Getting the most out of your BlueBar Long Range Beacon

The BlueBar Long Range Beacon is built around the BLE121LR module from BlueGiga and as such offers unprecedented Bluetooth LE range. According to the official datasheet, the module (and the beacon respectively) can reach ranges of up to 450m in direct line of sight (depending on receiver sensitivity)

BLE121LR typical line of sight range

As usual there are certain conditions to be met, in order to obtain such range.

Receiver Sensitivity

Receiver sensitivity is equally important when measuring range. Smartphones’ antennas in general have lower sensitivity than those in tablets and can report shorter range than expected. Also smartphone cases and shields can further attenuate the signal, resulting in decreased apparent range.

When taking signal strength readings you should hold your smartphone in a portrait orientation with the top half of the smartphone unobstructed.

Signal Strength

Range depends on signal strength, and the BlueBar Beacon Long Range offers configurable signal strength in the range from 0 to 9. The factory default setting is 8, which gives a better trade-off between battery life and range, but in order to obtain the maximum range possible with the beacon, please make sure to boost this setting to 9. The setting can be changed via our Configuration Utility app, available for Android and iOS. Use the buttons below to download the app for your device.


Distance from Ground

Radio signals are attenuated with distance. Furthermore, the distance of the beacon from the ground significantly affects the range, as can be seen for the diagram below:

BLE121LR signal attenuation and maximum ranges depending on distance from ground

for best results, please make sure to position the beacon at least 1.5m (5 feet) above ground, to minimize attenuation from ground reflections.

Beacon Placement

Obstructions between the beacon and the receiver also affect the signal very negatively. After all, the BlueBar Long Range Beacon is a BLE device and all environmental conditions and recommendations for best signal propagation still apply.

To obtain best results, ensure there are very few obstructions in the line of sight. For example, when installing the beacon in an office make sure to install it at a level that is at least 2m above ground, to minimize signal attenuation from passing through human bodies (which are 90% water after all). Also don’t place it behind plants or metallic objects – those affect signal range very negatively.