What is the distinction? What is the difference between VHF and UHF antennas? (Can You Tell Just By the Way They Look?)

The rabbit ears, dubbed by many of us as the most recognizable antenna for indoor use, come in a V-shape and are primarily designed for use alongside VHF frequencies or high-band VHF. The V’s sides are extendable, to make room for some customizability depending on the station into which you’re pulling.

outdoor antenna

A whole lot of rabbit ear sets feature a loop aside from the traditional ones. This is how it became a dual-band antenna for UHF and VHF.

The majority of current indoor antennas make use of looped dipoles within the plastic casing to allow the absorption of the UHF band.

Some of the leading antenna manufacturers claim that these panel antennas absorb VHF and UHF signals, but these antennas are unlikely to receive low VHF channels. However, an indoor UHF antenna will work well in an urban setting with television stations nearby.

Before 2009, when analog television was still dominant, the majority of TV stations broadcast their programs on VHF. The advantage of transmitting on the VHF was that it allowed for larger transmission distances. At the same time, it also performed better at cutting through interference.

Today, UHF supports greater bandwidth than analog television, which works to the advantage of modern programming because it places a premium on high resolution.

The majority of digital broadcasts we have nowadays are on the UHF band. However, some television stations continue to function on VHF, while a few more UHF stations are bound to transition to VHF.

This is referred to as a channel repack by the FCC. This aims to remove some channels in the UHF band and their assignment to 5G cell phone service.

Outdoor Antennas

The majority of outdoor antennas come with highly visible dipoles, making it clear if an antenna receives a single frequency band or a combination of both.

Outdoor antennas are made up of elements that can be mounted on a boom. They are designed in such a way that they will capture many wavelengths using multiple dipoles. These elements work as one to improve antenna gain.

They also decide the number of pieces, as well as their length, diameter, and spacing, based on the waves they are designed to capture. 

cellular tower

VHF antennas usually come with much longer elements and fewer of them. Most UHF television broadcasters make it difficult to obtain separate VHF antennas. Because of their prevalence, long dipoles, as well as small dipoles or loops, are used in the majority of antennas these days. They are designed to detect both VHF and UHF frequencies.

Antenna manufacturers, on the other hand, frequently overestimate how well their antennas perform at the VHF’s lowest MHz frequencies.

The Battle Between UHF Antenna vs VHF Antenna (Who Wins?)

Back in the days of the analog era, VHF enjoyed the advantage of being able to transmit at a greater distance with the same amount of power. Since 2009, the majority of stations have migrated to UHF where possible, because higher frequencies are ideal for digital compression and error correction of the types of high-definition programming that are available today.

Moreover, UHF antennas are smaller in size and, thus, because of that, they are far easier to install. Their signals also perform well in heavily populated urban settings.