A Very High Frequency (VHF) Antenna is one of the few essentials that a boater needs to shop for after acquiring a boat. In simple terms, an Antenna changes electrical energy into radio waves. They allow communication between stations and boaters and are thus a must-have for all marine boaters. They send and receive signals within the range of 30 to 300 MHz.
Unlike UHF antennas, VHF ones are better suited for much longer ranges. Moreover, if you are looking for AIS antennas, the following VHF Antennas are ideal: Morad, Vesper, and Shakespeare.
It is essential to distinguish whether you want a marine or a digital antenna. They come in many different varieties, all coming down to what they are made of. They can be made of coax cable, copper, brass, or a combination of both. Additionally, it is more than just a wire; it allows signals to travel following line of sight. They must be protected from water, and their placement determines the quality of radio transmission, amongst many other factors. This guide will help you choose a VHF Antenna, whether you are a boater or if you want one for your TV at home.
The Best VHF Antennas to Own & Use
Budget Pick – Vansky Outdoor TV Antenna 150 Mile Range Digital Amplified HDTV
Tired of paying premium cable bills just for receiving high-quality local channels that can be free? Obviously yes, then we have got the best product for you. The Vansky Outdoor Antenna is designed for TV users who want to get their local TV channels without paying day by day increasing charges to their cable company. The VHF antenna comes with the capability of picking up signals from as far as 150 miles and we are not talking about just picking them up. You’ll get to enjoy the best quality HD results without ever paying a dime.
Even if that doesn’t get you motivated to try this incredible antenna out. The next feature definitely will. You will never have to get on the roof and start blindly swinging the antenna around to get a good enough signal. The VHF antenna comes with a wireless remote-controlled motor that offers the freedom to rotate the antenna in any direction from the ground. You no longer have to keep on shouting to know how the reception is. Simply get your remote and start setting up the antenna to get the best results.
Best for TV – Five Star Outdoor Digital Amplified HDTV Antenna
Presenting the incredible Five Star Outdoor HDTV Antenna that comes with incredible capabilities of making your TV watching experience incredible and that too without paying a dime in monthly subscription fees. From news channels to popular sports programs, you can get everything on your TV with this Antenna’s incredible range of 200 miles and HDTV guarantee. The VHF antenna even has the capability of delivering some nearby channels in 4K resolution which is hard to find in any other competitor available in the market today.
Just like our previous selection, the Five Star Digital Antenna also comes with a wireless motor that can be used to rotate the antenna in the optimal position comfortably. The internal copper lining shields the signal from any interference and delivers crystal clear results to your TVs. The Five Star Outdoor Antenna is also an incredible choice for a group that lives in a small apartment block or people who have multiple TV in their homes. The Antenna can support up to 5 TVs at the same time without any drop in the performance. Overall, the Five Star Outdoor Digital Antenna is an incredible choice for multiple reasons and can become an ideal addition in your home if you want to enjoy high-quality local TV for free!
Best for Marine Applications – Shakespeare 5225XT Galaxy VHF Antenna, 8-Feet
VHF antennas are not only used for TV applications. Multiple integral sectors rely on the technology for their communication and one of them is the coast guards. If you are a boating enthusiast or someone who regularly goes on a yacht trip, you’ll know how important it is for the safety of everyone to remain in contact with the emergency services to get timely updates and call for help when needed.
A marine antenna can help you maintain contact over extremely long distances and the Shakespeare brand is one of the best in the market for this application. The 5225Xt Galaxy VHF Antenna is the best choice due to its awesome communication capabilities and a reasonable price. The VHF antenna has a signal gain of 6 dB which is more than enough for clear communication over very long distances. Its length also plays an important part in assisting communication. Additionally, the antenna comes with a free 20 ft cable that gives you complete freedom to mount your antenna anywhere on the boat. Moreover, the incredible VHF antenna comes with a five-year repair warranty so if anything goes wrong, the manufacturers will repair it for you without charging you a penny.
Tram 1607-HC 46-Inch VHF Marine Antenna
This is another marine antenna that puts many premium brands to shame when it comes to communication capabilities and signal range. The 20 ft long gives you a signal gain of 3 dB which is a respectable number when you consider the overall price of the product. 3 dB gain is good enough to carry out your messages over medium distances without any distortion. The entire body of this antenna is made up of fiberglass so it is safe to use in windy conditions as well because of the high strength and elasticity of the material. You also get a very stable base from the manufacturers so you won’t have to invest extra money in getting a stronger base for your application.
When you compare the price of this incredible marine antenna with other options available in the market, you’ll be surprised by how low the cost of Tram 1607 is. It is natural to expect that the product is of inferior quality due to the low price but that is completely wrong. Apart from a relatively lower signal gain, the Tram 1607 surprising holds very well on its own. The antenna covers all the marine band frequencies and is extremely easy to install for even someone without much technical knowledge. The product even comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee from the manufacturers so you can give this product a spin with confidence that your investment is protected.
