January 29, 2020

How LoRa gateways work

This article is about the basics of LoRa gateways. In some countries a nationwide LoRa coverage is already implemented by a local service provider. Read more about that here.

About LoRa

LoRa is a 'LongRange' low power wireless standard. LoRa is ideal for providing cellular style low data rate communications network over significant distances.

An outdoor LoRa gateway is a device somewhat comparable to a Wi-Fi router with a big antenna, except that it's signal is completely different. The antenna is able to pick up LoRa signals that are transmitted by LoRa devices like our Farm21 Field sensor. This signal is directly send to the internet by the gateway.

The range of a LoRa network is determined by several factors.

  • How well does the LoRa device send it’s signal
  • How well can the gateway receive (“listen to”) a signal
  • What obstacles are in between the device and the gateway’s antenna.

Both device and (outdoor) gateway are usually tuned for the LoRa frequency, meaning that they send and receive with minimal signal loss. The range is therefore mostly determined by obstacles potentially blocking the signal.


With clear line of sight (zero objects between device and antenna) distance the signal can travel is between 10-15 km. Anything from water, buildings and terrain in between the device and antenna reduces this distance. As plants carry a lot of water they also absorb and reflect the signal.

Both the device and the gateway have a few tricks up their sleeve to increase the strength of the signal when connection is poor. It basically means that they start shouting at each other. This shouting costs more energy however, depleting the battery faster.


With the installation of a gateway it is important that the antenna is placed as high as possible. This normally reduces the amount of obstacles significantly. As illustrated below: putting the antenna up by a few meters already halves the amount of plants the signal has to pass through.

Besides power, the gateway needs an active internet connection to forward the incoming data to the right servers. With Farm21 we choose a gateway that has Wi-Fi, Ethernet or SIM (3G/4G) connectivity options.

Sharing is caring

The big advantage of a gateway is that it can be shared with others in your area. This means that the costs of a gateway(s) can be shared. A single gateway can host about 100 to 1000 different nodes.


As the range of LoRa network depends a lot on your location, surroundings and setup, we therefore say that an outdoor gateway has a working range of about 2 to 5 km.

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