A VHF antenna can pick up and transmit radio signals at a very high frequency. It supports users in strengthening their VHF marine radios’ reception ability with plenty of other radio types. All of these antenna packages contain sufficient equipment for you to solder them easily without professional help.
This type of antenna is suitable for mounting on small boats and trucks, even boosting signals on TVs. It is mostly favored for marine use. The high frequency is beneficial to be used far offshore and in a long-range. If you wish to have the best VHF antenna on your vehicle or radio, dive right in this list.
|Best Overall||Most Durable||Most Budget Friendly|
|Preview||Shakespeare 5104||Bingfu Antenna||Tram 1607-HC|
|Antenna Height||4 feet||1.54 feet||3.83 feet|
|Cable Length||15 feet||10 feet||20 feet|
|Impedance||50 ohm||50 ohm||50 ohm|
- Best VHF Antenna Reviews
- 1. Shakespeare VHF Antenna 4′ Centennial 3dB
- 2. Bingfu Ham Radio VHF Marine Antenna
- 3. Tram 1607-HC 46-Inch VHF Marine Antenna
- 4. Shakespeare 5215 VHF 36-Inch Antenna
- 5. TRAM 1600-HC 38-Inch VHF Marine Antenna
- 6. Winegard YA7000C VHF TV Antenna
- 7. VFAN Dualband Mobile Antenna 2m/70cm
- 8. Tram Dual Band NMO Antenna
- 9. Shakespeare 5101 8′ VHF Marine Antenna
- 10. Tram VHF Marine Antenna
- 11. AirWave Marine 5’ White VHF Antenna
- 12. Digital Antenna 528-VW White VHF Antenna
- What to Look When Buying a VHF Antenna
- Other Important Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best VHF Antenna Reviews
1. Shakespeare VHF Antenna 4′ Centennial 3dB
If you are currently having a boat under 24 feet and looking for a 3dB VHF antenna, consider this 4-foot Shakespeare centennial white one. So far, the optimal antenna specifications for this boat size are to provide loud and clear audio from a distance with no static interrupting.
Despite the shorter length than average, I must say that its sturdiness is much more than what you can expect, so the marine antenna is not easily damaged. With the correct mount, installing this antenna is a piece of cake. Its connector adapts well to most VHF radio outlets. It is a great replacement for your old antenna.
2. Bingfu Ham Radio VHF Marine Antenna
Rarely do I see an optimal VHF marine antenna that is compatible with many different radio types like this unit. This antenna by Bingfu can well cooperate with amateur radio, ham radio, car mobile transceiver, GMRS radio from a lot of brands as Midland, Tram, Uniden, Stryker, AnyTone, etc.
The 47cm antenna enables dual-band radio frequencies of VHF (136 – 174MHz) and UHF (400 – 470MHz). Its magnetic base offers a stronghold with the UHF PL-259 male cable connector to make it an excellent VHF antenna for a truck.
I’m also amazed that this antenna only weighs less than 300g for easy carriage. And I bet that no one would refuse such a feature.
Moreover, the VHF antenna package comprises a 10-foot long RG58/U cable to work with the connector, as mentioned earlier. But I also find out that the accessories adapter of this marine antenna is an SMA female to UHF SO-239 female connector adapter. Its best operating temperature is between -20°C & 80°C.
The biggest existing problem here is related to the short coax length. I need to add a splitter and more coax to run it hidden in my 05 Chevy Avalanche. I am mounting it at the center of the roof; it came in the back door and stretched to my center console. If the coax is lengthened to 15ft, all of this would only take 5s.
3. Tram 1607-HC 46-Inch VHF Marine Antenna
At first sight, I am overwhelmed by the enormous 46-inch length of this Tram 1607-HC VHF antenna. It is so powerful that the antenna offers coverage of all marine band frequencies, which, to me, deserves to be the best marine antenna.
All of the required stainless steel mounting hardware and its instructions are ready for use in this VHF marine antenna package, so things go off without a hitch. I highly rate the heavy-duty construction from fiberglass for its durability. Its 3 DBD antenna gain is the best compromise for suburban and general settings.
