Homestead, We Have Internet
We’ve been living at “The Homestead” for two months now. We love where we live, and are completely enjoying the fact that we are roughin’ it in the country. We love taking outdoor showers, tending to our garden, and singing songs by the campfire. One drawback to this country living has been the lack of internet. The area we live at provides basic wifi connectivity, but only close to the main building. There is one wifi router, which reaches approximately 100 foot radius. The rest of the homestead doesn’t have wifi. For the first couple of months we were fine with this lack of internet. But we desperately missed Netflix( We are millennials after all.) We explored a few options in getting wifi out to where we’re parked, including tethering with our smartphones, getting satellite internet, or installing wifi repeaters. Each of these options seemed feasible, but expensive.
Adding the necessary data package to a cell phone to tether would have been an additional $50 per month. Satellite internet, which in it’s cheapest form- also around $50 per month, only allows for 10 GB of data usage per month. Adding wifi repeaters would harness our current free wifi, but the 350 foot span that we have would require at least 2 new routers, and electricity to these routers, which would mean long extension cords, or some sort of solar arrangement.
Often times the simplest answer is the best. We ended up running cable. How 1990’s of us right? We did lots of research, and found that cat 5e cable has a maximum length of 328 feet(100 meters). Now for the technical jargon-
There are higher quality networking cables- Cat 6, 6A, 7, but these cables only allow faster data transfer speeds over the same distance. Over 100 meters, Cat 5E supposedly provides 100 MBPS, which is plenty for us. To allow two people to access email, surf the web, and occasionally Netflix binge, we only need a few MBPS. Plus, the connection from the utility company isn’t fast to start with. No sense in building a blazing fast network without the bandwidth to fully utilize it.
We bought a 500 foot roll of Cat 5E cable at home depot for less than $60. The cable is just the cable- it doesn’t have the connectors to connect to the routers on each end. For this you’ll need some RJ45 Connectors, and a crimping tool. We tried doing it without the crimping tool- it’s impossible! Get the crimping tool.
To string the cable, we had to cross a field, and get through a thicket of pricker bushes. We ended up running about 350 feet of cable. But isn’t this above the maximum length you might ask? We just went for it and it works, so clearly there is a factor of error built in to the 100 meter limit. The bandwidth that we pull down in the camper is just as fast as the bandwidth up near the source.
We are now enjoying our homestead internet, but have learned a valuable lesson living without it. While checking Instagram and writing emails on a full sized laptop is pretty great, We hope that we don’t spend all our time surfing the interwebs. Before we had internet, we would read or talk or just hang out every night. We’ll have to make a conscious effort to keep doing these things, and not get sucked into the cyber world once again.