Boost Your RV WiFi Signal – Installing a WiFiRanger Elite Pack

TheRVgeeks Installation, Mobile Connectivity, Updates & Upgrades 43 Comments

In case you missed Sunday’s sneak preview of our WiFiRanger installation video…

Anyone who’s stayed in an RV park offering “WiFi” can tell you that most of them… oh, how shall we say this delicately?… uh… suck. Yeah, that’s probably the most polite way to describe RV park WiFi.

UPDATE ON OUR WiFiRANGER:

Check out our follow-up video showing us in a location where we wouldn’t have been online without using our WiFiRanger.

WiFiRANGER UPDATE #2 — July 19, 2016:

Our friends Nina & Paul of Wheeling It have just published a great post about installing and using their WiFi Ranger Elite. If you’d like to read the installation instructions rather than watch our video version, plus get their review of the system’s pros & cons, check it out here.

There’s no easy solution to having too many people vying for too little bandwidth. Besides the challenge that remote parks face when internet speed options are limited, most parks don’t have equipment that’s robust enough to handle so many users at once. Enterprise-class, commercial-grade equipment is very expensive, so most park owners either can’t or won’t spring for it, or simply aren’t aware that standard consumer-grade systems are simply not up to the task at hand.

There is something you can do to overcome one weak link in the chain: boost your connection to whatever signal is available. If you’re parked in the far corner of the park, your laptop, tablet or smartphone may not be powerful enough to reach a transmitter. That’s where WiFiRanger comes in.

The external antenna connects to a WiFiRanger Go2 unit inside our electronics cabinet, amplifying and re-broadcasting our own personal hotspot in and around our motorhome. This not only helps boost weak RV park WiFi, but can also reach out to snag other nearby hotspots. We can be staying in a Wal-mart parking lot and get onto a Starbucks or McDonald’s network down the street.

This video reviews our installation of the WiFiRanger Elite Pack, which includes both the external antenna and the WiFiRanger Go2 unit. Your installation may be different, but this will give you some idea of what’s involved. And there are lots of different options from WiFiRanger, so be sure to visit their website to determine which system is right for you.

If you’re interested in learning more about these great systems, be sure to watch our live broadcast from Vancouver, BC on Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 2pm Pacific Time. We’ll be teaming up with our friends Cherie & Chris of Technomadia for a live Q&A all about this topic. Complete details here:

http://www.technomadia.com/video/

Immediately after the WiFiRanger broadcast, the second show at 3:30pm (PDT), covering the topic of closing up an RV before traveling without it, is free and open to the public. The WiFiRanger livecast is exclusive content, available only to Mobile Internet Aficionados members. To join us, sign up for the “MIA” level plan. Save $5 off your initial annual membership by using the discount code “MIAGEEKS” at:

http://www.rvmobileinternet.com/membership/

To learn all about staying connected on the road, purchase Technomadia’s Mobile Internet Handbook.




Explore WiFiRanger’s wide array of internet range extenders:

  • WiFiRanger (use code “WFRGEEKS” at checkout for a 5% discount!)

Related items, available on Amazon:




We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We sometimes receive products for evaluation at no cost, but our opinions are our own and we only feature products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence. The RVgeeks participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


Comments 43

  1. Pingback: Easy RV Mod -> Better WiFi & Internet Control With The WiFiRanger Elite Pack – Wheeling It

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    We’ll try to get that video together sometime soon. In the meantime, you’ve inadvertently answered you’re own question regarding power. Everything on an RV is powered by either 12 volts DC or 120 volts AC. Our whole media/communications system runs off 120. How you get that 120 is kind of irrelevant, as shore power, inverter (fed by the house batteries), or generator power is all the same. The only device in that cabinet capable of being powered by either 110 or 12 volts is actually the WiFi Ranger, but we keep it on 120.

  3. OK I have to know if you’ve done a video on your computer gear/NAS that shows up in this video at 6:30. Looks like a QNAP and maybe an Apple router? Been trying to figure out what similar gear we’ll be able to get working in our Airstream. Thanks!

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      Hi Dave! That is indeed a QNAP NAS system (6-bay unit with 24 TB of RAID 5 storage!) and a new Apple Airport Extreme 802.11ac router. That cabinet also features a WiFi Ranger Go2, Apple TV, Roku, Obi-110 VOIP ATA device, 5-port ethernet bridge, a 3-port HDMI switch… with protection from a small UPS system. :)

      We’ve been meaning to do a video about our compact-but-massive redundant file storage system, and our connectivity, all of which has been assembled over the last couple of years. Sounds like we’ll need to get that going!

