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What is Lora Antenna ?

Introduction to LoRa Antennas

LoRa antennas are used to transmit and receive wireless signals for LoRa devices and networks. LoRa stands for Long Range and refers to a spread spectrum modulation technique that enables long-range communications over unlicensed spectrum. In this article, we discuss what LoRa is, the radio frequencies used, types of LoRa antennas, key antenna characteristics, matching considerations, and usage examples.

Overview of LoRa Technology

LoRa is a physical layer RF modulation protocol developed by Semtech. Key attributes:

  • Long range communication links
  • Low power consumption for remote battery devices
  • Robust data transmission resistant to interference
  • Operates in unlicensed ISM bands
  • Enables large-scale Internet of Things networks
  • Bidirectional communication with mobile or fixed assets
  • Range can exceed 15 km in rural areas
  • Open standard used widely by industry

LoRa now serves as the PHY layer for the LoRaWAN protocol stack focused on LPWAN IoT connectivity for sensors, actuators, trackers, and monitors. This is driving adoption of LoRa-compatible antennas.

LoRa Frequency Bands

Common unlicensed LoRa frequency bands:

433 MHz – Used primarily in Asia. Allows longer range but lower data rates.

868 MHz – Main band for Europe. Good range with reasonable data rates.

915 MHz – North America band offers a balance of data rate and range. Australia uses 915-928 MHz.

2.4 GHz – Short range but higher data rate for sensors. Restricted in some regions.

So LoRa antennas target the sub-GHz license-free ISM bands ideally suited for long range coverage. The exact frequencies depend on geographic region.

Types of LoRa Antennas

There are several common antenna form factors compatible with LoRa radios:

Omnidirectional Whip and Dipole

  • Half-wave monopoles or dipoles
  • Radiate uniformly in azimuth
  • Simple, compact form factor
  • Screw mount or permanent attachment
  • Ideal for small, mobile LoRa devices

External Terminal

  • Detachable antenna via coax cable
  • Easy repositioning and reorientation
  • Allows remote mounting for improved coverage
  • Added cost of coax cable and connector
  • Common for fixed gateways and infrastructure

PCB Trace Antennas

  • Meandering PCB traces as integrated antennas
  • Low cost but less efficient than external antennas
  • Used when minimal footprint is critical
  • Performance very dependent on PCB layout

Ceramic Chip

  • Multilayer ceramic package with embedded antenna
  • Compact SMT component for PCB integration
  • Lower cost than miniaturized antennas
  • Reduced performance compared to larger antennas

In general, fixed infrastructure utilizes external antennas while mobile LoRa endpoints more commonly employ whip or chip antennas.

Key Antenna Characteristics

Critical parameters for a LoRa antenna include:

Frequency – Must match LoRa band in use, typically 433 MHz, 868 MHz or 915 MHz.

Gain – Amplification over isotropic, higher gain equals longer range. 1-5 dBi typical.

** VSWR** – Voltage standing wave ratio, 1.5:1 or less is optimal impedance match.

** beamwidth** – Angular radiated region for directional antennas.

** Polarization** – Orientation of electric field – vertical, horizontal or RHCP/LHCP.

** Cable loss** – Loss in coaxial feed line, 1-2 dB common.

** Size** – Form factor constraints, gain often correlates with size.

Matching the antenna characteristics to the use case and installation is vital for optimal LoRa performance.

Antenna Types Comparison

Table 1. Comparison of LoRa antenna types

AntennaFrequencyGainSizeVSWRPolarizationUse Case
Whip433/868/915 MHz1-2 dBiCompact< 1.5VerticalMobile assets
PCB TraceAny LoRa band-1 to 1 dBiPCBA footprint> 2LinearSize constrained
DipoleAll LoRa1-3 dBiDepends on element length< 1.5VerticalFixed position
Yagi433/868/915 MHz8-12 dBiMedium large< 1.5Horizontal/VerticalDirectional links
HelicalAny LoRa3-6 dBiSmall< 1.5RHCP/LHCPSmall fixed position
ChipAny LoRa-1 to 1 dBiTiny< 2LinearPCB integration

Impedance Matching

For best performance, the LoRa antenna impedance should match the impedance of the radio module, typically 50 ohms. A mismatch reduces efficiency due to signal reflection. Key considerations for matching:

VSWR – The voltage standing wave ratio compares impedance. A VSWR of 1:1 is optimal, under 1.5:1 is excellent.

