Ah, the Internet. While many of us can still recall the days when we were less technologically connected, the Internet has become such a part of daily life that you’d be hard-pressed to give it up. You recently bought an RV, and until now, you hadn’t thought of how you’d keep up with work emails and social media. Does your RV have its own Wi-Fi?
RVs do not have Wi-Fi unless you park them in one place, but you might try a Wi-Fi extender. This tool expands the Wi-Fi network to reach greater distances. Other RV Internet options include dial-up, wireless cellular data, and satellite Internet.
If you want to learn more about how to stay connected to the Internet from your RV, this is the article for you. Ahead, we’ll talk further about Wi-Fi extenders and suggest a few of our favorites. We’ll also discuss your other options for getting Internet on your RV travels, so make sure you keep reading!
Do RVs Have Wi-Fi?
These days, RVs come with the works. It makes sense to you then that the latest RVs coming down the pike would have Wi-Fi built right in.
While that would be nice, it’s not the case. That doesn’t mean you can’t add Wi-Fi or other means of connecting to the Internet, of course. We’ll talk about those later, so check it out.
With a Wi-Fi connection, you can get the Internet on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and other tech without having to burn through your data. Whether you want to scroll through social media, watch Netflix, play games, or read news articles, it’s all possible with Wi-Fi.
The downside of Wi-Fi is that it’s stationed in one location, such as your home or office. Once you get too far away from that location, it’s bye-bye to your Internet.
Since you travel in an RV, it’s inevitable that you’ll pass Wi-Fi locations all the time. Solutions such as a Wi-Fi extender–which we’ll talk more about in the next section–can help you overcome that hurdle.
Since Wi-Fi is such a popular means of connecting to the Internet, even once you leave your dedicated Wi-Fi connection, you can rest assured that it typically won’t take you long until you find another source of Wi-Fi.
Airports, train stations, truck stops, restaurants, cafés, department stores, drug stores, and convenience stores are some examples of places that will have their own Wi-Fi connections. Many campsites also offer Wi-Fi, so if you’re staying for the night in your RV, you know you’ll have a reliable source of Internet connectivity.
Some Wi-Fi sources require you to input a password. That may be true of a campsite as well as a department store you pass by. The passwords limit any person from getting onto the Wi-Fi and possibly overloading it.
You can stop into the store or restaurant and ask for the password, which you may or may not receive. If you’re a paying customer, the store or restaurant may have no issue with you using their Wi-Fi.
Speaking of paying, that’s sometimes what you have to do if you want to connect to the Internet via some Wi-Fi networks. You’re not paying for a Wi-Fi password, but rather, you’re charged when you join the network. This isn’t only something that retail stores and airports do, but campsites too.
Before you connect, you want to be sure whether you’ll be charged. If you have kids in the RV, then you’ll want to caution them against blindly joining any Wi-Fi connection that becomes available. This can sometimes put a major hurting on your wallet!
How Do You Use a Wi-Fi Extender?
As we said we would, let’s talk about Wi-Fi extenders, which can help when trying to get Internet in your RV.
Wi-Fi extenders, which are also referred to as Wi-Fi repeaters, can broaden your Internet connection. The extender connects to your network and duplicates it. Next, the Wi-Fi extender re-broadcasts the network to increase your Wi-Fi signal range.
A Wi-Fi router that has a standard band size of 2.4 gigahertz has an indoor range of only 150 feet and an outdoor range of 300 feet. With a Wi-Fi extender, now you can cover more ground with your Wi-Fi so you can use the Internet further from the Wi-Fi source.
So how do you use a Wi-Fi extender? It’s easy! Here are the steps.
Determine Where the Wi-Fi Extender Will Go
In an RV, you’re limited in where the Wi-Fi extender can go, but you still must choose carefully. The rule of thumb is to select a single-story building (which you’ve got covered) or a location with as little plaster, steel, and wood as possible (this can be harder but is doable).
