Best Outdoor WiFi Repeater Choices
If you’re trying to extend a wireless network signal from outside around your house (or the opposite – boosting a network from your house outside to a garden or another building) then you need an outdoor WiFi repeater. I’ve heard some strange stories of people trying to setup normal repeaters in bushes but as soon as the rain hits… well. Let’s just say it’s a bad idea.
An outdoor WiFi range extender is built to survive outdoors. When looking for the best model we looked for a mix of durability, signal strength and price. We’re actually pretty amazed at this price. The last model we had ranked #1 for outdoors was a few hundred bucks.
You can see our full reviews on the WiFi Repeater page but this is our #1 ranked model if you’re specifically looking to setup a repeater outside.
Obviously this is for a specific use. Usually extending a WiFi signal to another building or getting a signal from outdoors and boosting it inside the building you’re currently in. This used to require some real dedication and some really creative ideas. Not to mention a few waterlogged devices.
My early experience with this was… well it could be called a DIY outdoor WiFi repeater if you were being kind. It was a cracked open router with a third party firmware flashed on it… it was then taped to a stick, balanced out of the window and covered in plastic bags in an attempt to keep it waterproof. No, it didn’t survive long. The TP-Link CPE 210 can do exactly what I was trying to do with my little DIY device though:
- Compact and robus.
- Claims over a 3KM wireless transmission (obviously assuming ideal situation here but that’s still really good).
- Flexible. Different modes available.
- Can’t swap antennas. They’re internal which keeps them safe from damage but that means you can’t swap on a higher gain antenna.
- Directional antenna. This isn’t necessarily a problem because for outdoor distances you need this but it’s important to keep in mind they’re not omni-directional.
In some situations you might want to boost your wireless signal outdoors. This can be done by placing a normal indoor repeater next to a window (indoors) if the area you are trying to cover is small but with a wider area you will need to place the wireless repeater outside and a normal repeater is not built to withstand the weather conditions. There are some specific outdoor repeaters which are made for this purpose however.
Remember that these repeaters will work fine outside and are built to withstand the weather but they still need to be powered which means running a wire indoors.
Using an Indoors Repeater to Boost a Signal Outdoors
In no way am I suggesting you put an indoors repeater outside. At the very least you are going to break the repeater and it is just not a safe plan. But depending on what kind of distance you are trying to cover an indoors repeater might be a better choice.
Personally I used to boost the signal to my garden by placing an indoors repeater at my bedroom window. I got a strong signal both indoors and outside because a window does not really cause much of an obstruction. It depends, of course, on the distance you’re trying to cover outdoors however. But it can be cheaper, give you better speeds and you won’t need to worry about mounting it outside.
So if you’re not trying to cover a big area outdoors you could try something like this instead and just put it indoors at the window. It’s an easier solution than dealing with an outdoors CPE.
A good choice for this is also to use a directional antenna for this. Most wireless routers and repeaters come with omni-directional antennas. For general use, this is exactly what you want. The source to cover a wide area but if you have something more specific in mind (I’m assuming you do when you want an outdoor WiFi extender) you might also consider using a directional antenna on your receiving devices. So the laptop or desktop has an easier time reaching the original source.
You can even combine the two and use an indoors device (router or repeater) and attach it to an outdoors antenna. That way your device can be safely kept indoors but the antenna can go out through the window or something and send the connection towards your location. There are outdoors omni-directional options but they’re not commonly used and unlikely to be strong enough if you’re trying to reach further away in an outdoors area.
You can take this one step further and use a directional antenna on your router and/or extender as well. This is just if you want to get a wireless signal to a specific destination however. If you swap an omni-directional antenna on your router and point it at the garden you’re likely to get a better signal in the garden but the rest of the house in the other directions will get a weaker signal.
Battery Powered WiFi Repeaters?
Once in a while we get asked about a battery powered repeater. These would be handy for short term boosts without having to run cables all over the place. The problem is the current requirements of a repeater would require a pretty big battery pack, meaning a decent one with even a little bit of signal strength would need a massive battery which comes with a price tag. There’s just not enough demand for people to be making them at the moment.
We include this as a warning however. I have seen devices shipping from China which claim to be battery powered when they are not. Some very clearly plug directly into the wall but the company is selling them as “battery powered” devices. Even if these devices did charge (which they don’t) they wouldn’t have the strength to actually repeat the signal. You do get rechargeable routers these days which can last a couple of hours with a SIM card data connection which is maybe as close as you’ll get. The difference here is a wireless extender is a one time cost but you do need to keep paying for the SIM data.
Uses for an Outdoor WiFi Extender
In case it doesn’t already show I love fiddling with equipment and wireless extenders just add so much flexibility to your networking. Being able to put one outside opens things up quite a bit and the use is limited only by your imagination and your ability to put them somewhere safe.
Common uses for putting an extender outside is covering a garden or reaching an outhouse or pool. These are the common ones but you can take it a little further and spread your network into other buildings or network your neighbours together. You could use it for commercial uses increasing the wireless reach of your business network or just use it to game with your neighbour across the road. People have had some pretty ingenious setups involving cars and boats which can require a little more planning (and empty space) but covering a sunny garden with a wireless connection is probably enough for most of us.
Problems Leaving it Outside
There are some problems leaving it outside (which is why we tend to suggest an indoors repeater with a directional antenna if that is an option). This really comes down to your area and how you plan to use them. In a very public area you always have the risk of theft or damage. You’ll likely know yourself how safe it is to mount a piece of equipment outdoors in the area. If you’re trying to reach your garden or nearby building I would suggest mounting it high up on your home or office out of reach of anyone else. This gives you the added advantage of less obstacles in the way to block the WiFi signal.
These devices are made to withstand the weather but, like anything, they’re going to get worn down eventually. Indoors devices are likely to last longer because they just don’t face the beating an outdoor device will. The most common damage we see is to the wiring linking it back inside. This largely depends on how you’ve set things up but assuming you don’t want to go drilling through your wall you’ll probably do what most people do and run the cable through a gap in the window. We’d suggest getting some thick duct tape to give the cable some padding where it comes through the window it’ll prolong the life of your device and stop the cable getting worn down at that specific spot.