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All About Antennas: Which Outside Antenna is Best For You?

All About Antennas: Which Outside Antenna is Best For You?



Why Do I Need an Outside Antenna?

You need them to capture and transmit signal. An outside antenna specifically is your gateway to 5G, 4G LTE, and 3G cellular, digital, or WiFi signal reaching you in your home, vehicle, or place of business.

Cell phone signal boosters make use of these to grab outside signal in order to amplify and rebroadcast it.

A signal booster kit has three core components:

  1. An Outside Antenna to capture weak signal
  2. An Amplifier to boost this weak signal
  3. An Inside Antenna to broadcast the enhanced signal within a closed space.

What you may not know is that the power of the antennas can sometimes dramatically affect the power of the signal you end up bringing to the amplifier to boost. Thus, a more powerful outside antenna set up correctly can dramatically increase the performance of your kit.

What Types of Outside Antennas are There?

Outside antennas broadly fall into two categories: omni-directional, and uni-directional. Within the uni-directional category are several more: yagi, and log periodic. These come in two types: 50 Ohm or 75 Ohm.

One of the hardest things about choosing a signal booster can be knowing which type of antenna is right for your situation, so let’s start with ironing out the differences between these various types.

How They Are The Same

Both omni-directional and uni-directional antennas pull in the existing cellular signal (5G, 5G E, 4G LTE, and 3G). Both increase the power of the signal upon pulling it in, but the extent to which that happens varies depending on the type.

How They Differ


Omni antennas catch signal from a 360 degree field, and do not discriminate. They will seize any signal that exists, whether you want it or not. This is great if you have several cell sites nearby, and for boosting multiple carriers at once. Omni-directional antennas nearly always look like rod shaped cylinders. Think of a radio antenna you might have on your car - this is an omni antenna.


Directional antennas are a bit more specialized. They catch signal from a 90 degree maximum field, getting narrower with more precise equipment. The UltraGain 26 log periodic antenna, for example, has a 5 degree field. This directionality allows for more precise and powerful signal to reach your amplifier.


The more remote you are, the more directional you’ll want to think. Conversely, if you’re in an extremely urban area and are bombarded with irrelevant signal, becoming more directional can help with that, too.


Omni-Directional Antennas

The best thing about an Omni-Directional Antenna is its installation. All you need to do is mount it somewhere with strong signal and it pull in signal in a 360 degree pattern. No muss, no fuss.

The problem comes when you are remote or even in a suburb, and need to locate your cell tower to find your carrier’s signal. It lacks the power (gain) of more directional antennas, so the signal outside your home or office needs to be quite strong in order to see a great effect. Also, because it snags signal from everywhere, it doesn’t have any filters, so extremely busy urban areas might give you issues.

Let’s break it down:

PROS:

  1. Easy installation.
  2. Will amplify all cell signal in your area, from multiple carriers with different cell towers in multiple locations
  3. Great at boosting 5G E, 4G LTE, and 3G signal when building material is the main reason you’re suffering from poor signal indoors

CONS:

  1. Doesn’t reach as far as a directional antenna
  2. Doesn’t give as much gain to your incoming signal as a directional antenna
  3. Susceptible to “signal noise” and can become overwhelmed in extremely busy urban areas
  4. Not optimized for rural areas where distance from the cell tower is the main problem

With their easy installation, omni-directional antennas are a popular yet non-specialized choice for most users.

Many of our enterprise customers choose omni antennas because they service multiple providers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint all at once.

If you live in a populated area with decent coverage from multiple cell towers close enough for the omni to pull in, an omni-directional antenna is a good choice.

Buy an Omni Antenna here:

  • Outdoor antenna grabs 5G E (AT&T), 4G LTE, and 3G signal omni-directionally.
  • Available in both 50 and 75 Ohm format
  • Up to +4dB gain

Buy a Vehicle Omni Antenna (OTR Truck Antenna):

  • Outdoor antenna grabs 5G E (AT&T), 4G LTE, and 3G signal omni-directionally.
  • Available in both 50 and 75 Ohm format
  • Up to +4dB gain

A Few Popular Cell Phone Signal Boosters that Feature Omni-Directional Antennas:

  1. SureCall Fusion4Home Omni/Whip: Boosts talk, text, 3G and 4G LTE with home coverage from 500 to 1,500 sq ft.
  2. weBoost Drive 4G-X: Boosts talk, text, 5G E [AT&T], 4G LTE, and 3G for cars, trucks, and sedans.
  3. Cel-Fi GO-M: Boosts talk, text, 5G E [AT&T], 4G LTE, and 3G for single carriers in cars, trucks, and sedans.

Yagi Antennas

A yagi antenna is the most common type of uni-directional cellular antenna. They are slightly more advanced than omni antennas, and once installed high on a building or wall will pull in signal in a 45 to 90 degree field in the direction they point.

This narrower field of concentration allows a yagi antenna to reach out farther to pull in signal - up to 3x as far as an omni - while also giving higher gain to the signal being pulled in. However, it needs to be pointed toward a carrier-appropriate cell tower to work properly.

