Sky high cable and satellite bills are never fun for anyone. Cable companies often make subscribing seem alluring with steep discounts offered to new customers. However, once the initial trial period passes, you’ll feel the pinch of the real prices.
If you find yourself struggling to pay your cable bill, or if you just feel short-changed forking over that much cash for TV, you should consider switching to an outdoor antenna.
Outdoor TV antennas are an excellent alternative to both cable and satellite television.
You’re probably worried about the hassle of getting the best reception from an outdoor antenna, but there’s no need to fear. We’ve written this article to teach you how to boost your outdoor antenna signal for the best reception.
In a few short steps, we can make your television watching experience enjoyable again.
1. Adjust the Antenna Direction or Location
Location and direction are the two factors with the biggest influence on antenna signal reception. Learning to use those factors to your advantage lets you boost your outdoor tv antenna signal.
The distance and the direction of the TV transmitting towers from your home determine the quality of the broadcast signal you’ll get. The height and power of the towers also influence the quality of the signal you’ll receive.
Homes located within a few miles of a broadcasting tower can easily get a stable signal using any outdoor antenna.
Those living further from the broadcasting station or saddled with obstructions along the way can experience more problems with the reception. In this case, you need to research a suitable outdoor antenna for your situation.
Pay close attention to the range of miles over which the antenna can pick up signals. The further from the broadcasting tower you are, the longer the antenna range needs to be.
There are two main types of antenna, omnidirectional and unidirectional.
This type of antenna is capable of receiving signals from every direction. Their field of action spans 360 degrees.
If you have an omnidirectional antenna, you do not have to worry about the direction that it should be pointing.
On the other hand, if your omnidirectional outdoor antenna has poor reception, find a different location. Move the antenna to another spot on the roof. You can also mount it on a pole elsewhere on your property.
A unidirectional antenna’s reception field spans between 25 and 35 degrees. Compared to the omnidirectional antenna, its field of action is limited.
If you own this type of antenna, the first step to troubleshooting reception problems is to locate the general direction of the TV transmitters nearest to your home.
Once you find out the direction of the local stations’ towers, point the antenna that way.
Unidirectional TV antennas are ideal for use in areas close to broadcasting towers. If the broadcasting tower is not visible, but you are located in the path of transmission, the antenna will serve you well.
2. Install a Preamplifier
Once your antenna receives a broadcast signal, it transmits the signal to your TV. The signal passes through a coax cable or a network tuner, both of which can weaken the signal.
The length of the coax cable may determine how strong or weak the signal will be by the time it gets to the television.
You’ll need a preamplifier if the signal splits to multiple locations within the house. Splitting to two TV sets or more will split the strength of the signal. This is where installing a preamplifier comes in handy.
If you choose to install a preamplifier on your own, know that the cable running from the device to the antenna should be as short as possible.
When installing the preamplifier, it is essential to use lightning arrestors and voltage blocks. These should be included when you are running a cable from the preamplifier to the main power supply.
Note: Consult a professional to install a preamplifier for you if you are not familiar with the process.
Preamplifiers enhance signal that is diminished because of long cables and splitters. You can quantitatively measure the strength of your signal in decibels (dB). The higher the decibels an amplifier has, the greater the boost for your antenna signal.
Too much amplification is worse than a weak signal. Some preamplifiers can measure the signal output in decibels. If it’s boosted too much, you can dial it down. Repeat this process while rechecking the signal until you have a clear picture.
3. Add a Distribution Amplifier
A distribution amplifier boosts a signal when it weakens after splitting. These amplifiers are normally installed inside the house. Unlike preamplifiers, they are simple to use items with only a single piece.
Buy a distribution amplifier if you are experiencing splitter loss in a home with multiple television sets. If your splitter serves several locations in your home, adding a distribution amplifier is a simple but effective fix for the waning signal.
When you are installing a distribution amplifier, use a drop-amp. To power the amplifier, you will need an AC outlet within four feet of the device.
4. Antenna Stacking
Antenna stacking is one of the best ways to boost outdoor TV antenna signals, and all you have to do is put two or more antennas near each other. The common practice is to place one antenna on top of the other. Antenna stacking can double or triple the strength of a signal.
When you point more than one antenna in the same direction, it intensifies the reception of the antenna. Consequently, the signal range increases.
To get the optimal outcome from antenna stacking:
To combine two antennas and their signals, you will need a signal joiner, a coupler or a combiner. Any of these three items will work, since they do the same job. The antennas will share one cable that descends to the television.
In stacking, the rule is to keep the cables as short as possible. Both cables should also be of the same length. When cables are equal, the signals join together perfectly. Otherwise, the signals will cancel each other out, and you will get terrible reception.
5. Use High-Quality Coax Cable for Installation
At this point, we must stress the importance of using a reliable coax cable with excellent shielding for little to no signal loss. This is essential.
The outdoor antenna could be sending immaculate signals to your TV. But if the coax cable is too long, the signal will be weak by the time it gets to the television.
Keep the run of the coax cable as brief as possible, and you will have crisp pictures. Long cable run is the biggest hindrance to clear display pictures.
Types of Coax Cables
The recommended cable sizes for residential signal distribution are as follows:
The first type of cable, RG59 is used less often nowadays. This is because it is proven to have massive signal loss, especially if it is a lengthy cable run.
On the other hand, the RG11 experiences minimal signal loss even over a long cable run. However, it is bulky and very awkward to maneuver for home installations. It’s also the most expensive of the three cables. These factors make it unsuitable to work with at home.
How about the RG6? Most homes use this coax cable for installations. The signal containment capabilities of this cable are not as good as the RG11’s. However, it is easier to manually manipulate during installation.
The RG6 coax may be pricier than the RG59, but it retains more signal than the R59. If you make a trade-off on both qualities, you’ll end up with a 6-cable. The RG-6 cable has been widely used in homes for this reason.
6. Use Up to Date Tech
Getting a better viewing experience boils down to getting a quality antenna. If your outdoor antenna is not good enough to pick up signals, it is just as limited as an indoor antenna, which can struggle to receive signals through walls and windows.
When getting the latest tech is your plan, consult with a technician to get professional assistance. Technicians know their way around antennas and will recommend one that suits your needs.
Another option to improve your reception is to buy another, better quality television.
A high quality television with a tuner box and professionally installed antenna is the magic trio. This combination provides a highly enjoyable viewing experience.
What Causes TV Signal Disruption Outside the Home?
On the outside, television broadcast signals are affected by a combination of environmental, geographical, and man-made factors.
These three factors interfere with the transmission of radio frequency signals, disrupting television reception.
What Causes TV Signal Interruption Inside the Home?
There are several culprits of broadcast interference inside the home. Electrical appliances are the primary culprits.
More sources of signal interruption are inadequately insulated cables and wiring, LED lighting systems, and faulty electronics (for example, amplifiers).
Figuring out how to boost your outdoor TV antenna signal can involve a lot of trial and error, but fortunately, you can start by trying any combination of the tips and tricks that we’ve outlined. More often than not, you can solve the problem with your reception.
In rare cases, you may try every trick in the book but still experience weak signals and hanging channels. When you get to this point, it is time to call for help. A professional can take over the installations and adjustments for you.
Calling for help from a technician should not be seen as giving up. It is the most responsible thing to do. There are aspects of outdoor antenna installation that pose a grave danger when done incorrectly.
We strongly advise that you do not attempt antenna installation without prior knowledge of the task.
Upgrading your outdoor antenna system and accessories will cost you some money. However, it costs much less than paying cable bills every month!