      1. Yes please do! It’d be great video. Would also love to know how this gear connects with the electrical system since sometimes you’re on shore power and sometimes it’d be power through the inverter when you’re boondocking. Thanks!

      2. Hey guys,

        You mention that you’ve got the WIFIRanger Go2, and the Apple Airport Extreme, are you using the Extreme as you’re primary router and the Go2 in some sort of Bridge mode? Is the Go2 required for the Antenna, or can the Antenna connect directly to your Extreme?

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          Hey Craig. We use the Go2 so that we can tether our phone/MiFi unit into the WiFiRanger network via USB. If you don’t need that feature, the Elite could be used on its own and could be connected via Ethernet to the WAN port on the AirPort Extreme. Hope this helps.

  4. Great video once again! I have my WiFi Ranger Elite Pack and am anxious to get it installed on my Raptor Toy Hauler and was kind of curious as to how many have experienced interference if mounted on the batwing and someone is watching TV at the same time as trying to access wifi? I want to get this installed, but I want to make sure I do the right thing and install the best way the first time! I do have a foldable ladder on the rear of my TH and thought that may be a great alternate installation point, but of course the cable routing will be much different depending on which install I choose. One more question, the cover you resealed on your video is that just covering a hole in your roof or is that covering some sort of junction box? If I use the batwing I will have to go through the roof, if I use the ladder I’m pretty close to the fridge vent.

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      Hi Dave,

      We don’t use our batwing for over-the-air (OTA) TV reception, but we’ve never heard of anyone having a problem with interference between it and a WiFiRanger (they operate on different frequencies). That said, we did make sure to install ours so the WFR antenna sticks up above the batwing, so it had the best “view” all around. If you decide to mount your WFR there, you should be fine… whether or not anyone’s watching TV while you’re surfing the web.

      We’re leery of poking any new holes in our roof… so if we were you, we’d probably use the refrigerator vent to route the cabling through. But you’ll have to decide if that works for you for locating the Go2 unit and power supply inside the RV. Every installation is unique (isn’t that helpful, LOL!). If you DO end up making a new hole for the wiring, just be sure to (1) measure twice, cut once… and (2) seal it up well! We’ve heard of using a weather-proof junction box mounted to the roof, so you can seal it up tightly, route additional cables in the future, AND get access to the connection(s) if needed.

      The cover you see us using is one that came from the factory… it provides access from the roof to the conduit for satellite antenna cabling. There isn’t any junction box inside… just some insulation and the end of the conduit that leads to the front entertainment cabinet in our floorplan.

      Hope this helps! And hope you enjoy your WiFiRanger as much as we like ours!

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  5. I did go about 50′ from the WiFi antenna and the connection was much faster. I did a couple of different speed tests and the speed was double to triple what I received from in the MH. So….. it seems that at least in this situation the WifiRanger would help. Not so sure about my next stop in Miami.

    Thanks,

    Roger

  6. Michael,

    Appreciate the comments. I agree in my conversations with WifiRanger they seem pretty easy to work with. Nice to know they will work with me of the unit doesn’t work out.

    Thanks,

    Roger

  7. Thanks very much for the excellent reply. The Florida park we are in now ( county owned, but decent) has a wifi system that we connect to with our Mac’s. But the signal just doesn’t allow for any speed whatsoever. On the wifi test last evening we registered 1.34 to 1.65 Mbps. Terrible!! We wait for pages and to send e-mails. We supplement with a T-Mobile which allows us to use our SlingTV without any data usage charges.

    We have clear line of site to the park antenna, but the signal just isn’t that strong. Sometimes, though, it works better than at other times. Where we’re headed to in Miami has had free wifi also, but we can’t reach a signal at all. If we move close to the antenna, then we get a good signal, but that’s direct line of site at about 2-300′. If we did a WifiRanger down there we would maybe to get it up above the trees similar to the way you all did yours or even higher like on a portable Flag pole for example.

    Where we spend the summers we have cable, aaahhhh so sweet getting 60+ Mbps! so the WifeRanger would only be on use for 5-6 months a year.