PROS:

  1. Up to 3x more powerful than an omni antenna
  2. Works well for people in rural or suburban areas.
  3. Can boost multiple carriers should their cell towers fall within their field of range
  4. Great for boosting 5G, 5G E, 4G LTE, and 3G signal when distance from the cell tower is the biggest problem

CONS:

  1. A single yagi is best for boosting only one or two carrier’s signal at a time, thus multiple yagis are needed to boost carriers as needed
  2. Some installation required - the antenna needs to be pointed in the right direction in order to be effective
  3. Needs a tiny bit of technical know-how to find the right cell tower and make sure you’re pointing directly at it

Yagi antennas are the type we bundle most frequently with our signal boosters. This is because they give better results for most of our customers versus an omni - but not in every situation.

They are specialized antenna that can potentially bring in more signal than an omni antenna, but they require some work to set up properly. However, it’s just a BIT more (figuring out where your cell tower is and pointing it that way) so optimizing your system with a yagi is still not too difficult, and usually hits the sweet spot for what one needs and what one wants to do to get better signal.

Buy a Yagi Antenna here:

  • Outdoor antenna grabs 5G E (AT&T), 4G LTE, and 3G signal directionally
  • Available in both 50 and 75 Ohm formats
  • Up to +10.6dB gain

A few cell phone signal boosters that feature the yagi directional antenna:

  1. weBoost Connect 4G: Boosts talk, text,5G E [AT&T], 4G LTE and 3G with home coverage from 1,500 to 5,000 sq ft.
  2. SureCall Fusion4Home Yagi/Whip: Boosts talk, text, 5G E [AT&T], 4G LTE and 3G with home coverage from 1,500 to 2,500 sq ft.
  3. Cel-Fi GO-X: Boosts talk, text, 5G E (AT&T), 4G LTE and 3G for a single carrier with home coverage from 2,500 to 7,500 sq ft. 
  4. Wilson Pro 70 Plus: Commercial signal booster. Coverage for buildings from 15,000 to  25,000 sq ft.

Log Periodic Antennas

The granddaddy of directional antennas, log periodic antennas are what you’ll see commonly with people who have satellite television service. They have extremely long range and are very directional, so take everything said above about the yagi and multiply it. They are frequently used with parabolic grids, which are sheets placed behind the antenna in order to better capture the signal around it and increase its gain. Adding other elements to a log periodic antenna increases its bandwidth rather than its gain.

PROS:

  1. Vastly more powerful than omni antennas - up to 30x in some cases - and significantly stronger than yagi antennas
  2. Pull in all varieties of radio signal, be that 5G, 4G LTE, 3G, WiFi, WiMax, you name it
  3. Are the absolute best choice for those in really remote areas, as they can reach up to 10 miles to your nearest cell tower
  4. Also very useful in extremely busy urban areas, and its very directional field helps minimize noise when used correctly

CONS:

  1. Extremely directional - has anywhere from a 5 to 15 degree field, making it a relatively challenging install
  2. Can only hit a single cell tower at once
  3. More expensive than a yagi or omni antenna
  4. Quite large, so you’ll need a lot of room on your roof to install properly

These are big boys, and before you even think about getting one, you need to ask yourself if you want a large antenna outside, and if you’re willing to spend a little bit of time installing it. If you’re the type who wants the best results possible and are willing to do what it takes to achieve those results, a log periodic antenna will almost certainly get you workable signal no matter where you live or what circumstances you find yourself in (barring natural disasters, of course).

They are future proof, too, and cover all possible cellular signals, so whatever new fancypants technologies the wireless companies come up with to improve data speeds or voice/text, you can be sure a log periodic antenna will be able to handle it. Their versatility extends well beyond boosting cellular signal, and can even bump up your WiFi if your cable company doesn’t reach and you have the proper equipment.

Still, they are more expensive than omni or yagi antennas, and don’t come bundled with any boosters due to their sheer size and power. You get back what you put in.

Bolton Technical UltraGain 26 Directional Log Periodic Antenna - The Highest Continuous Gain Antenna on the Market:

  • Outdoor antenna grabs any radio signal, including cellular and WiFi, ultra-directionally
  • Available in 50 Ohm format
  • Up to +26dB gain


Which Antenna Should I Get?

Think of these antennas as light sources.

An omni antenna is a lantern, with a wide radius of light shining from all directions around it. A yagi antenna is like a flashlight, with a more focused beam that reaches farther into the darkness. A log periodic antenna is like a laser-pointer - not going to light up much of an area, but so concentrated that it can be seen shining on The Rock’s face no matter where in the arena you sit.

A good rule of thumb is, if you’re surrounded by nearby towers but don’t have tons of urban noise around you, go with an omni antenna.

If you’re in a location where the cell tower is far away but not TOO far, get a yagi. Yagis are what we generally bundle with our signal booster kits because they work for most people in most situations.

If you need that extra power or live so far off the grid you’re not even on a map, a log periodic antenna is your best bet. These can be used as commonly as yagis, but the fact that they are a little more challenging to set up and somewhat more expensive makes it a tougher sell. Still, you get what you pay for in this case.

Further, there are combiners which allow for complex setups using multiple antennas, of any variety, so the choice is yours.

One last thing to consider is whether or not your Home Owner Association will allow a large antenna setup. Omni and yagi antennas are rarely if ever a problem, but the size of a log periodic antenna can make it tough to hide.

Hope this helps, and thanks for reading!

Any other questions? Drop us a line on the comments below.


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SignalBoosters.com is a leading provider of cellular and WiFi signal boosting solutions & installation.

Contact us today for a comprehensive solution.

Alex B.
14th Feb 2019

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