Linking buildings using WiFi
Setting up a point-to-point link
More and more people are taking the opportunity to work from home and, with this in mind, we are finding that people need a quiet space to work away from the main home; this is where the home garden office comes in. The garden office is generally formed by converting a summerhouse, garage, or shed into the home office. Often the home office doubles up as the ‘man-cave’ for weekend entertaining and we all know that the first question guests ask these days is ‘What is your WiFi password?’!!
So, what do you do when the wireless connection from the home router just doesn’t reach the outbuilding?
Consider a WiFi ‘bridge’ from the home to the garden office. Watch our video to see how you can do this, simply, in your home.
The video is set on a farm for linking up the farm office but this is exactly the same solution you can use at your home. The video explains how you can simply attach a pair of outdoor WiFi access points, one on the home and the other on the office.
This will be a separate WiFi connection to that which is in the home so there will be no crossover or interference there and the WiFi ‘bridge’ is very simple to install.
All of the EnGenius Outdoor Access Points from Solwise are able to be powered via an Ethernet cable, making it simple to power the units: basically, you power the outdoor units from the router inside the house and the router/access point inside the garden office. All the hardware you need to power them is included with the units and the only extra thing you will need to consider is the length of cable to suit your requirements.
You can use this application for a number of different scenarios:
Are you looking to get WiFi to the summer house at the bottom of the garden?
Do you have a barn on your farm where you want to hook up some IP cameras to keep an eye on stock?
Do you work from home with a garage office separate from the main home so you need to hook up your computer and a VoIP phone?
Is your business expanding and you now have portable buildings on site with workers that require network access?
Are you working on a classic car in the garage and want to use the Internet to find old manuals?
Give episode 2 of our podcast "A Word from the Wise" a listen, to hear two members of the Solwise team discuss in detail the ins and outs of how engenius managed solutions work and how they could benefit you.
Linking Buildings Using Wi-Fi
A common conundrum that people come across with their Wi-Fi in this day and age, is when they have an Internet connection at a location but wish to extend that connection to a second location.
Luckily there are two methods of achieving this.
Firstly, you can hardwire a direct connection between two points using Ethernet or Fibre, although the former does have a limitation of 100m.
This will guarantee a stable connection between the two points but will require some form of logistics when it comes to laying the cable, and later troubleshooting or replacing the cable could be tricky. There is a myth that running Ethernet cable alongside electricity cabling causes interference, but this is false because both types of cable are shielded from each other. So, from a cost saving point of view, it would be wise to run a length of Ethernet cable when laying new electricity lines.
However, if cabling is not an option, then the second method of establishing a wireless link between two or more points might be more practical.
The setup is relatively straightforward, you position two or more bridging units within linking distance and then connect the remote end to your proposed extended network. A wireless bridge usually uses the 5Ghz frequency as that allows higher amounts of bandwidth to be utilised, and since this frequency is used outdoors, then it is less likely to be interrupted by solid objects in the same manner as using 5Ghz inside of a building.
You can get higher frequency bridging units that use the 60Ghz frequency, but these products are incredibly directional, and many require a specialist alignment scope.
The advantage of using higher frequencies is higher throughput at a cost of higher energy consumption. and more precise alignment. However, for 99% of people, using a 5Ghz setup should do the job assuming that the correct operating modes are used.
Historically you used an operating mode called WDS Bridge to link up to four units using their individual MAC addresses, however, this configuration has been retired on 5Ghz connections as it was susceptible to interference from other 5Ghz units causing connections to drop.
The replacement configuration is to use operating modes WDS AP and WDS Station, in which the WDS AP unit dictates what wireless channels are used, and if interference is encountered, automatically switch to another channel. But more importantly, it informs the WDS Station configured unit beforehand that this is going to occur to prevent the connection from dropping.
The same concept occurs with a wireless router with wireless clients such as smartphones attached, the end user may not be aware that the router could be changing wireless channels but since the client devices are informed of this, the end users is not the wiser.
Like antennas bridging units come in two varieties, directional and omni-directional.
If you are looking to make a wireless bridge between two points, then typically you will use a pair of directional bridging units with a clear line of sight between each unit to achieve that. Despite being directional, you do have some leeway, at least with the 5Ghz units, of approximately 30 degrees, but of course the best signal strength would be achieved if both units hit around the 20-degree mark.
In this configuration, one unit will be configured using the WDS AP operating mode, and the other configured using the WDS Station mode.
Alternatively, if you wish to link up more than two locations, your typical setup will include a single omni-directional unit and multiple directional units. The idea is that the omni-directional unit is configured as WDS AP and has line of sight to each individual directional unit, configured as WDS Stations respectively. The directional units do not need to see each other for this to work, so if they can see the omni-directional unit, this setup will work.
Finally, if you wish to link up locations but do not have line of sight, then you can establish a wireless bridge using a pair of omni-directional units, with one unit configured as WDS AP, and the other as WDS Station.
Since this is occurring outdoors there is less chance of interference since there will likely be less objects for the radio waves to be absorbed into or reflected from, but of course, if you position each unit on opposite sides of a building then the results are going to be very poor. This setup is not recommended for 60Ghz products, as they 100% require clear line of sight since the projected beam angle is very thin.
When it comes to atmospheric interference, the only real consideration is water, as when moisture builds up on leaves or surfaces, this disrupt or weakens the radio waves, causing poor performance or dropping the connection.
In summary, when it comes to connecting two locations together, you must decide on whether you are going to use the wired or the wireless approach.
Both options have pros and cons, and it really comes down to the location, and whether you can lay cables, and if so, then running a fiber or Ethernet cable will be your best option, otherwise, opt for a wireless bridge instead.
For help or more information, feel free to get in touch with us at Solwise.
Point-to-Point link up to 500m:
pair of ENS500-AC
Pair of ENS500-AC for a point-to-point bridge, up to 500m and up to 70meg throughput
Point-to-Point link up to 10km:
pair of EnStationAC
Pair of EnStationAC for a point-to-point bridge, for very highspeed throughput up to 400meg and a distance of 10Km
pair of ENS500-AC & 1 ENS500EXT-AC
Pair of ENS500-AC & 1 ENS500EXT-AC for a point-to-multipoint bridge where you need multiple remote points (2 in this case) to bridge back to one central location up to 400m and up to 70meg throughput