Food, water, shelter and air — these are the four basic components of human survival. This day and age, however, you might as well add Wi-Fi to this list.
Many rely on a Wi-Fi internet connection for a lot of things, especially for traveling. Where would travelers and adventurers be without online translation apps, Google Maps and various social networking websites to keep in touch with friends and family?
A solid Wi-Fi connection is also important for remote workers, such as work-from-home employees and digital nomads. People working remotely, for instance, need to stay connected to the web at all times to get work done at home or on the road.
Although Wi-Fi coverage across the globe continues to grow, you may find yourself in remote locations where speedy internet is hard to come across. An effective way to get around this problem is to get a Wi-Fi antenna for your laptop or computer.
What is a Wi-Fi Antenna?
An external Wi-Fi antenna is a device that helps bump up your computer’s signal detection range. This piece of tech equipment facilitates the internet signal that people use to surf the web, play online video games, get in touch with people via social media and take care of their online business.
How a Wi-Fi Antenna Works
Wireless devices use radio waves to communicate with each other. These wireless signals consist of electromagnetic waves (EM waves) filled with packets of information. An external Wi-Fi antenna turns these waves into electrical signals, and vice versa.
Wireless networking devices, such as tablets, wireless routers, computers and smartphones, have transmitting and receiving antennas. The role of transmitting antennas is to convert electrical signals into EM waves to send information packets. On the other hand, the receiving antennas pick up the waves containing data and turn them into signals for the device.
Why Get a Wi-Fi Antenna
Desktop and laptop computers usually have a built-in wireless card that allows the device to wirelessly connect to the internet.
The range of these cards, however, is limited. This means that you could easily find yourself out of range of local Wi-Fi signals. As a result, you’ll experience disconnections or sudden drops in internet speed. Poor internet connectivity could cause online clients to walk out the door, as a stellar internet connection is necessary to deliver a great customer experience.
A computer Wi-Fi antenna can boost the internet connection range of your computer. This device offers the following advantages:
- Increases the range of your built-in wireless card by 200 to 300 yards
- Bumps up the internet speed of the wireless signals that are in range
- Enables you to connect to Wi-Fi that would have otherwise been out of your device’s coverage area
A Look at the Types of Wi-Fi Antenna
External Wi-Fi antennas are available in two main types: directional and omnidirectional.
Directional Wi-Fi Antennas
As the name suggests, a directional antenna focuses all its power in a single direction. Think of this type of Wi-Fi antenna as a flashlight. When you turn on the light, it illuminates a specific area. The beamwidth of the flashlight has a shape of a triangle. Anything outside of that shape will not get an ounce of light.
A directional Wi-Fi antenna will be able to receive and send a wireless signal from a further distance, but within a smaller coverage area. This is comparable to a light reaching beyond one room, but is unable to illuminate an entire room.
People often use this type of antenna for long-range, point-to-multipoint Wi-Fi networks where several directional antennas communicate with an omnidirectional antenna. They also use directional Wi-Fi antennas for long-range, point-to-point networks to link the internet connection between two buildings.
A few directional Wi-Fi antennas that you could find on the market are:
Parabolic Grid Antennas
These devices come with a narrow bandwidth, but have ultra-high gain. A parabolic grid antenna can receive and transmit signals from miles away, making them ideal for point-to-point Wi-Fi networks.
These strong antennas can send and receive a signal from far distances. You can connect them to a USB Wi-Fi adapter or a router to obtain data from further distances.
This low-profile Wi-Fi antenna transmits radio waves to and from a particular area. People commonly use this to boost the Wi-Fi signal indoors.
This popular Wi-Fi antenna resembles the shape of an arrow. You need to aim this device correctly, so that you can send or receive signals properly. An example is to point the yagi antenna to a carrier tower.
Omnidirectional Wi-Fi Antennas
This type of antenna delivers the widest signal coverage by radiating a signal at a 360-degree angle. If the directional Wi-Fi antenna is akin to a flashlight, think of the omnidirectional counterpart as an incandescent light bulb. When you turn on this light fixture, it distributes the light evenly and in every direction to illuminate a whole room.
Although the coverage area of an omnidirectional Wi-Fi antenna is a lot bigger than a directional antenna, its range is much shorter. This means that you can illuminate one room, but don’t expect it to extend to other areas of a building.
A few examples of an omnidirectional antenna are:
Dipole or Rubber Duck Antennas
You can usually find these devices on Wi-Fi USB adapters, access points and routers.
Ceiling Dome Antennas
You install this equipment on the ceiling of a warehouse, an office building or a home. Also, you connect this antenna to an access point or a Wi-Fi router.
Outdoor Omni Antennas
This type of Wi-Fi antenna can improve the signal outdoors. You typically connect this device to an outdoor access point or a router to successfully boost the wireless coverage.
What Wi-Fi Antenna is Best for Me?
The answer would depend on your needs.
Here are Wi-Fi antennas that you could use when you have one or more of the following goals:
Boost Wi-Fi Signal Inside the House
If you are experiencing dead zones and weak spots in some areas of your home (or you’re unable to move your wireless router to a better location), you could install different types of antennas to boost your coverage.
Routers have small omnidirectional dipole antennas on them by default. These antennas aren’t powerful enough to cover the whole house, especially if multiple furniture pieces are blocking the signal. One solution is to switch out the default rubber duck antenna with a stronger counterpart. If you’re looking to boost the wireless signal in a specific direction, replace the default Wi-Fi antenna with a directional mini-panel antenna.
Improve the Wi-Fi Signal Outdoors
Wi-Fi typically does not reach outside, as obstacles like doors and walls can weaken or block the signal. You can improve this situation by installing an outdoor omnidirectional antenna. Alternatively, buy a low-gain Wi-Fi antenna to obtain the best coverage. They offer a round-shaped signal pattern, which radiates the Wi-Fi signal nearer to the ground.
If your goal is to extend the signal further, such as to a baseball field or a public park, install a directional antenna. Then, point that device to your desired destination.
Enjoy Better Internet Connectivity Wherever You Go
This calls for a portable, external Wi-Fi antenna booster. You could invest in USB antennas, such as the TP-Link Archer T2UH. Just plug the device into the USB port of your computer, and you’re all set. These USB antennas are typically lightweight, making them perfect for travel.
A handy Wi-Fi antenna booster is also useful when staying in hostels and hotels. Although some may offer great signal throughout the establishment, others are only strong in the reception area. A boosted signal can make your life better, especially if you want to watch a movie in your room or want to get some work done.
Don’t get bummed out over a dead spot or a weak connection. Get the right Wi-Fi antenna to improve your internet connectivity and help you stay connected at all times.