It appears that this antenna enables a great frequency range because I talk to my fishing partner from over 20 miles away. A nylon ratchet mount has been pre-constructed for easy lay down. The RG-58 cable is up to 20ft to screw off with no hassle, and there is a PL-259 connector to support small hole assembly.
4. Shakespeare 5215 VHF 36-Inch Antenna
This Shakespeare 5215 VHF marine antenna is highly advised to be placed on a mast mount due to its low profile and lightweight design. The brand is so nice to supply an extra “L” bracket made of stainless steel to support users in mounting the antenna. Of course, this package includes a retaining nut as well.
I have tried and can claim that this 5215 antenna picks up and transmits radio signals from 33 miles away and even further. As usual, it is engineered with a 3dB gain for stable performance. The SO-239 connector on the bottom of this VHF antenna for marine is a female PL-259 that operates the same.
5. TRAM 1600-HC 38-Inch VHF Marine Antenna
It is familiar to me that all VHF marine antennas from Tram can cover all marine band frequencies. And this 1600-HC model is not an exception. It is a 38-inch whip antenna made out of high-quality stainless steel for long usage. A base-loading coil is ready to help you with the antenna installation process.
I am blown away by the fact that it is capable of picking up radio signals from a coast guard up to 100 miles away while at the ocean. Its stainless steel “L” bracket is the best support for side or mast mounting as wished. I mount it on my pontoon boat and feel great about no ground plane to install on either side.
6. Winegard YA7000C VHF TV Antenna
With the fold and lock elements of this Winegard YA7000C VHF antenna TV, it can assure you to provide convenient storage. Since it enables the low VHF and high VHF/UHF simultaneously, the antenna has extensions for this low band. This detail is good for setting up and mounting it on universal systems.
The brand manufactures this VHF antenna in 37-inch long, plus an improved front-to-back ratio and uniform gain curve to extend the range of regular antennas for TV. Its class construction is optimal in decreasing the antenna size and wind loads while strengthening the element performance in general.
Corded electric is the main power source type for the YA7000C VHF antenna. This TV antenna allows you to watch HD channels from up to 70 miles away due to receiving different VHF and UHF signals. Feel free to enjoy live sports to a series of high-rated shows in diverse fields and local weather and news.
7. VFAN Dualband Mobile Antenna 2m/70cm
This 18-inch VHF mobile antenna made out of premium stainless steel and is effective at resisting water penetration. The brand VFAN has chosen to equip it with dual-band frequency of VHF (137 – 149MHz) and UHF (437 – 480MHz). The heavy-duty RG-58 cable is about 6.6-foot long and completely anti-freeze.
With a powerful rare earth magnet base on its 2.95-inch mount, you can easily place it on cars, trucks, and vans, or turn it into a perfect VHF antenna for small boats. To receive VHF signals from multiple directions, I suggest mounting the antenna either vertically or omnidirectional for the best reception.
8. Tram Dual Band NMO Antenna
Despite being on this list as the best marine VHF antenna and other competitors, I know that many people are fond of using this unit for the Tram ground plane kit. Due to its dual-band VHF and UHF frequency, the antenna receives conversations on both bands well while offering wide coverage.
The overall VHF antenna size is compact for convenient storage and portable. In terms of the dB rating (gain), this dual-band antenna offers unity gain VHF and 2.5 DBD gain for the UHF band. No tuning is required after mounting. Its solid NMO antenna mount is made out of brass with a gold contact pin of the plunger-type.
9. Shakespeare 5101 8′ VHF Marine Antenna
As one of the most highly suggested antennas on the market for offshore use, the Shakespeare marine VHF antenna is built entirely from high-quality brass and copper materials. Moreover, the brass ferrule of this 8-foot antenna for marine communication is chrome-plated with the standard of 1 inch to 14 thread.
I am happy that it can work with most VHF marine radio models to provide clear and smooth audio quality while transceiving signals. Though the antenna does have some flex, it is advised to be best placed on an adjustable mount. Some of the recommended ratchet mount models are 4187, 4188-S, and 4190.
