This blog article entry considers the merits of choosing which of various low loss RF coaxial cables to use for IoT, LTE or LORA wireless applications where an external antenna is used to connect to router, gateway or terminal.
In this article, we will consider cables such as RG174, RG58, RF195, RF240 and RF400 as possible coaxial cable choices for your installation.
The first point to consider is that running extension or jumper cables between the antenna and the radio (router, modem, terminal, gateway, wireless device – for the sake of this article we’ll simply use the term radio) is that the cable will always introduce loss into the system. Whether you use very low loss, high quality coaxial cable or very thin and “lossy” cable, attenuation will be introduced between antenna and radio. A key area to focus on is to minimise the loss introduced by the cable in order to maximise the performance of the antenna. On longer cable runs it is very important to use low loss RF coaxial cables otherwise attenuation is too great for a functional wireless deployment.
Looking at RG174, it is a thin coax typically with a PVC sheath and can be used often for lower frequencies up to a very maximum of 2-3 metres. Most often it is used for what we call “pigtail” or adapter cables which a short cables that typically connect a cable to radio often to convert from one connector to another or if a connector presenting to the radio is too small to be fitted to a very low loss coax. (RF400 cables are 10.2mm diameter and as such connectors like MMCX, QMA, MCX cannot be fitted to RF400).
RG58 is a stranded coaxial cable about 5mm in diameter. It can be used for longer runs than RG174, however we typically recommend customers switch to RF195 which is also 5mm in diameter, but due to its solid copper core and superior insulation is lower loss than RG58.
RF195 is typically used in cable runs for 4G and cellular applications up to maximum cable run of 10M. Any more than 10M then the attenuation introduced by the cable into the system starts to affect the overall performance. The advantages of RF195 is that it is cost-effective, flexible and has good RF properties making it ideal for 5M extension cable requirements.
For longer runs that RF195 offers or for lower loss performance over 5 to 10M, then RF240 low loss coaxial cables are an ideal selection. RF240 is very similar to LMR240. With an overall sheath diameter of 6.1mm, it can be offer in a PVC all-purpose sheath or a LSZH (Low Smoke Zero Halogen) CPR Class Eca compliant sheath. RF240 could be used up to about 15M cable runs for 4G and cellular applications and probably shorter runs if using it for WiFi. Once again, RF240 is cost-effective, but it is also flexible and robust making it ideal in installations where cable routing might be a little tricky.
For even longer cable runs, we have RF400 with PVC sheath for multi-purpose applications and RF400 LSZH Eca cable. These two cables are very low loss and we supply cables runs up to 50 or 60M depending on the frequency used in the installation. Both RF400 low loss RF coaxial cables are approx. 10mm in diameter, offering a little bit of flexibility, but most key is excellent RF properties meaning that you can minimise attenuation from the antenna to radio in your system.
EAD is a UK-based vendor of antenna solutions from 100 MHz to 6 GHz and also custom-assemblies low loss coaxial cables to customer specifications. For more information, please visit our product pages at www.customcoax.co.uk or contact us for specific requirements or questions you may have.
EAD is pleased to introduce RF400 and RF240 Eca low loss coaxial cable assemblies. For coaxial cables requiring permanent installation into in-building applications, CPR compliance is now mandatory. CPR (Construction Products Regulation) legislation as it relates to coaxial cables addresses flammability properties of cables that are be installed inside buildings.
RF400 LSZH and RF240 LSHZ are both CPR classified as Eca and is manufactured in the European Union to high and consistent standards. At EAD, we cut the LSZH (Low Smoke Zero Halogen) cables to the required length and terminate with the customer-specified connectors.
For more details on the two Eca low loss cables visit our RF cables products page and for quotes or lead times, please contact us.
Outdoor LTE Antennas are being increasingly deployed as wireless systems installations multiply. Applications such as wireless security, information screens, kiosks, network backup and resilience, remote network access, telemetry and telematic and vending systems demand strong and stable connectivity. Unfortunately many modern buildings are effectively Faraday cages; they are metal clad structures into which mobile cellular signals are unable to penetrate. Therefore often outdoor LTE antennas are required to provide connectivity to the LTE terminals, modems, routers and devices located inside the buildings.
For outdoor LTE antenna deployments, there are a number of considerations. These include network signal strength where the antenna will be installed, the distance from the antenna to the LTE equipment, the mounting method for the antenna i.e pole/mast mount, wall-mount or permanent through-hole mount, the size of antenna in case of local authority planning guidelines. Notwithstanding the above, the quality of the antenna, the quality of any low loss cable and other RF components such as lightning or surge protectors (to protect the LTE equipment against lightning strikes) are critical in a successful outdoor installation. You wouldn’t put cheap tyres on a medium or high end car so why would install low quality antennas and RF cables into professional LTE wireless access deployment.
Looking firstly at network signal strength and the distance from the antenna to the LTE equipment. These two points are related. A strong network signal at the antenna will typically allow for a longer RF low loss coaxial cable run to the LTE equipment. A good network signal at the antenna is generally required if the cable run is to be more than say 5 or 10M. The longer the cable run typically the thicker the type of coaxial cable installed in order to mitigate losses. For example, for 10-15M cable run for an omni-directional outdoor antenna located in a good signal strength area then RF240 6mm diameter low loss cable will usually suffice. Longer cables runs would usually look to RF400 10.2mm diameter low loss coaxial cable to mitigate cable run losses.
In terms of antennas, there are two types of antenna – SISO (one single antenna port) and MIMO (2 antenna ports). The type of antenna you would use will depend on the 4G / LTE equipment and whether that has 1 or 2 LTE antenna connectors. If the LTE device has one antenna connector, you use a single port LTE antenna. If the LTE device has two LTE antenna connectors, you should select a MIMO antenna.
