When it comes to buying a CB antenna, the most common but important aspect to consider is the type of range. Well, this can be a tricky aspect to analyze and find out, as several factors tend to affect the antenna’s range. Thus, it is important to know and comprehend these factors prior to recognizing the approximate ranges. So, let’s explore them first.
Factors that Influence the Antenna’s Range
These factors determine how far you can transmit and receive signals through your antenna. Following are these factors:
- Length & Type: As a fact, longer antennas tend to have more range than their shorter equivalents. Further, a few types of antennas provide more range than the others. For instance, center-load antennas provide more range than the fiberglass ones of equal length. Thus, a few types and longer antennas have a longer and effective range for transmission.
- Mounting Location: The location where the antenna is mounted also affects the range. The higher the mounting location is, the better is the range. If the mounting location is lower than the expected level, it can result in dramatically reduced range. In this situation, the range may just come down to a fraction of its capacity. For more details on how to choose a good mounting location, kindly check out our post on Selecting a CB Antenna & Mounting Location.
- Installation Errors: A simple error at the time of installing the antenna can result in limited range apart from a high Standing Wave Ratio (SWR). The error can be as simple as improper grounding but it can cost you in terms of range. Thus, it is crucial to install the equipment properly for ensuring a satisfactory performance. For a great briefing on smooth installation (see How To Guides).
- Terrain: The adjoining terrain plays a significant role in determining the antenna’s range. If the terrain is a dense canyon, the range is likely to drop.
- Antenna Quality: Branded models are usually of high build quality as well as ensure durability. At the same time, they are also likely to give you better range. Thus, if the range is an important factor for you to consider, it is wise to go with a branded antenna. Such a product is likely to ensure better performance than a generic, cheaper counterpart.
- Radio Power/Single Sideband Modulation (SSB): Majority of CB radios transmit using the standard power of 4 Watts, except for SSB models. This is because SSB radios possess upper as well as lower sideband channels (beyond and under the standard 40 CB channels), which transmit only CB audio wave. They do not transmit audio wave along with the carrier wave. Broadcasting only using the audio wave allows SSB radios to transmit using 12 Watts, which is thrice the standard power. This results in significant increase in the range. With an SSB radio, you can effectively gain an increased range capacity than the standard or labeled capacity. If the maximum range is what you opt for, you will definitely go for an SSB radio. In order to take the advantage of an SSB’s increased range, the one on the other end must also use an SSB radio.
Approximate CB Range Expectations by Type and Length
It is impossible to come up with the exact and most effective range measure of a CB antenna for a particular application or a vehicle. Therefore, an approximate range after considering the aforementioned factors is prescribed here for different antennas. All figures are based on the assumption that the antenna is properly installed, is tuned well for ensuring an appropriate SWR, and that you are operating from a flat ground.
Single and Dual Fiberglass Antennas
The fiberglass dual ones provide a few benefits that the single ones do not provide. A dual installation is likely to increase the span of effective range by almost 25%, especially when it is parallel to the traveling direction. In addition, if there are antennas on the vehicle’s both sides, it results in a better coverage and averts dead spots caused due to the antenna being defended by one of the vehicle’s sides. To find out more, kindly go through this article on the dual CB antenna installation benefits. Following are the figures for single fiberglass antennas:
- 2′ Length: 2 to 3 miles
- 3′ Length: 3 to 4 miles
- 4′ Length: 4 to 6 miles
- 5′ Length: 5 to 7 miles
Following are the figures for double fiberglass antennas:
- 2′ Length: 2 to 4 miles
- 3′ Length: 4 to 6 miles
- 4′ Length: 5 to 7 miles
- 5′ Length: 6 to 9 miles
The listed ranges are based on the fact that the magnetic antenna is affixed directly on the roof’s center, which is the best mounting location for any CB antenna.
- 3′ Length: 2 to 4 miles
- 4′ Length: 3 to 5 miles
- 5′ Length: 5 to 7 miles
Single and Dual Center-Load Antennas
For single center-load antennas, the approximate range is 7 to 10 miles, while it is 10 to 12 miles for the dual ones. The dual center-load antennas offer some benefits over the single center-load antennas. They are same as that of dual fiberglass antennas.
Base Station Antennas
The range for a base station antenna is difficult to estimate, as they usually range from 15 to 50 miles. For these antennas, the terrain plays a significant role. This is because of more variation within a 25- to 50-mile transmission radius than what exists within a smaller 5-mile radius for a mobile antenna. Nevertheless, a well installed base antenna can offer a minimum of 15 miles of range.
Stainless Steel 102″ Whip
This one is famous amongst those who wish to have the maximum range possible for the CB. This top-rated antenna is widely seen on off-road vehicles or pickups but is functional on almost anything you drive. These antennas provide a range of approximately 7 to 10 miles.
No Ground Plane (NGP) Antennas
Due to their unique construction, the NGP antennas possess about 70% of the range of standard ground-based antennas of the same length.
- 2′ Length: 1 to 2 miles
- 3′ Length: 2 to 3 miles
- 4′ Length: 3 to 5 miles