How can a clear antenna work as well as a regular one?

Our HD-Blade antennas have been a solid performer for over six years. They’re the easy way to get great reception at a great price. Still, that leads to one common question: How do the antennas work if they’re clear? Actually, the better question to ask is probably how they work if they aren’t clear! Looking at a clear antenna, you can see the metal parts that make up the actual antenna. They are far too thin to stand up by themselves, which is why they are encased in a plastic rectangle. The plastic doesn’t do anything to help or hurt the antenna, whether it’s clear or black or some other color. It’s completely transparent to radio waves, regardless of the color that we see it.

With a clear antenna, you can see the carefully-constructed pattern that makes up the actual antenna. It’s easy to see that the antenna is actually bigger than you think, but it’s folded at angles that let it take up less space. This makes for maximum efficiency in a small package.

Why aren’t all antennas clear?

In general, outdoor antennas aren’t clear because they wouldn’t stay clear for long. Clear plastic gets hard water stains and eventually yellows in the sun. It may look good in the short term but it’s not going to look nice in the long term. Not only that, but using clear plastic on a larger antenna is going to make it more expensive than using white plastic. In a small antenna like our HD-Blade, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference in cost. However, in a much larger antenna it just might. Our research tells us that people wouldn’t buy a large clear antenna.

Clear plastic also could heat up the inside of the antenna and without a way for that heat to escape it would just build up and damage the components. In order to let heat dissipate you’d need holes at the top which would let rain in. Really, it’s a lose-lose scenario.

There’s sometimes another reason. Sometimes the inside of a white-plastic-clad antenna isn’t that attractive. Sometimes there are wires and circuit boards and everything is just arranged in a way that makes it work better but doesn’t look terribly attracticve.

Can you have a completely clear antenna?

We still get people who would like it just fine if the antenna elements themselves were clear instead of silver. That would be a little harder to accomplish. There aren’t any materials that are inexpensive enough to use in antennas that are transparent to our eyes but pick up radio signals. Until recently, transparent aluminum was the stuff of fiction, highlighted in movies like 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Recently, though scientists developed aluminum oxynitride, a form of aluminum that is not only transparent but actually more bulletproof than steel. It’s still way too expensive for antennas, especially lower-priced ones.

Get the antenna you need at Solid Signal

No one has a better selection of antennas. Solid Signal has all the major brands at the best prices and we offer free tech support on all our products. We even offer free recommendations from qualified technicians to help you get the antenna you need. What are you waiting for? Enjoy free TV with an antenna from Solid Signal!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.