Do you need obstruction lighting on your antenna tower?

If you’re serious about antennas, you might be considering a tower in your backyard. Antenna towers make it possible to put your antenna high above roofs and trees. Remember up to 90% of your signal can be blocked by common objects like houses. So, a tower is a great way to make sure that you’re getting the best possible signal.

Towers are more common in rural areas of course, where people have plenty of room to put one up. An average person probably doesn’t need to put a tower much higher than 50 feet. However, there are cases where you need to go higher than that.

You might even need to go so high that you need to think about obstruction lights. An obstruction light is the light that goes at the top of your tower. You’ve probably seen them on tall buildings and antenna towers as you drive by at night.

Why an obstruction light is needed

Obstruction lights are placed on tall objects so that low-flying planes can see them at night. You may not think that you’re in any sort of flight path, but it doesn’t matter; obstruction lights are required on every tall thing. It’s not just a tower or a building. In some cases obstruction lights are required on power lines, monuments, basically anything tall that stands by itself.

How high does your tower need to be before it needs an obstruction light?

The FAA rules are clear. Any object that rises to 200 feet above ground level needs an obstruction light.

There are different requirements for different lights, too. Here’s some information lifted from the FAA:

FAA Designation Color Description
L-810 Steady-Burning – RED Single Obstruction Light
L-810 Steady-Burning – RED Double Obstruction Light
L-856 High-Intensity Flashing – WHITE Obstruction Light (40 FLASHES PER MINUTE)
L-857 High-Intensity Flashing – WHITE Catenary Light (60 FLASHES PER MINUTE)
L-864 Medium-Intensity Flashing – RED Obstruction Light (20-40 FLASHES PER MINUTE)
L-865 Medium-Intensity Flashing – WHITE Obstruction Light (40-FLASHES PER MINUTE)
L-864/L-865 Medium-Intensity Flashing Dual – RED / WHITE Obstruction Light (20-40 FLASHES PER MINUTE) Obstruction Light (40 FLASHES PER MINUTE)
L-866 Medium-Intensity Flashing – WHITE Catenary Light (60-FLASHES PER MINUTE)
L-885 Low-Intensity Flashing – RED Red Catenary Light (60 FLASHES PER MINUTE)
L-866/L-885 Medium-Intensity Flashing Dual – RED / WHITE Catenary Light (60 FLASHES PER MINUTE)

Of course, consult with them about the specifics of what you may need for your situation, but this table can give you some idea.

Where can you get obstruction lights for towers?

Why, at Solid Signal of course. Our collection of obstruction lights will help you make sure you’re right with the law and that you’re keeping everything safe. After all it’s not just about making sure the planes stay undamaged. Anything that hits your expensive tower will knock it down. This means the tower will probably be destroyed. The antennas on it will be too, and whatever it falls on is probably toast. Using proper obstruction lights is a smart idea for everyone.

If you need help choosing an obstruction light or anything for your tower set up, do yourself a favor and call Solid Signal at 888-233-7563. Our experts can help you with a custom tower quote that includes obstruction lights, towers, guy wires, safety equipment, and everything you’ll need to get that antenna where you want it to be.

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 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.