Cellular antennas aren’t a hot topic, but the truth of the matter is utilizing the right one is highly important. Cellular signal boosters use two: an indoor, and outdoor antenna. The same applies to cellular routers and hotspots. The key to maximizing their performance is purchasing the best indoor and outdoor antenna for your system.
4 Things to be Aware of Before Buying Cellular Antennas
Here are some things to understand before purchasing a cellular antenna(s).
There are Different Types of Cellular Antennas
There are four main types of cellular antennas.
- Outdoor Omni-Directional Antennas pull in cell signal from every direction. They’re great for amplifying multiple carriers simultaneously and work best in areas with decent outside signal.
- Outdoor Directional Antennas pull in cell signal from one direction and have to point at your carrier’s closest cell tower. They’re able to boost multiple carriers, but tend to only amplify one or two at a time because of their directionality. Overall, they’re stronger than omni antennas and work great in strong and weak signal environments.
- Indoor Dome Antennas broadcast the amplified signal in every direction. For optimal results and wider coverage, they work best in areas with decent to strong outside signal.
- Indoor Panel Antennas broadcast the amplified signal in one direction. They help squeeze as much gain out of your signal booster unit. Those who live in weak signal areas will receive better in-building coverage with this antenna.
Your outside signal strength, how many cellular carriers you wish to amplify, and your desired coverage area will play a role in determining which type of antenna you should consider.
Check the Antenna’s Impedance
Matching the cellular antenna’s impedance rating (measured in Ohms) to that of your signal booster unit or cellular router connectors will help provide you with the best results. In other words, 50 Ohm antennas will work best with 50 Ohm systems, and 75 Ohm antennas will work best with 75 Ohm systems. If the impedance rating isn't disclosed, look at the connectors:
- Type-N or SMA connectors have an impedance rating of 50 Ohms
- Type-F connectors have an impedance rating of 75 Ohms
The reason why it’s best to match impedance is because mixing them will introduce impedance loss and single loss through the adapters you’ll need to use to connect the antenna to the signal booster or cellular router. This will prevent you from getting the best possible signal.
When to Buy Multiple Indoor Antennas
Many of our signal booster bundles include additional indoor antennas.
The most common reason for using multiple indoor antennas is usually due to internal building material, like a brick chimney, a metal wall, or even thick wood walls, preventing the boosted signal from traveling into the rest of the building. An additional antenna will help refocus the boosted signal on the other side of the barrier. Another common reason is multiple stories.
There are a few other questions to bear in mind:
#1. Can the Booster System Handle Multiple Indoor Antennas?
All signal booster units have a maximum amount of amplification ability and it’s usually expressed in dB (decibels). We don’t recommend getting multiple antennas for vehicle boosters or systems with gain levels less than 65 dB. We’ve found that 65 dB systems and up are better suited to handle multiple interior antennas.
#2. How Strong is Your Outside Signal?
One thing to note about signal boosters is that the degree to which they can amplify your signal depends on your outside signal's strength. In other words, if you have a strong outside connection, it’s easier for the unit to apply maximum gain to the received signal before pushing it to the indoor antenna(s) for broadcasting. On the other hand, if the outside signal is on the weaker side, gain levels will naturally be lower because the incoming signal is not strong enough for the booster to reach its maximum potential. The result is limited coverage.
If you want multiple antennas, there needs to be enough signal to feed them all with the splitter we now need to install. A splitter is an accessory that allows you to split the amplified signal equally between two or more indoor antennas. The reason we talk about having enough signal is because two things happen when using a splitter:
- Splitters, like many other connectors and adapters, have a certain degree of signal loss associated with them; it can be as low as 0.4 dB like the SureCall 2-Way Splitter, or as high as 6 dB like the weBoost 4-Way Splitter. Note that dB is measured on a logarithmic scale: every 3 dB of signal loss means you’re cutting down half of your signal strength, and every 6 dB means you’re decreasing your coverage area by half.
