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Choosing the Right WiFi Antenna for your Application

Often times a customer will ask the question”How do I know which antenna is best for my application?” To help answer those questions we have developed this paper.

There are two main types of WiFi antennas,Omni and directional.

Omni antennas provide a 360° donut shaped radiation pattern to provide the widest possible signal coverage in door and outdoor wireless applications.Types of Omni antennas include”rubber duck” antennas often found on access points and routers,Omni antennas found outdoors,and antenna arrays used on cellular towers.

Directional antennas, as the name implies, focus the wireless signal in a specific direction resulting in a limited coverage area. Types of Directional antennas include yagi, parabolic grid, patch and panel antennas.

Below are some common WiFi network applications.

I want to connect one building to another building

In this design scenario you will need a directional antenna such as a yagi or parabolic grid antenna. This is called a point to point wireless link. Each building should be outfitted with a directiona antenna and the antennas need to point at each other inline. Also make sure there are no obstructions between the two antennas such as trees or buildings.

I want to add WiFi to my office building (inside)

To provide wireless coverage to an inside offices space use Omni antennas which provide 360° wireless coverage. The style of antenna typically used is the ceiling mount Omni antenna. The antenna gain pattern for the ceiling mount Omni antenna in this application is donut shaped with good vertical and well as horizontal coverage providing connectivity to WiFi devices including laptops,printers,tablets,and smart phones.

I want WiFi in my warehouse 

For warehouse Wifi  coverage use Omni antennas mounted on the ceiling. These antennas will provide 360° coverage for devices such as bar code readers, laptops and tablets in the warehouse area. When specifying these antennas consider the necessary beam width of the WiFi signal to cover all the areas that require wireless connectivity. Some Omni antennas have a wider beam width than others.

I need better WiFi coverage in my home

To optimize WiFi coverage in the home use an Omni antenna that is centrally located in the home and placed away from metallic objects and walls. In most home wireless networks the router or access point’s rubber duck antennas are usually close to a wall and in one corner of the house. This antenna placement limits your wireless coverage. By centrally locating the antenna and moving it away from walls etc. better coverage is realized.

I want to install WiFi in a campus environment (outside)

In this case you can use several directional antennas with an Omni antenna at the central building to connect the buildings in the campus. This is called a point to multipoint network. As with any outdoor WiFi network, clear Line of Site is critical. Additional,proper antenna alignment is necessary to ensure optimal signal quality.

I want to provide WiFi access in my outdoor cafe’

For an outdoor cafe’ use Omni antennas to provide 360° signal coverage to customers and employees. Try and mount the antenna as close to the center of the WiFi coverage area as possible. Also remember that if the Omni antenna you use has too much gain, then the users beyond the cafe area will tend to get better signal then those within the cafe area. Using a lower gain(dBi) antenna will result in more of a doughnut shaped signal pattern with gives better vertical coverage bringing the signal close to the ground where patrons are sitting with their WiFi devices.

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