A few months ago the Winegard company contacted me offering to send out their new Winegard ConnecT RV WiFi Extender for a Love Your RV! review. It was to be publicly launched in mid-October and they were interested in having some RVers try it out. I have a 5-year-old JefaTech WiFi booster but was intrigued to check out what the latest technology has to offer.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, shipping to Canada was a no go, but they would gladly ship it once I was in the USA. Finally, we are in an RV Park near Palm Springs for a few weeks and can receive packages. I contacted Winegard, and they shipped one right out. Cool!
Veteran RVers know crowded RV park WiFi speed even with boosters leaves a lot to be desired. Most networks are overloaded, and an extender is most often useless. So why was I interested?
Well, we tend to travel in the off-season and have found many of the parks aren’t too bad at that time. We like to overnight in casinos who generally have pretty decent WiFi but only if we can get the signal into the rig.
Another use case for the extender is when we pay extra for guaranteed campground WiFi bandwidth but are too far from a broadcast antenna. Or, when driveway surfing with friends/family and are trying to receive their home WiFi inside our rig.
Winegard ConnecT RV WiFi Extender Installation
Inside the packaging, you’ll find a bunch of different components which may seem intimidating to nontechie DIY folks, but in reality, the installation is quite straightforward. The biggest hurdle will be deciding how and where to mount the antennas and run the wiring.
The Winegard ConnecT consists of an external unit with three separate antennas, kinda looking like it belongs on a piece of NASA gear. Each antenna gets hand tightened onto the weatherproof amplifier unit, which attaches to the RV’s roof. Power for the outdoor unit is provided through the same cable as the signal.
On the side of the outside antenna unit, a cover pops off and reveals an ethernet port. The supplied 25-foot cable gets plugged in there, and the cover gets screwed in place sealing the port. Next, the 25-foot cabling has to be feed into the RV to connect up with the internal broadcast unit which also handles the routing of WiFi signals to each of our internet devices.
Winegard ConnecT RV Rooftop Installation
For my Keystone Cougar fifth wheel trailer install, I mounted the outside unit at the highest point on the roof to maximize range. I picked an empty area away from other rooftop devices. I followed the instruction manual’s location instructions which state:
- Do not mount closer than 12 inches from the edge of the roof.
- Do not mount closer than 24 inches from adjacent devices.
- Do not mount the outdoor unit (ODU) with the cable facing the front of the vehicle.
Securing the Winegard unit to the RV roof is done with supplied metal feet and wood screws, perfect for my rubber roof, but if I had fiberglass or aluminum I might be inclined to look into using some 3M VHB tape instead. If it can hold down solar panels, this little Winegard ConnecT unit should not be a problem.
Before screwing it to the roof 1/8″ pilot holes are drilled, and the screws get dipped into some Dicor sealant (not provided), then covered in more Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant. Next, the 25-foot cable needs to find it’s way into the rig.
For my particular install, I decided to use the refrigerator vent to feed the wire down and mount the internal unit in a cabinet just above the fridge. To secure the cable between the outside antenna unit and the fridge vent, I used some Eternabond roof repair tape. I’ve used it for other rooftop wires like my solar panels and my cellular booster antenna with good results.
Winegard Inside Unit Installation
A 3/4″ hole was needed to be drilled in the back of the cabinet to fish in the ethernet cable from outside. I used the supplied hole cover plate to tidy things up. The inside unit is attached to the cabinet back wall with two screws and the extra cable spooled up all hidden from view when the door is closed.
I chose this mounting location for the internal Winegard unit because of its proximity to an AC power outlet in the next kitchen cabinet. The Winegard ConnecT requires AC power converted to 24 volts DC using a small power adapter. With the extra cable available, I can always move the inside unit around the RV interior, if I need to, for a better signal.
Once I had everything neatly secured in place, the final task was to setup the software and get online for a test.
Winegard WiFi Extender Software Setup
The system’s setup is super simple. First I found the Winegard ConnecT’s default SSID (WiFi signal name) and connected my laptop using the default password found on the back of the inside antenna unit. Step number two, enter 10.11.12.1 into a browser and log into the admin panel using the default password “admin.”
Once logged in I was able to scan for available WiFi networks and edit my internal WiFi network names and passwords and update the Winegard ConnecT firmware software. (See video below for more info)
Video Detailing My Winegard ConnecT RV Installation
Well there you go, everything went smoothly and in less than an afternoon of puttering I was online with my fancy new Winegard ConnecT RV Wifi extender. Unfortunately, where I’m camping right now the WiFi connection is rather good, so not much to say from a first impression other than it works and the connection is stable. I did see a marginal increase in speed.
I plan to use it over the next few weeks as we travel and camp testing the system in different WiFi scenarios and will report back with a full review of its performance. Stay tuned for that.
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