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How do I Choose the Best Wireless Antenna?

T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree

In order to choose the best wireless antenna, you must first determine what type of system it will be used with. There are a variety of applications for wireless antenna systems. A wireless system may be employed indoors from room to room, or outdoors from building to building. The type of wireless system you are using as well as its location will determine which type of wireless antenna you should choose.

There are two basic types of wireless antennas: directional and omni-directional. Directional antennas are commonly utilized in point-to-point systems, while omni-directional antennas are most often employed in point-to-multi-point systems. A directional wireless antenna is primarily used to transmit a signal from one building to the next building while an omni-directional wireless antenna is typically used as a type of main antenna which distributes a signal to other wireless devices in an office, business, or home. Directional wireless antennas are also known as Yagi, backfires, dish, or panels. Omni-directional wireless antennas usually go by the names such as ceiling domes, small desktops, rubber ducks, and vertical omnis.

A wireless router with an antenna.
A wireless router with an antenna.

A Yagi antenna is a low-cost antenna that has a signal range of more than 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) and can be mounted outdoors on a pole. The backfire antenna is less expensive than the Yagi and is only 10 inches (25.4cm) in diameter, making it well-suited for use in outdoor areas where space is limited. Panel and dish type antennas are large and powerful long-range outdoor antennas that can withstand very high winds; they can also be quite expensive, however. Vertical omni-directional antennas are very sturdy and hold up well in nearly all outdoor weather conditions. Ceiling dome wireless antennas have a less obstructed line of sight indoors and are able extend through walls also. Small desktop antennas are most often used with desktop style personal computers, while rubber duck antennas are intended for use with portable laptop-style computers.

Some wireless antenna systems can be used outdoors.
Some wireless antenna systems can be used outdoors.

Wireless systems can be set up as a point-to-point or point-to-multi-point network. Point-to-point systems typically involve wireless points in two different locations, such as transmitting a wireless signal from one building to another building. Point-to-multi-point systems are commonly used for sharing a high-speed Internet connection within a single building, such as a home or office. They can also be used for wireless access points often found at airports, truck stops, hotels, and coffee shops. These access points allow patrons to access the Internet using their own portable wireless devices.

Once you have become more knowledgeable about wireless antennas and their various applications, it will become somewhat easier to choose the best antenna for your particular needs. You should keep in mind that your business and personal matters often rely upon the performance of your wireless system. You may also want to plan for future uses that you may have for your wireless system as well.

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    • A wireless router with an antenna.
      By: Scanrail
      A wireless router with an antenna.
    • Some wireless antenna systems can be used outdoors.
      By: Victoria Andreas
      Some wireless antenna systems can be used outdoors.