    I plan to wait until I get to Miami to make the final decision based on if they have done any improvements to their wifi system and how high I would have to get the unit.

    BTW we love your video’s. We’ve been full timing since 2000. But now we travel a little less and spend more time in the two place in Florida and at our summer place in northern WI.

    Thanks for your reply it was very good, gives more to think about and makes the decision a little harder,LOL.

    Roger

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      Roger,

      Glad to help out. It’s a complicated subject and we understand wanting to be sure something’s going to work for you before plunking down a wad of cash! ;) And we know how you feel about going from a hard-wired, cable connection to being on the road using cellular & WiFi: where we spend a lot of our summer we have cable internet… and boy is it fast! Very addictive!

      In the county park you’re in now, with the slow connection, if you move your laptops closer to the tower, does the speed get any better? Is there ANYWHERE in the park that has faster speeds? If the answer is “No!” to those questions, then there isn’t a device on the market that will help you. They just have a bad internet connection and there’s not much you can do about that (other than to up the data allotment on your cell plan and just be careful with your usage, LOL!).

      And same would hold with the Miami park. From what you’re saying, if you get closer to an access point, the speed of the service is acceptable. But you’re parked too far away for your laptops to connect very well. THAT’S the perfect scenario for a WiFiRanger to help out. It’s a more powerful unit with a better antenna… and getting it OUTSIDE of the walls of your RV means it can reach much further.

      Unfortunately, only you can decide if it will be worth your investment based on where you try to connect.

      Best of luck!

    2. Roger, I was going to stay out of this conversation because the RVGeeks are the experts. :)

      But I thought I’d throw my two cents in since you were concerned about the investment – I had the need for using the WifiRanger in just one RV park last summer and the park’s equipment ended up not being suitable for connecting to. The tech support offered by the company selling WifiRanger were awesome and when the unit ultimately couldn’t get me the results I wanted they were very quick to provide a full refund.

      They take all the risk out of wanting to test the product. I felt the potential benefit of grabbing the RV park wifi signal was worth the test. At least that was my experience.

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        Thanks so much for jumping in, Michael! It’s great to hear form others that WiFi Ranger is as good a company as we thought. And honestly, Technomadia are the REAL experts on this topic. :)

  8. We are considering getting a WifiRanger for our coach. I know you’ve had yours for sometime now and was wondering what your thoughts are now? Is there anything you would change? Is it working as you had expected? It’s expensive purchase for us so we are trying to do our home work.

    Thanks,

    Roger

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      Hi Roger,

      The short answer to your question is that we really like our WiFiRanger. It is working great for us, but we may have some different needs/wants that make it a worthwhile investment for us, but not for you. It depends on your needs… and expectations.

      Many people think that a WiFiRanger (or similar device) will be a panacea for all of their “getting-online-woes” while on the road. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. But it’s not due to any fault of the WiFiRanger itself. There are many variables involved with having a good internet experience using WiFi. The ability to connect to, and maintain that connection to, an Access Point is one of those variables. That is the primary function of the WiFiRanger… and it works well for that. But, there are other factors to the system you are connecting to that have as much, if not MORE, impact on your overall experience once you DO connect. Like how many access points are there in the park, how heavily loaded are they, how many other users are currently online, what are they all doing (watching Netflix?!?!) and perhaps most important: how good is the park’s internet connection itself?

      The last park we were at (a county park) had weak WiFi signal. Our laptops could see it, but connecting to it was spotty. And our iPhone & iPad couldn’t see the network at all. So we cranked up and turned on the WiFiRanger and it connected without a hitch. AND, the internet service that the park had was stellar! Pages loaded quickly, email came and went in a flash, and we were thrilled. The park was even quite full… and we saw more than one WiFiRanger (or similar) antennas on neighbors roofs, so we knew we weren’t the only ones online. ;)

      At our current location (a private RV Park with a commercial, name-brand WiFi system), we have the same issue: WiFi signal is a bit weak for all our devices to get online, but the WiFiRanger has no problem connecting. The difference is that their internet connection here (or other equipment somewhere along the route from us to Google) is bad. Pages take forever to load… often require multiple refreshes to get the whole thing to come in. Email takes forever. It’s bad. But the problems with their system aren’t anything that the WiFiRanger can fix. It’s doing it’s job with aplomb… getting and maintaining a strong signal to their network. Their network just sucks.

