About a year and a half ago I installed and reviewed a new offering from Winegard called the ConnecT. The ConnecT is a WiFi extender designed to take weak WiFi signals and boost them for better reception inside the RV. The ConnecT antenna is placed high up on the RVs roof giving better line of sight to the WiFi signal source. It then amplifies the signal and rebroadcasts it inside the whole RV.
Basically, you connect all your devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, TV, etc. to the ConnecT and it shares the WiFi source (e.g. campground WiFi) to each. The devices receive a stronger signal, faster speeds, and better security. The ConnecT has a built-in firewall and local area router. There is also a guest mode to conveniently share your signal with friends.
The model I’m installing also comes with a built-in 4G LTE cellular data hotspot. So, if you can’t find a viable free WiFi signal to connect to you can switch over to the 4G LTE hotspot and get online that way. Winegard has it’s own pay as you go packages or you can insert a sim card from your cell carrier. (At this time only ATT and Verizon are officially supported)
Disclaimer: Although I received no monetary compensation for my review, I did receive a free review sample of the Winegard ConnecT courtesy of Winegard.com – Ray
Winegard ConnecT 2.0 Installation
The installation of the Winegard ConnecT 2.0 was even more straightforward than the previous version. Winegard has simplified the system by combining the external antenna/amplifier and internal router into one complete package. Everything is contained in a dome-shaped plastic shell that mounts on the roof of the RV.
Out of the dome runs a 10-foot power cable that needs to be fed 12 VDC. This is a huge improvement over the ConnecT version 1.0 that used a 120 VAC wall plug to power the router and a POE (Power Over Ethernet) cable to power the roof antenna/amplifier. They also include a 20-foot extension power cable and a switch and switch plate, plus all the screws.
Installing the rooftop dome was super simple since my roof is rubber over wood panels. I just needed to screw in the four mounting feet and seal it up with Dicor Self Leveling Lap Sealant. The unit is extremely lightweight so I imagine on a metal or fiberglass roof mounting might be possible using 3M VHB mounting tape.
Next, I ran the power cable along the rooftop and into my refrigerator vent, providing easy access to the RV interior without drilling any holes. To keep the wire in place on the roof I used a strip of Eternabond roof patch tape.
Inside the RV I found a place to mount my switch and switch plate in a kitchen cupboard above the RV fridge. Next, I needed to get 12-volt DC power to the switch. I tapped into the 12-volt circuit that powers the fridge’s controller board. The location is easy to get at by removing the fridge’s outside access panel.
I followed the instruction manual and installed less than 50 feet of 18 gauge wire and added a 3 amp inline fuse to protect the circuit. Also inside the fridge cavity, I made sure to run the wiring, so it did not come in contact with any of the fridges piping or cooling fins. Next step was to turn on the Connect 2.0 and set up the software and connect to a signal.
Setting up the Winegard software is reasonably straightforward. Not much has changed from version 1.0. You open up a web browser to access a series of administration and setup screens. One thing I did notice is they no longer have a 5 GHz option for the internal LAN; everything is 2.4 GHz. Also since my model has the cell data capability, there are extra setup screens for that.
Setting Up the Winegard ConnecT 2.0 WiFi Extender
Install and Review of the Winegard ConnecT 2.0 (WiFi + 4G LTE)
So far after a month of use, I have to say I’m impressed with Winegard’s new ConnecT 2.0 offering. I love how they have listened to customer feedback and made it run off of 12 volts DC for us off the grid RVers. I think the new dome-shaped package is an improvement over the three antenna’s sticking up.
The addition of the 4G LTE is going to be handy for us on our next snowbird trip south. The Winegard prepaid data plans are a good deal compared to what we’ve been paying for our Verizon hotspots prepaid plan. And best of all the ConnecT’s price has dropped significantly over the first model. That was my biggest beef with it. It’s now in the ballpark. Thumbs up!
A few cons to the unit are the lack of 5 GHz capability, and for some, it may be too simple. There are techy types that want to delve deep into networking and tweak performance and customs stuff. For example, there is no option to use a directional antenna to pick up signals further away.
For most RVers that want a simple to install and setup WiFi booster with decent enough performance, I feel the new Winegard ConnecT 2.0 is a good bet.
*UPDATE* October 05/18
Winegard has released a new smartphone app to make managing the ConnecT 2 booster easier. (See more info and download the new app here) They also have another handy app to help with pointing your RVs Over the Air or Satellite antennas.