its very little extra effort, cost is only that of the additional cable, and can save your arse later when you need a second link, for POE or for a physically distinct network without using vlans, or to increase bandwidth, or cos the first cable has developed a fault. – Criggie May 23 at 12:34
  • 1
    If you use a router as an access point in the other building, connect the ethernet cable to the LAN side, and leave the WAN port unconnected. That's what avoids double-NAT on most routers/AP devices. Turning off its DHCP server is also necessary to avoid handing out IPs conflicting with the first router. – Peter Cordes May 24 at 2:42
2

The general problem with WiFi for connecting two locations is that the devices you can buy are generally used for providing coverage of a sphere around device. Therefore you are wasting a lot of coverage when connecting two houses, unless you want to saturate the space between them as well.

Also, when using extenders, you can generally only get as good WiFi signal as it is at the point where extender is located. So, if your extender is located far enough so that original WiFi signal is only half-bar, no further extenders can boost that bandwidth. You are limited by the slowest point of your chain.

If you really want a good quality connection, you should invest in cabling between houses as indicated by other answers.

If putting it into ground is not an option, you can do the ugly, but working thing, which is

putting either Ethernet or an optical cable (which would generally be thinner) airborne, not digging it into ground, but between roofs of the houses. I have such setup for incoming optical cable from my ISP and it works well.

If that does not appeal to you, you would probably be better off using some directional RF link instead of WiFi, such as a point-to-point microwave link.

Note that unlike normal (even directional) WiFi, many RF links use other radio protocols and/or other GHz bands, which means they don't interfere with existing WiFis -- neither yours, nor your neighbours, which would be the more important the more urban your setting is.

Actually, these kind of links are used extensively where I live, by ISPs for providing Internet access to locations, which otherwise would be prohibitively expensive to get cable to -- rural locations with good LoS, but significant distances or complicated ground.

Something like one of these might work. You simply connect Ethernet to it, and it transmits highly directionally to its other pair. Then you just continue your Ethernet in the other house.

Microwave RF links have been much better in the past 10 years, for resisting weather interference, by now they are quite good.

Another alternative might be Powerline Ethernet -- Ethernet over electrical wiring.

That might work if both your buildings share an electrical connection, but these must be tested first, as this would be very dependant on your general wiring.

| improve this answer | |
  • @Tim_Stewart Yes, I should have been more precise. P2P microwave links can and sometimes do use the same bands as WiFis 2.4/5GHz, so, yes, they are both "microwave". But P2P microwave links (a) can and often do use bands outside WiFi ranges, for better performance. Also P2P microwave links don't neccessarily use WiFi radio protocol, which might not always be optimal. So yes, they are microwave, but not neccessarily WiFi, and in fact, it might be better to have a non-WiFi link. Which is what this answer is about. I will amend it. – Gnudiff May 22 at 19:25
  • 1
    Ah, yes that makes much more sense! The problem is a good portion of the commercial ones available are in frequencies/bands that are licensed, making them quite pricey for each side of the link when you add in cost of both devices themselves. At least here in the U.S anyway, I've also seen the unlicensed variety, also pretty expensive for a residential end user. +1 – Tim_Stewart May 22 at 20:09
  • 1
    I also vote for microwave link, specifically a V-band device like the Unifi UBB-US, since it is super cheap, very reliable, and does not interfere with Wifi bands – Richie Frame May 22 at 22:40
  • @Gnudiff You wrote: "Also, when using extenders, you can generally only get as good WiFi signal as it is at the point where extender is located." --- this is very valuable information to me. Wifi is weak in second bldg anyway or buying an extender is waste of money unless I bring good wifi there. – polaatx May 22 at 23:11
  • @Gnudiff Powerline Ethernet I would've done in a heartbeat - because I've done in another house with success. But these houses are on separate meters. – polaatx May 22 at 23:17
1

I fully agree with both @Senturion's and @Mokubai's answers. a

I personally laid cat.6a cable underground in dia. 1.5" (4cm) PVC tubing with proper water-proof joins so your cable does not get flooded or snagged when you first pass it through, or if you come to replace it later. Laying a single section of cat.6a cable between your modem-router and the WiFi AP (hopefully 5GHz WiFi) is the cheapest and the most efficient solution, at the cost of more installation work on your part. An airborne cable installation is also conceivable if you are the property owner and you are fearless about surges that could fry everything connected to that cable.

In all cases be aware that cables that exceed a certain length degrade signal strength. The going length limit is 100m or about 110 yards for cat.5a and 6a, but only half that, i.e. 55 yards, for cat.6. So just be aware that a simple nick or a cable 50 feet too long could significantly degrade signal quality.

In my case, I have two distant WiFi AP, with DHCP disabled so the modem router effectively controls doling out NAT IPs over the whole subnet. If you have any doubt about a 5GHz WiFi AP being able to cover all of your new building, lay two cat6 cables each to a port, coming out of the same modem router, and indulge yourself: buy two 5GHz WiFi APs. They're can be as low as 60 USD apiece (e.g. ASUS Dual band AC1200, and there are quite a few others - no need to go fancy on that).

