Police Scanner Antenna Ultimate Guide

Police Scanner Antenna Buyer’s Guide

“Yagi” antennas like this one are easier to mount and have high gain for their size, but their frequency range is somewhat limited.

Bet you didn't know that less than 5% of all police scanner sales include an antenna. Police scanners always come with a stock "rubber duck" antenna that receives about 30 miles of range (which can vary greatly depending on your local topography). So, as much as we want to sell you an antenna, most users do not need one. Well, okay. But how do you decide? 

We recommend buying your police scanner and trying it out. If you're not getting the frequencies you anticipated, read this article coaching you through the process of buying an antenna for your police scanner or Chat with an expert now.

Still need an antenna? Great! This Guide covers:

 

Chapter 1:

Police Scanner Antenna Basics


 

Before buying an antenna you will want to make sure you are not getting too strong of a signal causing ‘signal overload’ or ‘attenuation’. This happens sometimes in metro areas if you’re too close to a tower. You can simply change the settings on your scanner to fix this.   Most police scanners have either a SMA female or BNC female connector type. You’ll want to make sure your antenna has the correct connector type or buy an adapter.  

BNC Female SMA Male Adapter

  • We offer a wide range of scanner antenna manufacturers, all of which come with warranties of one year to a lifetime.
  • Typically, the bigger the antenna, the better the reception.
  • The higher you put your antenna (pitch of roof or top of vehicle) the better the reception.
  • Scanner signals work on line-of-sight, not satellites, so anything from a tree to a hill can inhibit signal.

Like all things police scanner related, you need to determine what you want to listen to and what bands those frequencies broadcast on. If you want to monitor everything (police, fire, EMS, local businesses, etc.) then you should choose ‘wide band’ antenna.

If you only want to monitor something specific such as trunked frequencies, then you should buy an antenna that is optimized for 800 MHz, or whatever specific bands you want to monitor. This is by far the most important consideration when buying an antenna for your police scanner.  

Pro tip: Wide band antennas account for 90% of all police scanner antenna sales.

  • Wide Band
  • 25-50 MHz - Low Band
  • 137-144 MHz - US Military
  • 148-174 MHz - VHF
  • 156-158 MHz - Marine
  • 160-161 MHz - Marine
  • 450-470 MHz - UHF Business
  • 800 MHz - Trunked

Police Scanner Antennas by Use

Now that you know what band(s) you need your antenna to monitor, we’ll show you how to purchase each of the three 'type' of scanner antenna.

Police Scanner Antennas by Use

Chapter 2:

How to Buy a Home Police Scanner Antenna


 

How to Buy a Home Police Scanner Antenna

Step 1 - Choose Home Scanner Antenna Bands

What bands do you want to monitor on your police scanner?
  • Wide Band
  • 25-50 MHz - Low Band
  • 137-144 MHz - US Military
  • 148-174 MHz - VHF
  • 156-158 MHz - Marine
  • 160-161 MHz - Marine
  • 450-470 MHz - UHF Business
  • 800 MHz - Trunked 

Step 2 - Scanner Antenna Home Mount Location 

  • Indoor - Attic/garage/basement
  • Outdoor - Roof/side of home/yard/garage 

Step 3 - Home Scanner Antenna Type

There are 3 primary types of scanner antennas for your home:

Home Scanner Antenna Type

  • Discone antennas are best for wideband monitoring 30-1300MHz and are the most common antenna type.
  • Dipole antennas are for single or narrow band use. Yagi antennas are for single or narrow band use.

Learn more about scanner antenna types here.

Step 4 - Home Scanner Antenna Installation

Before installing your antenna you’ll want to connect it to your scanner to check reception. This will also help you choose an antenna location and make sure it works the way you want it to. Depending on your home, we suggest testing this in at least 3 areas:

  • Inside (where you will actually listen from) - You may not need to put your antenna on the roof at all.
  • Attic - May work well enough to avoid installing on roof.
  • Roof - Bring scanner and antenna on roof and test a few areas (side of home, pitch of roof, etc.) to determine best location.
Read more about how to install an antenna here. There are three things required for every home scanner antenna to work:

Some scanner antennas include everything needed to install and others include none, so you’ll need to check the product page of the antenna (this is noted on all product pages).

Connector

Connector Types

Make sure the connector type of the antenna matches the connector on the police scanner (all scanners have either an SMA female or BNC female connector) or buy an adapter.

Coax

police-scanner-radio-coax-cable

We recommend the Coax.

Mount

police-scanner-radio-antenna-mount

Almost every antenna we offer comes with materials to affix the antenna to a mast. You can find a mast at any hardware store for about $10 as it’s just a metal pipe. You may need a tripod to set your mast up on which you can buy here but there are several options to mount your antenna.

