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Do you need a laptop sun shade? 6 top tips on working from home in the sun

How you can use your laptop outside in the sun, plus how to protect your laptop from the heat and get the most from your wi-fi

If you're working from home during the hot weather, you might be in a position to take your work outside. But before you do, you'll want to make sure you and your technology are protected against the heat, and that you'll still be able to see your screen.

There are plenty of ways to keep your laptop protected – you can use a heat-resistant laptop sun shade, an umbrella with a table clamp or even a spare cardboard box (more on that later). But you also need to think about how you'll keep your laptop powered up, and whether or not it can access the internet if you've travelled a fair distance from your router.

Keep scrolling for our top tips on working from home in the sun, including how to adjust your laptop's settings so you can see the screen. We've also added a quick and easy recipe for a delicious iced coffee to keep you cool in summer.


Need a new laptop? We'll help you make the most of your budget - see our expert pick of the best laptops


1. Make sure your laptop doesn't overheat

Laptops aren't designed to work in boiling hot temperatures for a long time, so make sure your machine is well protected against the elements.

Try to get into the habit of checking the underside of your laptop every so often – if it's noticeably hotter than usual, you should consider moving from your current position. 

Make sure your laptop's fan isn't blocked. Resting your computer directly on the grass, for example, smothers the fan and increases the chance of the laptop overheating.

If you notice dust in your laptop fan, avoid using compressed air as this is damaging for sensitive components. Instead, power down your laptop, remove the battery if you can and use a microfibre cloth. Don't use a damp cloth around any of the ports. 

See also: common cleaning mistakes that can break your laptop or desktop PC

Working on a laptop in the garden

Try a laptop sun shade

If you can't move to a shady spot outside, you can try a laptop sun shade, also known as a laptop tent. You'll find them online, including on Amazon and eBay, for around £20 to £60. 

The Perfeclan sunshade below, for example, costs around £25 on Amazon. 

Perfeclan sunshade

Alternatively, try using a parasol (perhaps you have one as part of a garden furniture set). An umbrella would do the job, too – you can buy a clamp for around £20, or use a bulldog clip, or tie it to something sturdy.

You can also try the 'cardboard box hack', removing one of the sides of the box and placing your laptop inside. But if you decide to give this a go, it's crucial your laptop has enough room to breathe.


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2. Increase your screen brightness

If you're working outside on a lovely, sunny afternoon, you'll no doubt need to increase the brightness of your screen to battle against the glare.

To increase screen brightness on Windows 

Select the Action Center button in the bottom-right corner of your screen to bring up the notifications panel. If you don't see the brightness slider, choose Expand to make it visible.

To increase screen brightness on a Mac 

Simply press the brightness key at the top of your keyboard – look for the sun icon. Alternatively, if your Mac has a Control Strip (the touch-sensitive bar above the keyboard), tap the icon and drag the brightness slider left or right.

Increasing screen brightness on a laptop

But think about your battery life

Increasing the brightness of your screen will have an impact on battery life. You can obviously solve this problem by plugging your computer into a power source, but that might not be an option if you're at the far end of the garden and don't have an extension lead.

To improve battery life on Windows 

You can try activating the Battery saver feature, which limits notifications and background activity on your computer when the battery is running low. To turn this on, click the battery icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen, then select Battery settings. 

From the same window, you can configure your computer to automatically enable this when it reaches a certain charge level.

To improve battery life on a Mac 

Click the battery icon at the top of your screen to see how much charge is left. If you select Battery preferences, you can turn on Low power mode, which reduces energy use to increase battery life.


Struggling with a computer that needs plugging in far too often? Find out how much it costs to fix a laptop


3. Use a wi-fi extender if your connection is poor

Taking a video call while you're sitting outside will only work if you have a stable internet connection.

To increase the range of your home wi-fi, consider getting a wi-fi extender. These amplify and repeat the wireless signal originating from your router to extend its reach. 

Our expert wi-fi extender reviews have uncovered a selection of Best Buys that extend your coverage very effectively, with fast transfer speeds.

Using a wi-fi extender

If you're paying for a data plan on your smartphone, you can activate the hotspot feature on your mobile so your computer can connect to the internet.

Before you start relying heavily on a mobile hotspot, check in with your provider to see what your monthly hotspot data allowance is. You should be fine if you're simply sending out emails and attending the odd call. But if you're downloading large files, you risk blowing through your data allowance. Which could mean additional charges.

The cheaper alternative to a wi-fi extender is a long ethernet cable – a 5m ethernet cable costs around £5, or you can try a 10m cable for around £10. One end plugs into your router and the other into your computer.

If you need to trail a long cable from your home to your outdoor working area, you might need to invest in an ethernet-to-ethernet connector, which costs around £5. Be careful about yourself or others tripping over the cable, though, and make sure it doesn't get wet.


For more handy tips to help you tackle your to-do list in the garden, see our guide on 6 ways to improve wi-fi in the garden or outdoors.


4. Invest in some noise-cancelling headphones

Stepping away from your home office and into an outdoor space doesn't necessarily mean you're distancing yourself from distractions. There's the sound of your next-door neighbour mowing the lawn or traffic passing by.

To stay focused on your work, consider a pair of noise-cancelling headphones that can help you block out external noise. As an added bonus, some feature a built-in microphone that'll come in handy when you're on a call.

Using headphones outside

When reviewing headphones, we enlist the help of an expert listening panel to score noise-cancelling performance. 

Our latest noise-cancelling headphones on-test include:

  • Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 (£99) – the second generation of Samsung's in-ear headphones. They offer three ambient sound settings (so you can decide the volume of external noise) and have touch controls on the earpieces.
  • Marshall Motif ANC (£179) – truly wireless headphones that are splash resistant. Transparency Mode means you can let in external noise when you need to be more aware of your surroundings.
  • Sony WH-1000XM5 (£379) – Sony's flagship headphones feature eight microphones, which are used to optimise noise-cancelling effectiveness in real time.

To see which headphones are well suited if you want to block out distractions, see our independent round-up of the best headphones.


5. Be mindful of your posture

When working outside on your laptop for hours at a time, make sure you're sitting correctly.

Ideally, you need to be using an ergonomic chair that provides adequate back support. But even if you don't have an ergonomic chair that you can wheel outside, there are various ways to alleviate muscle tension.

Make sure your lower back is supported – you can use a cushion if necessary. Position your knees so they're slightly lower than your hips (a footrest might help) and check that your wrists and forearms are straight and level with the floor.

Your screen should be positioned directly in front of you so you don't have to bend your neck to read from it. If you need to raise your laptop, you might want to consider a laptop stand for around £30.


Our advice guide on choosing a home office chair has more details on ergonomics and how to avoid back pain when sitting.


6. Limit your time in the heat and use sun cream

It's important to stay protected from the sun, so make sure you're using sun cream on toasty afternoons. It makes sense to avoid the hottest parts of the day (to stop both you and your technology from overheating), so having your lunch break indoors might be a good idea.

Apply sun cream 15 minutes before you head outside. Experts recommend you should top up every two hours or so, although you might need to reapply it sooner if you find yourself sweating a lot. 

One Which? researcher told us they like to set up their foot bath with cold water on particularly hot days, adding: 'It helps to regulate my body temperature and I never get too hot. Of course, I am careful to be away from plugs and have a towel nearby.'

Applying sun cream

Opt for an iced coffee over your regular hot drink – it's a breeze to make, whether you have a coffee machine or not. See how to make iced coffee if you want to give it a try.

For everything you need to know about choosing a sun cream and applying it properly, see SPF, UVA, UVB: sun cream explained and how to buy the best.


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