Which wireless technology should I use?

Hi, I'm new to OpenWrt, but have been using dd-wrt for many years. I have a simple system with a cable-modem and wireless router (dd-wrt) that works pretty well. It has a couple of dead spots, but those are in unused areas.

I've rescently installed a shed that's about 100 feet from the house. It's powered by solar (panels/inverter/battery/etc.), so has no wires of any kind going to it. I'll be adding various IP devices to the shed (cameras, solar monitoring, etc.), so I need a wireless connection from the house. The devices will be both wired and wireless.

I assume a range extender wouldn't be appropriate, so, it looks like my wireless choices are to use WDS or Mesh. Some of the dead areas in the house will eventually be used, so I'd like to solve that problem at the same time.

By the way, my current router is a Netgear Nighthawk R7800 (about 5 years old), but I plan to buy new hardware.

Any suggestions on which way to go, or, are there other solutions to consider?

Some kind of directional antenna: Yagi, flat etc.

100' on 2.4GHz is nothing outdoors with line of sight.

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First of all, consider 'a wire', you will prefer it. For outdoor cabling, fibre connections are strongly preferred, as they are lightning safe (no conductor inside, so not accidentally acting as lightning rod, nor endangering your devices on either end).

Apart from that, questions like these are incredibly hard to answer (apart from going full enterprise mode and 'wireless wire' kind of dedicated directional devices). The first step would be chugging your existing router/ AP to the nearest window (but remaining inside) facing your shed - and then checking with (e.g.) your phone how far you can get (and at what speed/ packet loss/ latency), both directly outside and inside of your shed. If that works reasonably well, great - you know your answer, meaning a (good) 'regular' repeater (4addr) might do. If you have to keep both the router and your phone outside, you also know your answer, meaning you would need to go enterprise, with outdoor rugged 'wireless wire' types of directional devices (and another AP inside the shed).

30m distance with 'normal consumer devices' and their omnidirectional antennas kind works in clear line of sight, but it's pretty much on the edge. If you add walls to the mix (for your indoor type devices), it's probably beyond that (which doesn't mean that you totally can't 'see' the BSSID, but it probably will no longer meet basic expectations). For dedicated/ directional outdoor devices, this isn't much of an issue, but you still need to keep the fresnel zone clear (no trees or bushes), you'd need to get your copper cable (data and power, PoE respectively) to the outside of your wall(s) (grounding and lightning strike protection required). These 'wireless wire' kind of devices are dedicated to this purpose, so you'd still need your normal router inside the house, and a normal AP inside the shed to cover the devices over there, in other words it's not necessarily cheap (two normal consumer devices, two higher priced special purpose devices).

[Insert something about the legal implications of outdoor uses, the allowed frequencies, DFS and maximum transmit power here; it's possible, but you need to be actively aware that stricter rules apply here, especially on 5/ 6 GHz, meet them]

…and then take another look at fibre optic cables, yes you will need to pay someone to splice it up for you (a 15-20 minute job, if you laid the speedpipe/ fibre to both ends yourself), but the cable itself is cheap and inert, it doesn't need too much care, just lay the speedpipe and you're done. Full speed guaranteed.

This device is supported rather well by OpenWrt, so give it a try.

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What kind of speed do you need at the shed?

The best solution is burying fibre between the house and the shed.

The second best solution is using an outdoor PtP wifi device such as Ubiquity AirMax, TP-Link EAP or similar devices. A good portion of these is also supported by OpenWrt that can help with QoS as OpenWrt's drivers support AQL/TXQs on all of them, but is not strictly required. 30m/100ft is easy for any directional device. The easiest route if you decide to install OpenWrt on them is to use AP (WDS) / Client (WDS) setup. If you use their original firmware, it should already work that way if you use them in bridge mode. In addition to it, you'll then need an indoor ap/router at the shed.

The third solution is to use one of the above devices, place them on your house's wall outside, install OpenWrt on it, use AP (WDS) mode and then use an indoor device in the shed (next to a window that sees the outdoor directional device), and then "repeat" that signal by using Client (WDS) + AP combination. I would do this only if I need to keep the power use in the shed as low as possible. In this setup, 30m/100ft should be fine if the window is not tinted.

The fourth option is to try using only the indoor devices, but 30m/100ft with good speeds is really only possible if there is no more than one brick wall total.

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Hmm, everyone's strongly suggesting I use a wire if possible. The shed has solar because getting a power cable from the breaker panel to the shed would have been really difficult. However, an Ethernet cable might not be so bad; I'll look into it. If I use direct burial cat6a, does that solve the lightning concern?