- Using a splitter to accommodate multiple indoor antennas doesn’t mean that more coverage is being produced; it just means that more areas of your building will receive coverage. For example, if you're getting about 500 sq ft of coverage with a 65 dB unit, adding a second antenna will not duplicate those results. The splitter is going to split the signal equally between the two antennas. As a result, instead of 500 sq ft of coverage at each indoor antenna point, you might get 200 sq ft at each point after losing a bit of signal due to the splitter.
In short, before considering having multiple indoor antennas, your outside signal needs to be decent. Otherwise, if you’re already working with weak signal, the splitter (depending on make and model) will degrade the boosted signal and provide you with less than optimal coverage and signal strength at each indoor antenna point. This is why we often recommend starting with one antenna when your outside signal is less than satisfactory, and if you get great results because the exterior antenna is receiving a stronger signal than expected, then additional indoor antennas can be added.
#3. Indoor Antenna Range Limitations
Inside antennas have a maximum amount of range. On average, we’ve found that dome antennas can cover about 3,000 to 4,000 sq ft with perfect outside signal, open concept, and no walls, so basically a warehouse in the middle of the city. Panel antenna manufacturers estimate their antennas can cover about 5,000 sq ft.
How does this apply to getting multiple antennas? If your signal booster unit can cover more ground than what the indoor antenna can provide on its own, then intergrading multiple antennas will help provide wider coverage.
For example, if your signal booster can cover up to 10,000 sq ft under perfect conditions like the SureCall Fusion5s 2.0, you won't achieve maximum coverage using one indoor antenna because of their limitations. In this case, using multiple antennas would be beneficial if you have the signal strength.
When to Buy Multiple Outdoor Antennas
You should only buy multiple outdoor antennas if you’re utilizing directional antennas for home or business units and wish to enhance cell reception for multiple carriers.
Remember, directional antennas can only receive cellular signals from the direction in which they are facing. Most of the time there is only one cell tower within its range, and in some cases, there are two.
If you're trying to pull in AT&T and Verizon signals, for example, but the antennas are located on opposite sides, two directional antennas will be needed. Keep in mind, though, that most signal boosters will require you to use splitters and additional coaxial cable to connect all outdoor antennas to the unit. This leads to some signal loss, preventing the booster from receiving as much incoming signal as possible.
Normally, the signal loss associated with using multiple outdoor antennas isn’t too much of an issue when you have reliable outside signal. However, if you have weak outside signal, utilizing multiple outdoor antennas is not recommended.
Cellular Antennas for Homes, Businesses, and Vehicles
Now that you have a better idea of what type of cellular antenna you’re looking for and how many, here are our top cellular antennas for homes, businesses, vehicles, and cellular hotspots.
Most Powerful Outdoor Antenna
- Rural areas where receiving a consistent signal feels impossible
- Urban areas plagued with lots of radio frequency noise for consistently crisp signal
The Long Ranger is one of the big boys, large in size and power. Being a log-parabolic antenna, it’s extremely directional, were talking about a 10° radiation cone. This can make the installation relatively challenging because you’d have to point it at a cell tower with such accuracy for optimal results, which can take a bit of time. The benefit of such directionality is that in urban areas where there is tons of radio-frequency noise pollution, the antenna allows you to laser focus incoming and outgoing signals for minimal RF noise interference and clear, crisp, and consistent, reception.
In addition, it has an insane range of over 10 miles. That, plus its maximum gain of +28 dBi makes it a phenomenal performer in rural areas with an exceptionally weak signal. If you don’t get any signal after installing this baby correctly, then you’re probably in a large dead zone.
Not to mention, the Long Ranger is compatible with all cell signal boosters, mobile hotspots, and WiFi routers. For the cherry on top, it’s also 5G ready.
Easiest Outdoor Antenna to Install
- Amplifying multiple carriers simultaneously
- Areas with decent cell signal
- Areas with multiple cellular towers nearby
The best thing about the Wilson Omni Antenna, as with any outdoor omni-directional antenna, is how fast and simple it is to install. All you have to do is find the area with the strongest signal (usually the roof), securely mount it, and forget it. Once installed and connected to the signal boosting system, it'll pull in cellular signals from every direction (360°) from every cell carrier’s tower within its range.
