How to choose marine radio antenna?

Once you decided on a VHF fixed mount marine radio, you need to get an antenna for it. A proper antenna height and gain (measured in dB) will provide a reliable connection for your radio. Without a decent antenna properly installed, even the most expensive radios will not be able to provide a signal for you. So how do you choose a VHF marine radio antenna and what you should consider choosing one?

Two most important factors choosing a VHF marine radio antenna is SIZE and GAIN.

Antenna Gain - dB

Gain is measured in dB and every antenna should have its dB rating in specifications. As we previously mentioned on our homepage, a higher dB rating means a more focused area of transmission and is recommended for more stable powerboats, while a lower dB rating (typically 3dB) is better suited for sailboats.

For majority of powerboats (24 to 32 ft) a good choice would be 8ft antenna with 6dB gain rating.

ā€‹3ft-5ft VHF antenna and 3 dB rating is recommended for vessels under 24ft.

ā€‹

Stainless steel or Fiberglass?

Materials that are used in construction will play a crucial role on lifespan of your antenna. You should be looking at antenna that are made of fiberglass or stainless steel. The sun, salt water and rough seas put a lot of stress on antenna, so it is crucial to get one made out of quality materials, otherwise you will be looking at replacing one within couple of years.

Stainless steel antenna is a popular choice among smaller vessels, since you can mount them on masthead. They are durable and fairly lightweight. 

High-end antennas have polyurethane coating and can last up to 10 years. 

Best VHF Marine Radio Antenna (for smaller vessels) - SHAKESPEARE 5104

Shakespear marine antenna
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    3dB Gain
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    4ft long (1.2 meter)
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    Brass and coper elements
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    Chrome-plated brass ferrule
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    Maximum input power: 50 Watts
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    2 year warranty
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Best VHF Marine Radio Antenna (for vessels 24ft and up) - Shakespeare 5101

Shakespeare 5101 Centennial 8' vhf antenna review
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    6dB Gain
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    8ft long (2.43 meter)
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    Brass and coper elements
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    Chrome-plated brass ferrule
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    Maximum input power: 50 Watts
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    Polyurethane finish
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    2 year warranty
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Best Low Profile VHF Marine Radio Antenna - Shakespeare 5215

Shakespeare VHF antenna
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    6dB Gain
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    3ft long (0.91 meter)
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    Lightweight
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    Mast mount
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    Maximum input power: 50 Watts
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    Stainless steel body
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    Sealed, tin-plated copper wire coil
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    Comes with stainless steel ā€œLā€ bracket
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    2 year warranty
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Check other marine radio antenna reviews below:

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Top Rated Marine Antenna Mounts

Most of the antennas that you buy now will usually come with a coaxial cable and a connector. However, you will need to purchase a mount separate to secure the antenna to the boat.

Here are the best selling VHF antenna mounts on the markets today:

Shakespeare 5187 SS Antenna Mount review
Similar to Shakespeare 4187, model 5187 has the same functions and specifications but feature a more polished look. There are[...]
Shakespeare 4187 SS Ratchet Mount review
Shakespeare ratchet mount features versatile four way design that allows on deck or side mounting application. The handle on it[...]

Top Rated VHF Antenna Cables

Coax (coaxial) cable is designed to transmit signal from antenna to your radio with as little signal loss as possible. As soon as the signal enters the cable, it begins to loose power. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend to choose the largest coax cable you can fit since the signal loss is reduced.

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If you have bought or used this radio accessories please feel free to leave a comment with your experience below to help others who may have questions.

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