How To Boost Your RV Park WiFi Signal
Internet access… it’s hard to live without it! Whether through your smartphone, tablet, or computer, 99% of us want better connectivity. We use it for email, Zoom meetings for work, or just Facetiming with the grandkids. For something that we personally consider a utility, a good internet connection can often be hard to come by.
WiFi is usually the best, most affordable way to achieve Internet access from your devices. Who wants to leave the comfort of the RV to go to a coffee shop and sit with strangers, all the while getting dirty looks from the staff because you ordered one small coffee just to sit there for two hours tying up space?
When you connect to a WiFi, whether in a campground or said coffee shop, there are two primary components:
- Your connection to the WiFi
- Their connection to the internet
You can have the strongest possible connection to the WiFi, but the internet behind it may be sorely lacking. Be sure to not confuse your ability to connect and the strength of that connection with the campground’s primary underlying internet connection. You can have a strong connection and slow speeds, or a weak connection but fast speeds.
All the other RVers connected to the system are sharing the foundational Internet connection. There is only so much bandwidth to share amongst all the users, and the more users streaming Netflix and Hulu, the slower your connection will be, even if it’s a strong signal.
RV park internet speeds
Before you book, be sure to determine if the campground offers WiFi at all. Many do, but just as many don’t have it available. Always check RV LIFE Campgrounds and the RV LIFE App to see what visitors report for speeds. (And if you’re going to rely on your own cell service, be sure to also check the breakdown of reported speeds by provider.)
When an RV park does offer WiFi, be aware that it can sometimes cost an additional fee, but not usually. They may also offer an upcharge to get faster speeds or more download allocation. This kind of service involves more specialized hardware and software in the office, and you will pay for these features, if not directly, then indirectly in an increased price for the stay.
WiFi signal strength
In the campground we’re currently in, the park is split into two sections. Our section has 42 spaces. There are six WiFi repeater poles in this area! That is an excellent number and ensures that each RV can achieve a strong signal.
Having tested the connection, it is indeed quite strong. Unfortunately, even though the campground isn’t full, the speed isn’t that great behind the scenes, but we are in a bit of a rural location outside of town.
Improving your WiFi signal
Be closer to the router
The first, best option is simply to park nearer to the WiFi router or repeater. Obviously, this is rarely an option with RV spots being assigned by the office. However, you can request it, and the campground will know their layout. Perhaps you are working fulltime from the rig; express your needs and see how they might accommodate you.
Use a good antenna
Depending on your devices, adding a MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) antenna could vastly improve your connection quality. If you have your own WiFi router in your rig (so that you only have to connect to that one, instead of changing all your devices), you may be able to connect an external antenna.
Always try to place the antenna outside of the rig, and run wires through a window or sealed roof access. Having it outside of the rig ensures that the materials comprising your walls and roof do not impede the signal and will always be an improvement. Remember, WiFi connectivity isn’t just about receiving but also transmitting.
MIMO antennas come in two basic styles: flat window- or wall-mounted types with just two cables to connect to a device, and larger antennas that can support 6 or more internal antennas and are more permanently mounted. The multiple antennas support different types of connections such as WiFi, cellular service, and more.
Keep devices away from other electronics
Being close to a running microwave, TV, cordless phones, and/or speakers can cause signal degradation.
Use a WiFi booster
There are several excellent devices on the market that can strengthen a WiFi signal. These WiFi boosters work by amplifying available signals and rebroadcasting them.
There is a downside, though; an amplified signal means more noise. Think about how turning up your music to a high volume certainly makes the music more audible, but at the same time, it will “peak” the speakers and cause vibration. Any amplified signal will cause the same, digitally, but it could be good enough to help your connection.
Bonus tip: If you have a WiFi booster, consider turning it off. Sometimes the WiFi signal can be improved by not attempting to amplify it!
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