Under perfect conditions, routers can cover areas up to 150 – 300 feet. In most cases, that’s not enough to reach a detached building. Point to point long-range systems help stretch the internet connection between the two buildings
What Kind of Antenna Is Right for You?
There are two main types of Wi-Fi antennas: omnidirectional and directional. Directional Wi-Fi antennas are also referred to as high-gain antennas.
Directional or high-gain Wi-Fi antennas are a good choice if you want a more reliable connection in a specific direction. For example, maybe you want the Wi-Fi signal strong only in your living room. For maximum range, look for Wi-Fi antennas that are high-gain.
It is not recommended to use a high-gain antenna if the area you want Wi-Fi covered for is 300 square feet or less. In these spaces, omnidirectional antennas are best.
Omnidirectional antennas provide 360-degree Wi-Fi coverage. However, because they are sending out a signal in all directions, the signal doesn’t travel as far.
Another option is a laptop Wi-Fi antenna. These antennas plug directly into your laptop using a built-in USB plug. A laptop antenna ensures that your computer has a strong, stable Wi-Fi signal wherever you are using it.
Wi-Fi Antenna Ranges
There are many different brands and types of Wi-Fi antennas, and each one has its own maximum range. If you are looking to purchase a Wi-Fi antenna, check the product details for the exact scope of that product. Keep in mind that the maximum range of a Wi-Fi antenna is only accomplished in ideal conditions: ideal conditions are a direct line of sight with no physical obstructions.
The following factors affect the actual range of a Wi-Fi antenna:
- The type of Internet and Wi-Fi equipment you are using
- Buildings and other large obstructions, such as fences
- The type of material that the obstructions are made of
For example, a Wi-Fi signal can pass through wood and drywall much better than it can pass through brick and stucco.
When to Use a Wi-Fi Antenna
A typical Wi-Fi router using a 2.4 GHz frequency has a range of up to 160 feet when used indoors and up to 300 feet outdoors. 5 GHz frequencies are faster, but they have a shorter range. A router with a 5 GHz frequency has a maximum range of about 50 feet indoors and about 100 feet outdoors.
If you want your Wi-Fi signal to reach further than these distances, you will want to use a Wi-Fi antenna. A Wi-Fi antenna can be used to supply Wi-Fi in a variety of places such as:
- A large house
- The yard and perimeter of a house
- An office with multiple floors or buildings
- A neighborhood
- A park or other outdoor space
Outdoor vs. Indoor Use
There are directional and omnidirectional antennas for indoor and outdoor use. If you are using the antenna in an exposed outdoor area, make sure to buy a weather-proof one.
To set up an outdoor Wi-Fi antenna, you will need a long coaxial cable. Check out this page for steps to install an outdoor antenna.
Alternatively, there are indoor-to-outdoor antennas that are specifically designed to reach through thick outer walls of buildings.
A 5 GHz frequency is more likely to work through physical obstructions such as walls than a 2.4 GHz frequency. So, if you want your Wi-Fi signal to reach from the inside to the outside your home, look for an antenna that has a 5 GHz frequency option.
Installing a Wi-Fi Antenna
Some Wi-Fi routers come with external antennas attached. These antennas can be easily removed and replaced with higher-quality antennas if you want to upgrade. Simply unscrew the antenna from the router and screw on the new antenna.
Some external Wi-Fi antennas use a USB connection, and some use a coaxial connection. If you are planning to buy an upgraded antenna, check the type of connection that your router uses. Many external antennas also come with a USB to coaxial adapter for fit on any router.
If your current Wi-Fi router does not have an external antenna, that means the antenna it uses to transmit your Wi-Fi signal is internal. You can still add an external antenna to one of these routers, but it is not as simple. Click here for detailed directions to add an external antenna to an internal antenna router.