If you choose to install two APs in close proximity (say, one per floor in a two-storied house), know that their WiFi coverage will overlap. For that reason you should then opt for them to emit in their own separate channels, with no channel overlap between the two APs. That's how you will achieve seamless coverage with same password and WiFi's SSID, as your terminal (computer or smart phone) moves around the house and hops from the broadcasted signal of one AP to the next.

| improve this answer | |
  • I'm the original poster. I just saw so many people responded. I am so grateful. I will respond ASAP. – polaatx May 22 at 22:42
  • Grateful for your clear explanations - as if you already know all issues a newbie would face. I am leaning toward laying down the cable. Most people seem to say this is the sure way to get optimum signal. The ground will have pavers soon but I can dig before that happens. – polaatx May 22 at 23:30
  • You said cat6 could be as low as 60 usd. But BestBuy is selling 100-ft cable for $13. Is there a difference in quality? bestbuy.com/site/dynex-100-cat-6-ethernet-cable-dark-blue/… – polaatx May 22 at 23:36
  • 1
    Note that the 100m (50m) length limit figure is for the complete link, i.e. from the network jack in your router A through the patch cable to the network jack in the wall, through the outdoor cable to the network jack in the other house, through the patch cable into the network jack of the router in house B. Also note that the "link class" applies to the entire link, so all the cables and all the network jacks and plugs need to be Cat. 6a compliant. And lastly, these figures assume that the vast majority of the cable run is fixed installation cable with a solid core. Patch cables with … – Jörg W Mittag May 24 at 19:54
  • 1
    … braided strands do not allow those long runs. IIRC, the 100m figure assumes 90m of solid core cable, 2 x 5m of patch cable, and 2 wall sockets. – Jörg W Mittag May 24 at 19:55
1

All the earlier recommendations are great but before any of those I would put a router in the building with the weak connection, as close to the other building as possible and set it up as a repeater. It would be the easiest, fastest and cheapest thing to do.

| improve this answer | |
  • Better take off the metal window screens! :-$ – Tim_Stewart May 23 at 23:36
1

Get 2 EnGenius EnStation5-AC 5 GHz Outdoor 11ac Wave 2 Pt. Wireless Bridges. I've had great results with mine in a similar setup. Amazon linky: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073H5KSSJ/?coliid=I27Z72Y3EMFMB1&colid=CQ76XT1RLD76&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

| improve this answer | |
  • What's the max throughput you get across them? I used to have some older outdoor ones with directional antennas built in. They were great! – Tim_Stewart May 23 at 23:38
  • 1
    Unfortunately I can't tell as I've never tried local speeds. But I do get my full 220mbps internet speed steady and I'm sure it would be well over that. I'll see if I can test a local transfer in the near future to check the max – Kacy May 25 at 3:16
1

You can try Mesh Network.

A mesh network includes separate hubs placed around the house that communicate with each other to provide Wi-Fi within range of each of the hubs. Mesh devices are useful in that there's usually a few of them that are purchased at once, and so long as the hubs are close enough to each other to communicate, each of them can provide a full Wi-Fi signal in each room they're placed.

They're perfect for larger homes, simple to set up, and offer easy central management. Each hub acts more like a separate router rather than repeating the signal.

The above snippet is taken from here: Mesh Network

Orbi Outdoor Range: Orbi Outdoor Range

How to bring mesh network to outdoor: How to bring mesh network from outdoor

enter image description here

| improve this answer | |
  • I like this the most. In Germany there is a large community at freifunk.net – rubo77 May 25 at 9:12
1

Check out point to point wifi links using two Nanobeam antennas from Ubiquity Networks. Very inexpensive and reliable. Can place each inside two windows facing each other without mounting outside!

| improve this answer | |
0

In this situation using a parabolic relay backbone will generally work better than having a single shared network.

This will allow a separate network ID for the relay and for each building to keep devices from jumping around or causing issues with the relay's signal.

| improve this answer | |
0

My first approach would be to move the main wifi router out of the attic and put it up under the eaves outside, on the wall facing the other building. My D-Link dir-819 sits outside under my garage eaves at least 100 feet from my living room. My smart-tv connects through 5 interior walls and streams HD fine. All the other devices in the house use it, laptops, smartphones, printer. My rural ISP is point to point LTE and my garage roof gave a great line of sight and s/n ratio. The dlink covers most of my 4 acre yard too. Sneaking a wan cable outside under the eaves and parking the router on top of a ladder temporarily wouldn't be too hard, just to try out.

| improve this answer | |
0

First I went for the wireless connection option using yagi antennas. I went as far as getting two Linksys WRT1900AC suggested by @Tim_Stewart. Then reading the other responses here, I chickened out and layed down a 1-inch conduit between the two buildings, just to have the assurance I would always have a solid connection. So the two Linksys WRT1900AC routers are now connected using a Cat7 cable running underground, which I managed to mistakenly cut and had to repair, but I'm not getting any reduction in Internet speed because of patching the cable together. Thank you all for all the help.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.