10 Steps for Best Results with Helium / IoT Antenna Setup

This is a guide made by the RF Explorer team. Read the original article here. Featured picture credit: ©️ Aiyahhh#2561 (one of our Discord members).

10 steps for best results with Helium / IoT antenna setup

Helium network is a dynamic, fast-growing technology we all can be part of. To get the best possible performance of your Helium hotspot, antenna setup is the single most critical step. While it can be overwhelming navigating over the many online articles describing different options for Helium antennas, this simplified article describes easily what you need to do in one single page.


1 – Install antenna outdoors as high as possible

  • Case A – Poor

An indoor antenna can have a combined loss of as much as 30dB attenuation (1, 000 times lower signal level). The main reason is the high isolation created by house walls, which is critical for LoRa frequencies, in addition to window crystal reflections

  • Case B – Better

Installing outdoors increase signal level greatly. However, if the antenna has no line of sight to other receivers/transmitters, the signal will not be optimal in level, and due to bouncing with other buildings, distort packages and reduce chances of quality link

  • Case C – Best

Installing the antenna outdoors and free for line-of-sight connection, you are providing a significant gain for your Helium hotspot. This is the best possible setup


2 – Use the right antenna gain for your location -Different antenna gains to choose from

Understanding your location and how to deal with nearby and far away hotspot is critical for good Helium HNT return with optimal investment

  • Case A – 3dBi indoors

Indoor antenna best results is 3dBi gain. In this way the antenna will improve nearby links. A higher gain antenna will reduce link quality in this scenario so it is not recommended.

  • Case B – 3-5.8dBi outdoors

Outdoors antenna with reduced link distance due to obstructed line-of-sight, make sure to install a 3dBi – 5.8dBi antenna for best results, as combined nearby and medium distance links

Outdoors antenna with free line-of-sight can get the best results with high gain 8dBi antenna. Specially if you are in area with low density hotspot nearby, use a high gain antenna 8dBi and make sure to install really high using long mast over nearby building, houses, hills for best performance


3 – Select a quality, high efficiency and robust outdoor antenna

  • Not only about antenna gain

After selecting the right gain, it is important to put your money on a good quality antenna. It is not only about gain: efficiency is an important factor. Low quality low efficiency antennas will degrade signal detection even if antenna gain is high. The reason behind this has to do how efficiently the antenna converts the radiated energy into usable signal: with low efficiency a significant part of the signal is lost and never gets into your hotspot, producing low witness count and small HNT revenue.

  • Low efficiency hurts

In many cases users compare equivalent setups with same antenna gain, e.g. 8dBi setups with very different results: one of the main reasons can be assigned to a low efficiency antenna when compared to high efficiency antenna.

  • Best in class

RF Explorer fiberglass antennas are best in class efficiency antennas, tested in certification laboratory


4 – Use quality, correct length cables to connect Helium hotspot to your antenna