The reason? These materials can dampen the Wi-Fi signal and reduce its strength.
You’re also supposed to stay away from closets and walls for the same reason. Avoid metal too, as it will reflect your Wi-Fi signal and again make it less powerful.
Choose a Wi-Fi Network Name
Did you name your Wi-Fi network at home something fun? Most people do, as Wi-Fi networks are otherwise titled a random string of numbers and letters. It can be hard to differentiate your network from your neighbor’s network without a proper name.
Well, now it’s time to name your Wi-Fi network again. We don’t recommend using the same name as for your network back home, as that can get confusing when you’re closer to home in your RV.
Around this time, you’ll also have to determine if you want to require a password to get on your Wi-Fi. We recommend it, as this will keep your Wi-Fi securer from strangers. Make the password something that’s easy for the whole family to remember but not so easy that the password is easily cracked.
Connect the Wi-Fi Extender
Now it’s time to get your Wi-Fi extender up and running. You can usually connect the extender using your computer at home or a smartphone or tablet if you’re already on the road. The Wi-Fi extender likely has an accompanying app that you can download for free from the app store. If not, then it will have a website that will provide steps for getting your extender connected.
Then you’re finished!
Our Top 5 RV Wi-Fi Extender Recommendations
You’d like to buy a Wi-Fi extender for better connectivity on your RV. Here are five stellar options to browse.
TP-Link AC2600 Wi-Fi Extender
One of the most recommended Wi-Fi extenders is the TP-Link AC2600.
Setting up this Wi-Fi extender couldn’t be easier. You only need the TP-Link Tether app, which is available for free on iOS and Android devices. In the Tether app, you can approve and revoke Wi-Fi access and change your settings anytime.
This Wi-Fi extender features lights that indicate signal strength. If you see a blue light, then the signal is strong, whereas a red light denotes a weaker signal. You can adjust the Wi-Fi extender’s placement for better signal connectivity, says TP-Link.
The AC2600 includes a quad antenna for fewer dead spots. MU-MIMO technology allows the Wi-Fi extender to connect with multiple devices on your Wi-Fi band. An Intelligent Processing Engine creates demand balance so your Wi-Fi can handle video streaming, file downloading, and more strenuous network activities.
D-Link Wi-Fi 6-Range Extender AX1800
Another great Wi-Fi extender is the D-Link AX1800.
This is a mesh repeater, which is highly recommended for dead zones. You’re liable to experience a lot of those as you drive your RV all over the country.
The one-touch setup will help those who are brand new to Wi-Fi extenders understand theirs quickly. Like the TP-Link Wi-Fi extender, this one from D-Link also lights up to indicate optimal extender placement.
The included OFDMA technology can transport data traffic quickly and efficiently for seamless Wi-Fi use. D-Link even promises speeds up to 38 percent better than competitors that offer a 1.8 Gbps Wi-Fi adapter used on a five GHz band.
NETGEAR Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Range Extender EAX20
Here’s a second mesh Wi-Fi range extender to consider, the NETGEAR EAX20.
This device will expand your Wi-Fi network by up to 1,500 square feet. To use the EAX20, you only need to download the NETGEAR Nighthawk app. Through the app, you can auto-switch from your RV Wi-Fi or your base Wi-Fi.
The EAX20 Wi-Fi extender also uses OFDMA technology to reduce congestion and increase data transfer and receival. You’re free to connect more than 20 devices to the EAX20, which is quite a generous amount!
Rockspace Wi-Fi Repeater
With a range of 2,640 square feet, the Rockspace Wi-Fi repeater should be on your list of Wi-Fi extenders to consider for RV use.
According to Rockspace, it takes only eight seconds to connect their Wi-Fi repeater to your current Wi-Fi network. Once you’re connected, Rockspace says you’ll have fewer dead spots and higher-speed Internet.
Linksys Wi-Fi Extender
The fifth Wi-Fi extender we recommend is the Linksys.
