A Guide to Wifi for Caravans and Motorhomes
As appealing as a peaceful getaway is, sometimes we just can’t resist a Facebook browse or a Skype call to family. Maybe stream a film from Netflix, BBC iPlayer or order the shopping to be delivered for when you get back. Much of what we do in everyday life now involves connecting to the internet and it’s this demand that is the reason why there are more and more Wifi gadgets appearing for caravans and motorhomes.
But why would you need Wifi for caravans or your motorhome when most people have phones? Well there are a few scenarios that call for better/faster internet:
Reason 1) The first being if you have children. Kids today have been brought up using tablets or iPads and their daily visit to catch up with TikTok is the norm for them. If your kids are younger, watching Peppa Pig or Kids Youtube is not an uncommon way to keep them entertained for a while.
The issues come when you only have minimal data on your phone or when you’ve paid for on site Wifi but this only allows for one device to be connected at a time unless you pay more of course.
There are ways round this though, by using a “Repeater” or “Bridge” device. These devices connect to an existing Wifi network (on-site Wifi) using the single use password and then create a new Wifi access point which multiple devices can connect to.
See two Repeaters/Bridge suggestions below.
HooToo Tripmate Wireless Travel Router
This Wifi “bridge” is a great bit of kit, its battery powered (so it could sit out in your awning for better Wifi reception if need be) and will make its own Wifi access point (bridged from onsite wifi) for you to connect to and you can even charge your phone from it! You can connect up to 10 devices and it also has an app you can download. The unit itself charges from a mini usb standard phone charger and is an all in one solution if you have many devices to connect to Wifi.
This travel sized travel router is tiny in size and has multiple ways to connect to make a Wifi access point “bridging” from a another hotspot. It is dual band as well, 2.4ghz and 5ghz meaning it can supply a fast connection as long as the site wifi is fast. This repeater is mains operated and being made by TP-Link is a good reassurance of quality.
Reason 2) Wifi reception can be another issue, many vans are essentially an aluminium box which is not a good start to try and transmit and receive data through. Site Wifi can be notoriously poor signal wise, the way round this is to fit a signal antenna. These increase the range in which you can receive the Wifi signal which then terminates inside your van with a mini router for you to connect to. If you are on a mobile network that gives you free wifi hotspots round the country you may find you can connect to one of these for free instead of the slower site speeds! See Wifi Antennae suggestions below.
Solwise Patriot RPT3000
With the receiving aerial sitting outside or on top of your van straight away this has an advantage. The main aerial comes complete with brackets and suction cups to stick to the side of your van meaning no holes are being made. The kit includes everything you need including a mini router which is what you would connect your devices to via Wifi. This runs on a mains adapter. The main aerial connects to the 2.4ghz router by cable so this would have to run up under a window rubber or through a locker.
Reason 3) If you are travelling to remote sites or just want to have total flexibility then a “MiFi” 4G Hotspot is what you need. These devices are a battery powered Wifi router that have a phone sim card inside, they connect to the 3G and 4G phone networks which then allows multiple devices to connect to its newly made Wifi “hot spot”. Once they are charged, they can stay active for anywhere between 6 – 12hrs and are very portable due to being the size of a pack of cards.
Some of these units can deliver very high broadband speeds too, anything up to 1Gbps (that’s 1000Mbps)! This is especially fast considering the UK’s average home broadband speed is 54Mbps! It’s a very tempting gadget as site wifi tends to be fine with normal browsing but come later on in the day people like to stream from it, making it incredibly slow and “laggy” at times.
Because they are portable it means they don’t need to always go inside your van and could sit in your awning or on your dashboard to get the best reception. The Huawei E5786 even has aerial inputs on it to give you the ultimate self-sufficient Wifi setup.
Most of these devices are “unlocked” to allow any network sim card to go in it. All of the big-name mobile phone shops do a “data only” sim which you can “pay as you go” or “pay monthly” for. The “3” Networks “Internet with legs” is an especially good sim for pay as you go. The 24GB sim lasts for 24months and then you top up as need be, if you use site Wifi a lot this has got to be worth checking out. See below for Mifi product suggestions.
The M7350 is a low cost Mifi Hotspot that is unlocked to all sim brands. It has 4G connectivity and has a run time of 8hrs on the inbuilt battery if not plugged in. Max download speed is up to 150Mbps and it comes with a 3 year warranty. Click Here.
The Huawei E5785 is smart looking device that has a fantastic 12 hour run time thanks to its 3000mAh battery. It has 4g connectivity and can reach super-fast download speeds of up to 300Mbps. The bonus of this Mifi device is that it has the option to plug in an aerial(s) if you are in a remote spot to gain reception, these are quite cheap to buy. For a suitable aerial Click Here
Netgear AirCard AC797
This hotspot is fast, up to 400Mbps! It has a large 1.8” colour screen and a 2930mAh battery allowing up to 11 hours use. The design is straight forward and clean looking but does not support external aerial connection. As always it is unlocked to accept any sim card of your choice and works on 3G and 4G.
Netgear Nighthawk MR1100
The name of this mobile hotspot sounds like it means business and it does with a whopping up to 1Gbps download speed! The 5040mAh battery inside will easily last a day after its charged and it can have 20 devices connected to it at any one time. It works on 3G and 4G and the large 2.4” colour round screen looks the part giving all the necessary information. No aerial connections on this one.
Aerials for Mifi hotspots (optional) Fits Huawei E5785
Eightwood Mifi 4G Aerial
This Mifi aerial has the twin cable feeds to connect to the 3g and 4G networks. Its literally a case of plugging in the cables to your Mifi and move the aerial around until the signal improves, no extra power required. The aerial also comes with the two common aerial adapters which is handy. Click Here
All in one solution for Wifi in caravans and motorhomes
4G Smart Compact
This is the ultimate Wifi package, it does require the aerial to be permanently fitted to the roof but once that is done its hassle free from there on. The kit comes with a Huawei E5577 Mifi Hotspot and teams it with the 4g Smart Compact aerial which is a sleek looking bit of kit. The E5577 has a 1500maH battery giving 6hrs run time and speeds up to 150Mbps or you can connect the 12v lead (included) and it will run from your van supply indefinitely. There is also an app which you can download (Huawei Hi-link) which gives you all the info on whats connected to the hotspot and what speeds you are getting etc.
The cables are 5m long in this kit which will make fitting it easier and there is also an adaptor plate available if fitting to a panel van with a castellated roof for a perfect fit.
The kit is available here from Outdoorbits.com
Data Sim Cards (required for Mifi hotspots to work)
Three network “Internet with Legs” 24GB Pay As You Go Sim Card
This Sim really stands out due to it’s 24GB of preloaded data that lasts 24 months! It’s ideal if you are not a heavy internet user as you’ve no need to sort wifi out for quite some time and when it does run out you just need to top it up online. The sim card itself is a “trio” style size card which means it fits nano, micro and standard size devices, you just need to press out what size you require, nifty. Works in 71 destinations worldwide.
Three network “Internet with Legs” 12GB Pay As You Go Sim Card
This Sim is exactly the same as above but with 12GB of data use on it and it only lasts for 12months instead of 24.
…..and there you have it! Who’d have thought there were so many variations to having Wifi whilst you are away! I hope you have found this article helpful in some way. CaravanMotorhome.org.
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Please note these are the words and opinion of the author only. Neither the author nor the website can be held responsible for any errors or omissions. You should seek professional assistance if in doubt.