Getting the best performance from your CB radio depends heavily on the type and quality of antenna you use. Because of FCC regulations, all CB radios come with a maximum of 4 watts of power. A poorly performing CB antenna reduces the radio’s transmission range and quality, while a high-quality CB antenna kit can extend the signal’s reach. While many beginners assume that the model of CB radio they choose is the most critical part of their CB setup, the truth is that a high-performance CB antenna will have more effect on the quality of your CB transmissions.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at the different types of CB radio antennas that are popular for pickup trucks, semi-trucks, and CB base stations, and provide tips to help you choose the best CB radio antenna for your needs.
Types Of CB Radio Antennas
The type of antenna that’s ideal for your CB radio setup depends on the type of radio you have, how you plan to use it, and your location. Available options include fiberglass antennas, stainless steel CB antennas, magnetic mount antennas, whip antennas, mirror mount antennas, ground plane, magnetic base, and dual antennas. Most types of antennae can be used as either CB base antennas or mobile CB antennas.
Here is an overview of the most popular types of CB antennas and their uses:
CB Base Station Antennas
CB base station antennas are designed for use at base stations, which are stationary locations. Because of this, they can be larger, ranging from 3 to 18 feet in height. With proper SWR tuning, a CB base antenna may be able to communicate as far as 30 miles. However, it is important to check local regulations, as an 18-foot antenna may not be suitable for communities with strict HOA rules. It is worth noting that a CB base antenna can be used with any CB radio; operators can even convert a mobile radio to function as a base station by connecting it to a 12-volt power source.
Unlike mobile antennas, base station antennas do not require a large metallic ground plane, so there is more flexibility in where and how they are installed. Safety is paramount so it is important to avoid installation near power lines or hazardous tree limbs. There are three main types of base station antennas:
Ground Plane CB Antennas
A ground plane CB antenna works by using the ground to help it transmit and receive signals. This design has a long central pole that sticks up into the air, and several short poles that lie on the ground around it. The short poles help to reflect and amplify the signals. Ground plane antennas are usually omnidirectional, meaning they receive and transmit signals around a full 360 degrees. This type of antenna is ideal for locations where the ground doesn’t conduct electricity very well.
Beam CB Antennas
A beam CB antenna (also known as a directional antenna) sends signals in a specific direction, instead of in all directions like other antennas. It has metal parts arranged in a particular pattern, often a “V” shape, that helps to focus the radio signals. This design makes it easier to talk to other CB radios in the chosen direction. Beam CB antennas also reduce noise from the other signals coming in from all sides. Beam CB antennas are primarily used in fixed base station setups to reach specific CB operators across long distances.
Dipole CB Antennas
A dipole antenna is a type of CB base antenna that has two main wires or rods mounted horizontally. While dipole antennas are popular because the mount kit is relatively simple to set up, they’re not the best cb antenna option because they can’t transmit over a long range.
Mobile CB Antennas
Mobile CB antennas can be used “on the go” in cars, pickup trucks, semi-trucks, boats, ATVs, or RVs. They are smaller and shorter than base station antennas and have various mount kit options for different vehicles. Because longer antennas are more effective, mobile antennas have a coil section that increases the overall length of the antenna wire while keeping the height low enough for vehicle use. The location of the coil in the antenna is called the “load position.” When deciding on the load position for your antenna, it’s important to know that the coil and two-thirds of the antenna must extend above the roof line of your vehicle.
The best mobile CB antenna use depends on the vehicle type and where it will be installed. The different types of antennas for mobile CB radios include top load antennas, whip antennas, magnetic mount antennas, and center load antennas; they may be either directional or omnidirectional. Every CB antenna mount must be properly grounded for the antenna to function correctly.
Top Loaded CB Antennas
Considered by many to be the best type of mobile CB antenna, a top-loaded antenna has its coil at the very top. Often the base section is a fiberglass cb antenna. These antennas are typically longer and can be used for vehicles or in stationary settings. With the coil located higher on the antenna, it can be placed in several different mounting positions and still clear the body of the vehicle. Top-loaded antennas have a lower watt capacity but can easily handle the standard four-watt limit of CB radios.
Center Loaded Antennas
Center-loaded antennas have the coil placed in the center of the mount, on top of a lower shaft that’s covered in fiberglass. Above the coil is a long stainless steel whip. These are often referred to as “trucker antennas” because their ability to deliver premium signal strength makes them popular with truck drivers. However, they are less efficient than a top loaded fiberglass antenna.
Mirror Mount Antenna
Mirror mount antennas are exactly what the name implies: they mount on the mirror arm of your vehicle instead of the roof. They’re durable and versatile and let you move the antenna to a different vehicle without needing to drill any holes. You can even convert them for use as a temporary base station antenna by attaching them to a ladder or pole. Mirror mount hardware is sold separately so you can choose the best antenna for your situation.
Whip CB Antenna
A whip CB antenna is long and thin, usually 3 to 8 feet in length; they’re made of stainless steel or aluminum and may be either base or center loaded with a coil to improve performance. Whip antennas are versatile and can be easily mounted either on the vehicle’s roof or fender; they can also be used with base station receivers if they’re installed on a tall mast. The long steel whip is not a heavy duty design, but it can be tied down when not in use to protect the antenna from damage.
Magnet Mount CB Antenna
A magnet mount CB antenna can be quickly attached to the roof of a vehicle because its strong magnet base holds the antenna securely in place. Because you don’t have to drill any holes to mount them, magnet mount antennas are easy to install and remove and can be repositioned as needed.
