We live in a world that’s always connected.
No matter where you are—whether it’s at work, at home, on the street, in the mall or on your boat. Staying connected is so important, for so many reasons.
You might be rolling your eyes right now at how young people can’t be away from their phones beyond five minutes, but consider this: You’re on your boat for the day and get an important work email that needs to be answered. Thanks to your strong Wi-Fi connection, you’re on top of it and in line for a promotion by going the extra mile.
The Importance of Wi-Fi on Your Boat
Maybe you’re out with friends for the long weekend and wanna crank up the tunes! Streaming services are all the rage these days, like Apple Music and Spotify, which require an internet connection.
If you really want to be the best DJ out there, you’d better be sure that you can satisfy everyone’s requests to “play that one song.”
There are even more practical reasons. When I was a kid, I loved being out on the boat, but after hours and hours my mind started to drift and I got bored (much to the chagrin of my family).
If we had Wi-Fi on board, you can park the kids with an iPad so that they can recharge their batteries and get back into the spirit of the day.
Wi-Fi is key on a boat, which is why we’ve got to talk about some of the best marine Wi-Fi extenders on the market.
How Marine Wi-Fi Extenders Work
Instead of having to invest in your own router, an extender basically works by picking up on what would normally be weaker Wi-Fi signals and accessing them. This could be something like a marina’s Wi-Fi, or your backyard, wherever you can still pick up a signal.
A signal booster works something like this: You have an antenna (which, ideally, is waterproof), which is used in order to pick up weaker signals. Depending on the model, though, these can also be used as access points.
If you’re looking for the absolute best marine Wi-Fi extender, though, you need to make a few considerations:
First, you need to know the range. Some brands boast having a range of miles, and some only fractions of miles. If you have a good understanding of how far you venture out on the water, purchase an extender with double the range when shopping for one.
Next, and this is always the case when it comes to electronic devices, you need to go with a brand that you can trust. When it comes to setting up network names, passwords and logging in, sometimes technical support saves the day.
If you go with the right company, which we’ll go into detail later, you can get the support you need—when you need it.
Special Considerations for Marina Wi-Fi Extenders
The important point to note is that these devices are extenders, and are not access points on their own.
What they do is make a weak connection stronger, by increasing that initial connection range.
In certain cases where a signal doesn’t exist in the first place, now that’s a problem. I have found this to be the case near international waters, or even in more solitary locations.
If you’re really committed to having internet on board, you need to ensure that you’re using it in the right place.
For small/mid-sized lakes, springs and rivers, a Wi-Fi extender is a great option (because you’re unlikely to get that far from an access point – with the exception of rivers which can sometimes include a lot of blockages, like houses).
It’s not all bad, though. If you have a Wi-Fi extender, there are certain instances where it can also boost the capabilities of your cell phone. This means that in the case of an emergency, calling for help is that much easier!
Top 5 Best Marine Wi-Fi Extenders
So, which brands can you trust and which models do I recommend? Here’s a fairly nice rundown of some of the best marine Wi-Fi extenders to consider while trying to get online:
1. Halo Long Range Wi-Fi Extender System
Halo is a trusted brand who creates Wi-Fi solutions for both boats and marinas, meaning their experience has resulted in a wealth of products to help keep you online. Halo also offers their own app along with this Wi-Fi extender, and can accommodate multiple devices (whether they be phones, laptops or tablets). It’s easy to install, whether on your boat or with its own mount accessory (check price on Amazon). It’s also best used within clear view of the marina or original Wi-Fi source.
2. Bearifi Wi-Fi Extender Antenna for PCs
A much cheaper option for sure, it’s important to note how this Wi-Fi extender works! The BearExtender only works when it’s connected into a USB on a PC, which basically limits it to laptops. It’s great if you’re in a pinch and need to use something work-related, but it’s not an ideal solution if you have multiple passengers using the Wi-Fi or using multiple devices (in fact, it won’t work at all).
3. Shakespeare WIFI-2 Extender
Featuring up to a seven-mile range, the Shakespeare brand is known for making reliable Wi-Fi extenders, which offers easy access to public hotspots from the comfort of a park bench or your craft. There’s also no software to install upon set-up, which makes it perfect when you have friends and guests on board. Practical for marine environments, it’s also waterproof!
4. Winegard ConnecT 4G1xM WiFi Extender
When your boat is away from your liveaboard marina, this Wi-Fi extender also offers nationwide prepaid 4G LTE data plans to connect.
It also offers protection like a double firewall and denial of service attack prevention, as well as guest Network access (in case you have a crew joining you).
Installation is a breeze with Winegard’s App and web set up! You can follow the step-by-step instructions to connect each of your mobile devices and set them up how you want.
5. Alfa Wi-Fi Camp Pro Repeater Kit
This is the kind of extender built for those who like to feel like they’re getting a package deal, and aren’t afraid of doing a little bit more work to save a couple of bucks.
This Alfa Wi-Fi package is more difficult to set up and features less range, so it’s ideally suited for those who are not going to stray too far. The only other issue is that it’s not entirely waterproof, so you need to be safe with the installation.
Get Connected Today
The internet is unavoidable, and it looks like it’s here to stay. Even when you’re on the boat, whether with friends fishing or with the kids cruising, you might find yourself looking to access the World Wide Web.
A marine Wi-Fi extender might be just the solution, as long as you go with a model you can trust. Hopefully, I’ve opened your eyes to some new options today, and you’ll be getting on board the internet wave soon!
Max Specht is a copywriter and content strategist from Canada. When he’s not busy navigating the Florida waterways, or the open expanses of the Great Lakes, he’s in the business of writing and devising content that truly makes the grade.