Short Range vs. Long Range Antenna: Which Fits Your Needs?

short range vs long range antennaIf you’re looking for a new antenna, you need to figure out one crucial detail before going any further: how much range do you need your antenna to have? Antennas come in two basic kinds. There are short and long-range antennas, each of which has unique strengths and weaknesses. 

There are plenty of reasons you might need an antenna, from getting better TV reception to improving your internet speeds. Regardless of why you need one, it would help if you chose the correct antenna for the job. Here’s how to compare short-range vs. long-range antennas, how they’re different, and what you should consider to ensure you choose the best antenna for your needs.

Short Range vs. Long Range Antenna: Which Fits Your Needs?

When comparing a short-range vs. long-range antenna, a significant difference is range. Short-range antennas work best when they’re within a direct line of sight of the broadcast tower. Meanwhile, long-range antennas can pick up signals from a hundred miles away, even with obstructions. Here’s how to decide which one is best for you:

Short-Range Antennas

Since short-range antennas are designed for use near the transmitting tower, they are powerful over short distances and work well indoors. They are great at picking up lots of fine detail without suffering from as much interference. They also don’t usually require amplifiers or extra watts of power to operate. 

However, these antennas are vulnerable to interference. They don’t have the correct structure to pick up weak signals and are much more likely to struggle with bad weather conditions or interruptions between them and the tower.

Long-Range Antennas

Long-range antennas have many strengths that short-range antennas lack. A good long-range antenna may have a maximum range several times greater than a short-range antenna. That’s because long-range antennas are designed to pick up weak signals, and their shape and structure let them pick up even faint signals as long as they have a direct line of sight to the tower.

These antennas benefit from connecting to signal amplifiers, though. These amplifiers help turn the weak signals they’ve picked up into something strong enough that your device can understand the data. They may also require an electrical power connection if they contain an onboard amplifier.

What To Consider When Choosing a Short Range vs Long Range Antenna

When you’re comparing the benefits of a long-range vs. short-range antenna, it helps to think about what you need from your antenna. Before choosing any antenna, you should consider four critical factors: 

  • Signal strength
  • Reception
  • Maximum range
  • Optimal throughput

Here’s how these elements come together to affect an antenna’s performance:

Signal Strength

The strength of the signal you want your antenna to pick up is crucial to choosing the right kind. A good rule of thumb is that a short-range antenna is probably fine if the tower transmitting the signal is less than 40 miles away. However, if the signal is weak, getting a long-range antenna can help you pick it up clearly. You can check signal report sites to determine what kind of signal to expect.

Some antennas come with a short-range vs. long-range antenna setting. These models act as dual antennas and contain both short and long-range antennas. You can flip the short-range vs. long-range antenna switch to change what kind of signals the antenna picks up. This is an excellent feature if you want to try getting signals from towers at varying distances with the same antenna.


Reception is closely tied to signal strength. You can have the strongest signal in the world, but it won’t do any good if the antenna’s reception is poor. Reception is determined by the antenna’s size, shape, and whether anything is blocking its line of sight to the tower. 

Things like power lines and buildings can significantly harm your reception. Meanwhile, high-frequency channels typically have worse reception than lower-frequency channels. That means you’ll need more transmission power to get good reception on higher frequencies, especially if things are in the way.

Maximum Distance

The maximum distance of your antenna matters. However, the specific distance considered “long-range” or “short-range” depends on what kind of signals it’s designed to pick up. For instance, a short-range TV antenna is intended to pick up signals from a tower less than 50 miles away. Meanwhile, long-range internet antennas like the 5G Ultra High Gain Parabolic Cellular Antenna, also known as the Long Ranger, can help boost Wi-Fi and cellular speeds up to 10 miles. 

The difference comes down to the amount of data the signals contain and what frequency channels they use. TV signals transmit video data one way on lower frequencies. Internet signals, on the other hand, send image, text, sound, and video data two ways on higher frequencies. That makes it significantly harder to transmit internet data over long distances. 

An antenna like the Long Ranger can significantly improve internet signals for people in rural or remote areas by helping pick up these signals over a substantially greater range than other models. When you’re looking to buy an antenna, make sure you understand the maximum distance it works for and what kind of data it’s designed to handle.

Optimal Throughput

Throughput, sometimes known as bandwidth, is the amount of data an antenna can transmit or receive at once. When looking for an antenna, you should consider how much data it needs to convey. If you’re looking for a TV antenna, 4k antennas typically have the highest optimal throughputs. Meanwhile, 5G compatible gain antennas like the Bolton Technical Long Ranger have the best capacity of internet antennas. 

Shop Indoor and Outdoor Antennas That Fit Your Needs

Whether you’re comparing short-range vs. long-range antennas or know exactly what you need, you can turn to Novotech to get antennas that fit your requirements. Novotech has short-range and long-range antennas of all kinds. You can start looking for a suitable antenna for your location and needs today by exploring the antennas Novotech offers.