Paradar 8.5dBi & 4.5dBi Helium Antenna Review – High gain 868Mhz antenna to maximise HNT earnings

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With the Helium Hotspots finally be shipped, many people will want to maximise the amount of HNT they can mine via their hotspot.

I have previously used the MikroTik LoRa 6.5dBi as my main antenna, and now Nebra has started shipping their 5.8dbi and 3dbi glass fiber LoRa antennas. However, the 8dbi model is out of stock.

I spoke to an expert of Aerial Installation about what kind of antenna i should use for my MikroTik Router, and he said, “With Gigabit Ethernet, an upgraded dual-core CPU, a powerful 17 dBi antenna, and a massive heat sink, you can trust the LHGG LTE6 kit to handle any challenge! A 2 Gb/s 60 GHz aggregate link with a 5 GHz failover.” Click here to know more about Aerial Installations.

In my previous Helium hotspot antenna upgrade guide, I highlighted the Paradar 868Mhz antennas. These were one of the only antennas easily available to buy at the time, and they were on Amazon for added convenience.

They sent me out two models to check out, the 8.5dBi & 4.5dBi antenna. These cost a little bit more than competing products, but I like the fact you can get them the next day via Amazon Prime, along with the reassurance of Amazon customer service.

Alternatively, you can buy direct from Paradar and save a fiver on the 4.5dBi antenna or £20 for the 8.5dBi model. They even have a 14.5dBi option for £179.99, but this is sold out.

Paradar is a British company, and they take pride in the quality of their antennas. Speaking with one of the team at the company, they claim they have some of the best-tuned antennas on the market.

  • For the 4.5dBi model, the VSWR on the 863-870Mhz band is between 1.127 and 1.164, which corresponds to a power loss of only 0.457% in the antenna.
  • For the 8.5dBi model, the VSWR on the 863-870Mhz band is between 1.196 and 1.289 which gives a power loss of 0.797% in the antenna.

With their tuned antennas, they guarantee VSWR less than 1.5 @ 868Mhz (less than 4% loss in the antenna), but usually achieve much better than this.

Paradar were keen to point out that there are many companies online sell rebadged 915Mhz antennas, including some big brands (they said no names).

Being a UK company, they have little interest in producing 915Mhz antennas, everything is focussed on the UK/EU market.

Helium 868Mhz Antenna Comparison

Antennas are not terribly exciting to look at, they all look pretty much the same, with the length varying depending on the gain.

In the below image, you have the 8.5dBi & 4.5dBi Paradar antennas in the middle. The left antenna is a Chinese import from AliExpress, it is supposed to be a 10dBi antenna, which I am sceptical about. It wasn’t even that cheap, at $70.50. On the far right is the 3.5dbi Nebra antenna.

I am not keen on the lack of a backplate for the Nebra antennas, it seems more cumbersome to set up and that’s the last thing I need when at roof level up some ladders (I am not particularly happy about climbing up that high due to chronic clumsiness).

The quality of the Paradar hardware seems excellent.

All the antennas use the N type connector on the antenna end, which I find preferable to the SMA connector on the MikroTik LoRa as it feels more durable and weatherproof for external use. I think the Nebra uses Male whereas the others are Female.

Helium 868Mhz Antenna Performance

An objective analysis of the performance was not possible as I lack the hardware or skills.

However, switching from the MikroTik LoRa 6.5dBi to the 8.5dBi Paradar saw a massive improvement in the number of witness and range.

You may think opting for a higher gain antenna will do that regardless of range, but in my experience, that has not always been the case. The higher the gain, the more directional it becomes (on the vertical plane) and when I used the Taoglas 12dbi antenna, I saw no improvement in performance at all. The cheap 10dBi Chinese model I had suffered a loss in performance.

The current range is 8.89 km (5.53 mi) from my hotspot to the one furthest away, whereas the MikroTik has been stuck at around 4km for the past few months (but back in December, it did reach 7km).

It is a bit difficult to say if or how much the antenna has improved my earnings. With the influx of hotspots entering the system, I have noticed my earnings dip a lot in the past few weeks, the Paradar has at least fended off this trend.

I also briefly used the 4.5dBi antenna, this offers less range but superior coverage, so it will be better suited in more densely packed environments. Knowing this wouldn’t offer the same performance as the 8.5dBi antenna, I mounted it indoors close to a window. In this location, it still connected to a lot of nearby hotspots, and it offers significantly better performance than the old stock antenna I have.

I will continue to use the 8.5dBi and will make updates regarding its performance in the long term. I am hopefully getting new hotspots soon so I can then experiment with the best antennas with different placements.

Price and Alternative Options

The Paradar 8.5dBi is £119 from Amazon or £99 direct with free shipping

The Paradar 4.5dBi is £64.99 from Amazon or £59.99 direct with free shipping

Nebra has:

The MikroTik LoRa 6.5dBi is around £45

So not particularily cheap. Normally, being a tight-fisted northerner, I’d moan about products that appear to offer poor value for money. However, with a product like this, I think it is different. Even if this only offers fractionally better performance than the other brands, it will recover the cost difference and likely generate a positive return on investment.

Overall

I will admit that I don’t have the best expertise in antennas, so an objective conclusion is a little difficult.

However, I have been happy with the performance of the antennas; there appears to be a noticeable improvement switching from the MikroTik LoRa 6.5dBi to the 8.5dBi Paradar. There has certainly been an increase in range, which was to be expected.

The price may be a little steep compared to alternative brands, but I am confident that the improved performance will net you a positive return on investment vs a cheap antenna.

Paradar 8.5dBi & 4.5dBi 868Mhz Helium Antenna Review

James Smythe

Overall

Summary

Both Paradar antennas work well, the company offers guaranteed performance these and therefore a much more reliable purchase than some cheaper alternatives

4

Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1 thought on “Paradar 8.5dBi & 4.5dBi Helium Antenna Review – High gain 868Mhz antenna to maximise HNT earnings”

  1. Massively appreciate all of these reviews and writeups. As someone who enjoys finding fun side hustles and businesses, I recently dived into the Helium world (though being UK based, it’s a damn lot harder to find decent and in-depth writeups).

    Most blogs or videos are from the US and they seem to be tripping over all of the hotspots that they have in their cities and towns.

    Considering (as many of the UK do) I live in the literal middle of nowhere, I guess I will be grabbing one of the 6dbi’s you mentioned and hoping that I can reach the nearest hotspot 6km away (or maybe buying a few more and seeing if friends want to set up a few).

    Luckily it is flat around here…

    Once again, thanks for the content, loved reading it.

    James,

    Reply

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