      Even better, we just recently spent the night in a Walmart parking lot and the Walmart had free WiFi! Since the standard parking location when stopping at Walmart is as far away from the store as possible, without the WiFiRanger we wouldn’t have been online without using cellular data!

      Since we have the WiFiRanger Elite pack, we also have a Go2 unit inside. That enables us to connect several hardwired devices into the network and allow them access to the internet: a network attached storage (NAS) drive, a Roku and an Apple TV (and, yes, the Roku and AppleTV COULD connect via WiFi, but we have the ability to hardwire them, so why not?). But it also allows us to connect our Verizon MiFi cellular modem using a USB cable and then share the cellular connection with all of our devices in the RV. Which we’re doing right now. And the nice part, for us, is that we can just leave all of our devices connected to the same WiFi network at all times. We just use the WiFiRanger to determine which internet connection to use… and then everything in the RV is online. You can even configure the system to have a prioritized order of internet connections so that it will either fail over to the next available service if one fails (or slows down too much) OR load-share across all available connections to reduce usage on any one connection (i.e. cellular data) and to speed up your overall browsing experience. It’s your choice.

      Are there other devices out there that are less expensive? Sure there are. But most of them are single-purpose devices/systems that don’t offer all of the features that we need/want. Prior to our WiFiRanger, we used a Ubiquity Networks device to improve our connection to WiFi networks in RV parks. But it was cumbersome to use (it wasn’t designed to be as easy to manage, so changing network connections every couple of days was a PITA) and didn’t provide any of the other functions we find useful with the WiFiRanger.

      If you’re not sure if the WiFiRanger is worth it for you, keep in mind a couple of things:

      1. They do now offer lower-cost options like the SkyRanger, so you don’t have to go for the top-of-the-line system
      2. You don’t have to get the kit (with the Go2 unit) if you don’t need to share your cellular network and/or if you don’t have hardwired devices you need to connect to the system

      You may also want to check out what Chris & Cherie of Technomadia have to say about their Mobile Internet Arsenal. They’re the gurus when it comes to this stuff!

      Hope this isn’t all too overwhelming! LOL!

  9. I see in the video that you changed out you radio antennae’s!
    What type or brand of antennae did you go too?
    I am thinking of doing the same thing with my Mountain Aire!

    Thanks again!

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  10. Thanks guys!
    I just went out and started to the initial work to put the same set up on my coach. And it happens to be the most awesome coach out there, 2006 Mountain Aire! Just had to put that in my comment because we have the same coach.

    I went through my GPS antennae access that was just in front on the TV antennae. I went right over the front TV. I only need about 12 feet of wire to reach the same area where you put the modem.

    Thanks again!

  11. I bought a JEFA wifi booster only to learn from the manufacture that it doesn’t actually boost the signal from my computer to the internet. It only allows me to acquire a weak signal and tie into it. It does not strengthen the signal from the campground’s antenna back to the internet. So if it’s slow service then it remains slow service – I’m just able to use the signal. I hope I’ve explained this correctly, but the unit I bought at JEFA doesn’t speed up the campgrounds wifi but only allows me to grab onto it.

    Am I correct in this – as that is what I understood the manufacture to say. Any thing I can do to improve this setup?

    Or what does it take to have decent wifi service in a campground?

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      You are correct. Boiling it down to its simplest terms, there are two major components to being connected via WiFi:

      1. Your ability to connect wirelessly between your device (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc) and the park’s antenna(s)
      2. The park’s connection to the internet (via cable internet, DSL, satellite internet, etc).

      There are lots of devices on the market (the WiFiRanger being one of them) that enhance the first “leg” of the connection, letting you connect to distant networks that your devices wouldn’t be able to connect to on their own AND providing a stronger WiFi connection in all situations.

      But there is no device on the market that can possibly have any effect on the second part: the speed of an RV park’s internet connection itself. If they have a slow connection, it’ll be slow for everyone on the network… regardless of how strongly they are connected to the WiFi. All of the available “boosters” are designed merely to overcome weak wireless signal between an access point (the park’s WiFi antenna) and your devices (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc).

  12. As expected, another great video guys! Just learning how to use Eternabond to adhere a cable to the roof was a delight. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy the education you provide!

  13. Hi Guys,

    When I saw how you routed the wire I wonder if piching it between the plate and roof will cause issues down the road.

