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Antenna Installation Considerations



When installing a wireless LAN antenna several factors must be considered before installation in order to obtain optimal wireless signal connectivity.

Indoor (in building) Wireless Networks

When dealing with the installation and expansion of indoor wireless networks several factors must be considered. Most manufacturers of wireless access points and routers indicate a typical range that their equipment can provide. Usually these range estimates require line of sight which means you will need a clear unobstructed view of the antenna from the remote point in the link. In most cases there will be obstacles present in an indoor installation that could affect performance.

Signals generally will not penetrate metal or concrete walls. Other factors that will reduce range and affect coverage area include metal studs in walls, concrete fiberboard walls, aluminum siding, foil-backed insulation in the walls or under the siding, pipes and electrical wiring, furniture and sources of interference. Other sources include other wireless equipment, cordless phones, microwave ovens, radio transmitters and other electrical equipment. Due to the increased gain, installing range extender antennas in the presence of interference could actually yield equal or worse range.

In wireless transmissions, reflections (when wireless signals “bounce” off objects) and multipath (when wireless signals travel in multiple paths arriving at the receiver at different times) are as important as signal strength in determining the success of an installation. A signal will also exhibit peaks and nulls in its amplitude and alteration of its polarization (vertical or horizontal) when propagating through walls, ceilings and reflecting off metallic objects.

Wireless radios have special hardware and software to deal with multipath and signal level nulls, but if the antenna is in a poor location, the radio will not be able to communicate. When trying to get the best performance in a location with a lot of barriers or reflections, it is important to be able to move the antenna in all three axes in order to minimize the effects of multipath and optimize the signal strength.