Antenna Polarization: Vertical Vs Horizontal

Have you wondered about antenna polarization, vertical vs. horizontal?

Signal transmission is highly regulated by the polarization of the signal transmission tower and the receiving antenna.

 And while a horizontally polarized antenna may not work in one place, a vertically polarized one may do, and vice versa. 

In some cases, you may need both vertical and horizontal. But what exactly is the difference between horizontal and vertical antenna polarization?

Also, how is each employed, and what are the advantages and disadvantages? Read on to learn all this and more. 

Table of Contents

What Is Horizontal Antenna Polarization?

Horizontal polarization involves the oscillation of the electromagnetic field on a horizontal plane. 

In other words, the wave’s electric field moves horizontally or parallel to the earth’s surface. 

To illustrate, let’s consider a space representation of the plane with X, Y, and X coordinates. 

Here, the X axis, with its parallel movements, represents the horizontal oscillation, as shown below. 

The receiving antenna must be in the same horizontal polarization to receive the transmitted signal. 

That’s achieved by having the antenna fins arranged in a horizontal plane. That way, it will have the same orientation as the incoming signal.

What Is Horizontal Antenna Polarization Used For?

Horizontal antenna polarization is important for avoiding interferences to the transmitted signal.

 See, the electric field along the X-axis moves in a parallel fashion.

And this limits the cases of interaction with objects at a lower ground level compared to vertical oscillation.

Now these antennas are an excellent choice when dealing with sky wave preferences.

Also, horizontal orientation makes it easy to mount and stack your antenna. 

Further, it’s ideal for short-distance transmissions.    

What Is Vertical Antenna Polarization

Vertical antenna polarization is when the movement of the eclectic field is perpendicular to the earth’s surface. 

Thus, a lower angle of radiation near the surface of the earth is what characterizes this type of signal transmission. 

The electric field moves perpendicular to the X-axis. And a vertical antenna with vertical polarization can receive such transmission easily. 

That’s because the orientation of the antenna fins lies in the same polarization state as the signal transmitted.  

What Is Vertical Antenna Polarization Used For?

A vertically polarized antenna, such as radio communication, is a great solution for ground wave propagation. 

See, the movement of the wave causes the vertically polarized antenna to transmit and receive signals over a long distance. 

And as long as the antenna fins are in the same vertical orientation as the incoming signal, it’s possible to have clear radio communication. 

For this reason, you’ll often find this kind of polarization in radio broadcast transmission towers and automobiles.

Car antenna

(Caption: Car antenna)

What Is the Advantage of Using Horizontal Polarization?

Helps Avoid Interferences From Nearby Antennas

Horizontal polarization offers a better solution to avoiding interferences if the nearby antennas employ it. 

To illustrate, when a wave moves in free space, it will experience reflection and inference from obstacles and other waves. 

As a result, this interference may create an out-of-phase situation, distorting the final signal you receive on your antenna. 

So if you’re in an area where many antennas employ vertical polarization, you may experience a similar effect. 

However, a horizontally polarized antenna will only receive horizontally propagated signals. That means there’ll be no interference from waves of different orientations. 

The horizontally polarized antenna is at a 90-degree angle with the transmission line. 

Thus, the transmission signal doesn’t affect the radiation pattern and electrical characteristics of your horizontal antenna. 

But remember, the antenna must be in the same propagation as the signal you intend to receive. 

Helps Mitigate Interferences from Electronic Appliances

Generally, horizontal signal polarization handles signal interferences from electronic appliances better. 

That’s because there is a decrease in radiated energy absorption by the surrounding wireless devices, appliances, and building wiring systems. 

Now this is especially important if the frequency of the wave transmitted exceeds 100 megahertz. 

See, in such cases, a slight change in the location of the horizontal antenna causes negligible variation in the field intensity. Thus, it does not reduce the strength of the signal. 

Good for HIgh-Frequency Signals

See, sky wave transmissions occur at a high frequency. 

That’s because sky waves move through the earth’s magnetic field, which is in constant motion. 

For this reason, the transmitted waves experience a change in motion and oscillation direction. 

Thus, the waves reach the receiving antenna as elliptical polarization with horizontal and vertical polarization properties. 

That means you can place the receiving antenna in a horizontal position to receive the incoming horizontal plane aspect of the wave signal. 

Offers Simple Installation

Horizontal polarized antennas offer a convenient and straightforward installation.

 For example, having a straight wire that’s horizontally oriented is sufficient to receive the signal.

 That means you can mount it near the ceiling without occupying too much space.   

What Is the Advantage of Using Vertical Polarization?

Good For Ground Waves

Vertical polarization is the perfect means of transmitting and receiving ground waves. 

Examples of such waves are radio waves at low and medium frequencies at a long distance.

Typically, ground waves touch the earth’s surface at low frequencies when traveling. And as a rule, the earth is a fair conductor of these waves. 

With horizontal polarization, the earth cancels out the horizontal polarization aspect of the waves at low ground levels. 

That way, it prevents the radio waves from traveling very far. But unlike horizontal polarization, this phenomenon does not affect vertical polarization. 

So contrary to what happens with horizontal polarization, the waves can travel a considerable distance on the ground surface. 

Thus, there’s no need for attenuation to enhance signal strength. 

Less Interference From Horizontally Oriented Transmitters

If you’re using vertical polarization, you’ll experience less interference from strong horizontally oriented signal transmitters. 

Some examples of such transmitters are VHF (very high frequency) and UHF (ultra high frequency), employed in TV and FM radio broadcasts. 

Signal transmitter

(Caption: Signal transmitter)

This is especially important if you’re located in an urban area with several users of horizontal polarization antennas. 

Differences Between Horizontal and Vertical Antenna Polarization?

Below are the three distinct differences between horizontal and vertical antenna polarization:

  • The direction of oscillation of the electric field: See in horizontal polarization, the electric aspect of the wave moves to the plane of the earth’s surface in a horizontal fashion. On the other hand, in vertical polarization, the electric field moves in a vertical manner.   
  • Ability to handle man-made noise: Typically, radio noise has no impact on horizontally polarized antennae as these noises are predominantly vertically polarized. With a vertically polarized antenna, it’s the opposite.  
  • Suitable frequencies: Generally, horizontal polarization antennas work well at high frequencies. On the contrary, vertical polarization antennas work best at low to medium frequencies.   


What Happens When a Wave Is Horizontally Polarized?

For horizontally polarized waves, the electric field oscillates in a horizontal fashion in relation to the earth’s surface. In space, you can describe it as moving parallel along the X axis of the plane. 

What Are the Three Types of Antenna Polarization?

The three types of antenna polarization are linear, circular, and elliptical.

What Is an Advantage of Using Horizontal Polarization at High Frequencies?

At high frequencies, horizontal polarization limits possible cases of interference from buildings and other objects. 

Usually, such interferences compromise the strength of the incoming signal from the transmission tower.  


That’s it on antenna polarization, vertical vs. horizontal. Both play an important role in signal transmission. 

Also, both have their pros and cons, depending on their application. 

And now that you understand how they differ, we hope you’re in a better position to determine the antenna type that best suits your home and office.   

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