Cisco Meraki outdoor-series access points (including the MR66/70/72/74/76/84/86) support the use of external antennas to focus their signal into a particular coverage pattern. This article covers some frequently asked questions regarding the use and capabilities of antennas on MR series access points.
Will the MR work without an antenna?
Technically yes, Cisco Meraki APs can still operate and broadcast without the use of an antenna. However, without an antenna to focus the signal and add gain, the AP will be ineffective for handling wireless client traffic.
What's the difference between antenna types?
Cisco Meraki sells three types of antennas, Omni, Patch, and Sector antennas.
Omni antennas appear cylindrical, support both 2.4 and 5GHz bands, and signals radiate in an even pattern horizontally around the antenna. These antennas are typically used on APs for client association, due to the evenly distributed signal pattern.
Patch/Sector antennas are flat and rectangular, typically only support one band (but can be purchased with dual-band capabilities), and signals radiate directly off the flat front surface of the antenna. These are usually used for point-to-point wireless links, since the signal is focused in a single direction off the antenna. For more information on the differences between patch and sector antennas, please refer to the datasheet for the radiation patterns of the required antenna.
What antennas are supported with which model AP?
All current antennas expect the AIR-ANT2513P4M-N= (Stadium Antenna from Cisco) are supported by all current outdoor MR access points. Please refer to our datasheets for information on legacy MR access points and antennas.
Indoor MR access points, such as the MR20, MR33, MR42, and MR56 do not support the use of external antennas.
The Cisco Four-Port Dual-Band Polarization-Diverse Array Stadium Antenna (AIR-ANT2513P4M-N=) is supported for use with the Cisco Meraki MR84 and MR86 AP.
How do I attach an antenna to the AP?
All Cisco Meraki antennas use a standard N-type connector, allowing them to be screwed in to the antenna mounts on the unit.
Determining Supported Bands
All dual-band 2x2:2 outdoor APs (such as the MR74 and MR76) have two sets of mount points: the top two are for the 2.4GHz radio, the bottom two are for the 5GHz radio.
The dual-band 4x4:4 outdoor APs (such as the MR84 and MR86) have both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios diplexed onto each antenna port, thus dual-band antennas should be paired with the AP.
The model of the antenna denotes whether it should be connected to the 2.4GHz or 5GHz mount points, or if it supports both. Supported bands are also color-coded on the antenna's base, where green denotes 2.4GHz support, blue denotes 5GHz support, and both indicates that the antenna is dual-band.
The omni antenna pictured below, for example, supports both bands:
Note: The MR62 is a single-band radio, it only has 2.4GHz mount points. The MR58 has three sets of mount points, please refer to the MR58 Datasheet (download) for more information.
For more information on differences between each band, please refer to our documentation on Channel Planning Best Practices.
Best Practices for Attaching Antennas
When attaching antennas:
- Omni antennas should be attached in pairs, with a complete pair on the top and/or bottom. It is not recommended to only attach one antenna to either band, in order to take full advantage of the radio.
- Sector/patch antennas have two connectors. Both of these connectors must be attached to the same radio, a single sector/patch antenna should not be attached to both the top and bottom of the access point.
Can I leave any connectors uncovered?
It is required to cover all connectors on an outdoor AP to prevent damage that would void the unit's warranty. If a connector does not have an antenna attached, a waterproof N-type cover (we recommend N-type Dust Caps) should be used to seal the connection.
Note: The included covers are used to protect the unit during shipping. They are not waterproof, and therefore not recommended for deployment.
Can I use a third-party antenna?
Cisco Meraki access points use a standard N-type antenna connector, which is widely supported by different antenna manufacturers. Cisco Meraki antennas are strongly recommended to ensure optimal performance and assistance from Meraki support. Please note that any damages caused by use of a third-party antenna will not be covered by the device warranty.
For more information on using antennas, MR access points, and wireless in general, please refer to the following sites and documentation: