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How to Establish an Outdoor Wi-Fi Network

How to Establish an Outdoor Wi-Fi Network

Jay Brant • Mar 27, 2024 •

Wi-fi isn’t just for the home and the office — it’s also for outdoor spaces. But to establish a professional-grade Wi-Fi network outdoors, you need to use wireless access points with specific features that are different from the standard access point used in offices. And you certainly need something better than your home Wi-Fi router.

In this blog, we explain the difference between outdoor access points and indoor access points, and what features you should look for when shopping for outdoor Wi-Fi access points.

A quick note: Wi-fi access points are also known as wireless access points, wireless APs, Wi-Fi APs, WAPs, and so on. Tech people: we love our terminology. (Sorry.)

Let’s get into it.

Grandstream GWN7664LR Wi-Fi Access Point

Grandstream GWN7664LR Wi-Fi Access Point

What’s the Difference Between Outdoor Wi-Fi Access Points and Indoor Wi-Fi Access Points?

What differentiates outdoor wireless access points from indoor wireless access points? The two types are very similar, but there are two major differences between outdoor WAPs and indoor WAPs:

  1. Long-range coverage. Compared with most indoor spaces like offices, outdoor spaces will be larger, less densely populated, and have fewer obstructions. Outdoor access points thus need long-range coverage to cover more space from fewer APs. For example, a single Grandstream GWN7660LR can cover up to 820 feet.
  2. Weatherproof construction. Indoor WAPs aren’t built to withstand harsh temperature fluctuations, rain, and other environmental conditions. Outdoor WAPs need to be weatherproof. For example, GWN7660LR is IP66-rated against dust and water ingress and has an extended operating temperature range of -22°F to 140°F.
    1. Grandstream GWN7660LR Wi-Fi Access Point

      Grandstream GWN7660LR Wi-Fi Access Point

      Features to Look For in Wi-Fi Access Points

      Besides the intrinsic differences between the two types of access points, there are specific features that are very important to look for when trying to find the best Wi-Fi access point for your installation.

      You’ll want to look for support for many simultaneous clients. Because outdoor spaces are larger, the same number of access points will have to cover more space, so, in case there are a lot of people like at a festival, you’ll want each access point to handle many devices. For example, Grandstream GWN7664LR, a long-range outdoor-rated Wi-Fi access point, supports 750+ concurrent clients, which is more than the typical AP.

      Building on this point, support for MIMO or MU-MIMO is highly desirable. We’re not going to get into exactly what these technologies are, but the takeaway is this: they make wireless connectivity much more stable when many people are using the same access point by making data streams more efficient. If you’d like to know more, check out our blog, “802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi? MU-MIMO? An Explainer.”

      Power Over Ethernet (PoE) support is essential. PoE means you can drive power to a device through the Ethernet cable that connects the access point to your network. There’s a really good chance that there won’t be a power outlet near the outdoor WAP. Ethernet cables are simple to run over long distances. Keep in mind, though, that PoE has a limit of 100 meters (328 feet), so you might need a PoE extender if your Wi-Fi access points are really far from their power source. We cover PoE in detail in our blog, “The Ultimate Guide to Using PoE (Power Over Ethernet) to Power IP Devices.”

      Security is, of course, very important to consider as well — and because outdoor access points are more public than indoor ones, you’ll want first-class security features. By this we don’t just mean top-of-the-line encryption like WPA3, but also advanced security features like GWN7664LR offers, including Rogue AP protection and ARP Attack Defense. Trying to build a professional outdoor Wi-Fi network? Get in touch! Our friendly experts are here to help.