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Do I Use The PUCK or MIMO-3 On A Camper?

Aug 19, 2020 | Articles, August 2020, FAQ August 2020, Frequently Asked Questions, Newsletter Articles

Question: I’m thinking of buying one of your 4G antennas for my camper. I’m considering the PUCK-2 or the MIMO-3-V2-12. Can you tell me what the difference between two antennas?

Answer: Customers often evaluate an antenna primarily on the gain and how that relates to price. If one looks at the ‘gain’ differences between the PUCK-2 and MIMO-3 then we agree this can be a difficult decision. The answer however lies in the other performance characteristics of the antenna, for which you will see that the MIMO-3 is actually a better antenna and a good choice in spite of the higher costs. Please have a look at the technical specification sheets on our website

Poynting manufacture excellent quality antennas, which often need to be housed in different enclosure types and sizes due to the different physical requirements for various implementation types. When the engineering team have the space to work with, in a larger enclosure, then they take advantage of that benefit and push the boundaries of the antenna performance. These performance benefits are not always obvious, unless one digs deeper into the technical sheets of the different antennas.

The PUCK is intentionally a much smaller and compact antenna, when compared to the MIMO-3 antenna. For this smaller size antenna, it compares favourably to our competitor antennas, but cannot perform as well as the MIMO-3, which is significantly larger and also costs more. In essence, if you are able to choose a larger antenna like the MIMO-3 and are prepared to pay the extra costs, then rather do so (not necessarily always true with all antenna makes and models). If not possible to use the larger MIMO-3 and a smaller size antenna is an aesthetical requirement or a physical limitation, then the PUCK-2 can be chosen.
Getting down to the technical aspects of where the MIMO-3 is better:
  1. Gain: Although the PUCK may have some gain peaks higher than the MIMO-3 antenna, the gain consistency over the whole band is better with the MIMO-3. Larger antennas usually have better performance at the lower frequencies, purely because the practicalities (RF physics) which allow those bands to perform better.
  2. Bandwidth: The MIMO-3 performs much better at the lower frequencies, especially at the 700 to 900 MHz bands for LTE and/or 5G reception in rural and other lower coverage areas. This antenna will therefore be most advantageous for camper/trailers/caravans used out in the ‘sticks’. Furthermore, the MIMO-3 antenna supports the 450-470MHz band used in some networks.
  3. Radiation patterns: Both antennas are omnidirectional antennas, but when reviewing the specification sheets, you will notice that the omnidirectionality of the MIMO-3’s azimuth (top view) patterns are better throughout the various bands. Smaller antennas, such as the PUCK-2 antenna, have more ripple at specific bands. Less ripple results in more consistent reception of the antenna in all directions. Another important aspect to consider is the elevation (side view) patterns, where it is important to see how much of the antenna’s energy is radiated towards the horizon – this is where the base stations are in the distance. Some competitor antennas may indicate the same or even better gain, but one should check where that energy is being radiated and how much of that gain is towards the horizon.
  4. Diversity spacing: The spacing of the antennas in a larger antenna enclosure is able to offer better diversity performance and to some degree improve MIMO performance in urban areas.
When to choose the PUCK antenna:
  1. The PUCK antenna is chosen when the physical size limitations dictate that a smaller antenna is used.
  2. The aesthetics do not allow for a larger antenna, such as the MIMO-3
  3. The application requires a smaller PUCK antenna – it will not always be practical to implement, say a MIMO-3, for an IoT smart meter
  4. The coverage in and near city areas do not require the enhanced performance of the MIMO-3. The vehicle is used mostly in the urban areas.
The above comparison highlights the advantages of the MIMO-3, but the PUCK antenna remains an excellent choice for applicable applications. The PUCK series of antennas offer a mighty punch for their size – that is why many customers believe it performs almost as well as the MIMO-3. The reality is that the MIMO-3 antenna allows for larger antenna designs, which allow for better performance. In summary: A camper has sufficient space on the roof (usually) and is often used in rural areas away from towns and away from cellular base stations, therefore requiring a better antenna. The higher costs of the MIMO-3 may just be worth it in the longer run.