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What Is a Panel Antenna?

By Victoria Blackburn
Updated May 16, 2024
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A panel antenna is a kind of directional antenna used in broadcast engineering, most often used to obtain a wireless Internet connection. Directional antennas receive and transmit a signal in one specific direction, which allows for a better signal. Its design originates in military technology, and uses wave guide technology to focus ingoing and outgoing radio signals into a focused, effective signal by concentrating their energy. A panel antenna is similar to a sector antenna, which is a directional antenna used in telecommunications for cell phone connectivity and wireless Internet.

Technology, such as panel antennas, is used in the developing world to increase the range and capability of wireless Internet networks. Under optimal conditions for signal broadcast and setup, this type of antenna may extend wireless connectivity up to 10 miles (16.1 km). In the United States and many other countries around the world, caution must be exercised that the antenna that is being used is compliant with regulations related to allowed amount of signal output.

A panel antenna is shaped like a panel, and is usually attached to a mounting bracket, which may then be affixed to the side of a building or inside a building. Additionally, it may be mounted on a swivel mount, which allows the user to position the antenna for optimal concentration of signal strength. Generally, this type of antenna is one-directional, with less movement side-to-side and up and down than an omni-directional antenna, which is an antenna where the position may be fully swiveled and adjusted.

Panel antennas are constructed for both indoor and outdoor use. They are normally made of hardy and corrosion-resistant material, such as polycarbonate, to ensure that they will effectively withstand the elements in an outdoor environment. A well-constructed panel antenna is able to endure high winds and extreme temperatures without damage, often up to over 100 miles per hour (161 kilometers per hour), and -22 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius), respectively.

There are many different varieties of panel antennas available. The antenna that is required will be based on requirements for connection and compatibility provided by the different brands. A panel antenna can also be hooked up to a router in order to gain or improve wireless Internet connectivity in a building or group of buildings. It may be attached through a USB wireless adapter or directly to a router that has an antenna connection.

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Discussion Comments
By healthy4life — On Jan 10, 2013

@orangey03 – I think that the size would depend on your needs. Bigger companies that need a better connection would probably use a bigger antenna.

I've seen silver, white, and black ones. They look like square canvases an inch or two thick. One that I saw looked like a TV screen in a frame.

My office has an outdoor panel antenna that is medium sized and silver. The building down the street has a white one, and my dad has a black one at home.

By orangey03 — On Jan 09, 2013

A wireless antenna is the best way to go, in my opinion. I have never seen a panel antenna, but it sounds like it would be sleek and efficient.

I know that they are shaped like panels, but what do they look like as far as coloring and size? Are they huge and silver, or do both size and color vary?

By Perdido — On Jan 08, 2013

It sounds like the panel antenna design is rather sturdy! A strong tornado might destroy it, but a weaker one might let it be. A hundred mile per hour winds are rare, indeed.

By anon297595 — On Oct 16, 2012

Are panel antennas frequency specific or will any panel antenna work with any frequency?

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