Networking to a garden office?

Discussion in 'Home Networking' started by Graham, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. Graham

    Graham Guest

    Hi there,

    I have a wireless router with two computers connected to it with cat5 cable,
    plus two laptops connecting through wireless. All is fine.

    I am planning on having a garden office installed. It will be approx 7
    metres from the house. I have been out in the garden with one of the
    laptops and the reception is 'low' - perhaps metal venetian blinds are
    playing a part in this. Anyway, once the office is in place, with
    walls/blinds etc, I imagine the connection could be extremely poor. The
    power to the office will be by a mains feed from the fuse box of the house
    and will be run underground with armoured cable. If the wireless network
    connection is poor, could I run cat5 cable underground to the garden office?
    Would it be safe?

    Thanks for any info,

    Graham, Aug 17, 2005
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  2. Graham

    Chris Whelan Guest

    1: Use CAT5 cable rated for outdoor use.
    2: Use CAT5 cable run in flexible plastic conduit.
    3: Use "Ethernet over mains" adaptors each end.

    Personally I would combine 1 and 2 if the mains power has not yet been
    installed. Your qualified electrical installer will be able to advise on
    separation distances between the two services. As far as I can see, there
    are no other safety issues.

    Option 3 would only be viable if the mains installation was already
    completed. A pair of suitable units can be had from eBay for around 60UKP,
    or about 80UKP from mainstream suppliers. They are limited to a maximum
    speed of 14Mbps, but on a 7 metre run would easily achieve that.


    Chris Whelan, Aug 17, 2005
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  3. Graham

    Conor Guest

    Stick with wireless and a desktop PC with a PCI WiFi NIC in that has a
    proper aerial on the back. You'll find that whilst the laptop gives a
    poor reception, the desktop will give good to excellent. Certainly the
    case with the Wifi network I set up at my missuses workshop where the
    PC is ALOT more than 7 metres from the house.


    If Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened
    rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic
    Conor, Aug 17, 2005
  4. Graham

    Alan Walker Guest

    I strongly agree Wireless is ok for close-up or for casual outdoor work but
    in my experience with several brands of kit it's never as fast or reliable
    as a piece of wire.

    I seem to recall that if you're running CAT5 next to mains you need to
    specify that and the cable costs about twice as much but it's been years
    since I bought any so no idea on proces.

    If you really want to wander into your garden, and your screen is viewable
    in sunlight, put an access point in the garden office.
    Alan Walker, Aug 17, 2005
  5. Graham

    Graham Guest

    Alan, Chris,

    Thanks for your replies. I need a reliable connection, so I am leaning
    towards wires. I have been doing some searches (well, a LOT of a searches)
    and there doesn't seem to be any firm evidence about any electromagnetic
    interferance between the power and cat5 cables. The only problem would be
    if the armoured power cable overloaded and melted and then came into contact
    with the cat5. But what are the chances of that happening? The office has
    it's own circuit breaker, so presumably this would trip before the situation
    even arose?

    Graham, Aug 17, 2005
  6. Graham

    Graham Guest

    Hi Conor,

    Thanks for your reply. Is it an 802.11b or 802.11g connection that you
    have? Is signal quality always good and consistant, or do you get
    occassional drops?

    Graham, Aug 17, 2005
  7. Graham

    Rob Morley Guest

    Yes. The problem with running wired ethernet between buildings is
    that the earth potential can be significantly different, but as the
    office will be fed from the house consumer unit this should be
    insignificant. Easiest would be to run the cable in some plastic
    conduit - you won't need to worry about using a special grade of Cat5
    if it's not exposed anywhere along the run (apart from where it
    terminates inside the office and house). While you're at it you
    might as well run an extra cable or three - if there's a problem with
    one it's a lot easier just to swap to another cable rather than
    running a new one, you can also use the spare conductors for a phone
    or similar.
    The usual advice is to not run network cabling close to power cabling
    where it can be avoided, but I'm not sure if this applies in the case
    of buried armoured cable, which should be pretty well screened
    Rob Morley, Aug 17, 2005
  8. Graham

    Chris Whelan Guest

    Alan, Chris,
    Assuming you are in the UK, your proposed mains installation will need to
    be done to BS7671 by someone authorised to do so or you will need to submit
    a proposed method to the local council and then have it inspected by them.
    Either way, there will be no issues with safety.