Because the 5101 8-foot VHF antenna package comes in end pieces, you will have to assemble and solder them on. Luckily, I find out that everyone can do this installation on their own at ease with some online instructions. There are an extra RG-58 cable of 15 inches and a PL-259 connector provided with this antenna.
10. Tram VHF Marine Antenna
The long 37-inch VHF marine antenna from the brand Tram performs well in the 156.650 and 157.425MHz radio range. It has great durability thanks to the powerful stainless steel material. I like its strong 6dB gain, which is technically the same as an 8-foot antenna but does not need too much space or complex installation.
To prevent stains of rust and to scale when using this VHF antenna in a saltwater ocean environment, the ferrule base has also been chrome-plated. From my perspective, I would still rebuy the marine antenna after seasons of use because of its amazingly low price range. Both of the cord and cable are outstanding.
11. AirWave Marine 5’ White VHF Antenna
I usually evaluate a random VHF antenna through its external material. The 5-foot marine antenna from AirWave Marine does not fail me at all. I trust that the fiberglass exterior is of ultra-high grade and durable. Plus, it has tubes made of brass to receive and transmit brilliantly over most standard VHF channels.
Proudly manufactured in the USA, this VHF antenna operates in the frequency marine of 156 – 162MHz with a powerful 6dBi gain. After running the low-loss 18-foot L-195UF cable, you needn’t solder a PL-259 connector anymore. All thanks to the thin FME and a provided PL-259 VHF radio adapter have been pre-installed.
The brand can promise that their 5-foot white antenna does not splinter during its usage because it is meant to endure years of regular application. This VHF marine-grade antenna has been tested and qualified for a fine performance. By reducing the need for a connector soldering, you can mount it with ease.
12. Digital Antenna 528-VW White VHF Antenna
In terms of the overall appearance of this Digital VHF antenna 528-VW, its construction quality is truly award-winning for many different factors. Of course, the antenna 316 ferrule is made from stainless steel with a ferrite choke bead for power directing. It is made to have a glossy finish of urethane.
Regardless of the 4-foot length, the white marine antenna delivers a stronger gain of 4dB, which is more efficient than many other larger models. About the mounting positions, I think it is most suitable for T-tops, sail, and speedboats. Its brass radiators are powerful, and all of the crucial connections are soldered.
What to Look When Buying a VHF Antenna
Exterior material – Brass, copper, and stainless steel are the most selected options for a fine & affordable VHF antenna. The fiberglass material certainly costs extra to get. However, I think a fiberglass antenna would be more sturdy and durable in the long run. It is your antenna, in the end, so go for what you like.
Regardless of the material, it should not be bendable. This VHF antenna has to provide resistance to rusting, scaling when used in a saltwater environment. I would appreciate it if it endures strong winds and other weather impacts during boat sails & road trips as well as anti-freeze. Do not forget any of these factors.
The dB rating (gain) – The antenna gain shows how strong a VHF antenna can receive and transmit it in a specified direction. I know that the rule of thumb for this dB rating is a 4-foot antenna should have a gain around 3dB, while an 8-foot model enables 6dB, and the 16-footer is a 9dB VHF antenna.
The higher this dB rating is, the larger the area that this VHF signal can cover. A high-gain antenna is favored than routers with high transmission since it applies to both receiving and transmitting. A 5dB gain for a VHF antenna covers about 500m and is the most excellent for flatlands and areas with little obstructions.
Overall length – So far, you can see that the average length range for a VHF antenna is from 3 to 8 feet. It is much longer in inch measurement. When you seriously consider the VHF antenna length into your purchase, I believe that will help you figure out which application is the most suitable.
Since several positions cannot handle a large and long 8-foot VHF antenna, you should select a shorter one to mount on them. From what I can tell, users should fully understand the area they are going to mount this antenna on in advance. Subsequently, choosing the overall length for this antenna will be far easier.
Provided/No mount – Although a lot of separate mount models are sold on the market, it is still better to have an attached mount for the VHF antenna. An “L” mounting bracket will support this assembly process in a much better way. Some marine antennas are engineered to have a magnetic base mount in the beginning.