Seeing as this antenna does not require you to point it at the nearest cell tower for maximum boost, it's not as powerful as its directional counterparts. Thus, a decent cellular signal is necessary for optimal results. If used in weak signal areas, the antenna may not be able to reach your closest cell towers or provide sufficient gain to the signal it picks up. As a result, your in-building coverage may be limited.
In short, if boosting multiple cellular carriers for multiple cellular devices is important for you, and you have decent outside cellular signal, the Wilson Omni is for you.
Most Versatile Outdoor Antenna
- Rural or Suburban areas with weak signal
- Urban areas plagued with lots of radio frequency noise for consistently crisp signal
The Arrow is an LPDA antenna that combines high gain and relative easy of install. It is easier to install than the Long Ranger, and can be placed on any roof.
The Arrow will receive all kinds of cellular signal (including 4G, LTE, 3G, 2G signals across all major carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Rogers, Bell, Telus, and more).
Compared to The Long Ranger, it has slightly less range (up to 10 miles) and less gain (up to +12 dB), but is cheaper, easier to set up, and is a great option if you've got a cell tower within 10 miles.
Most Powerful Indoor Antenna
- Hallways, small rooms, spaces with high ceilings, & anywhere you need stronger signal
- Maximizing indoor coverage in areas with strong and weak outside signal
The Indoor Board is an ultra-high quality directional antenna. It’s great for those looking to maximize indoor coverage without having to install an eyesore on the wall. The design is simple, small, and will camouflage really well wherever you decide to mount it.
This indoor antenna propagates signal in a 60-75° directional beam, so for optimal results, the Indoor Board should be ceiling or wall-mounted. The front of the antenna needs to point in the direction of the area(s) in which you want better signal. Thus, they're excellent at enhancing coverage in long hallways, small rooms, and if installed on the ceiling, they can blanket a large room and possibly cover multiple floors.
Its gain of up to 8 dBi makes it so that you can get the most coverage out of your system. The stronger your outside signal is, the farther the broadcast signal will travel. If you live in a rural area with weak outside signal, you’ll get a stronger connection using this antenna rather than a dome antenna.
Best Indoor Antenna for Wide-Open Spaces
- Homes and offices with low ceilings
- Homes and offices with open concept layouts
- Homes and offices with minimal indoor building material interference
- Equal signal distribution in all directions
If you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing indoor antenna that offers great results and broadcasts equal signal in all directions, then the Rondo is a no-brainer.
The Rondo is a low-profile dome antenna with low-PIM and up to 6 dBi of gain. This means that the antenna will always provide stable performance and highest quality signal. It’ll take your signal booster unit to the next level!
To get the most coverage out of this antenna, it works best in buildings with low ceilings, open-concept layouts, and minimal indoor interferences. Having decent outside signal also helps broadcast a stronger signal evenly throughout. In weak signal areas, coverage may be extremally limited or lack the strength to reach the ground.
Most Powerful Antenna for Hotspots and Cellular Routers
- Improving cellular broadband connections when WiFi or wired internet isn’t available.
- Improving cellular broadband connections when building material blocks incoming signals.
Are you looking for ways to improve your cellular broadband connection? Look no further. The Crossbow is a cross-polarized MIMO antenna designed for cellular broadband routers, modems, and hotspots.
This antenna features up to 11 dBi of gain and can communicate with cellular towards located up to 5 miles away. That’s a lot more gain and a lot more range than what the typical antennas that come with cellular routers or hotpots offer. Such power makes the Crossbow perfect for rural areas where cellular reception may be limited due to cell tower distance. When tested, we actually saw significant improvements in upload and download speeds in an area with non-existent outside signal (imagine what it can do in urban and suburban areas). Now, if RF noise or building material are the main issues preventing your cellular router from receiving adequate signal to convert into cellular WiFi, the antenna's coaxial cables and 45° cross-polarized directional beam will help overcome those challenges for enhanced upload and download speeds.
