There are many types of car antennas, from terrestrial radio antennas to satellite radio antennas , television antennas , GPS antennas and cellular antennas. Each is designed to receive a specific type of signal. Monopole whip antennas are still the most common. These types of antennas receive AM and FM radio broadcasts. There are other types designed to work with a variety of technologies. Here are some of the common and not so common types of car antennas.

Terrestrial Radio Antennas

Most vehicles are shipped from the factory with an antenna installed. This antenna is a monopole whip antenna or a flat panel antenna mounted on a window. Whip antennas have long been the standard and come in several styles. Some whip antennas are rigid and fixed, others retract, and some retract and retract automatically when the radio is turned on and off.

Satellite radio antennas

Although terrestrial radio and satellite radio have the same name, each requires a different kind of antenna. This is due to the fact that terrestrial radio is broadcast from local towers in the AM or FM band. Satellite radio is broadcast by a series of geosynchronous and geostationary satellites at a different wavelength.

satellite radio antenna
Rachel Haller / CC by 2.0 / Flickr

Unlike satellite TV, which uses directional antennas, satellite radio uses small non-directional antennas. Satellite radio antennas are smaller than conventional car antennas.

TV Antennas

Although analog VHF television and FM radio were used in parallel to each other (and overlapped in some cases), the digital switchover in the United States moved US television transmissions to the ultra-high frequency (UHF) spectrum. In any case, you need a special antenna to watch TV broadcasts in your car.

There are several types of car TV antennas, including the iconic limousine boomerang antennas and electrically powered satellite dishes that automatically adjust when the car is in motion. They are more useful in vans, vans and buses.

GPS navigation antennas

GPS navigation devices come with built-in antennas. The addition of an external antenna improves the accuracy of these devices and reduces the chance of losing satellite lock. Unlike other types of car antennas, which are usually passive, GPS antennas can be either passive or active.

GPS navigation system on car dashboard
Rebecca Nelson/Getty Images

The active antenna has an amplifier to amplify the reception of the signal, while the passive antenna idly receives the transmitted signals.

Car antennas for mobile phones

There are two types of car antennas for mobile phones:

The first one was more common. However, advances in cellular technology have made it possible to integrate antennas into the design of telephones, automobiles, and other receiving devices. Signal amplifiers, meanwhile, existed in a regulatory gray area until the 2013 FCC established guidelines for the use of these devices.

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