The Best Long-Range Outdoor WiFi Antennas [December 2019]
Home or office WiFi: it’s incredibly convenient until it’s not. We’ve all been there. The wireless network is working perfectly fine, and then you move a workstation into the back bedroom and find out that it has no signal, or you add a smart TV to the she shed/man-cave and discover that the “up to 300 feet” part of your router’s range description was, well, let’s just say “highly optimistic”. You may just need a few extra feet of coverage area, or you may need to get signal on an outbuilding miles away from your access point. Regardless of the scenario, you need a WiFi antenna that can do a better job than the one that came in the box from the cable company.
While it’s reasonable to assume that a majority of WiFi users will be plopped on their sofas a few feet away from their router, this assumption can be incredibly frustrating for users who frequently move around their wireless source, and who don’t want to feel tethered to their router. Luckily, there exist quite a few affordable long-range WiFi antennas that can boost your signal for miles. For this roundup, we focus on outdoor-capable WiFi antennas so that you can add Internet access to your patio, your guest house, or the back 40. We’ve found five of the best long-range outdoor WiFi antennas on the market.
The Antenna World G2424 looks a little intense to behold, and for good reason. Most WiFi extenders look like little white or black boxes with maybe a cute little rounded antenna; the G2424 looks like you’re building a radio telescope. That’s because the G2424 is a heavy-duty range extender designed to provide point-to-point WiFi service extension at a range of up to eight miles!
A long, narrow beam helps facilitate 24dBi of gain (dBi stands for “decibels relative to isotropic” and is used as an expression of signal gain) and up to full eight miles of added range. The 2.4Ghz grid antenna is compatible with Wi-Fi standards 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n for fast data transfers up to 150 Mbps, and the 5GHz version uses the 802.11n/a/ac/ac2 standards with speeds up to 1.3 GBPS, and that parabolic grid is made of powder-coated cast aluminum, which makes it extraordinarily weather resistant. The horn arm is 14 inches long, and mounting the device on practically anything—from TV antennas, to water pipes, etc.—is incredibly straight-forward.
It’s also easy to adjust the angle of the antenna via a U-bolt mounting system, and connecting the device to your wireless router system is a piece of cake (make sure you purchase a cord that’s long enough, however). Although we could only test the G2424 at a range of two miles (it passed with flying colors), the folks at Antenna World claim that the unit works at ranges of up to eight miles, depending on variables such as terrain, height, obstructions, cable losses, device power, etc. Note that you do need two G2424 units, one at each end of the circuit you want to set up.
Bottom line: This is a powerful, easy-to-use WiFi booster antenna that will hold up under intense weather conditions and won’t break the bank. It’s not intended to provide wide-area service, however – for that, you want one of the antennas listed below.
- Large size
- Somewhat expensive
We’re the first to admit that this antenna isn’t quite as physically impressive and imposing as the G2424, but don’t let its relatively small size fool you. With the ability to transfer data at speeds of up to 300Mbps, 2×2 MIMO technology, and two detachable 5dBi, omnidirectional antennas, this unit packs an impressive punch and full 360-degree coverage. The AC1200 transmits at a more-than-respectable 27dBm and has a simple yet powerful mounting design that makes it perfect for outdoor patios. It also comes with Free Auranet Controller Software that lets administrators easily manage hundreds of EAPs at once. And it’s IP65-Rated, meaning you can rest assured it will withstand harsh weather conditions.
The dual antennas help provide stable wireless coverage at a range of up to 200 meters in outdoor settings such as pools and gardens, and PoE support means a single cable provides both a data connection and electric power to the device. Bottom line: For those potential buyers who are looking for a solid outdoor WiFi antenna for a wide area around their main WiFi base, we recommend checking this unit out.
- Cheaper than our top pick
- IP-65 weather resistance
- Can't be used as a bridge
- Non-standard PoE
If you’re looking for something cheaper than our first two picks but still want a quality, high-gain WiFi antenna, these next few units may be of interest to you. First, we have the TUOSHI N4000 2.4Ghz Outdoor Long Range Wi-Fi Antenna, capable of transferring data at 300Mbps and boasting a frequency range of 2.4 GHz. It has a transmission power of 36 dBm and a maximum range of roughly 328 feet (again, this depends on the specific environment surrounding the antenna).
The N4000’s MIMO and CCA technology improves wireless transfer performance and signal stability, and supports several kinds of encryption so you don’t have to worry about your extended signal being hijacked. We were also quite impressed with the N4000’s ability to withstand large amounts of water being tossed its way. For $39.99, it’s hard to see how you could do better.
- High range
- Somewhat frustrating setup process
- Plastic build
Found within the same price range as the N4000, this Alfa AWUSO36NH unit is a worthy competitor. It supports wireless data encryption with 64/128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, TKIP and AES functions, and can handle data transfer speeds of up to 150 Mbps. Setting up the 2000mw couldn’t be easier, and it also includes a convenient utility for scanning available networks and saving preferred networks that users usually connect to. The 2000mw also has sweeping security features, and a range of around 100 feet. A 5M USB cable is also included (a rarity when it comes to most WiFi antennas and a very much welcome addition indeed).
- USB supported
- Data encryption
- Not weatherproof
- Range could be farther
Next, we come to the Ideaworks Long Range Wi-Fi USB Tower Antenna (83-7183), which takes up a bit more room than the previous two antennas but offers an impressive performance. This IdeaWorks unit prides itself on performing under harsh conditions outdoors, and can connect to hotspots up to 0.5 miles away. A 24 foot USB cable is included for convenience, and it offers a range of nearly 3,000 feet as long as there aren’t too many obstructions present. Our one qualm with this unit is that its installation wasn’t quite as straightforward as that of the other units—requiring a slightly confusing CD to be deciphered. The 83-7183 is also only compatible with PC systems, which is an obvious deal-breaker for Mac fans.
- Works in harsh conditions
- Up to half a mile away
- Confusing installation
- Doesn't work with Mac
Last but far from least is the CC Vector Long-Range WiFi Repeater System. It looks a lot like the NASA-grade G2424 we opened with, but has a different purpose. The CC Vector allows you to piggyback off of a public WiFi installation up to *three miles* from your location, and then acts as a wireless repeater to distribute that signal around your home, office, or other site. (This version of the CC Vector is intended to be mounted on a building; if you need a mobile solution, there is an RV-based CC Vector model available here.) Three miles is the effective maximum range, and would require truly perfect conditions; the company advises that 1200 feet is a more realistic range expectation.
That still means that you could link up with a public WiFi network anywhere from a quarter-mile to a half-mile away from your location, and use that WiFi signal. You could use the Vector to connect a distant outbuilding to your own WiFi network as well, but there are much less expensive options (like the G2424) that do that job equally well.
The 15dBi parabolic antenna increases speed and reduces interference from other WiFi networks, and is connected to the repeater by a 30′ USB cable. The Vector will support up to 150 Mbps on an 802.11n network, and the repeater has two Ethernet ports to connect another router or a PC. At the 1200-foot recommended distance, the Vector can support two devices watching standard-definition video streams or several people surfing the Web. Longer or shorter distances will of course provide lower or higher data rates. If you have a site within a reasonable distance from a public WiFi network, the CC Vector Long-Range WiFi Repeater will let you link to that network and enjoy free Internet in your home or office. It’s not inexpensive, but it will pay for itself pretty quickly.
- Incredible range
- Really expensive
- Large body