    In my experience (as an industrial electrician with 40 years experience) the
    electromagnetic influences from running *any* signal cable close to an
    *armoured* cable at normal household levels for only 7 metres will be nil.
    (Electromagnetic influence is something that the circuit designer should
    take in to account under BS7671 anyway.)

    BTW, I second the advice given elsewhere to run more than one cable.

    Chris Whelan, Aug 17, 2005
  9. Graham

    poster Guest

    That was something I would definitely second... and remember that a
    wired connection will support 100 Mbps while you'd need USB 2 and
    might still not get (depending on signal strength) great speeds on
    any wireless connection... It is not important for internet access
    (at present) but things will change over the years... Peter M.
    poster, Aug 18, 2005
  10. Graham

    ComPCs Guest

    Mine was recently done by a Part P Competent 'spark', and no council
    inspection was required.
    ComPCs, Aug 18, 2005
  11. out of interest, is one supposed to ask for proof of this or just take
    their workd for it ?

    Phil Thompson, Aug 18, 2005
  12. Graham

    Chris Whelan Guest

    Indeed, hence the *or* in my post!

    Chris Whelan, Aug 18, 2005
  13. Graham

    Chris Whelan Guest

    You should be supplied with proof of their competency when you get the
    certificate at the end of the work. Note that you may experience problems
    in the future if you are unable to produce this, for example if you wish to
    sell your house. Should things go badly wrong after the work is carried out
    (eg a house fire), your insurer would also be likely to want this proof.

    Personally, I would want to know *before* the work started......

    I am already aware of someone locally who could not pass Part P. He carries
    out installations, then gets a qualified pal to sign the form.

    Chris Whelan, Aug 18, 2005
  14. work, what work ? Oh that - it was done in 2004 :)
    I hear quite a few very competent people didn't want to pay the fee or
    do the exam or whatever was involved.

    Phil Thompson, Aug 18, 2005
  15. Graham

    Rob Morley Guest

    Is the Inland Revenue (whatever it's called these days) aware of all
    the extra work that his qualified pal seems to be doing on the side?
    Rob Morley, Aug 18, 2005
  16. Graham

    Chris Whelan Guest


    Most unlikely I should think.

    Chris Whelan, Aug 18, 2005
  17. Graham

    Conor Guest

    D-Link DLS 604+ 802.11b router and Belkin F5d7000 802.11g Wifi NICS.
    PCMCIA and USB adapters give the same low signal results.

    Just to add, my sis in law shares my broadband. Ihave a Netgear 802.11g
    router in the kitchen at the back of my house and her PC has
    aforementioned Belkin PCI Wifi Adapter. Her PC is in her bedroom and
    her house is the opposite side of the street. So, even though it has to
    go through one single brick wall, two cavity walls and over 120ft to
    travel, she gets low 90's signal strength.


    If Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened
    rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic
    Conor, Aug 18, 2005
  18. I have a similar situation, and my solution was to install a wireless
    repeater in the roof of the shed such that the antenna was in a good
    signal. Many WiFi access points can be configured to run in repeater
    Andrew Oakley, Aug 18, 2005
  19. Graham

    T. Guest

    You want to consider something like a Linksys WAP54 or WRTx with
    third-party firmware - You can set the power output to something really
    high. Couple that with a powered booster antenna, and it should be
    REALLY good for signal strength.
    T., Aug 20, 2005
  20. I live in a sturdily constructed post-war brick house and reception
    indoors was always below average with the AP in an upstairs bedroom. I
    have now mounted the AP in the apex of the loft where it can
    effectively broadcast down into the house without going through any
    intervening brickwork. Signal strength is now excellent to good
    throughout the house and I can happily get Wifi access at the bottom
    of our 60ft garden. The other day as a test I took a laptop out the
    front of our house where we have a large green and even 150m away I
    was still getting a useable 'low' signal.

    With a more modern router using multiple aerials (MIMO) you should be
    able to get a better range than this. So 7m needn't be a problem
    provided the router is mounted somewhere prominent. This does however
    have the issue that the two wired desktops would need substantially
    more cabling to reach the router.

    I have also made plans for a garden office and concluded that in
    addition to the power there will be a number of redundant runs of
    cable and I'll have a gigabit ethernet connection between the house
    and the office with a suitable switch at each end. Primarily as I
    intend to use the home server as an 'off-site' backup for my business
    data and a multi gigabyte backup at 100Mbps isn't something I want to

    Jason Arthurs, Aug 23, 2005
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