How to Install a CB Antenna: All You Need to Know About Hooking Up CB Antennas

Are you wondering how to install a CB antenna? Likely you have so many questions running through your head. 

For example, what tools do you need? Does it matter where you install it, and if so, where should you place it? 

And is it necessary to ground it? Here’s a step-by-step guide on installing a CB antenna, including the best place to place it and how to tell if it’s working right. 

Table of Contents

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Install a CB Antenna

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to successfully install a CB antenna:

Tools You Need

Like it is with installing anything, there are tools and materials you’ll need to install a CB antenna. Therefore, it’s best to have a checklist for every item. 

First, there’s the antenna you want to install. Then, ensure you have a coaxial cable of high quality. 

Also, you may need a spring installed between the antenna and the mounting surface. 

Additionally, an SWR meter will be useful when choosing the right placement for your antenna for a quality signal. Lastly, you will need a CB antenna mount.  

SWR meter

(Caption: SWR meter) 

Choose a Location

Now this might surprise you, but the antenna type significantly determines the mounting location. 

Therefore, you must assess your options before selecting the type of antenna to buy. 

For example, if you want to install a magnetic mount, you’ll not need a bases-loaded antenna for a bumper installation. 

The best place to install a CB antenna is at the center of the vehicle’s rooftop. 

That way, it will ensure you have adequate ground cover you need. 

While there may be other options, such as the fender or bumper, your antenna will likely get a weaker signal reception if you place it there. 

Also, the location should ensure that the coil of your antenna stays above the roof line. 

Further, when you place the antenna high enough to prevent signal reception problems due to interferences.

 And this is especially so if you don’t have a preamplifier to boost the quality of the signal.    

Install the Antenna Mount

The complexity of installing the antenna mount depends on your antenna type. 

For instance, for a magnetic mount, you simply need to place it at the center of the car’s roof. That’s because the roof is made of steel, which is magnetic. 

However, if your car is made of aluminum, you must install a metal bracket. That way, it provides a spot for your magnetic mount to stick on it. 

If you’re using a door jamb mount, you must measure, drill, and adjust to get the right vertical antenna outlook. 

Also, depending on your mount, you may need a ring terminal connector for a stud antenna mount. Sometimes, some mounts require a PL259 connector. 

Set up the Coax Cable

Finding ways to set up your coaxial cable to your antenna with minimal exposure is important. 

To achieve this, you may need a cable that has a removable PL259 connector. 

Such a connector makes it easy to pass the cable through small holes and connect it to your CB antenna easily. 

More importantly, run the cable on a path that, as much as possible, leaves minimal slack. 

Also, measure the cable size from your antenna to your radio. Otherwise, anything shorter will compromise the installation. 

Coaxial cable

(Caption: Coaxial cable) 

Tune the Antenna

It would be best if you properly tuned the antenna before any other transmission with your radio. Doing so will protect your radio from any damage. 

An SWR meter will help you determine the best place for better signal reception. Generally, reading a 1:1 ratio on your meter is a good sign. 

Why Is My Antenna Not Finding Channels?

There are several reasons for this. For example, if your antenna is too short or the line of sight is obstructed. 

Also, inadequate tuning without using the SWR meter may contribute to having no signal due to poor aiming of the antenna.

 Another reason is a poor connection of the coaxial cable may be breaking the signal.

 Lastly, a lack of grounding for the antenna may make it hard for the antenna to find channels

Where Is the Best Place to Put a CB Antenna?

The good news is you can place your CB antenna in various places. However, each position you consider should have the strongest signal possible. 

One of the best spots is at the center of the car’s roof. Other places include the toolbox, stake hole, and hood. 

While placing the CB antenna on the bumper seems like an excellent idea, it should be your last choice. 

The bumper’s low location makes the antenna prone to signal blocking. Thus, a poor signal. 

Does CB Antenna Need to Be Grounded?

Now the type of antenna you have will determine if you need an antenna grounding or not. 

For instance, antennas with a ground plane or NGP (no ground plane) don’t require grounding. 

However, any typical CB antenna requires antenna grounding, and one place you can ground your antenna is in the car’s chassis.

Mind you, the lack of proper grounding will likely make tuning the antenna hard. 

Thus, it will cause high SWR levels, which could damage your CB radio. 

Ensure your mount has a direct metal-on-metal connection to the vehicle’s frame for proper grounding. 

Also, ensure that you don’t paint the grounding to prevent interference. Thus, you may need to scrape some of the paint off the grounding area.   

How Do I Know If the Antenna Is Working?

The best way to determine whether your antenna works is through the SWR meter reading or a multimeter measurement. 

Note a lower SWR reading radio of 1:1 is a good indication that the antenna is operating well. 

Another way to ascertain the antenna works is by accessing the grounding plane. 

If the grounding level signal through the continuity testing is right, then it means that the antenna is working properly. 

Using a multimeter, touch the metallic end of the antenna with one probe of the meter.

 Then put the other probe on the end of the antenna. Note there should be a full deflection of the meter pointer. 

If there is any resistance, likely parts of the antenna are damaged. 

Additionally, you can check the operation of the CB radio after connecting the CB antenna. 

How to Ensure a Successful CB Antenna Installation

The following are tips on how to ensure a successful CB antenna installation: 

  • Tune the antenna: First, ensure you tune it adequately after installation to work properly. 
  • Ground the antenna mount: By grounding your antenna, you improve the signal quality and lower SWR reading levels. 
  • Route and drill after tuning: Also, measure the SWR of your antenna before drilling holes in your car. That way, you ensure a good location, as not all spots will work well. 
  • Ensure sufficient antenna height: The height of the antenna should remain above the rooftop of the car for adequate signal reception. 
  • Avoid pinching the coax: Ensure you use maximum cable length to avoid compromising the antenna’s performance. 
  • Store extra coax properly: While storing the extra coax, avoid making a circular coil shape of the cable. Otherwise, it could affect the RF signal. 


How Far Does a CB Antenna Reach?

Usually, the type of CB antenna determines how far it can reach. For example, dual CB antennas have a higher range than single antennas.

 However, the CB antenna reaches between 15 to 50 miles of transmission radius. 

What Is the Best Length of a CB Antenna?

Generally, the antenna should be long enough above the car’s rooftop. That way, it avoids signal interference of the incoming signal. 

Does the Height of a CB Antenna Matter?

Yes, it does. See, short antennas will suffer signal interference due to obstruction. Therefore, it should be long enough to align with the signal path. 


Now you know how to install a CB antenna, including the best place to put it and whether or not to ground it. 

Also, after installing the antenna, you know how to tell if the antenna is working. Simply follow the steps in our article.

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