    Drew

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      Hi Drew. Even though the plate appears flat, it is slightly curved upward in the center where the cable comes out, so not pinched too hard. The multiple coaxial cables for our satellite dish were in there for 7 years and had no problem, so we’re expecting the same here. Because everything is held so firmly in place with the screws and Dicor, there’s no movement, so no abrasion. We’ll keep an eye on it and report any problems.

  14. I noticed viewing the latest video on wifi you mentioned that you removed your satellite dish and I was just about to ask you guys if you had a recommended Satellite dish set up, what do you all use to watch TV, or do you….?

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      Hi Russ. While the dish we removed did indeed receive TV, its primary purpose was internet access. The reason we ditched it was because satellite internet has gone a bit the way of the dinosaur (companies going out of business / no longer supporting it / faster cellular signal with better plans, etc). We don’t actually have a recommendation on satellite TV service because we’ve never owned a TV-only dish. The little bit of TV we do watch is all done on-demand online when good bandwidth is available. You might want to check the iRV2 forums to see what people are recommending for satellite TV these days (it’s free to join and post questions: http://irv2.com/forums).

  15. Curious if you or your readers have had much experience using the Wifi Elite? I’m literally packing mine up and returning this week but saw this and thought I’d get some feedback.

    Essentially I’m 400 feet (measured) from the wifi source in a Thousand Trails park and I figured that was well within the 2 mile radius (yes, I realize that’s under optimal conditions) the manufacturer claims can be obtained.

    Besides other RVs the only thing between the Elite antenna and the wifi source is a bunch of pine trees.

    Most days I can’t even see the wifi signal when I scan for it and on the days I can see it the signal is so weak I can’t get a connection.

    What’s really frustrating is that my smartphone can hold the same wifi connection at least half way back to the trailer.

    All that to say I was hopeful the Elite would be able to obtain a wifi connection. But no dice.

    I know the wifi spot is good because when I work at the location I can use all my wifi hogging software without an issue.

    The manufacturer has been great with telephone support but hasn’t really offered any commentary on why I can’t get a signal that’s only 400 feet away. From what I’m experiencing it would almost seem as though any obstruction at all (which will exist in most situations) and the signal won’t get through.

    Have you had similar experience with the equipment?

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      Hi Mike,

      Sorry to hear about your experience. We haven’t had our WiFiRanger installed long enough, yet, to have been in any circumstances similar to yours… so we can’t speak directly to whether or not it has worked for us under those conditions. PRIOR to having the WiFiRanger though, we had PLENTY of (bad) experiences in similar situations… and can definitely say that treed environments are a nightmare for WiFi signal. And since there are so many factors at play in the range and usability of any RF signals (transmitter power, antenna gain, shape of the signal, etc), it’s always hard to say what is at fault.

      We’re planning a follow-up video in the future to go over our our experience(s) with the system, once we have more of them to report on.

      Maybe others will chime in with their experiences?

      1. Thanks for the feedback.

        And I’m certainly not upset with the equipment or the company. I went into this understanding the technical difficulties you outlined.

        I was just hopeful it would work. :)

        I’ve gone back to upping the Verizon data package but the cost of that over the next three months (the duration of my current trailer stay) was going to just about equate to the cost of the Elite so I figured I’d give it a try.

        And thanks for not suggesting I move the trailer. :)

    2. Hi Mike –

      It sounds like the problem at your location may be the campground’s WiFi access point.

      Some campgrounds use low power consumer grade hotspots that are intended for use in a small house or apartment, not providing outdoor service to a wide area. Talking to such an under-powered access point, the WiFi Ranger can’t work miracles.

      A WiFi Ranger’s high-powered radio works best when talking to another high-power radio.

      You should ask what kind of access point the campground has, and maybe suggest they upgrade it.

      Your only other alternative might be a directional WiFi antenna, like on a Ubiquiti NanoStation.

      But in general – we often find that it is just easier to pay for more cellular data.

      Good luck!

      – Chris // http://www.technomadia.com

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  16. Great detailed post as usual guys! Glad to see you are now among the boosted. :) Now, what I really want to know is when we move to a boat, will you come help with all of our installs? We can help you add a “how not to” video to your channel just to change things up. :)

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  17. WiFiRanger Elite Pack be aware that turning on the power TV antenna MIGHT interfere with the range extender.. I know that it scrambles my XM radio signal

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