Which Outside Antenna is Best for You?
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:
- An Outside Antenna to capture weak signal
- An Amplifier to boost this weak signal
- 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?
The outside antenna usually comes in two types: omni antenna and directional (yagi) antenna in either 50 Ohm or 75 Ohm variations.
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 two 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, since you can easily 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. 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.
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 fuss, no muss.
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:
- Easy installation.
- Will amplify all cell signal in your area, from multiple carriers with different cell towers in multiple locations
- Great at boosting 5G E, 4G LTE, and 3G signal when building material is the main reason you’re suffering from poor reception indoors
- Doesn’t reach as far as a directional antenna
- Doesn’t give as much gain to your incoming signal as a directional antenna
- Susceptible to “signal noise” and can become overwhelmed in extremely busy urban areas
- 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.
One final thing: know whether the amplifier you'll be using with your antenna is 50 or 75 Ohm. As a general rule, commercial units are 50 ohm, while consumer units are 75. The main exception to this are the low-end WilsonPro units ( the 70, 70 Plus), which have both options, and the weBoost Connect 4G-X, which is a 50 Ohm consumer unit.
A Few Popular Cell Phone Signal Boosters that Feature Omni-Directional 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.
- Up to 3x more powerful than an omni antenna
- Works well for people in rural or suburban areas.
- Can boost multiple carriers should their cell towers fall within their field of range
- Great for boosting 5G, 5G E, 4G LTE, and 3G signal when distance from the cell tower is the biggest problem
- 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
- Some installation required - the antenna needs to be pointed in the right direction in order to be effective
- 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 (you have to find a cell tower near you) 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.
Again, it's important to know whether the amplifier you'll be using with your antenna is 50 or 75 Ohm. As a general rule, commercial units are 50 ohm, while consumer units are 75. The main exception to this are the low-end WilsonPro units ( the 70, 70 Plus), which have both options, and the weBoost Connect 4G-X, which is a 50 Ohm consumer unit.
A Few Popular Cell Phone Signal Boosters that Feature Yagi Directional Antennas:
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 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, get a yagi. Yagis are what we generally bundle with our signal booster kits because they work for most people in most situations.
Further, there are combiners which allow for complex setups using multiple antennas, of any variety, so the choice is yours.
Hope this helps, and thanks for reading!
How May We Help You?
Wilson Amplifiers is the leading provider of cell phone signal boosters. Cell phone boosters amplify 3G & 4G LTE for any phone with any carrier for home, office, or vehicle.
We seriously hate dropped calls and poor coverage, so it's our goal in life to stomp on spotty signal like the little roaches they are:
- Free consultation (ask us anything) with our US-based customer support (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call us at 1-800-568-2723.
- Free shipping.
- Better signal or industry-leading 90 money-back guaranteed. No questions asked.
- We want everyone to be satisfied, so we provide lifetime technical support and a 2-year warranty for all products.
Ask us anything and we'll be glad to help.