Return Loss – Also called reflection coefficient. Indicates the signal reflected due to impedance mismatch, ideally below -10 dB.

** Smith Charts** – Visualize impedance matching and guide component selection.

baluns – Transformers that convert between balanced and unbalanced signals. useful where antenna and radio have different configurations.

** Matching Networks** – Reactive components to improve antenna matching. Useful for non-standard impedances.

Careful impedance matching ensures maximum RF energy transfer between the LoRa modem and antenna.

LoRa Gateway Antennas

LoRa gateways aggregate data from numerous endpoint devices across large geographic areas. Choosing the right external antenna improves performance:

Omnidirectional – Radiates uniformly for 360 degree coverage. For spread out endpoints.

Directional Yagi – High gain directed beam for point-to-point links. Can use multiple antennas for full coverage.

Collinear – Multi-element vertical antenna combines gain of small dipoles. Alternative to Yagi.

Polarization – Typically vertical polarization, or RHCP/LHCP for improved reception with random endpoint orientations.

Position – Height above average terrain and lack of obstruction ideal.

Cabling – Low loss coax such as LMR-400 for cable runs under 5 meters.

Lightning protection – Essential for outdoor antenna installations.

Combiners – Allows using multiple antennas simultaneously with isolation between ports.

LoRa Endpoint Antennas

Endpoints often employ small integrated or whip antennas due to size constraints. Key factors:

Whip – Simple quarter-wave monopole, oriented vertically.

Helical – Compact circular polarized whip replacement.

Chip – Ceramic SMT antenna when PCB space is limited.

PCB Trace – Integrated meandered lines as last resort.

Case – Utilize device enclosure as ground plane.

Position – Endpoints are often mobile. Mitigate body shadowing with top edge mounting.

Circular Polarization – Makes orientation with gateway less critical for smaller antennas.

RF Switch – Alternate between two antennas for diversity based on signal quality.

MIMO – Employ multiple synced antennas for spatial multiplexing.

Antenna Installation Best Practices

Proper antenna installation ensures optimal LoRa performance:

  • Position for line of sight with minimal obstructions
  • Use robust mounting hardware secured to structure
  • Ground electrically via mounting bracket and surge suppressor
  • Weatherproofing for outdoor deployments
  • Lightning rod if necessary for lightning prone areas
  • Keep coax runs under 5 meters (ideally sub 3 meters)
  • Use high quality low-loss coaxial cabling such as LMR-400
  • Ensure water does not ingress into connectors
  • Mount antenna away from large metallic objects
  • Maintain isolation from adjacent transmitting antennas

Following antenna best practices improves link margins and network reliability.


The optimal LoRa antenna depends on use case factors such as: needed range, endpoint size, directionality, and polarization. Omnidirectional whips and dipoles with vertical polarization cover many scenarios. Directional Yagi and log-periodic antennas provide gain for point-to-point links. Circular polarization improves reception for randomly oriented endpoints. Proper impedance matching and installation are also key for robust LoRa communications.

LoRa Antenna FAQs

What are the most common LoRa antenna types?

The most prevalent LoRa antennas are quarter-wave whip antennas, helical antennas, PCB trace antennas, ceramic chip antennas, and directional Yagi antennas. Dipole and collinear antennas also see use.

What is the difference between linear and circular polarization for LoRa?

Linear polarization aligns the electric field in one plane, either vertical or horizontal. Circular polarization rotates the field in a helix, making antenna orientation less critical for endpoint communication.

How does antenna gain relate to range for LoRa?

Higher antenna gain in dBi extends the communication range for a given transmit power level. Each 3 dBi increase approximately doubles the range under line of sight conditions.

What cable type should be used for gateway antennas?

Low-loss coax cable such as LMR-400 is recommended for gateway antennas when runs are less than 5 meters. LMR-600 can be used for longer cable lengths.

What are recommended surge protection methods for LoRa antennas?

A coaxial lightning surge protector matched to the antenna feedline impedance should be used. DC grounded mounting brackets also help shunt current from lightning strikes.




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