Change of Plans

A project log for Off-Grid Solar Internet

Is it really off-grid if it has the Internet?

dan-maloneyDan Maloney 05/18/2019 at 19:050 Comments

So I checked out hotspots with Verizon, and to say the least, I was underwhelmed. The current offering that Verizon has is woefully inadequate for the task. It's battery powered, which is nice, but it's not robust at all. It's built to slip into a backpack or briefcase and be deployed on the dash of a car or a hotel desk, not on a remote, rugged piece of land. And it would have to be hacked to provide power from a solar array, which id the main goal of this project - remember, there's no power on this site.

But the biggest problem is the antennas - they're all built into the device. Yes there are jacks for an external antenna for the LTE radio, but the WiFi antenna is built in and inadequate. The stated specs are 60-70' radius for WiFi, which is woeful. I need to cover a much larger area  - the property is over 20 acres, and I want to be able to use my phone over as much of it as possible.

So I did some Googling and found They make a range of cellular to WiFi routers, all built in sturdy IP67 enclosures suitable for pole mounting. It's got POE power with Ethernet entering through a weatherproof gland, and external antennas for both LTE and WiFi. Those connectors are robust threaded N-type connectors. The manufacturer claims they have one that works with Verizon, and it doesn't cost a whole lot more than that chintzy JetPack thing.

After a little back and forth with the wonderful Sophie Tang, sales manager for, I sent in an order for an EZR30. It shipped out of Shenzhen and arrived DHL in five days, even with a hold in LA for customs. 

I was greatly impressed by the build quality - sturdy cast aluminum case, gasketed door with captive screw closures, well sealed penetrations. I was apprehensive about getting it online, though, thanks to a few emails back and forth with Sophie that clued me in to the fact that Verizon might give me grief about getting a SIM card.

As it turned out, she was right to warn me...