You've decided on what gear you'll use for enhancing your signals for WiFi and/or cellular, but now you have to install them. One of the trickier components is how to install the needed antennas on your roof so that they are secure, unobtrusive, not too tall and weatherproof.
There are many approaches and considerations to installing antennas on an RV roof, and this subject is covered in more detail in the 'Antennas and Installation' chapter of The Mobile Internet Handbook, authored by Jack Mayer.
Recently we were visiting with Peter & John of the popular DIY RV YouTube channel - RVGeeks. They had just put out a video about installing their WiFiRanger Elite on their Class A Motorhome's roof (we highly recommend watching it, especially if you're considering such an install yourself.)
They graciously agreed to join us on camera to share some more tips and tricks for installing antennas on RV Roofs.
This video guide goes through three main topics:
This in-depth guide was first released as an exclusive offering for our premium members.
If you are a member, please log in below view/leave comments.
Not a member yet? All of our free public content is funded by our members & readers - and as a extra perk for their support, they get first access to new content.
You can learn more about joining our premium membership group - Mobile Internet Aficionados to get first access to in-depth reports like this one, product reviews, newsletters, private Q&A forums, interactive video sessions, and more.
The video above was taken from our live Mobile Internet Aficionados video event, and is the presentation only portion of the broadcast:
Our MIA members also have access to the archive of the full presentation, which included about 30 minutes of extra content from the follow-on Q&A session (members, check the Video Archive section for that.)
As a quick summary of the content in the video, here are the considerations that need to be made when approaching installing antennas on your RV's roof:
Antenna Placement Considerations:
- Type of RV - There are different considerations for motorhomes versus towables
- Length of the RV - The longer the RV the more mounting options, and more considerations for routing cables.
- Construction Type - A metal roofed RV has a built in ground plane, whereas a fiberglass or rubber roof will need to have one built in for many cellular antennas.
- Mounting Options - Do you have a batwing antenna, ladder or racks to attach an antenna to? Does a pole make sense for your installation?
- Cable Routing Options - Do you have existing holes to route through, conduits or other options?
- Antenna Type - Cellular or WiFi, Directional or Omni-Directional, how tall is the antenna? How much separation do you need to get between the interior and exterior cellular antennas in a booster setup?
- Your type of travel style - How often do you move? What kind of places do you stay?
- Obstacles on the Roof - Try to have at least a couple inches of space between different antennas. Avoid having omni directional antennas hidden behind obstacles that can block your signal (like air conditioners). And if you have solar panels on your roof, be careful with antenna placement to not cast shadows on the panels.
Routing Cables to the Interior
- Designate a Tech Cabinet - First know where you are routing to. We recommend putting aside a cabinet where all your interior gear goes (routers, boosters, MiFis, etc.). Figure out your best path to that cabinet from your roof for cables to be routed. For more: Our Guide to Tech Cabinets.
- Plan How You Are Getting Cables Inside - Drilling a new hole should be a last resort.
- Conduit pre-installed during build is the most optimal option, as is running conduit later. This allows for maximum flexibility to switch out equipment later. Conduit should be at a minimum 1" thick, 2" is even better to run multiple cables and their connectors.
- Use existing vents - like fridge vents, bathroom vents, plumbing vent stacks or other existing openings.
- For a temp install - run cable out the window first to make sure equipment is working before installing.
- Going through the slides - be extra careful going through the side of a slide - this can disrupt the seals and cause pinched cables as slides move.
- Use extreme caution if you need to drill a hole - know where cabling is, ducts, support structures and other things you might damage. If you can, consult wiring and build diagrams of your RV. And then make sure you waterproof the hole to avoid water damage. Dicor is your friend to waterproof holes.
Securing the Installation
- Cables should be secured - Lose cables are subject to getting caught in tree limbs or other obstacles as you drive. Either route through conduits, use Eternabond Tape (caution: VERY permanent install) or use puddles of Dicor.
- Use Stainless Steel Attachments - Use screws and attachments that will not corrode.
Related Gear Mentioned:
Ready for more?
Check out the course at:
Is internet essential to your mobile lifestyle?
It is our passion to provide informative unbiased content and have made it our job to track this constantly evolving industry.
We stay on top of the technology
so that you can focus on what drives you!
We could provide of this without the support of those who chose to become members who fund this resource center. We do not accept sponsorships, third party advertising and we do not resell anything. We strive to be an unbiased community funded resource.
Become a member starting at $65/year
Our premium membership - Mobile Internet Aficionados - is designed for those who consider internet essential for their mobile lifestyle.
In thanks for their support our members go deeper with our content - and receive benefits that help them save money, stay up to date, learn, get guidance and make informed choices.
Our goal is to save you time, money and frustration.
Other Resources We Offer:
- Our book: The Mobile Internet Handbook (5th Edition due out by end of January 2018!)
- Our glossary: Mobile Internet Glossary
- Our app: Coverage? overlays the cellular carrier's coverage maps so you can better plan your travels around connectivity.
- Stay in the Know - We track the industry and analyze new developments for mobile travelers:
- Browse our Resource Center / Guides for further detailed guides.
- Browse our Gear Center for information on gear & plans we track.
- Visit our Video Center for guides, tutorials and news stories.
- Have questions? Members are encouraged to post in our Member Forums or Private Facebook group or participate in our member Q&A webinars. We also host a free Internet for RVers & Cruisers Facebook Group where we are happy to help with basic questions.