Can a Magnet-Mount Antenna Be Mounted Horizontally?

Posted by on December 23, 2015

While it is possible to mount a magnet-mount antenna horizontally, we highly suggest mounting it vertically for a better performance.

What Happens When a Magnet-Mount Antenna is Mounted Horizontally?

When you mount your antenna horizontally instead of vertically, it is more difficult for your antenna to pick up a signal. The horizontal mounting does not enable the antenna to get a strong enough reach to pick up distant signals, so picking up and maintaining a signal is difficult.

To understand the difference, visualize your outside antenna as a fishing net. The purpose of the outside antenna is to pick up on a weak signal, so it is essentially trying to catch a signal. The ocean is the entire outside area and the fish are your signals (your cell phone towers). The difference between mounting your signal horizontally versus mounting it vertically is having a small net and big net.

Horizontal mounting only creates a small net

Horizontal Mounting Only Creates a Small Net

When you mount your antenna horizontally, you only have a small net. The net can only reach out so far, so you're limited on how much you can catch. You may still catch a fish (signal), but it will be more difficult. It will also be more difficult to catch a fish (signal) the further away it is (the further you get from the cell phone towers).

Vertical mounting creates a big net

Vertical Mounting Creates a Big Net

When you mount your antenna vertically, you have a big net. With a big net, you have a larger reach to catch fish (signals).

So when you're considering whether to mount your antenna horizontally or vertically, simply ask:

Which mounting will give me better performance and be more effective at picking up signals? The answer is vertical mounting.

Another Reason to Mount Your Antenna Vertically

It is also important to mount the outside antenna vertically so that it matches the set-up of your inside antenna. When the inside and outside antennas are facing the same direction, they are polarized and transmit and receive signals with the most efficiency.

For example, if your magnet-mount antenna is vertically mounted, then your inside antenna needs to be vertical instead of horizontal. The image below shows how the Low-Profile Inside Antenna, from the Dual-Band Smart Technology Signal Booster instruction manual, should be installed vertically to match the Dual-Band Magnet-Mount Antenna.

Inside antenna positioning

Having both antennas facing the same direction creates a stronger signal. If one of the antenna was horizontal and the other was vertical, then the signal would be weak.

Other Factors to Consider When Installing Your Magnet-Mount Antenna

Everything you need to know when installing your magnet-mount antenna will be included in your manual, but here are a few basics:

Check the Roof’s Surface

"You want to check the vehicle's outside roof surface to ensure it is metal and uncovered by vinyl or fiberglass. The antenna's magnet may be able to cling to these surfaces, but it will not be able to ground properly" (Laurens, “How to Install a Magnet Mount CB Antenna”). Placing a magnet-mount antenna on a non-metal surface does not work because an antenna is designed to mount on a ground plane (a flat surface of metal with magnetic properties). Without a ground plane, the antenna will not connect and receive signals properly.

If your roof is not metal, then you can purchase a metal plate to use as a ground plane. Before purchasing, check the antenna for the requirements of the ground plane. You can then purchase a metal plate from wherever you choose (such as Home Depot). To install the metal plate, you will have to screw it down to your vehicle's roof. If you would prefer having it done professionally, we recommend looking up an electrician in the local yellow pages.

Choose a Good Location

You want to attach your antenna in a location that is high and out of the way. Your manual will provide you with mounting suggestions. For example, the image below provides a visual to match the mounting suggestions from the Dual-Band Smart Technology Signal Booster instruction manual (for installing the Magnet-Mount Dual-Band Antenna).

Choosing a good antenna location

As you can see, the best location (highest performance area) for the magnet mount antenna is in the center of the vehicle's roof. For the best signal, you want to make sure that the antenna is at least 12 inches away from the inside antenna and the windows to prevent oscillation. You also want to check that the antenna is free of obstructions. For example, if something like a metal rack is surrounding the antenna, then it can weaken the signal.

If the vehicle has a sun roof, you should separate the outside and inside antennas by at least 5 feet. This greater separation is because of the sunroof's window. Signals pass easily through glass and having the antennas too close together could cause oscillation. When a metal roof doesn’t have a sunroof, the antennas don't have to be as greatly separated. The metal roof of the vehicle acts as a barrier and helps shield the two antennas from each other, preventing feedback oscillation.

Clean the Surface

"Dirt and wax" can "cause the antenna to dislocate" (Laurens, "How to Install a Magnet Mount CB Antenna"). To prevent this dislocation, make sure to clean the roof area where you plan to attach your antenna. Cleaning is easy. Just wash the area with soap and water and use a cloth to dry it. Once the area is clean and dry, you can attach your antenna.

References

Laurens, Eli. "How to Install a Magnet Mount CB Antenna." Ehow. Demand Media, Inc. n.d. December 27, 2015.

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