Why More Antenna Gain Might Not Be What You Really Need


Antenna gain is frequently misunderstood. It’s not about power. It’s about focus instead. That’s because antennas don’t produce power. They propagate radio waves through space.

In a communications system, power is produced by a transmitter that turns electrical signals into radio waves. This power is then applied to an antenna that radiates electromagnetic energy in a more focused or a less focused way. If the antenna’s gain is high, the radio waves are tightly focused and the energy beam narrow. If the antenna’s gain is low, the focus is looser and the beamwidth is wider.

So, which type of antenna do you need? In other words, how do you know if you need a more focused or a less focused beam of energy to ensure reliable communications?

High Gain Antennas vs. Low Gain Antennas

Some antenna buyers assume that high-gain is always better, but that’s not necessarily the case. In large warehouses with automated guided vehicles (AGVs), lower gain antennas are used. The same is true of amusement parks and other outdoor locations, such as restaurant patios. For high-gain antennas, common applications include wireless local-area networks (WLANs) and some mobile devices.

Do you want broad coverage, such as on the floor of an office building? Then a low-gain antenna is a good choice. Do you need to send a strong signal over long distances to a single point, such as the antenna on a police car? Then consider a high-gain antenna instead. But is the terrain hilly, such as in a mining operation? A lower-gain antenna will provide better coverage, but clearly gain isn’t the only consideration.  

Get Help With Product Selection and Antenna Gain

MP Antenna’s multi-polarized antennas can provide better coverage and connectivity, regardless of differences in elevation or the presence of obstructions. Both low-gain and high-gain antennas are available, and in configurations such as omni-directional antennas that provide coverage in all directions. Learn more about MP’s multi-polarized antennas or contact us to discuss your specific application and getting the right amount of gain.