A dual-banded booster with a coverage range of 2,500 square feet, the Linksys Wi-Fi extender should be compatible with just about any type of Wi-Fi router you already use thanks to the MU-MIMO technology. That technology also allows for more expansive Wi-Fi use, including support for streaming video.
Other Options for Getting Internet on Your RV
Wi-Fi extenders can be useful for everyday RV life. However, even if you extend the Wi-Fi’s bandwidth, it won’t last forever. The further you get from the source of the Wi-Fi, even with an extender, the spottier your Internet will become.
Fortunately, Wi-Fi is but one means of getting Internet on your RV of many. Here are three other options you might consider.
Remember the time when dial-up Internet was the only way to get online? Well, now you can harken back to those days by using dial-up at campsites. The campsite will have a phone or cable connection for DSL, or at the very least, a dial-up modem.
Although we often see the past with rose-colored glasses, most of us who used dial-up Internet remember all too painfully well the slow page-loading speeds, frequent disconnections, and hours-long downloads.
All those features will make a return if your RV is connected to dial-up Internet. The more RVers at the campground who are trying to use the Internet just like you, the slower the connection is.
If you have no Wi-Fi and the other Internet options we discuss don’t work either, then dial-up Internet may be better than no Internet, at least to some people. Others won’t mind chewing into their data just to load a website page in fewer than several minutes.
Wireless Cellular Internet
Your next option for getting Internet on your RV is wireless cellular Internet. This is the aforementioned data we mentioned in the paragraph above.
Unlike Wi-Fi or dial-up Internet, which only work when near the source of the connection, wireless data allows you to use the Internet nearly anywhere and everywhere.
If wireless cellular Internet is so widely available and convenient, then why not use it exclusively? Well, for one, even cellular data can have dead spots. That’s especially true if you have an older smartphone or device that’s on 3G data rather than 4G or the increasingly popular 5G.
Plus, certain devices such as laptops cannot use cellular data at all.
The most convincing reason not to use wireless cellular Internet exclusively is that it can be incredibly expensive.
All smartphones and tablets are on a data plan through your wireless service provider. Per month, you’re allotted X amount of data. Each smartphone or tablet on the device usually gets its own amount of data.
Once you use that data, you’re billed extra depending on how much data you use. How much a data overage would cost depends on your wireless service provider and your phone or device plan, but it might be around $15 per gigabyte.
You can see how that can get expensive very fast!
Speaking of expensive, the last avenue you can use for getting Internet in your RV is satellite Internet. You’d mount a rooftop or auxiliary satellite to the roof of your RV (or hire a professional to do it). Then you can use the satellite to hop online.
This means of connectivity does give you more reliable Internet than many of the other options we’ve discussed, Wi-Fi included. However, as we said before, satellite Internet is incredibly costly. You might pay up to $1,700 just to get the satellite installed.
There aren’t that many companies that offer this sort of service since it’s so specialized, and that’s especially true once you get outside of the United States. Thus, with little competition, the companies that do install RV satellite Internet can charge a premium.
On top of that, you’re saddled with a monthly satellite Internet plan, which may cost around $60 a month but can be higher depending on which service provider you choose. This plan would be in addition to the home Internet plan you’re already paying for.
Once the satellite is mounted and your monthly plan is active, the satellite needs a clear sky to work. In a forested area where the treetops block the sky, then your Internet will be spotty. That’s so true in bad weather.
As nice as it would be, RVs do not include Wi-Fi from the get-go. You can connect to Wi-Fi and then use a Wi-Fi extender to broaden your connection range, but even that won’t allow you to stay on that network forever. Luckily, you can always jump on another Wi-Fi network, although sometimes that will cost you.
Your other options for staying connected to the Internet in your RV are dial-up Internet, satellite Internet, and cellular data. All options have their pros and cons, including Wi-Fi, so weigh those carefully before making your decision. Good luck!