Antenna Fundamentals - Environmental Factors

Antenna Fundamentals - Environmental Factors

When installing antennas we all want to achieve the best possible signal, after all that’s what we are using them for! However, many factors take hold and get in the way of the signal ruining your chances of getting the best possible signal. In this blog post I aim to help you get an understanding of environmental factors that can impact the performance and things you can do to mitigate the negative impact of these.

Now this might seem like such an obvious point but one of the biggest impacts on signal strength is physical obstructions such as hills, buildings and even people! And in a real-world scenario you will never be able to avoid these, there will most likely always be something in the way however, we can take measures to reduce the number of obstructions. For example, if we have a router in the middle of a shared office space instead of directly attaching the antenna to the router and having the signal penetrate through the building, we can use some low loss cable and mount the antennas near an exterior wall, or even better use an external antenna (ensure it is IP rated to cope with weather conditions) and mount it outside. This relatively simple step will drastically increase the signal strength you receive as you are removing a massive obstacle of all the walls and fluctuating amounts of people moving through the space. Another method is utilizing specific frequencies that are available, as a rule lower frequency has a better penetration characteristic however the higher the frequency the better the reflective capabilities are, so in some situations reflecting a signal to a receiver may provide better result than trying to have the signal penetrate through a building.

Another issue could simply be poor network coverage! This is surprisingly common for the modern day that some areas just do not receive good coverage, I am sure you all know of a spot near to where you live that you lose all or get limited phone reception. Now this issue is difficult to overcome as some areas will be complete “dark zones” that you won’t get reception no matter how many antennas you use however, in some areas where you do get a signal but its weak and drops in and out a lot we can improve. In this scenario again moving the antenna away from any obstacles will help however it would also be worth using a directional antenna, this style of antenna focusses on receiving a signal from a specific direction and because of this it can pickup signal from further away which will help provide a stronger more reliable connection. Although please keep in mind this style of antenna will not be suitable if you move about a lot as the antenna will require adjusting every time you stop in a new location.

Last point I will cover for environmental factors in this blog will apply for those of you who are thinking of installing some equipment in a factory environment, maybe to get cellular backup to a vital piece of equipment that needs to send data otherwise it could end up taking the entire factory down for hours whilst it is repaired. In this environment you want to avoid mounting antennas directly to large metal beams as these will act as a grounding element and absorb a lot of the signal strength reducing the antennas effectiveness. As well you want to avoid installing antennas near transformers or similar devices that produce large electromagnetic fields, as these fields will interfere with the signal and reduce the antennas effectiveness.

We hope this blog has helped give a surface level understanding and should you have any questions or requirements please contact us on +44 (0) 1270 615 999 or sales@gatewaycando.com