Telescoping CB Antenna
A telescoping CB antenna is commonly used with handheld CB radios (such as the Uniden walkie-talkie type) and other portable CB radios. These stainless steel antennas have telescoping sections that extend when needed and fold up short when not in use. A telescoping antenna is also a low-profile option for vehicle use.
What to Consider When Purchasing a CB Antenna
CB radio systems are allowed to transmit between 26 MHz and 27 MHz with a range of seven miles. Since CB radios are designed to talk to each other, they are limited to 40 CB channels specified by the FCC (some models also include UHF and ham radio frequencies). The maximum allowed power for a CB radio is four watts; however, a high-performance CB antenna can increase the power and range of the CB base unit.
When selecting your next CB antenna, there are several things to consider:
Most buyers are looking for a quality antenna within a reasonable budget. CB antenna prices vary based on the type, length, and brand of the antenna. So, how much does a CB antenna cost?
A basic CB antenna sells for $30 to $70, while advanced or specialized antennas may cost over $100. Additional expenses include mounting hardware and coaxial cables. The in-stock Stryker SR-A10 CB antenna is a perfect choice and retails at $129.00.
Your vehicle’s roof, bumper, trunk, hood channel, or mirror bars are all good places to mount a CB antenna. Some locations are better than others, and your choice will depend on your type of vehicle, model of radio, and preferred antenna. For optimal performance, the antenna should be mounted on the highest point possible, and the coil must be fixed above the roofline. Every antenna must also be fully grounded with a connector to the chassis of your vehicle. For vehicles that do not have a metal roof panel or offer enough space for grounding, NGP antennas are suitable.
Antenna Mount Size
Mount size is another essential factor to consider. Your antenna mount is what determines how well your CB antenna sticks to your vehicle. Extra-long or heavy-duty antennas need a mount that can offer strong support to the antenna whip.
If you don’t want to drill a hole or permanently attach an antenna to your vehicle, a magnetic mount is an excellent choice.
CB Antenna Length
Does the length of a CB antenna matter? Yes, it does. In fact, longer antennas typically perform best so it’s smart to install the longest antenna that your vehicle can accommodate. Choose a CB antenna kit with a mount that will support the length of your antenna and the right antenna configuration for your vehicle’s body style.
A good CB antenna should also have a low Standing Wave Ratio (SWR). Ideally, it needs a ratio of 1.5:1 or less to efficiently transmit and receive the CB signal. Even the best CB antennas need to be tuned to achieve maximum performance. To do this, you’ll need an SWR meter; it also helps if your CB antenna has a tunable tip. For more information, check out our guide on how to tune your CB radio.
CB antennas vary in performance based on the location of the coil. Taller vehicles can accommodate shorter antennas with a base coil, while others may require a long antenna or a top coil design.
Look for CB antennas made of high-quality materials such as stainless steel and fiberglass, with durable coatings that can withstand harsh weather conditions.
Make sure that your antenna has a high-quality coaxial cable to connect it to your radio. As part of the antenna system, a good cable will help maximize the range of your CB radio unit.
Dual Antenna Options
A dual antenna CB system uses two antennas instead of one to improve the signal strength and range of the CB radio. These systems are often used in mobile CB applications, particularly on large vehicles, to reduce signal fading. They require special installation and setup work to operate effectively.
Common Uses of CB Antennas
While many people associate CB radios with semi-truck drivers, they have many more uses. CB antennas are a critical part of CB radio mobile communication, base station communication, emergency communication, and recreational use.
- CB antennas aren’t just for pickup trucks and semi-trucks; they can also be used at homes or offices as a base station antenna when mounted on a mast or tower for communication over a wider range
- In emergency situations, handheld CB radios can be used as backup communication in areas without cell service or internet connections. A quality CB antenna will maximize the range of your handheld
- CB radio enthusiasts use their CB radios for recreational purposes, such as off-roading, boating, participating in contests, or communicating with fellow campers or travelers. Don’t get stuck with a cheap CB antenna when you’re out on the water
- CB antennas can also be used with other amateur radios, such as ham radios (10-meter radios). Since amateur radios can transmit much further than CB radios, the antenna quality really matters
Who Makes the Best CB Antennas?
If you’re looking for best-in-class CB antennas, 10-meter radios, connectors, and accessories, Stryker Radio’s quality beats Wilson, Cobra, Firestik, Hustler, Midland, and Procomm products. Our comprehensive warranty and stellar customer service make us a top choice among both professional and amateur operators who expect the best from their radios.
Our top-rated, best-selling SR-A10 CB Antenna is the perfect choice for beginners and professionals alike who value quality and professionalism. The A10 is a true trucker CB antenna and features a highly efficient air-wound coil for exceptional performance. The coil is made from 6 gauge solid copper wire that is plated in pure silver for maximum conductivity.
SR-A10 Magnet Mount CB Antenna
The SR-A10s magnet mount stainless steel whip design provides the same construction as the SR-A10 design with a magnetic mount kit.
Our SR-2K Center Loaded CB Antenna is a high-performance antenna with 3600 watts of power and a 49-inch tapered stainless steel whip. It features a low-loss coil, is weather channel ready, and has a high-performance thermoplastic coating for extreme durability.
When shopping for a CB radio, antenna, or accessories, choose features that will get the results you want. In the end, this will impact your CB radio experience more than anything else. All Stryker CB Antennas come with a solid warranty, and replacement antenna parts are available on our website.
Our CB antennas are sold online and in retail stores nationwide. Check out our Locations page to find one in a CB shop near you.