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Logically the U.FL dipole antenna will have better range than the other two options, as it's a larger antenna, but is this actually true? How do the three antennas perform in relation to each other for a long-range non-LoS link outdoors?

Here's a link to the page with the different options for the XBee PRO boards, and here's a link to an application note about the antenna options. The application note only compares whip and PCB antennas and doesn't go into any detail on the typical performance of a dipole antenna.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The application note you reference states that a dipole antenna is very similar to a whip. With a dipole, you can get more gain (range) at the cost of only working in certain orientations. \$\endgroup\$ – vini_i Dec 13 '18 at 13:49
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Antennas don't have "range"!

An Antenna is the interface/converter between the electrical signal that the electronics use and the air, where the signal travels as an EM-wave.

There is nothing in the antenna that defines the range. Sure, the choice of antenna and how you use it influences the range of the system but the antenna itself does not determine the range.

The usable range of a wireless system is determined by a whole list of things like transmit power, RF frequency, receiver sensitivity, required Signal/Noise ratio, datarate, modulation. But also the environment like other equipment using the same frequency band, presence of walls and the materials these walls are made of.

You can select an antenna that has directivity meaning it transmits/receives signals better in one (or more) directions than in other directions. A good example is a dish-antenna which has a very narrow angle at which it can transmit/receive well.

Such a directional antenna can increase the range but it comes at a cost: the antenna needs to be oriented correctly. If you use a directional antenna and do not orient it correctly the usable range of your system might decrease dramatically.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I am fully aware of how antennas work, directivity, gain etc. I was asking for opinions on how the range of these different antennas would compare for this specific use case. Outdoors, far field environment, medium obstacles. It seems that the dipole antenna wins out here. I know that antennas don't have a single 'range' specification, however all things being the same, the usable range will certainly be different. \$\endgroup\$ – BenAdamson Dec 13 '18 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget about efficiency! \$\endgroup\$ – alex.forencich Dec 14 '18 at 9:11

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