With all the jargon about signals, waves, and boosters surrounding this technology it can seem like you need to spend a few years studying these devices to understand them. Hopefully with this post we can demystify antennas, how they work and most importantly which one will work best for you.
Types of Antennas
There are two types of antennas commonly used for radio waves. Omnidirectional antennas can send or receive signal from any direction and directional antennas send or receive signals from one particular direction.
These antennas are the simplest type to install. This trade for ease of installation does require that you have a stronger base signal. Omnidirectional antennas are able to receive or send signals in a 360-degree window. You’re probably familiar with many kinds of these antennas; such as the whip antenna on your car or the “rubber ducky” antenna on your internet router.
Rubber Ducky Antenna
Directional antennas provide a much larger boost in signal, as the name implies directional antennas must be pointed towards the source of the signal you are trying to capture. While this can be complicated it greatly reduces the amount of interference from outside sources, strengthening the signal you receive that much more. Some of these antennas like a Yagi antenna are easy to orient (make sure the middle beam is facing the tower and the side beams are facing up and down). Other examples of directional antennas are panel antennas. These are becoming increasingly popular and are typically installed by just attaching to a wall with the outer panel facing the direction of the signal.
What Antenna Is Right For You?
The first step in choosing an antenna is first establishing what your existing signal is. If you already have a relatively strong signal and little to no interference than an omnidirectional is probably your best bet. However if you need a big boost you’ll have to get a directional .
The second step is to consider the carriers in your area. If you have many carriers in your area then an omnidirectional antenna would be able to pick up signal from these carriers and boost your signal to the appropriate level. However if you have a singular weak signal than you should consider the directional antenna as it will allow you to focus on that one signal.
Third you need to consider how much distance you can keep between the antennas, if you are installing this on a roof with multiple antennas an omnidirectional antenna can cause interference with these other antennas. Typically you should keep 30 feet between these antennas. If your roof is more crowded you can avoid this issue by using a directional antenna and orienting it away from your other antennas.
In summary, the best application of an omnidirectional antenna is in an area where you already have some signal, you can rely on multiple carriers to boost your signal, and on a roof that does not have many other antennas. A directional antenna is best for situations in which you have a weaker signal and need to focus in on one cell tower,they can also be used when there are other antennas are on the roof.