For each SISO and MIMO type antenna, there are a number of antenna options. We will review some quality antenna choices here:
SISO – Single Port Outdoor LTE Antennas
Omni-directional – Antennas that radiate in all directions are called omni-directional (or omni) antennas. Think of a light bulb and how that radiates light into a room and you will understand the concept of an omni-directional antenna; it just radiates RF not light. For LTE outdoor installations, you will need a high gain omni-directional antenna. For wall-mount or pole mount LTE multi-band antennas, ideally you will need an antenna offering minimum 4-5 dBi gain, manufactured with materials such as UV-resistant radomes, non-corroding metal parts and the antennas should include mounting brackets. Two such examples are the FGO and HGO-4G-LTE antennas from EAD and Sirio respectively.
Other outdoor omni-directional antennas can be magnetic mount antennas, permanent low profile screw-mount antennas and typically these need to be mounted on to a metal surface. The LTE-HIGAIN-MAG, the AllDisc and the TRA6927M3 antennas are great of examples of discreet, compact antennas offering excellent RF performance.
Directional – Antennas that radiate in a single direction are called directional antennas. If you think of how a torch focuses a beam of light in one direction, a directional antenna functions in the same way radiating RF energy in a single direction. Typically, they operate the same way as a roof top TV antenna, you need to point the antenna towards the local mast (tower or base station). The most popular directional outdoor LTE antennas are panel antennas. They are typically quite compact and offer excellent gain properties usually somewhere between 8 and 11 dBi. A quality LTE directional panel antenna is the SMP-4G-LTE from Sirio or the LPS8270 from EAD.
MIMO – Dual Port Outdoor LTE Antennas
Omni-directional – MIMO omni-directional antennas usually compromise a little on the gain figures due to having two antenna elements inside one radome. But often installers find it preferable to install one MIMO antenna instead of two SISO antennas. The same selection criteria applies to the MIMO omni-directional antenna as the SISO, so look for quality, UV-resistant, proven MIMO LTE antennas combined with 2 quality low loss coaxial cables (one cable for each port). Choose an antenna with a flexible bracket configuration to allow ease of mounting. Such a choice is the popular LMO7270 antenna.
Another type of outdoor MIMO LTE antenna is a compact puck style antenna for discreet applications where the antenna should be mounted on a metal cabinet or enclosure. The antenna uses the metal surface as a groundplane so the antenna can be smaller and more compact without compromising performance too much. One such antenna is the CMO antenna. There are various possibilities for this style of MIMO antenna and some of these may include an additional RF element such as a WiFi or active GNSS antenna.
Directional – as with the SISO directional antennas, the most popular MIMO directional antennas are panel antennas. Despite their compact dimensions, they can offer higher gain than omni antennas, but need to be pointed towards the local network mast. Across the 700-2700 MHz range, directional antennas can typically offer 5-9 dBi gain. Good examples of such antennas are the SMP-MIMO-LTE and the LPM8270.
For outdoor installations, as we alluded to earlier, the correct selection of RF low loss coaxial cable is critical for longer cable runs especially at the higher frequency bands i.e. 1710-2690 MHz, a higher performance cable is required. The attenuation per metre figures are important, the longer the cable run, the less attenuation per metre is desired. For outdoor applications, industry “standard” cables such as RG58 are inadequate due to losses. A better solution is to pay a little more per metre and go with a low loss or very loss cable such as RF240 or RF400. You can download a summary guide of these cables here. The more low loss the cable, the longer the cable run between the antenna and the LTE device can be.
Also to protect your installation from lightning strikes you might need to consider surge protection. A decent surge protector will not typically save your antenna from a strike, but it should protect the network equipment sitting behind the antenna and cable. Such a surge protector is the PTC lightning arrestor. Please contact us for more details on this part.
We hope this short guide will provide you with some thoughts and considerations for installing outdoor LTE antennas. Please feel free to browse our website for our wide range of solutions and contact use
Low Loss RF coaxial cable assemblies based on RF240 and RF400 low loss cable products are available from EAD.
You can download our RF240 and RF400 overview brochures here:
RF240 Low Loss coaxial cables
RF400 Low Loss coaxial cables
These low loss RF cables can be customer specified with the parameters of length and connector type configurable. Both cable types complement LTE, IoT, GNSS and UHF outdoor antenna installations. Typical products that marry with these cables are the LMO7270, FGO, and HIGAIN-RTK antennas.
Popular RF400 part numbers include RF400-SF-SM-10M and RF400-NM-SM-10M
For more information on EAD’s low loss RF coaxial cable assemblies, please contact EAD or your local distributor.
Low Loss RF240 cables from EAD are ideal for longer cable runs from LTE antennas to routers, modems and radios. These cables have excellent RF properties whilst having an overall diameter of 6.1mm and being flexible enough to route easily during installation. Typical cable runs for RF240 measure up to 15M to 20M in length.
As an alternative to LMR240, low loss RF240 cables represent an excellent price performance offer. EAD builds RF240 cable assemblies to order in-house. With automated measuring, cutting, stripping and crimp tools, we can tailor the cable configuration to suit your application.
The most common connectors we fit to RF240 cables include SMA-Male, SMA-Female, TNC-Male, N-Male, RP-SMA. Many other connectors are possible.
Some example part numbers for reference are:
RF240-NM-SM-10M – 10M RF240 with N-Male / SMA-Male
RF240-SF-SM-15M – 15M RF240 with SMA-Female / SMA-Male
RF240-SM-TNM-5M – 5M RF240 with SMA-Male / TNC-Male
Please contact us for your RF240 requirements.
For longer cables again, RF400 cable from EAD is an excellent solution. Some RF400 cables can be purchased via our webshop.