4 Tips for Outdoor Wireless Installations
How to get the best performance from wireless access points (WAP) installed outside
February 22, 2010 by Julie Jacobson

You know you want it: the ability to sit by the pool while pretending you’re at work? To do that, you’ll want to locate a wireless access point (WAP) outside of the home.

A WAP allows wireless devices – such as printers, cameras and computers - to connect to a network, usually via WiFi (802.11). Doesn’t a wireless router do that? Indeed, wireless routers have WAPs built in, but you can spread additional WAPs throughout the house to extend the network’s reach. A WAP typically connects to the network via Ethernet cable.

Nick Phillips of Pakedge, which makes outdoor networking devices (and has a great logo!), provides these tips:

  • Try not to mount the WAP on exterior walls, as chicken wire and other wall materials can degrade the signal.
  • Using a WAP with power over Ethernet (POE) means you don’t have to run an extra wire for power. But you may not get the same range of products powered the old fashioned way.
  • It may seem appealing to mount a WAP on your roof, but you might have a tough time getting to the reset button if you need it.
  • The IP (International Protection) Rating, tells you how weatherproof your outdoor product really is. Phillips recommends a rating of 67 for exposed WAPs.

What happens to a wireless link when it rains?
According to Cisco, nothing happens.

It is a common misconception that environmental factors such as rain, sleet, or snow can bring down a wireless link. Even at torrential rainfall rates experienced in the stormiest of locations, the wireless signal is negligibly degraded at the frequencies where 802.11 wireless devices operate.

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Julie Jacobson - Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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