The Crossbow is available in two versions. The most popular version includes a 16 ft Twin HDF-195 cable with SMA-Male connectors. Great for SMA-Female cellular routers or hotspots, as well as TS-9 routers or hotpots with the use of an adapter. The second version comes with twin N-Female ports without cables, allowing you to choose a longer cable for long cable runs.
Both versions are 5G capable and are backward compatible with 4G/LTE/3G/2G signals. Not to mention, they also work with all carriers.
Best Outdoor Antenna for Cars, SUVs, and IoT Applications
- Any SMA vehicle booster
- IoT and M2M signal booster
- Urban and suburban areas with some rural areas
The Mighty Mag, short for the mighty magnet, is a 4-inch outdoor magnet mounted omni-directional antenna for vehicle and IoT signal boosters. It can also be used with cellular hotspots.
The antenna easily attaches to the top of any vehicle (cars, SUVs, trucks, etc.) or IoT application (smart parking meters, vending machines, ATMs, etc.) and captures cellular signals from every direction. As a mobile antenna, it can rapidly and automatically adapt to outside signal changes to maintain a consistent connection on the go.
With gains up to 3 dBi, the Mighty Mag will work best in urban, suburban, and some rural areas when paired with the right signal booster.
Best Outdoor Antenna for Trucks and RVs
- Camping in urban or remote campgrounds
- Driving through rural, suburban, and urban roads
The Wilson Drive OTR is a top-notch omni-directional antenna for trucks, RVs, or heavy-duty vehicles. It’s powerful, durable, rugged, and can withstand harsh weather conditions. In fact, it actually meets Military 810H and NEMA IP66 standards.
If you pair this antenna with your truck or RV signal booster, you’re likely to see a significant improvement while camping or driving through urban and rural roads. The antenna's maximum gain is 4 dBi, which isn’t that much different than the Might Mag, but add in the signal booster’s amplification power, and that slight difference in gain can have a significant impact on in-vehicle coverage.
In addition, the antenna is very flexible in installation options. It comes with additional mast extensions to configure the antenna's height from 7.5 - 40 inches, allowing you to get the antenna above any obstruction on your vehicle’s roof that might prevent it from receiving the strongest signal possible.
For superior coverage while camping or on the go, the Wilson Drive OTR Antenna will not disappoint.
Best Low-Profile Indoor Antenna for Vehicles
- Enhancing coverage inside cars, trucks, and SUVs
- RVs who only want coverage in the cockpit
The Wilson Low-Profile Antenna is a discreet, compact, and effective antenna for vehicle signal boosters. With up to 3.4 dBi, it can broadcast enhanced cellular reception throughout most of your vehicle when connected to a weBoost unit.
In addition, it features a super simple installation process. Simply Velcro the antenna to a seat or dash and voila, you're done. For optimal results, make sure the front of the antenna faces the area you wish to boost because it is a directional antenna.
As a vehicle antenna, its broadcasting zone is much smaller than a home unit, thus, in rural areas, you may have to position your cellular devices closer to receive a consistent connection.
Best Indoor Desktop Antenna for RVs
- Enhancing coverage inside any RV
- Improving reception while stationary or camping
The Honcho is a wideband indoor antenna best suited for RVs, but will work with any vehicle and even small homes.
Its sleek design makes it so that you can install it anywhere inside your RV without compromising your décor. Simply place it on any flat surface and ensure it faces the area where most cellular activity takes place because it is directional (120° radiation cone).
In addition, this compact antenna packs a serious punch. Under perfect conditions, it’s strong enough to cover up to 1-2 rooms. On average, customers have seen about 8 ft of coverage, which is more than the typical vehicle antenna.
It’s ideal for those wanting wider cell coverage and a consistent connection while driving or camping in rural and urban areas.
Need Help Finding the Best Antenna for Your Needs? Contact Us
Signal Boosters is a leading provider of cell phone signal boosters for homes, vehicles, and commercial buildings. We specialize in consumer-friendly kits as well as customized RF systems for cellular, public safety two-way radio, DAS, and WiFi.