A ready mounting base helps you to lay the entire VHF antenna down much easier. In case there is no mount available in the package, you should follow recommendations from the distributor to get a suitable unit, such as a ratchet or satellite mount. It is not a big deal if your antenna package is sold without mounts.
Supporting tools – An RG-58 A/U cable and a PL-259 connector are the accessories that you would often see in a VHF antenna package. They are responsible for easy screwing off and small hole installation of this antenna for marine. The cable length should not be less than 15 feet to ensure a flexible extension.
For your information, SO-239 is the female version of the PL-259 cable connector and required for specific antenna connections, but not all. Read the user instruction manual since it displays these important applications for you to acknowledge. You can do all the solderings for a VHF antenna by yourself.
Other Important Factors to Consider
What is a VHF antenna? Who is this for? How does it work?
VHF stands for very high frequency. It is the first band with wavelengths that are small enough to be compatible with short, efficient transmitting antennas. Due to the compact size, this antenna is mountable on vehicles and handheld radios. A whip VHF antenna usually has a length from at least 10 inches to 8 feet.
Despite being widely called a marine radio antenna, this VHF antenna is a great companion for multiple jobs and applications such as fishermen, marine guards, truck drivers, TV watchers, etc. Because almost all users can install a VHF antenna by themselves, it is not a tool that is only meant for professional use.
After being connected to a certain radio system, the VHF antenna needs to be tuned to the same frequency band as that system. Or else, the reception and the transmission are weakened. When a VHF signal is fed into this antenna, it begins to send out the radiation that is distributed in space in a particular way.
What are the different types of VHF antennas?
As far as I am concerned, VHF antennas on the market are not much different. I see that people do not often separate VHF antenna types as they are technically the same in appearance, function, and accessories. Their differences are perhaps the materials, lengths, dB ratings, and mounting.
Because available VHF antennas do not vary into different sorts, it will make things far easier for potential users to purchase one without hassle. This kind of antenna is manufactured alike in large quantities to have a suitable length, gain power for different applications. Some go with an installed mount.
Why do you need a VHF antenna?
Regarding the main purpose of a VHF antenna, it generates a radiator for the power in which a radio transmitter produces and transmits this energy in the precise direction. Therefore, a VHF antenna can enhance the reception for a certain electronic device such as a radio or TV to provide loud and clear audio.
As it picks up signals from a long distance in the VHF marine band frequency, the aforementioned potential users usually mount it on their vehicles (trucks, sailboats) or a portable walkie talkie unit. It is flexible enough to be effective in sail-outs and road trips, plus right at your home with stable broadcasts for TV.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who makes the best VHF antenna?
Shakespear, AirWave Marine, and Tram are currently the most excellent, top-rated brands on the market where you can get high-quality VHF antennas. Many of their devices are reviewed in this article, so you can see how reliable these names are. Most of my previous VHF antennas come from them.
If you ever purchase a marine VHF antenna from one of these manufacturers, you will be supported with a trustworthy product warranty and quick, dedicated customer service. They used to solve my manufacturer defections well for no extra charge. The brands are now available in chain stores and online websites.
What size VHF antenna do I need?
In case you are currently confused between selecting a 4’ vs. 8’ VHF antenna, you might need a piece of my advice. Generally, a 3 to 4-foot with a 3dB gain is used for boats under 24 feet. While larger vessels can work with antennas of 7 to 8dB at length from 12 to 18 feet. These are common suggestions.
Applying the general rule to all VHF antennas is that their height should be less than half the length of your speedboat. Based on my experience, longer VHF antennas will have higher dB ratings (gain). However, you should also check for the technical specifications of the VHF marine antenna to be certain.
How can I boost my VHF antenna signal?
When you feel that your VHF antenna reception is weaker than usual, I bet it is time for you to boost that antenna signal. One of the typical reasons that cause its interruption is noises from multiple devices turned on at once. You can either unplug the specific source or change the power outlet for each unit.
Another boosting option is to re-orientate your VHF antenna to a different area inside your house. I would recommend installing it against the walls and next to the window. You should ensure the antenna does not absorb too much sun and overheat. No metal should be around since it is likely to interrupt the VHF reception.