Amps & Pre-Amps

Amps and pre-amps boost signal strength from antenna to scanner. 90% of scanner antenna installations do not need an amp or pre-amp and the best way to approach amps is to install your antenna first, then, if you are not getting the reception you’d like, buy an amp or pre-amp. If your cable run is over 100 feet you may want an amp.

Grounding Equipment

We highly recommend grounding your antenna for safety.  This is very easy to add and you can set up in minutes. Some States, Cities, homeowners associations and insurance policies require antennas to be grounded.

Home Police Scanner Antenna Good to Knows

You can hire someone to install your antenna on your roof for around $200.

  • A mast is just a pole which can be bought at any local hardware store for $10.
  • If you live in a condo or townhome you’ll want to check with your homeowner’s association to see if and how big of an antenna you can install.
Chapter 3:

How to Buy a Vehicle Police Scanner Antenna


 

How-to-Buy-a-Mobile-Vehicle-Police-Scanner-Radio-Antenna-1

Step 1 - Choose Vehicle Scanner Antenna Bands

What bands do you want to monitor on your police scanner?

  • Wide Band
  • 25-50 MHz - Low Band
  • 137-144 MHz - US Military
  • 148-174 MHz - VHF
  • 156-158 MHz - Marine
  • 160-161 MHz - Marine
  • 450-470 MHz - UHF Business
  • 800 MHz - Trunked

Step 2 - Scanner Antenna Vehicle Mount Location

The most popular places to install a vehicle antenna are:

mobile-polie-scanner-Antenna-Mount-Location

  • Magnet Mount (roof or trunk) - Can be easily removed and taken from one vehicle to another - most popular.
  • Mirror Mount - Popular with semi and large truck drivers.
  • Permanent Hole (roof or trunk) - For those who want a permanent antenna.
  • Trunk Lid - Easy to put on the back bumper of most trucks. Popular with 4x4 & Jeep owners.
  • Window Cling - Attached via a suction cup to the inside of a window.

Step 3 - Vehicle Scanner Antenna Type

There are 2 types of antennas you can choose from:

  • Metal antennas provide the best reception as there is no rubber to interfere with reception.
  • Plastic antennas are the same as metal but with a plastic coating to protect your vehicle from scratches.

Step 4 - Scanner Antenna Vehicle Installation

There are three things required for every mobile scanner antenna to work:

Some antennas include everything needed and others include none, so you’ll need to check the product page of the antenna.

Connector

SMA female and BNC female connector

Make sure the connector type of the antenna matches the connector on the police scanner (all scanners have either an SMA female or BNC female connector) or buy an adapter.

Coax

RG58 coax

RG58 coax will work on any mobile installation with the option of 50' or 100'

Coax Length

  • Mounting on trunk = 12 feet
  • Mounting on roof = 6 feet

Mount

  • Window Clings - mount included
  • Magnet Mounts
  • Mirror Mount
  • Permanent Hole
  • Trunk Lid

Vehicle Scanner Antenna Good to Knows

Wide band, magnet mount antennas are by far the most popular vehicle antenna type and account for 90% of all sales.

The metal on your vehicle blocks reception when your scanner is inside your vehicle so outside antennas works best.

Some States have restrictions about using a police scanner in a vehicle.

Chapter 4:

How to Buy a Handheld Police Scanner Antenna


 

How-to-Buy-a-Back-of-Set-or-Handheld-Police-Scanner-Radio-Antenna-1024x299

Step 1 - Choose Handheld Scanner Antenna Bands

What bands do you want to monitor on your police scanner?

  • Wide Band
  • 25-50 MHz - Low Band
  • 137-144 MHz - US Military
  • 148-174 MHz - VHF
  • 156-158 MHz - Marine
  • 160-161 MHz - Marine
  • 450-470 MHz - UHF Business
  • 800 MHz - Trunked

Step 2 - Handheld Scanner Antenna Type

police-scanner-radio-rubber-duck-vs-telescoping-antenna

There are 2 types of antennas you can choose from: 

  • Rubber Duck - This is what comes with your scanner and are very durable.
  • Telescoping - Telescoping antennas are made of a series of short metal tubes that can expand. While telescoping antennas usually get better reception than rubber duck antennas, they are not as durable as they can bend and break easily when extended.  

Handheld Police Scanner Antenna Good to Knows Some handheld antennas have an adjustable ‘elbow’ that allows the antenna to be vertical or horizontal. Make sure the connector type of the antenna matches the connector on the police scanner (all scanners have either an SMA female or BNC female connector) or buy an adapter.   Helpful Police Scanner Antenna Resources

  • Fordyce- Learn more about home antennas and the differences between the different types.
  • Radio Reference  - Talk to other scanner antenna users.
  • Wikipedia - Great resource for general antenna theory and knowledge.
  • ARRL - Several articles about how antennas work.
  • Antenna Theory - A site dedicated to explaining antenna theory.
  • Solid Signal - PDF of how to install an antenna on your roof.

Buy police scanner antennas here.


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