What’s the Difference between a Directional and Omnidirectional Antenna?
Basic Definitions and Antenna Concepts
Over-the-air (OTA) television antennas pick up signals from local TV towers in your area, allowing you to watch FREE channels like ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, and more (depending on local geography). Local TV broadcasts are everywhere – over 99% of U.S. TV households can receive at least one local station, while 89% can get five or more stations! That means you can watch at home, or any outdoor location – in your RV, at the cabin, in your ice fishing house, anywhere you have a TV!
There are two main types of OTA antennas – the omnidirectional antenna and the directional antenna. Both directional and omni antennas come with benefits and downsides, depending on your location and situation.
Omnidirectional Antennas are OTA TV antennas that pick up signals in all (or omni) directions, rather than just in one direction.
Radiation Pattern of an Omni Antenna
Omnidirectional antennas are polarized in a way that allows them to provide a 360 degree radiation pattern. They are used when coverage is required in all directions.
Because the omni directional antenna points in all directions, you don’t have to adjust it if you move the omni directional antenna to a new location. It also means you don’t have to know where to point the omni directional antenna or where your local towers are located. The omni directional antenna also comes in handy if there are multiple towers in your area that are located in different directions – you would pick up all of them using an omni directional antenna! Bottom line, if you are in an RV or plan on moving your OTA antenna to new outdoor locations often, the omni directional design will help you avoid the hassle of finding and pointing your antenna toward the nearest TV signal every time you relocate.
Because the omnidirectional antenna design points in all directions, rather than focusing its power on one direction, it does not have as strong of a signal as a directional design. So if you are in an area where the TV broadcasting towers are far away, you may want to consider a more powerful antenna design.
Dipole Directional antennas, on the other hand, only point their power in one direction. Because of this concentrated focus of dipole directional power, it has a greater signal range, allowing the antenna to pick up signals from much further away.
Radiation Pattern of an Omni Antenna
Directional antennas are polarized in a way that allows them to focus and emit energy in one particular direction. As the gain of a directional antenna increases, the coverage distance increases, but the affective coverage angle decreases.
Directional antennas are much more powerful than their omni directional counterparts, and able to pull in signals from greater distances. Because directional antennas only “see” in one direction, they are resistant to noise and “multipath distortion” (a problem created when an antenna receives reflections from the desired signal).
Compared to omni directional antennas, the antenna must be pointed toward the signal, meaning every time you relocate, you must find where the signal is and redirect the antenna. For those using directional antennas as opposed to omni directional antennas in their home, this isn’t an issue, since you don’t need to change omni directional antennas once you install them.
For RVers who move around a lot, the good news is KING has an ultra-high gain OTA directional and omni directional antennas that allow you to easily locate the nearest signal, lock onto it, and repoint your antenna with the turn of a knob!
Images of inside crank/signal finder:
(The above image gets installed on an RV ceiling and allows you to turn the antenna to point in the direction you want it)
Both the omnidirectional antennas and directional antennas can be useful depending on your situation. Bottom line, the directional antennas are more powerful, however can be less convenient than the omni directional antennas in certain situations because they only point in one direction.
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