But, I'm still interested in learning about the wireless method.

I'm trying this now. I put an access point at a window (inside), in direct line of sight to the shed. I'll report back later on it's signal.

I can't take it out of service, so, I'll probably buy new hardware and switch this one over later.

I didn't realize it worked this way. So, I can buy two access points, install OpenWrt on both, and then designate the house node as the AP(WPS), and the shed node as Client(WDS). Then plug the house node into the existing network. That sounds pretty straight-forward. Did I get this right?

I would strongly recommend fibre instead of twisted pair copper if you go the wired route.

If you ground it properly, it should be fine.

Yes, this should work, but if you can, let us know which devices you want to use first.

So the one advantage of copper wires would be that the could be used to power the AP in the shed (and maybe a camera) so these remain operational even if the sun is below the horizon...

I would start with a CAT-5/6 cable along the (grounded) fence, and then ...
it depends on the distance from the fence to the shed.
May be an outdoor AP on the edge of the fence ?

There are a few more things to consider, aside from 'just' lightning strikes (e.g. differing ground potentials), fibre solves this really nicely for connections between buildings (and particularly through the outside). Yes, it is more complex to connect (splice) on both ends, but it voids a lot of concerns you'd otherwise have to deal with.

This doesn't mean cat6 can't work, but fibre is common enough these days that the advantages pretty much outweigh the complication of having to get professional help for the splicing.

100ft/30m can be easily covered by any outdoor AP, with mesh (or WDS) or wired backhaul. Just that now every wall/window cuts distance by 5m//15ft Fence in picture likely acts as faraday mesh for 2.4ghz behind it or human height at the barn. Just lift pictured AP to the ceiling.

mini-yagi was not a joke, if you have any old AP with visible antennas you can leave just one antenna on and point diy antenna to the other AP.

Also AP-s have much better antennas, in mobile phone terms - one stripe better than mobile phone.


You can buy custom length fiber assemblies with your choice of connectors already attached to both ends...


Rats and mice like taste of multimode fiber.

I am confident there is a solution for that, potentially putting a duct into the ground... or digging deep enough.

I'm looking at direct burial fiber, more research to come.

I live in a high lightening area (south Louisiana), so avoiding lightning and ground loops gets my attention. Proper grounding is a huge subject on the solar forums; any suggestion on where to find guidelines?

Thanks, I will.

Good point, but I have a hybrid solar system, so darkness isn't usually a problem. The system actually runs off the battery and the solar panels recharge the battery during the day.

Good idea, but I doubt the fence is already grounded, other than by the concrete holding the posts in place, and those probably don't qualify for NEC and code stuff (8' rods buried 6' apart).

My first thought was to use cat6a, but I really didn't want to tie these structures together "electrically". Between lightning, grounding, NEC compliance, inspections, etc, etc., it might be nice to avoid all that.

BTW, after measuring the cable run, I actually need 183'. I found pre-terminated direct burial, fiber that's 75m (246ft). Is it OK to coil up the exess cable?


I wondered about that. The signal dropped like a rock beyond the fence, then disappeared completey when I moved into the shed. I'll move it up and try again.

I was considering this AP for the house side, but the antennas might not be very directional. I kinda like the mini-yagi idea; do you have anything on it's design?


Cat6a or fiber, I'll might buy this tool and do direct burial.

Yes, even multi-mode should work fine up to 300m. Your OS2 (single-mode) cable should be good for up to 10km with most transceivers.

EAP610-Outdoor uses IPQ6018 which I don't think is supported in OpenWrt. There is a github repo that adds support, and it lists this device as supported, so you should be able to compile it yourself.

If you don't install OpenWrt and plan to use this device with vendor's firmware on only one side, it might not be compatible with OpenWrt router (WDS client) you want to use in the shed.

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Grounding the fence is just one cable from the house to the fence

I found the site that describes the mini-yagi. The construction details were a little confusing, so I sketched it out. Might try it when I get some time.


You can miss by 5%, like rusty nails in styrofoam will work.

This is not a clear fresnel zone :wink: Given the close distance I am sure you can simply 'power' through it though, and directional antenna might help...

Keep in mind this mini yagi is designed for a single antenna 2.4 GHz radio, but a pair of these should be easy to come by (for OpenWrt the challenge might be more that older 1x1 radio models often come with either too little ram, too little flash or both for recent OpenWrt versions, you need to decide how much risk you want to accept that others can use this link to gain access into your home network.)