CB ANTENNA RANGE ESTIMATIONS

FACTORS IMPACTING RANGE

Antenna Length & Type: Generally, the longer the antenna, the greater its range. Different antenna types also offer varying ranges. For instance, center-load antennas typically provide a more extended effective transmit and receive range than equivalent-length fiberglass antennas.

Mount Location: The installation spot significantly affects range. Higher mounting points enhance the antenna’s range. Choosing a suboptimal location can severely reduce the antenna’s potential range. For detailed guidance on optimal mounting locations, refer to our article on Selecting a CB Antenna & Mounting Location.

Installation Quality: Incorrect installation, such as failing to properly ground an antenna, results in high SWR and restricted range. Proper installation is vital for achieving the performance levels we discuss below. Our guide on Elements of a Successful Installation offers excellent tips for ensuring a smooth setup.

Terrain: The local geography significantly influences range. For example, an antenna on a high overlook will likely see much longer transmit and receive ranges than in a dense, wooded valley where range could significantly decrease.

Antenna Quality: While name-brand antennas are primarily known for their build quality and durability, they also, to a lesser extent, affect range. If range is a critical factor for you, investing in a name-brand antenna could enhance performance compared to more generic, budget-friendly options.

Radio Power/SSB: Standard CB radios typically transmit at 4 watts of power, except for single side band (SSB) models, which use just the audio wave for transmission, allowing them to operate at 12 watts — three times the standard power. This increase substantially extends your range. To maximize benefits from SSB’s extended range, both parties in communication must use SSB radios.

APPROXIMATE RANGE BY TYPE AND LENGTH

These figures assume the antenna is correctly installed and tuned for acceptable SWR, operating on flat terrain.

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

DUAL FIBERGLASS ANTENNAS

Dual fiberglass antennas increase the effective range by about 25% over single installations, particularly in the direction of travel. They also enhance overall coverage and reduce “dead spots.”

  • 2′ Length: 2 to 4 miles
  • 3′ Length: 4 to 6 miles
  • 4′ Length: 5 to 7 miles
  • 5′ Length: 6 to 9 miles

MAGNETIC ANTENNAS

Assuming placement directly on the center of the roof:

  • 3′ Length: 2 to 4 miles
  • 4′ Length: 3 to 5 miles
  • 5′ Length: 5 to 7 miles

SINGLE CENTER-LOAD ANTENNAS

Range: 7 to 10 miles

DUAL CENTER-LOAD ANTENNAS

Like dual fiberglass, dual center-load antennas provide a range increase of about 25% over single antennas, improving coverage and reducing “dead spots.”

Range: 10 to 12 miles

BASE STATION ANTENNAS

Base station antenna ranges can be tricky to predict, typically ranging from 15 to 50 miles, heavily influenced by terrain.

Approximately 15 to 50 miles

STAINLESS STEEL 102″ WHIP

Approximately 7 to 10 miles

NGP ANTENNAS

No-ground-plane (NGP) antennas generally achieve about 70% of the range of comparable ground-based antennas.

  • 2′ Length: 1 to 2 miles
  • 3′ Length: 2 to 3 miles
  • 4′ Length: 3 to 5 miles
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