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How to choose Lora Antenna for your iot device

Do you need a lora antenna with a good frequency range? Are you looking for an antenna that works long distances and with greater power? If so, you should read this article where you’ll find out about all the specifications needed for a 915MHz lora antenna.

We live in an era whereby communication is easy, more affordable, and not to mention more accessible. There is mounting of more cell towers over time, making communication better. However, this still does not cut it in terms of quality communication with the current world population. That is where the LORA antennas come in, but what are Lora antennas? What do Lora antennas do? And why are they the next big thing in the IoT sector? We will dig deep into LORA antennas and explain why they are unique and why you should get one for yourself.

Lora communication antennas or simply long-range antennas have unique features that have earned them great popularity in the IoT sector. For one, these antennas have long-range transmission, just as the name LORA implies, which makes them pretty efficient in terms of wireless communication. Secondly, these antennas utilize little power compared to traditional antennas and towers, making them budget-friendly and eco-friendly. But are these the only reasons that make this antenna unique? Well, no, this is just a tip of the ice-burg. See overtime, people in the IoT sector have put most of their focus on lorawan networks, nodes, and gateways. That is because these three components enable new and great possibilities for large-scale information technology applications. However, Lora antennas have some sneaky tricks up their sleeves that, when focused on, can turn your Wireless network from good to great.

What is LoRa

Have you ever heard of Lora? If no, then here is your answer. First, we can define Lora as a type of IoT hardware that supports long-range wireless communication. Lora utilizes a network protocol known as LoraWAN. Most people make the mistake of referring to Lora and loraWAN as the same thing while the two are entirely different. One is a hardware device, LORA, while the other is a protocol (LORAWAN).

Lora is a carrier of radio signals found in the Physical layer. It converts received data to signals. LoraWAN, on the other hand, is a protocol located in the MAC (media access control) layer. Therefore, it is good in promoting Lora signals to broaden their applications.

Combining the two, Lora and lorawan, you get a long-range, low-power wireless transmission that hits distances of over 15km! If that is not impressive, then I do not know what is! Lora antennas have gained great applications indoors and outdoors.

Lora Applications

Here are some typical Lora applications that make them stand out:

  1. High capacity – you know how messages are a great communication tool. Well, Lora has taken things upper a notch to let you have not great but excellent message services. Lora supports millions of messages per base station. Due to this functionality, public network operators who serve large markets can easily communicate via messages.
  2. Long-range – Lora connects devices that span up to 30 miles apart, penetrating even densely populated areas for excellent connectivity.
  3. Low power consumption – Lora antennas utilize minimal energy while running and have a prolonged battery lifetime. Their battery can last up to 10 years which ultimately results in minimal replacements cost as far as batteries are concerned.
  4. Secure – Lora antennas have end-to-end encryption, integrity protection, confidentiality, and mutual authentication.
  5. Mobile – Lora antennas maintain regular communication with other devices even when in motion without power strain.
  6. Low cost – reduces investments in infrastructure, battery replacement, and even operating expenses.
  7. Geolocation – Lora antennas allow GPS-free tracking applications, which is pretty effective and also cost-friendly
  8. Standardized – Lora offers global availability and device interoperability which speeds up the deployment of IoT apps anywhere.

You can support Lora and LoraWAN protocols by a diverse ecosystem of software and hardware developers, industry associates, and network providers. Moreover, because of this diverse ecosystem and remarkable adaptability, Lora antennas have extensive documentation that anyone looking to shift to these antennas can implement. Due to these reasons, Lora is gaining great popularity in the IoT sector, and many people are adopting it worldwide.

What do Lora Antennas do?

best lora antenna

For any wireless transmission, there must be a transmitter and a receiver; Lora is no exception. Whenever device X wants to transact with device Y, it will change the information it wishes to transmit into radio waves. The transmitter then emits these waves outwards. The receiver, present on device Y, then receives these radio waves and demodulates them into data that the onboard computer can understand.

Lora antennas work closely with transmitters and receivers during this entire process. The transmitter feeds an electrical signal onto the antenna during the transmission process. The antenna then emits these signals as radio waves for the receiver at the receiving end.

During the reception process, the antenna intercepts some power from radio waves; the receiver then amplifies this power.

