Self Supporting Antenna Tower: The Complete 101

A self supporting antenna tower has several unique features that make it suitable for a wide range of applications. 

But how exactly does this kind of antenna tower differ from others like guyed and bracketed towers? 

This article discusses the unique features, benefits, and applications of self-supporting antenna towers, plus some of the factors you should consider when choosing one.  

Table of Contents

What Is a Self-Supporting Tower?

As the name suggests, a self-supporting tower is one that’s mounted without any external support. 

See, the way it’s designed enables it to be self-sufficient. 

Thus, it can withstand its weight and that of the equipment installed on it at different heights. 

Typically, foundation blocks are what are used to support the tower. 

And the tower is a lattice steel structure that’s either L or C-shaped or triangular with cylindrical legs. 

The base part of the tower legs connects to the foundation via anchor bolts. And the tower has three or four sides of solid rod or pipe, depending on the design.  

What Are the Main Components of a Self-Supporting Antenna Tower

A self-supporting antenna tower consists of the following:

Antenna Stand (Bottom Plate)

This is the section of the tower that’s used for mounting the mast of the antenna and other antenna support structures. 

Now, the base plates vary in size, depending on the size of the tower. That way, it is able to complete the load path into the foundation. 

As a result, it can provide uniform distribution of the loads to the foundation. Often, most of the base plates you’ll see are either square or rectangular in shape.   

Tower Body (Mast)

This is a web-like structure that extends from the bottom plate to the top plate. 

Typically, masts comprise a metal central pole and several web-like structures that extend from the central pole to the outer grid. 

Now this web increases the stiffness and strength of the central pole, vital for supporting the weight of the tower and all its components. 

Also, it prevents the structure from flexing while at the same time maintaining the tower’s structure. 

Lightning Down Lead

Lightning down is often also known as a down conductor. It provides the connection between the air termination system and the Earth. 

Thus, it provides the path needed to safely transmit intercepted lightning from the top of the tower to the ground. 

That way, the tower units and surrounding buildings and houses don’t suffer damage from lightning strikes.


Antenna tower ladder

(Caption: Antenna tower ladder)

As you would expect, the ladder makes it easy to move up and down the tower. 

Usually, this convenience comes in handy during the installation of the antenna and during routine maintenance. 

The ladder comprises steel to ensure it’s strong enough to support the weight of technicians. Typically, it’s a four-sided structure. 

5. Antenna Setup Unit or Devices

(Caption: Devices on the antenna)

Usually, the unit goes to the top beam plate. And its purpose is to provide the needed signal from transmission points to receiver antennas. 

The positioning of the antenna at the top limits interferences from other transmission antennas in the area. 

Also, it ensures an unblocked line of sight since it’s high enough, avoiding obstructions like trees or buildings. 

Resting Platform

A resting platform provides the support one would need when climbing up the ladder. Besides being excellent for resting, it protects the climber from falling.

Features and Standard Specifications of Self-Supporting Towers

Many of the features and specifications of self-supporting towers make them a convenient choice for many wireless transmission service companies. These features include:

  • Bolting: Because of the bolting of the towers, it makes it easy to set up the whole system without the need for welding. This also saves time. 
  • Rust-resistant materials: See, the construction materials are steel galvanized with zinc coating and other materials that are resistant to rust. Thus, it increases the durability of the tower. 
  • Small footprint: The tower setup is safe and convenient for a small area. Thus, it’s easy to select a site that the tower can fit in. Also, there’s no need for constructing external support for the tower. 
  • Adjustable slope: It’s possible to adjust the tower to meet a slope that can handle both the geological and climatic conditions of the region.
  • Height and weight support: Surprisingly, there are many self-supporting towers that go as high as over 250 feet. That said, the average height is about 80 feet. And all these towers can withstand a significantly wide range of load weight. Thus, there are several options to choose from.   

Self-Supporting Tower Application

The following are examples of self-supporting tower applications:

  • Mobile towers, thus the placement of mobile base stations. 
  • Radio towers and thus, placement of radio relay system antennas.
  • Home towers and placement of television and radio antennas.
  • Wireless internet towers
  • Wired towers

What to Consider When Choosing a Self-Supporting Antenna Tower

Consider the following factors when selecting a self-supporting antenna tower: 

Application and Devices

First, you should consider the application. And the configuration (for example, backhaul, WiFi, or SCADA) is what dictates the type of application. 

Also, consider the devices you want to install on the tower. These determine how high the tower must go and the appropriate wind load. 

Thankfully, the local tower manufacturers will usually help you know the height you need. One that leaves room for needed buffers without much restriction. 

Location and Local Codes

The geographical location significantly impacts the wind load. And the same applies to the soil type. 

For example, some self-support towers are not able to support much weight and height. 

Another important consideration is the local codes required. That way, the tower will meet the design and fabrication requirements based on the location and type of tower. 

Nature and Use of the Tower

If you intend to use the tower on private property, then there’s no need for a professional engineer (PE) stamp. 

However, if it’s for commercial use, the stamp is essential, especially in densely populated areas with more building codes. 

Special Requirements

Sometimes, a tower must comply with some unique special requirements. 

Some examples of such requirements include anti-climb, lighting unit, grounding, or FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) painting, marking, or lighting standards. 

Advantages of Self-Supporting Towers

First, due to their simple structure, self-supporting towers tend to be cheaper compared to other towers. 

This is in terms of the transportation of the components, as well as the installation process. 

Also, a self-supporting tower usually goes several feet high.

 Thus, even in limited space, the tower is able to transmit wireless signals, such as radio and cellular waves without interference. 

Further, because of the lack of supporting wires, it generally has an appealing appearance. 

Therefore, where the aesthetics matter, such as in residential areas or tourist attraction sites, this type of antenna tower is a lifesaver.  


What Are the Different Types of Antenna Towers

The three main types of antenna towers include self-supporting, guyed, and bracketed. 

What Is the Difference Between a Self-Supporting Tower and a Guyed Tower?

The main difference lies in the design and installation process. 

See, a self-supporting tower requires no external support to stand upright and support a load. 

For this reason, their main application is where there’s limited space. On the other hand, guyed towers need support. 

Thus, they have guy wires radiating from the central pole anchored to the ground. 

For this reason, these towers require a larger area for installation.  


Without a doubt, the self-supporting antenna tower is a revolutionary system. As we’ve seen it has several benefits. 

For one, it has a small footprint. Also, it can go up several feet high, reducing obstructions and interferences. 

This and other factors make this tower most suited for installation in urban areas where there’s limited space.  

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