TV Antenna – RCA Outdoor Yagi Satellite HD Antenna
Coming back to TVs, our final selection for the best VHF Antenna available in the market is none other than the RCA Yagi HD Antenna. The manufacturers are considered one of the top brands in the USA because of their brand recognition, top-quality products, and ideal customer service network. The Yagi Satellite Antenna allows you to enjoy top quality HD channels so you don’t have to pay any sky-high subscription fees to your cable providers.
The antenna is one of the few products available in the market that can support 4K and 8K resolutions and deliver the highest quality picture and sound. The range of RCA Yagi Antenna is however lower than the other products we have listed. The antenna can pick up signals from up to 70 miles and can withstand tough outdoor conditions and is reported to perform normally even during storms.
The entire assembly is delivered as it is so you won’t have to spend much time assembling the product from scratch. You also get access to the incredible feature of RCA with this antenna that sets it apart from other competitors available in the market. The incredible antenna comes with the manufacturer’s signal finding app. It pins down your location through your phone’s GPS and tells you exactly where you should align the antenna to get the best signal.
More VHF Antennas That Are Great Choices
Types of VHF Antennas
VHF Antennas come in many designs, but the most common ones are:
Array Antennas are mostly just basic antennas with added director elements and reflectors. It has a minimum of two components (driven and director) and can have way more if required. You can stack together the array antennas to create a stacked array, which connects via one transmission line. Stacking them vertically is generally preferable as opposed to horizontally stacking them. Radio channels and TV stations mostly use this kind.
A Yagi antenna is a type of VHF antenna, which is multi-element and comes with a reflector and a director. They are better for weaker communication channels and have a range of only about 20 dB. The only problem with them is that they have difficulty matching signals.
This type of antenna is used for more extensive frequencies. They come with several dipoles, which is why they are similar to dipole arrays. It also contains many elements.
As suggested by the name, these antennas are conical in shape and extend outwards from the beam. The elements are bent inwards to achieve the shape. The can receive both low and high range frequency signals.
How To Choose A VHF Antenna?
This determines what quality signal you receive in comparison to other stations around you. A higher rating or gain allows for perpendicular energy transmission to the shaft of the antenna. The taller the antenna, the greater the dB rating, and narrower it is from the bottom. A problem with a higher rating is that the energy above and below it diminishes if the boat is in turbulent waters. Low dB ratings are better for sailboats and usually have a rating of about 3 dB only.
Most VHF antennas are of fiberglass or steel (stainless). The stainless steel ensures that the antenna does not rust easily. The stainless-steel-one best suits to sailboats and smaller powerboats with shorter frequencies. Fiberglass antennas often come in a tube and come in many different qualities. The Shakespeare and Galaxy series are more durable and have a life of between 5 to 10 years.
An antenna is made up of at least one element (allows for radiation of signals) and can be driven, director elements, etc. These are sometimes of copper, brass, coaxial, and sometimes also a mix of copper and brass for maximum durability.
Transmission Range Factors
All VHF antenna users want the best possible range for optimum quality transmission. The following are important factors that one should keep in mind to make sure you have the best range possible.
- Marine radios, specifically the ones on recreational boats, only have a maximum output of 25 watts.
- We use the line of sight theory for VHF antennas i.e. signals do not bend because of obstacles on the way.
- Antenna height is by far the most important factor that leads to much longer transmissions.
- The gain determines the quality of sound received.
- Make sure that you well-protect the antenna from rain and direct sunlight (preferably under a shed).
Q1. What is the optimum height for a VHF Antenna?
If you are a boater then as a rule of thumb, the height of the antennas should be less than half of what the length of the boat is.
Q2. Do VHF antennas require grounding?
No, these antennas already come with negative wire, however, we still recommend to confirm this with the salespeople because sometimes even despite insulation, the metals inside can expose. Grounding is more important if you got a VHF antenna for a TV as opposed to getting one for your boat.
Q3. Can VHF antennas be spliced?
Splicing coax antennas is easier. All you need are two coax connectors (male), and a barrel connector. Conclusively, splicing would most definitely lead to some loss.
You can use VHF Antennas for many reasons as different kinds of vessels or machinery requires different VHF antennas. Replacing or investing in antennas requires knowing technological knowledge and is thus its best to leave it for experts to recommend if you have never done it before. While the standard range for VHF antennas is 30 to 300 dB, not all VHF antennas fall into it. VHF antennas come in different shapes, sizes, ranges and they all vary for the kind of machine you need it for (digital vs. marine).
Maintaining VHF antennas is not difficult and only requires to be cautious about where you place the antenna. Besides that, you must consider the height, gain/rating, and the materials used for the construction of the VHF antenna. They play a crucial role in helping you select the most high-quality transmission and longer-lasting durability.