What is the best WiFi antenna for me?
have probably arrived at this page because you are looking for a range
extender antenna for your WiFi system. We have written this article
to make the complex task of choosing the correct antenna for your system
much easier and also to let you know how the different types of antennas
The single most important thing you can do to extend the range of your
802.11 system is to install an external antenna with some good gain and
directional or omni-directional qualities. WiFi is simply a radio, which
is used for computer. You can think of your antenna as the “speaker
system” of your WiFi card. Get a bigger antenna; your WiFi will
go a lot further. However, don't install a speaker on your wifi system
or your range will be horrible!
Directional antennas are used for Point-to-Point or sometimes for Multi-Point
systems depending on the setup. If you are trying to go from one location
(say for instance your router), to another location, this is the type
of antenna we recommend. Directional antennas are Backfires,
type antennas. View RadioLabs Directional Wifi Antennas
This is the common “Base” antenna used for Point-to-Multi-Point
or can be an omni-directional antenna for your car. An Omni-Directional
antenna would serve as your main antenna to distribute the signal to other
computers or devices (such as wireless printers, PDAs, etc) in your workgroup.
You can use 2 Omni-Directional antennas for a point to point system, but
this is usually not recommended because there is no real point to distributing
your signal all over the place when you only want to going from point
A to point B. Please refer to Directional antennas above. Typical Omni-Directional
WiFi antennas consist of Vertical
Desktops and Mobile
vertical antennas. View RadioLabs Omni Directional Antennas
Point-to-Point systems usually involve 2 different wireless points, or
building to building wireless connections. But there are exceptions to
every rule. If the access point is across a long valley and the owner
of the system wishes to share the connection with multiple users on the
other side of the valley. This would be a point to Multi-Point system
but using directional antennas.
Point to Point WiFi System
Point to Multi-Point
Point to Multi-Point systems is usually for sharing a WLAN (Wireless Local
Area Network) or a high-speed internet connection inside of your home
or with neighbors (oops, we didn't say that). They can also be for WAP
(Wireless Access Points) such as you find at local coffee shops, truck
stops, airports, RV parks and the ever expanding list of WAPs becoming
available. Traveling with a notebook computer is extremely fun and can
be a great business tool for the frequent traveler.
Point to Multi-Point WiFi system
The range of the signal will depend on several factors, including power
output of your wireless card or router, receive strength of the wireless
card or cards you are transmitting to, obstructions buildings or trees
which may be in the way of your transmitting path, walls, etc. Since there
are so many factors which can determine the overall range of your wireless
system, it is impossible to cover it in this simple article. A rule of
thumb however is to always choose an antenna which you think may be overkill.
Why? Because the power output is extremely small it is necessary to have
as much gain as possible. Most wireless cards have a power output of 32
milliwatts (+15dBm), which is roughly the same amount of power it takes
to light a high power LED (Light Emitting Diode). LEDs are bright, but
imaging trying to see one at a large distance or through a building or
trees. This is why the antenna is critical for amplifying that signal
so it is as strong as possible. Why is the power output so small? Because
802.11 works at the same frequency as a microwave oven (2.4 GHz) and if
it put out a large amount of power…. well, enough said. Microwave
popcorn! If you are somewhat technical, please visit our online wifi range
calculator to learn more.
Long Range Wifi Antennas
One of our most frequently asked questions is how to choose the correct
WiFi antenna for a particular situation. This can be either very simple
or very complex depending on your particular application or what you need
to do. 802.11b (11 Mbps) and 802.11g (56 Mbps) (Mbps stands for megabits
per second and is a measure of bandwidth) standards provide excellent
speed, but this completely depends on your signal strength and noise level
of your wireless card and wireless system. This basically equates to,
the larger the signal strength and the less noise your wireless card receives,
There are many uses for wireless applications, either in a home, office
or rural situations. Let's examine each of these applications.
Home antennas are always the easiest types of antennas to purchase and
take the least amount of effort in choosing and installing. In most circumstances,
only one antenna is needed on the remote computer. We recommend putting
any external antenna on the remote computer, simply because if you install
it on your router and don’t plan on setting up security, it will
provide less signal strength outside of your home and your system will
be less prone to hackers. If you have a multi-story home or a very large
house, you may have to install antennas on every computer to get the range
or bandwidth required. Every wall that you have to penetrate will decrease
the signal strength of your system. For the best signal strength and signal,
we recommend installing a 5dB
ceiling dome antenna and either wireless
desktop antennas or RL-1000
antennas on all remote computers. It is best to start with 1 antenna on
a remote computer and test the signal strength and range.
Office antennas are pretty straight forward. If you want to run a network
system inside of your office building and don’t want to run cables
all over the place, first, purchase a good wireless card, install a Ceiling
antenna to extend and maximize the signal to your office router. It’s
that simple. However, this can get a little complex if the office is split
between 2 different points or if the office is really large or on multiple
stories of a building. Click here to view RadioLabs home/office wifi antennas
Mobile WiFi antennas
Why would anyone want WiFi in their car? Well, there are a lot of truck-stops
and RV parks around the country now that offer wireless access. In fact,
many public high speed wireless networks can be accessed directly from
your car, truck, or RV. There is also something called WarDriving which
is where bad people drive around neighborhoods and get their high-speed
access for free. We don’t condone this, but if you want to read
more about it, please go to www.wardriving.com.
It’s fun and entertaining reading.
Yagi antennas were the design of two Japanese people, Hidetsugu Yagi and
Shintaro Uda, and are sometimes referred to as Yagi-Uda antennas. They
were originally designed for radio, but are now also used for 802.11 systems.
These antennas are typically very directional and are used for point to
point, or to extend the range of a point to multi-point system. We highly
recommend using the RadioLabs 14 or 16 element weatherproof Yagi antenna
if you want to install your system outside. They have excellent signal
strength and in the right circumstances can communicate for miles!
Backfire antennas - The backfire is a small directional
antenna with excellent gain. They look similar to a parabolic dish, but
the gain isn't as high. We highly recommend Backfire antennas for point
to point or point to multipoint systems because of the excellent gain
and the good noise figures. We offer a backfire antenna with 15 dBi of
Gain!! This is excellent considering the antenna is only 10 inches diameter.
Parabolic or dish antennas
This is where the real power is! Parabolic dish antennas put out tremendous
gain but are a little hard to point and make a connection with. As the
gain of an antenna increases, the antenna’s radiation pattern decreases
until you have a very little window to point or aim your dish correctly.
Dish antennas are almost always used for a point to point system for long
haul systems. The Parabolic Dish antennas work by focusing the power to
a central point and beaming the radio’s signal to a specific area,
kind of like the adjustable reflector on a flashlight. These antennas
are highly focused and are the perfect tool if you want to send your signal
a very long distance. To calculate the distance of your WiFi......
or please call us for advice.
The gain you will require for each individual WiFi antenna system
will dependant on any direct objects in your path, the distance you must
cover and the individual wifi cards. These all must be taken into consideration
before choosing the proper antenna system. If our calculator is too difficult
to use, please feel free to contact us for information.
As with all radio systems, interference is always a problem.
If you are listening to an AM radio and you hear static, this is interference.
The same thing applies to WiFi systems, however not to such a large degree.
Things that cause interference with WiFi systems are Microwave ovens,
certain lighting systems, other 802.11 access points or systems, microwave
transmitters, even high speed processors for computers can cause interference
for 802.11 systems. All these problems must be isolated before you can
expect any significant range out of your system. If you need help, please
don't be afraid to ask us. Afterall, WiFi is our business.
The RadioLabs Team