One of the challenges of moving to the property we live on was the lack of internet availability. It wasn’t that we couldn’t do without it but it was nice to be able to at least get information or watch a show while living in a camper without plumbing and building a house.
At first, we got one of the first USB sticks that Verizon offered. This allowed some usage but it was pretty slow. The nearest access point for standard Internet needed to be a good ways away.
This meant that we needed a relay that was capable of bouncing a signal around so we could have some level of internet.
You may be wondering why we did not just get satellite and the truth is that it was and still continues to be cost prohibitive even if you find a provider with room enough on their satellite for you.
At the time, we were using my Dad’s internet connection so that I could work a remote financial planning job but that was at least a ¼ mile from where we were living so I was having to work at his house. It was also difficult to have any entertainment when it rained or we were snowed in. Living in a camper meant no space for things like DVDs.
Fortunately, my husband is more knowledgeable than I will ever be when it comes to internet and communications. For about $300, he managed to put together an internet relay tower that is still functional.
Our internet relay tower. The metal rod on top with the wire coming off is the lighting rod which is very important if you live in an area with significant thunderstorms. The lower box is where the router and charge controller are housed.
No, the connection is not the greatest due to trees being in the way but it is still good enough to watch Netflix, allows me to write, and we can get a WiFi signal on parts of our place that normally we could not have before besides the house.
Advantages Of Relays
- Increased range on larger properties, especially hilly or mountainous terrain.
- Less expensive than a totally separate service at one end of your property. It is usually much cheaper in the long term to just upgrade to a higher connection speed than sign up for an additional account. In my area the basic high speed internet is around $60 with unlimited access. It is plenty fast but if I had more people living here, for $15 extra I would get the fastest speed and it would still be much cheaper.
- Increases range so you can get more done.
There is a lot to think about if you are getting a place set up the way you want. When building our house it was very nice to be able to look things up and order things as needed. There are a lot of things that are now much easier to learn to do because of the internet.
A lot of people are homeschooling and with good reason. Having internet throughout your property can help with this. Kids can even do homework and research outside if they want which can make it seem a little less like school.
As someone that only attended public classrooms for grade school I am a firm believer that kids are not meant to just sit for hours on end in the same place. No wonder there is such a problem with attention spans.
- Can Give You Access To Better Internet Services In Some Cases
Some areas have radio Internet and other services that can be accessed even in rural areas. This means that you may be able to get much higher speeds at a reduced cost over satellite.
Satellite internet can be very restrictive on speeds and how much data you can download in a given month before they reduce your speed and charge you a per gigabyte fee that really adds up.
With a tower, you may suddenly have line of sight that allows you to get a superior signal.
The Basics You Need For A Solar Powered Internet Relay Tower
This is not something you want to skimp on. Buy a quality router not a $30 one from a big box store. The one we have is designed to be an access point so it has the power we need to get the internet signal where it should be.
Our router/access point and charge controller mounted in a battery box that has been turned upside down. It is less expensive to get an indoor router and put it in a housing than it is to buy an outdoor grade router/access point. Ours has worked great for over 5 years.
A wireless access point style router with external antennae is a good way to go. Here is the one we use. They are half the price of what we had to pay 5 years ago! We have another one of these in our house. Engenius is a great company when it comes to wireless networking.
It is cheaper to get an indoor router and then get a weather proof box. This has worked for us for over 5 years despite being out in a field and all the heavy winds, snows, etc. You can use a 12 volt battery box turned upside down.
A little bit of screen attached at the bottom can help prevent bugs and spiders from getting into the box. Some may find their way in anyway but it does help some.