The Difference Between Active and Passive GPS Antennas

GPS or Global Positioning System is the technology behind active and passive GPS antennas. It is the technology that makes them work and without which they can’t carry out what we expect them to deliver. They work by obtaining data signals from artificial satellites orbiting the planet from outer space.

The vast majority of GPS units that we use today, which include portable navigation units, mobile phones, and PC tablets, have in them built-in hidden antennas although there are some which give the user an option to add an external antenna instead. While not all GPS devices would require you to install an external GPS antenna, there would be some instances that doing so would help.

Who need GPS antennas?

Most of the time, GPS navigation devices that come with an internal antenna work okay and at par with what they are expected to deliver. Sometimes an external antenna can be taken advantage of to help a GPS device to remotely feed it with information. This is a normal occurrence when the line of sight is obstructed or when there is too much interference between the sky itself and the GPS unit.

Additionally, the use of external antennas, in lieu of GPS units with outdated internal antennas, offers users greater value more than what they bargained for.

You can take advantage of an external antenna if you find that for no apparent reason, your GPS unit is acting upon you or would fail on obtaining a signal. You can also use it if your unit does not seem so very accurate at times.

You may, of course, try to move your GPS unit around your car first –doing so may help improve your car GPS’ signal and alleviate obstruction and interference issues. But if you reckon that it does not improve anything at all, the only viable solution left to do is the installation of an amplified external antenna.

But, of course, if you don’t have any pressing issues with your GPS unit, no signal loss or you are not troubled by accuracy issues of some kind, then most probably there is no reason to get yourself an external antenna.

Another situation where it is viable and practical to make use of an external antenna would be of great help is when you are traveling off-grid. Or if you are trekking in what can be best described as uncharted remote regions, in such cases GPS reception would be unstable and uncertain.

GPS Reception Interference

As mentioned earlier, GPS devices need to have unrestrained access to a network of satellites. In the absence of which, they will not just work. By virtue of the satellite signal strength and direction, a GPS device can make an accurate calculation of its exact physical location on earth. This will come as a dot on a digital map.

In the presence of an obstruction that is blocking or is getting in the way of your GPS devices’ view of the sky, it is going to have a hard time identifying satellite signals. If this happens, it will fail in locating your device or that its location accuracy would be degrading.

Skyscraper buildings and similar infrastructures are the usual culprits here because they induce signal degradation much like how the metal roofs in cars and trucks create signal interference also.

Like for instance, the thicker roof system your vehicle has, it creates greater difficulty for signals to go through and penetrate as opposed to a thinner one.

In the case of tinted windows, they can also induce interference to signals since they contain tiny particles of metal, too, and this will get in the way of GPS signals.