Even though antennas don’t create radio energy, they do play a significant role in the diversion, directing, and concentration of radio waves during the transmission process in one particular direction. By doing so, antennas significantly boost quality and transmission range, which might be the boost your Lora network requires. This bidirectional data transmission feature is a pretty crucial property of antennas (popularly known as antenna gain)

What is Antenna Gain?

Antennas gain simply measures the directivity degree of antenna radiation pattern:

  • Omnidirectional antennas have a design to send and receive radio waves in every horizontal direction equally.
  • Direction antennas – direct the radio waves in one specific direction.

Hence high gain Lora antennas will let you achieve longer ranges and better signal quality as far as Lora communication is concerned. However, you have to aim precisely in the receiving antenna direction to accomplish this. On the other hand, low gain antennas have a shorter range, they hence do not focus a lot on the direction of the antenna. That makes them the best in terms of constructing mesh networks. Due to these unique functionalities, the antennas you choose will depend on the Lora communication network scenario you have planned.

Lora Features

Lora utilizes sub-gigahertz license-free radio frequency bands such as:

  • EU433 (ranges between 433.05 – 434.79 MHz) and EU863-870 (ranges between 863 – 873 MHz) are the two bandwidth ranges allowed in Europe.
  • AU915 – 928/AS923 (ranges between 915 – 928 MHz), this bandwidth is utilized in Australia.
  • US902-928 (which ranges in between 902 – 928 MHz) is in use in North America

As you can see, Lora antennas have varying bandwidths. However, we shall discuss the 915 bandwidth since it is the most utilized frequency worldwide

915 MHz Lora antennas

915 MHz is the center frequency of the 33-centimeter band. The design of 915 frequency is applicable worldwide; for Lora wireless networking having minimal restrictions. Lora antenna 915 uses this frequency Band and can efficiently support long-range transmission. What’s more, 915 MHz antennas have higher gain compared to lower frequency ranges such as 433. Above utilizing these antennas for Lora networking, you can also use them for amateur radio due to their strength. Plus, since their design is to become budget-friendly, you also get to save up a lot of cash in networking.

915 MHz signal propagation

915 MHz antennas rely strongly on “line of sight” for signal propagation. Therefore, to utilize this antenna efficiently, you have to install them at heights beyond obstructions, for example, on hills or buildings.

With equivalent power to transmit signals, a 915 MHz long-range antenna signal can travel approximately seventy-three percent of the distance covered by a 433 MHz antenna. Window and building penetration is effective too when you compare it to higher frequencies, such as 2.5 GHz.

Why use 915 MHz Antennas for Long-Range Wireless Networking

Lora utilizes 33-cm band antennas dramatically relies on the spread spectrum modulation to achieve competitive data rates while maintaining low energy consumption.

The modulation technique utilized is derived from CSS (chirp spread spectrum). It involves boosting the transmission signal bandwidth to efficiently compensate for the degradation due to signal noise. The technique also varies the data rate improving coverage and reducing the amount of power utilized. All this makes Lora transmission pretty resilient against any multipath fading without even increasing the transmission power.

To achieve wide-area performance and low power consumption, you must trade-off data. Therefore, data is subdivided and then encoded into many chirps transmitted at varying rates according to the amount of airtime available. We refer to Chirp rate as the spreading factor or SF; this bit rate greatly facilitates efficient utilization of the Lora network.

915 MHz Lora Antenna uses

We can utilize the 915 MHz Lora antenna in many different sectors, which include:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Automotive
  3. Inventory tracking
  4. Utility tracking
  5. Ecological surveillance
  6. sigFox connectivity

We can also utilize the 915 MHz antennas for some amateur endeavors, which include:

  1. Amateur Television
  2. Amateur radio communication, for example, CW and FM

You can also use External 915 MHz Lora antennas as amplifiers, repeaters, and radios.

Key 915 MHz Lora Antenna Types

Lora antennas for networking come in varying types with a wide range of characteristics that support effective functioning and coverage. These antennas are pre-fitted with TNC, RP-SMA, or SMA connectors. However, you should carefully check the connector types to ensure that they are compatible with the antenna.

Now let us look at 915MHz Lora antenna types:

1. Quarter wave whip

These antennas contain a special conducting element that lies at a quarter wavelength at 915 MHz. Most of these antennas come encased in molded housing. However, whip antennas are pretty resilient and flexible.

