Many people may want to be able to connect to WiFi in their shed for work purposes. Or, maybe you want to be able to play video games in peace because your family will not stop bothering you. Unfortunately, WiFi signals do not make it through metal sheds with ease because WiFi signals tend to bounce off metal. Of course, you could build shed close to your house, and if your WiFi signal is powerful enough, you could be able to connect to a wireless network in your shed. However, that strategy may not work well for most people.
If you want to get WiFi in your metal shed, then the best solution for most people is to buy a wireless USB WiFi adapter and a USB extension cable and place the adapter outside of the metal shed. Then, connect the extension cable to your computer or other receiving equipment that is inside the metal shed.
In this article I will explain some popular solution for getting WiFi inside a metal building.
Cheapest Solution – Use a Wireless USB WiFi Adapter
You will need a USB WiFi adapter, for example EDUP Wifi Adapter and a USB extension cable.
You need to drill a hole in the awning, wall, or soffit of your shed. Make sure it is large enough for the cable end to fit through, and that you don’t damage anything as you drill your hole.
Consider using a USB wall plate to cover the hole. This is not necessary but will look a lot nicer than a simple hole. Use glue or electrical tape to hold the wall plate in place.
Connect one end of the USB cable to the WiFi adapter and the other end to your PC.
Test the speed of your connection out at speedtest.net. Scroll down below to learn about dBm and WiFi signal strength. dBm is the most consistent and easy way to express signal strength.
If a wireless USB WiFi adapter does not cut it for you, then take the time to think through these three solutions: network cable solution, powerline networking solution, and point-to-point networking solution. I recommend the network cable solution as the second best solution because it is simple, reliable, and cheap.
Most Reliable Option – Use a Network Cable
Buy an extra long network cable and connect it to a wireless access point in the shed.
You can run a cable through your yard from the router in your home to a wireless access point in a metal shed.
After 250 – 300 feet, you may need extra equipment to extend a network cable.
The problems with this solution are: weather and animals may negatively impact a network cable, and the network cable may look “ugly” or “strange” to others when they enter your yard.
However, as long as the cable is not placed in a spot where the weather and animals will interfere, you should not have any issues. This solution is the most reliable solution.
This solution is also the cheapest. A fifty-foot network cable costs around $15 and a 300-foot cable will cost about $30.
If you want to try a slightly simpler solution and do not mind paying an extra $60-$100, then take a look at the next option.
Network Cable Tips
- Squirrels, chipmunks, and mice may chew on your cable, try protecting it with a PVC pipe
- Dig a small trench and burn the cable underground to keep it secure. I recommend digging a trench that is at least 18 inches deep. Surround the cable with a PVC pipe.
Powerline networking is a common wireless approach to expanding the range of a WiFi signal through adapters.
A basic powerline adapter kit will include two Ethernet cables. One is for your router, and the other is for the nearest power socket.
Setting up adapters is easy, but make sure you pick an adapter that is compatible with your router. Maybe buy adapters that are the same brand as your router.
The major disadvantage of this solution is that you will need a power socket and a power source in your metal shed.
You can use multiple adapters for your metal shed, and an entire house to increase your overall network coverage. Usually, you can buy two powerline adapters for about $90.
If you are not satisfied with the range of your adapters, or you are in a place that includes many trees or walls that will interfere with your signal, then consider the next solution.
Point-to-point wireless bridges will allow you to have long-range wireless connectivity.
Ideally, two, big signal receivers should be placed on top of your house and shed.
Most point-to-point wireless bridges can make it through terrible weather and have a decent warranty.
This solution is the most expensive and least reliable because the antennae must be placed outside of your house and shed. You will need to make sure that nothing interferes with the signal.
The range is the best part of this solution.
A wireless point-to-point system will cost about $200.
- Mobile Hotspot: You could buy a mobile hotspot, which is not cheap, and place it in a spot where it can receive signals from satellites. Maybe put it right outside a door or place it near a window. Many phones nowadays such as the iPhone 7 can create a hotspot. This option is not very cheap, and the WiFi signals emitted by hotspots tend to be sub-par. However, this may be a quick fix for you.
- Hire a Professional: Get a professional to figure out the best solution for you. Keep in mind that it will be a lot cheaper to solve this problem on your own.
Second Best Solution
The second best solution, in my opinion, is to utilize a network cable to get Wi-Fi into a shed. It’s a cheap and reliable option. Also, I recommend using a PVC pipe to protect the cable and digging a trench to hide the ugly PVC pipe.
Buy a cheap router for the inside of the shed unless you do not need a wireless access point.
Remember, you can use an Ethernet cable to connect multiple home routers.
Choosing a Wireless Router
Once again, metal roofing and other metal parts and pieces that make up a metal shed will certainly decrease the strength of WiFi signals.
This is why you should buy hardware with an extra strong signal. Not having a connection to WiFi can get frustrating, so do not be afraid to get a more expensive router.
An extra strong signal can be defined as a signal that is between -30 to -67 dBm.
What is dBm?
dBm is the most consistent and easy way to express signal strength.
It stands for: decibels relative to a milliwatt.
–30 dBm – Amazing strength. To achieve this, the client can only be a couple of feet away from the AP.
–67 dBm – Very Good. Reliable and fast.
–70 dBm – Okay. This is average. Most people are connected to WiFi at this signal strength.
–80 dBm – Not Great. Minimal signal strength for very basic connectivity.
-90 dBm – Terrible. Any kind of functionality is not likely.
Why Do WiFi Signals Bounce Off of Metal Shed?
Metal, a conductor of electricity and magnetism, absorbs radio waves, which are an electromagnetic frequency.
Conductors such as metal allow electrons to move freely, so when a radio wave such as WiFi comes in contact with metal, the signal is weakened because metal absorbs electrons from radio waves.
Once again, there are three options that I recommend for people who want a strong WiFi signal in their metal shed. A network cable solution, powerline networking solution, and point-to-point networking solution are great options.
However, I believe the network cable solution is the best because of the cheapness and reliability of this option.
Metal sheds can be great places to isolate yourself from the rest of society and get work done or enjoy videos, so get out there and solve your WiFi problems!