GPS stands for global positioning systems. They work by receiving signals direct from orbiting satellites, and that functionality will not work well in the absence of a good working GPS antenna. If you have been wondering why you are not seeing any visible sign or indication of an antenna whenever you look at your GPS unit, it is because most of the time they are built right into it.
There are also GPS devices that offer greater flexibility of use in terms of providing users an option to install an external antenna to it. While the installation and the use of an external antenna are not prerequisites, there are instances that they can be of great help.
If you had your GPS unit for some time now, and you have not encountered any pressing concerns about it in terms of accuracy issues or loss of signal, then you may abandon the idea of having an external antenna. Such may not be necessary anymore. Perhaps one good exemption we need to cite here is if you have intentions of driving your car somewhere uncharted. Somewhere you are not very much familiar with it. In such cases, you will make good use of an external antenna.
But, if on the contrary, you have been having issues with your GPS unit, if you keep losing your signal, then you can amplify this and strengthen your signal with the use or help of a GPS external antenna. Two possible things can bring this about, there are obstructions that you need to deal with. Second is the quality of the antenna that your GPS device comes in.
Internal vs. External GPS Antennas
So what is the difference between internal vs external GPS antennas? The vast majority of GPS navigation units on the market today have internal antennas built internally. Under normal circumstances, they should work okay and good. What do we mean by saying under normal circumstances? We are referring to a clear view of the sky, there are no obstructions that can get in the way of receiving GPS signals from satellites above.
These internal antennas are less capable compared to their larger external antenna counterparts. They are either passive or amplified.
For external antennas, they can have double GPS strength versus an unpowered antenna. If you are realizing that there are occasions that your GPS devices signal is failing you, or that you are finding that it is sometimes inaccurate, the best course of action to remedy this is to take advantage of an external antenna. Most of the time, this action alone will help resolve the issue.
You may think that the practical way to get around this problem is by trying to move your GPS device around your vehicle first, thinking that it would allay the interference or obstruction issues that your unit is having. However, you will eventually realize that there is only one viable solution for this, and that is to install an external, amplified antenna instead.
Amplified vs Passive Antennas
GPS external antennas are either amplified or passive. An antenna is qualified as a passive type if they are just on the receiving end of a GPS signal and relay it to a proper GPS navigation device. As for the active/amplified type, they usually come about with amplified power whose main purpose is just to boost the power of the signal.
The active or amplified antenna comes a little more expensive when compared to the passive antenna. It is also more challenging to install. Perhaps what makes it distinct from a passive antenna is the fact that you have the liberty of installing it at a safer distance away from your GPS device as opposed to what a passive antenna can handle. Usually, you need to install a passive antenna with a coaxial cable that is not more than three feet, between it and your GPS device.
Active antennas are pretty much better option to use for larger vehicles since you can install them much further away.