2. Stub antennas (915 MHz)

A stub antenna is a helical antenna compressed into a portable and compact unit; this compactness comes in handy in some applications.

Helical antennas are composed of coiled radiating elements that reduce the antenna’s length. However, these antennas cannot reach the compact size of a stub antenna.

3. Omnidirectional antennas

Omnidirectional Lora antennas are simply dipole antennas. They can be good to generate 360 degrees of outdoor or indoor coverage.

These antennas mostly have lower gain compared to directional antennas since their beams are not focused. Therefore, operating with only one Omni antenna may not yield desirable coverage. Hence, it would be best to utilize a combination of antennas to achieve great results.

Omnidirectional antennas utilized for outdoor purposes are pretty robust. They have a well-sealed and waterproof radome plus a wide range of mounting options. Some of these antennas come with a through-hole mounting design. Others come already pre-mounted onto a metallic bracket.

4. 915 MHz directional antennas

These antennas only focus their transmission onto one specific direction; this makes them capable of supplying high gain plus long-distance performance.

5. Co-linear antenna

These incredibly powerful 915 MHz antennas provide extensive outdoor transmission coverage. However, even though they are powerful, they still rely on line of sight for signal transmission. Hence, it would be best to mount them on high areas that offer no obstruction from the receiving end, such as tall buildings and hills.

You can make these antennas from the dipole, quarter, or half-wave elements which you can phase to efficiently deliver horizontal plane coverage in an optimal manner.

The Lora antennas 915 MHz has demonstrated excellent robustness and efficiency over time, making them one of the most utilized Lora antennas in the market to date.

The Lorawan Networking Protocol

We took peek at lorawan networking protocols, what they are, and how they function. Now let us move on to some architectural factor that make lorawan pretty useful in long range wireless transmission.

LoraWAN Nodes and Gateways

Lorawan nodes and gateways are 2 of 4 major Lorawan network architecture components.

  1. End nodes – represent sensors and edge devices.
  2. Gateways – concentrate or collects data from end nodes
  3. Application server – displays or processes the consolidated data
  4. Network server – consolidates data received from gateways for application server upload

If you wish to master the Lora antenna application, you must differentiate between lorawan gateways and end nodes.

Lorawan End Nodes

lora long range antenna

Devices found at the end of a network are known as end nodes. Lorawan end nodes are specially equipped with sensors that monitor and collect data. These monitors usually come in the form of microcontrollers which use up little energy to run. What’s more, you can deploy this microcontroller for many years without maintenance. In addition, firms equip lorawan end nodes with Lora transmitters which transmit data packets to gateways. Examples of end nodes include:

  1. Vending machines
  2. Pet trackers
  3. Safety monitoring systems

Lorawan Gateways

Lorawan gateways act as a bridge between the network and end nodes. For the gateways to receive data from end nodes, they have Lora concentrators, making them some sort of router. There exist two types of lorawan gateways, namely:

  1. Operating system – OS gateways forward packets in the background. Even though they consume more power, they are pretty efficient as gateways administrators can use gateways devices for varying purposes.
  2. Minimal firmware – only executes the packet forwarding software.

Advantages of utilizing End Nodes with Lorawan Gateways

Using end nodes with lorawan gateways poses significant advantages, making it pretty essential to handle packet forwarding in this manner. Lorawan gateways enable star-on-star networking, which has some crucial benefits. Here are some advantages of using end nodes via gateways:

  1. Redundancy which ensures low service disruptions

Whenever end nodes on a lorawan network broadcast information via Lora, every gateway within the range of that particular device will receive the information. After receiving the information, it will forward it to its network server. After the server gets the message it duplicates it and then selects the most efficient gateways to send a downlink message to the end node that delivered the information.

This one functionality poses a great advantage for networks that target industrial IoT solutions. For one, if one lorawan gateway encounters an error, the remaining gateways can still receive information from end nodes which means that the system becomes more fault-tolerant. Also, maintenance of the system becomes pretty easy as you do not require to shut down the entire system.

Overall, lorawan gateways make networks more reliable and help them operate with minimal disruptions.

  • Scalability and affordability

Lorwan gateways are pretty affordable and can provide services for up to one thousand additional end nodes. Moreover, utilizing lorwan gateways can easily increase network coverage without disrupting the network. Hence in terms of scalability, lorwan has got you.

