Should I buy a Directional or Omnidirectional Antenna for my RV?

A while ago, we published a blog post about choosing the right antenna for your RV. One of the considerations in our list was whether to purchase a directional or omnidirectional antenna.

Wait, is that even a question?

Well, you might be fooled to think that omnidirectional is always the go-to choice when it comes to TV antennas.

Isn’t it in the name? Omnidirectional would pick up signal from all directions, instead of just one, or two, or a few…

But it’s not so straightforward! Let’s take a few steps back and begin by defining what each type of antenna would look like and do.

Omnidirectional Antennas

Omnidirectional antennas tend to have a pancake or doughnut shape. In some cases, this horizontal shape is completed by vertical elements so the antenna can pick up both horizontal and vertical TV signals.

These antennas are easy to install and can be mounted upside down from the ceiling inside your RV. They have a circular or 360° gain pattern, meaning that they are able to convert input power from all directions into radio waves.

However, they are much less efficient at picking up weak TV signals.

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Directional Antennas

Directional TV antennas have a more traditional antenna shape and are designed to pick up signals in the direction(s) you point them towards.
These antennas are able to cover longer ranges, however they have a narrower gain pattern. This means that they do a better job at picking up weak or moderate signal when directly pointing at it.

One of the negative aspects of choosing this kind of antenna is the fact that the mounting and installation can be quite a challenge. Plus, you will have to constantly re-direct the antenna each time you move to a new destination (and you can pretty much forget about watching TV while the vehicle is moving).

Myth Buster: Directional Antennas ONLY pick up signal from one direction.

Wrong! First of all, there are options on the market for bi-directional and multi-directional antennas.

Secondly, these antennas only struggle to pick up weak or moderate signal away from the direction that they are pointing. Therefore, if the signal is strong (such as in the vicinity of the transmission tower) they can pretty much pick up from all directions.

This means that if you have strong signal from a particular transmission tower and weak signal from another (in a different direction), you would point the antenna towards the weaker tower and should be able to pick up both signals.

So what is the best antenna for my RV?

That depends, but in most cases we would recommend an Omnidirectional antenna.

This is true especially if you will be watching TV while your vehicle is moving, will be travelling to areas with strong signal or you prefer an easier and low-maintenance option.

With an Omnidirectional, you have the option to install the antenna on your RV’s roof or indoor and practically be done with it. You will not need to manually adjust the antenna every single time you move to a new location.

You will probably find that, in flat areas especially, you will not experience major disturbances due to the signals being able to travel larger distances.

However, in some hilly or mountainous areas, or in remote locations, your Omnidirectional antenna might struggle to pick up signals. In these cases, you might need to resort to a more inconvenient directional option, or use a signal booster to improve your Omnidirectional’s reception.

Was this information helpful and did you have any other questions? Let us know in the comments below, we are looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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