Paid-TV costs households thousands of dollars each year. Failure to pay the monthly subscription fee means no viewing. However, if you put up an antenna, you will have access to up to 100 stations that broadcast over the air. The best part of this is that they are all free of charge.
Surprisingly, old-school antenna broadcast channels show high-resolution pictures much like cable television. This is because over the air signals transmit without the rigorous compression that cable signals go through.
All broadcast networks transmit antenna signals in high definition and a number of major broadcasters can even send out 4K broadcasts that can be picked by the latest antennas.
Is it Okay to Raise an Antenna in my Neighborhood?
The Federal Communications Commission gives renters and homeowners the right to erect an antenna, though some states and localities may have additional rules so be sure to check with your local authorities first.
However, the OTARD rule overrides most declarations by homeowners to prohibit the installation of antennas in your exclusive area of use.
Indoor or Outdoor Antenna Installation?
TV aerials are categorized as either indoor or outdoor antennas. The two categories of antennas can then either be amplified or non-amplified.
The kind of antenna you choose to install will depend on any of these three factors:
The general rule is that the higher you place your antenna, the better the reception will be.
Installations at least 30 feet above the ground level provides an optimum connection. If you want this height, get the outdoor antenna.
However, if you are inclined towards an indoor TV antenna, you can choose either an amplified or non-amplified antenna.
How far is enough to warrant an amplified antenna? Usually, if you are outside a 30-mile radius of a broadcasting tower, you need the amplified version. Other conditions such as climate can also be factors.
Sometimes the broadcasting stations are not visible to the eye, but there is a way to find out. One such resource is the AntennaWeb, which allows you to enter your address and search for the closest transmitter.
Indoor and Outdoor Antenna Placement
Choosing the right spot to erect your antennae is essential for getting the most channels and good picture resolution.
To install an outdoor antenna, choose a spot on your rooftop, or in an attic if you have one. The roof is the most popular spot since it gives the best results. One negative point: outdoor antennas tend to take up more space than their indoor counterparts.
An indoor antenna can simply be attached to your TV, though almost any spot in your home will do provided the antena is still wired to your TV.
Regardless of your choice of installation, there should be no metallic or any large objects around the antenna. Some of these objects have the ability to deflect signals.
Antennas are also sensitive to direction and they tend to favor one direction (towards the tower) to receive or transmit signals.This is to say that if you want the maximum benefits from your antenna, find the right direction to aim at.
How to Find the Right Direction to Aim an Antenna
Since the television and the antenna are usually located worlds apart, it is difficult to adjust the antennae and then check the performance on the TV.
It is better if there are at least two people involved. However, the process is still tiresome even with an extra set of hands.
There are a number of techniques to adjust the antennae in a less laborious fashion.
(i) Visual Alignment
This is the simplest and most effective method of aiming an antenna. It requires that the broadcasting mast is visible.
When you install your antennae point the receiver towards the direction of the tower.
If your neighbors have antennas and your mast cannot be seen from your vantage point, align your antenna in the same direction as your neighbor’s antennas.
(ii) Phone Application
There is an app for everything these days. So, it goes without saying that there are apps that show you the direction to point your antenna.
These apps are available on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Antennae orientation apps contain a list of broadcasting maps and their locations. When you input your address, the apps use your phone’s GPS system to provide the general direction of your local transmitting towers.
These apps will typically provide you with a list of signal towers over a range of miles. It is important to note that the closest tower may not provide the strongest signals or have a broader channel coverage.
The downside of using smartphone apps for antenna orientation is that sometimes the signals detected may be reflections. Over the air, signals can bounce off foliage, hills, and even buildings.
(iii) Signal Strength Meter
Antenna signal strength meters are simple to use. They show the direction from which the broadcast signal is strongest. Point your antenna in that direction.
Signal strength meters are cheap but effective means of determining the strength of broadcast signals across the whole frequency band.
Antenna strength meter is an analog RF meter that gives the readings on LED displays. Rotate the antenna until you get the strongest signal reading on the meter.
When you are buying an antenna signal strength meter, check whether it is for:
We’ve covered the basics, but there are few more tricks for alignment to ensure that optimum coverage is achieved.
When you are adjusting the antenna, stay behind it, keeping as much distance as possible. Being in proximity to the head of the antenna can affect the performance through:
Check that your movements around the TV do not affect meter readings before you tighten the antenna clamps. Confirm signal quality again when you are done fixing the antenna.
Buy good quality coaxial cable. High-quality cable minimizes signal loss as it travels from the antenna to the television.
A quality antenna cable is especially crucial in places where the signal strength is already weakened due to interference by natural and built obstacles.
Cheap TV fly leads bought in retail stores could also be the cause of your problems. Fly leads are often overlooked, but they play an important role in causing signal loss.
Invest in the best cables and fly leads to avoid performance disappointments.
Despite some shortcomings, there are good reasons to invest in a television antenna. Our favorite reason is that you do not always have to sacrifice quality resolutions to watch over-the-air TV.
Antenna TV is a welcome respite from monthly cable bills that will increase your savings. Although the channel range may be limited, third-party streaming options can always bridge this gap.