  • An ever-expanding global network

Lorwan utilizes unlicensed radio bands; this lets you operate lorawan gateways legally in most countries and with no extra cost. Additionally, if you have no coverage in your area, then you can simply add a personal gateway that you can utilize.

Using gateways makes Lora networks more efficient; however, you can still achieve more efficiency by using fiberglass antennas.

Lora Fiberglass Antennas for enhanced Lora Network Performance

You should significantly consider Lora fiberglass antennas if you need an improved Lora network that produces optimal results.

These antennas are specially designed to be utilized with radio bandwidths of 860 – 930 MHz, making them effective in signal transmission. What’s more, these antennas come in varying lengths and gains for you to choose from; you can hence customize your Lora experience like never before.

Fiberglass Lora Antenna Features:

  1. Transmission gain – 860  – 930 MHz
  2. N-J double tooth connector, RP-SMA to N-Female adapter
  3. Excellent build quality that can withstand even the harshest outdoor environments
  4. Omnidirectional radiation pattern

However, you should note that Lora fiberglass antennas have pretty high transmission efficacy. Hence these antennas might interfere with wireless infrastructures found around your region. Therefore before utilizing this antenna, you should first consult law firms in your region to ensure that you are not violating any laws.

Why should you utilize Fiberglass Antennas?

Fiberglass is composed of a plastic material reinforced with glass fibers. Because the material cannot conduct electricity, Lora antenna developers include conductive elements in the fiberglass antenna to propagate radio signals efficiently.

Fiberglass mostly stands because of the enhancements they input into quality as they are built using pretty efficient fiberglass material. See, fiberglass contains pretty high tensile strength, making it resistant to breakage and bending. Additionally, fiberglass antennas have high vibration resistance, chemical resistance, electrical insulation, thermal insulation, UV radiation insensitivity, and water non-observant. All this makes fiberglass antennas suitable for harsh outdoor environmental working conditions.

Due to their resilience, fiberglass antennas are often utilized over the traditional steel antennas for outdoor networking applications, for example, moving trucks. You can build these antennas out of rigid material, which lets them stay upright even when the truck is moving at high speeds. Fiberglass antennas rigidity also reduces losses that occur during transmission hence delivering quality every time.

IoT projects that you can venture into to explore Lora Antennas

Smart waste Bins having Level Monitoring

Using Lora antennas, you can utilize technology to make your city greener and cleaner using smart waste bins. Smart waste bins help improve the liveability of cities even as the population of humans keeps on going up every day. So how do smart bins work, you might wonder? Well, they function as follows:

  • Find a standard waste bin and then install lorawan capable devices into the waste bin.
  • These lorawan waste bin devices monitor the bin’s fill level and then notifies the “bin management services.”
  • On receiving the notification, the bin management services make a trip to the bin and empty it, and the cycle continues.
  • You can also utilize the devices to track other conditions such as humidity, heat, and smell.

What’s more, you can have more than one bin located around your city connected via your Lora wireless network for monitoring purposes.

Poultry Farming in a “smart” way

Compared to other sectors, we can unarguably say that agriculture is less digitized even though it is one of the significant pillars of civilization and support for our existence. Therefore, if you can utilize tech to boost agriculture, you should embrace it and make the most out of it. That is what this project is all about.

Poultry farming is greatly affected by environmental factors, which include:

  • Humidity
  • Temperature
  • Atmospheric pressure
  • Light

Due to this, we can utilize lorawan to add value to the equation using a network of environmental sensors. These sensors monitor farm conditions and provide feedback that you can use to improve poultry farming, leading to optimal poultry output.

Drying Systems

Some plants such as coffee need to be dried to produce an output that we humans can consume and enjoy. However, these plants might lose quality during the drying procedure without proper monitoring systems. The drying system projects seek to transform this narrative by providing optimal quality produce from the drying procedure using intelligent monitoring.

By efficiently utilizing Lora-enabled nodes and sensors to monitor coffee conditions during the drying procedure, you can immensely improve the quality of coffee you produce.

Conclusion

Lora antennas are a significant boost to wireless transmission. In the 21st century, we are all looking for faster and cheaper data transmission methods, and Lora antennas provide both. We hence hope that we have provided you with all the essential information you require to deploy a network using Lora antennas.