I have also heard that those who find their VHF antenna signal performs worse than expected will often lay it down horizontally to improve its receivability. You may even want to lay the antenna on the floor if your surroundings have tall buildings or mountains. These factors can obstruct the signals from your antenna.
The last simple method for you to try is mounting the VHF antenna as high as possible. It is true that the higher, the better, so if you live in a two-story house, positioning your antenna on the second floor would be optimal. Also, you should not forget that the marine antenna should be placed to face the right direction.
No matter what you do to boost the antenna signal reception, be careful on the condition that your VHF antenna is mounted on top of a truck or a sailboat since. And you might have to consider the weather factor-like severe winds. Sturdy and durable material sometimes fails to hold the long antenna in place and might lead to breakage.
How do I test a VHF antenna?
According to my knowledge, the easiest way for everyone to test a VHF antenna is by using a VSWR meter. This meter fits between your antenna and its cable. I would not use a CB radio because it can lead to additional issues. Anything that runs within the 144MHz band also covers all of the VHF marine frequencies.
A VSWR meter provides a ratio reading between the transmitted and reflected power of the VHF antenna. The perfect system includes no reflected power, so its ratio would be 1:1. A short or open circuit system will produce a 1:lots outcome. Although 1:2 is acceptable, results in less than 1:1.15 are ideal.
How to set up and use it?
The very first action you need to do is to remove existing antennas from your vehicle or radio. My pro tip is to use old cables to pull new cables through. After that, you should begin to mount the new VHF antenna in. I often hold the RG-58 cable against the antenna and avoid tangling during this time.
Run your cables for this VHF marine antenna, but never forget to cut any zip ties on the old ones before starting to pull. It is even more fantastic if you have a ProConnect UHF adapter included. That because this adapter enables a thin connector, factory-installed, no crimps required along with easy cable run and connection.
Moreover, weather swings, interference from most other electronic equipment, and LTE cell towers can temporarily cut off a VHF antenna signal. A metal roof will affect the antenna reception and prevent it from passing through as well. These factors have to be taken into account when you mount.
Compared to other antenna types, VHF antennas are claimed to be the most cost-effective unit with high portability. Many people use a marine VHF antenna to receive two-way communication and weather band signals over long distances. It can also receive FM radio and VHF TV stations.
How to take care and maintain it?
Keep in mind all of the external elements that can affect and impair your VHF antenna reception when you begin to mount it. I recommend wiping off unwanted stains and dirt on the antenna body with a soft, damp cloth, and no solvents applied on. Check for its condition after every sail outs and trips.
Plan up beforehand whether you need to use the antenna regularly in the following period. If not, I think you should unscrew it off the mount and store it away until the next application. No antenna construction can withstand all kinds of different weather impacts for long without degrading.
Where can I buy it?
If you ask me where to purchase an excellent VHF antenna for marine on the market, I will present these names with confidence: Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, Lowes, eBay, Best Buy, etc. You can scroll through a bunch of marine VHF antenna reviews for the best evaluation of your targeted device.
The most trusted VHF antenna brands I have mentioned above certainly have their units sold in these addresses at a fairly reasonable price range. Feel free to make a comparison between them to find out the cheapest suppliers. I hope you would be able to buy an effective VHF antenna at my suggested places.
A VHF antenna is extremely flexible with a compact design, diverse length & gain power and other supporting tools to be mounted on top of boats and cars. You can even pick up two-way conversations on both the VHF and UHF band as several antennas are dual-band. It is a must-have for your radio, truck, and TV.
After reading this article about the best VHF antenna, I expect you to find your favorite unit and buy it right away for a strong VHF reception. If you believe the information here about VHF antennas is helpful, please spread the word to your friends and family on social media. Thank you for reading this.
Richard Pennington is the one to consult when you need professional insight into electronics. With over a decade of experience in the field of electronics and communication engineering, he now serves as our chief content editor.
He is an advisor for multiple articles and videos with topics revolving around ham radios, electronics devices, and communication.