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Over-the-Air Antenna Installation: Five Factors That Affect Signal Reception

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An over-the-air (OTA) antenna allows users to receive broadcast television and prime time sports for free. However, the signal strength and reception of the various television channels rely on the installation of the antenna. Incorrect installation can lead to low signal strength, which affects picture quality. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the factors that can affect signal reception prior to the installation process. Below are the leading factors you should be wary of.

OTA antenna type

There are two main types of antennas: indoor and outdoor antennas. Indoor antennas are designed for indoor use while outdoor ones are installed on the exterior of the home. The antenna you choose can affect the signal strength and quality. Indoor antennas are great for areas with powerful signals. For example, users living in the cities where most broadcast towers are located can get away with indoor antennas.

When used in remote areas, indoor antennas generate weak signals. Here, an outdoor one would be the best option for intercepting radio waves and providing high-quality pictures and sound. However, outdoor antennas are generally more reliable and provide better signal reception as compared to their indoor counterparts. 

Antenna placement location and direction

Antenna location and direction determine the strength of the TV signal. Ideally, the antenna should face the direction of the local broadcast tower for optimal signal strength. Before installing the device, check out the channels available for air in your area. You can do this by asking your neighbours or checking the digital coverage of your area from the government's website.

Once you have identified the channels and the location of local broadcast towers, position your antenna and conduct a signal search. Check to see whether you are receiving all or most of the channels as shown on the site. If you're not getting the channels, adjust your antenna until you get a powerful signal. It would help if you had someone to help with this process.

Antenna height

Broadcast towers are installed high in the sky to allow for proper signal reception. However, between the tower and your home, there may be tall buildings and other obstructions which may block the signal and affect its strength. For the best reception, install your antenna at a height with minimal physical obstruction. 

You can install the antenna on your roof, garage or on the side of an exterior wall. If you live in an apartment, the balcony would be a great location. Whichever location you choose, make sure there is no obstruction from nearby trees and structures. Note that if you live far away from the local broadcast tower, you may have to install the antenna higher on the roof for better signal reception.

Interference from nearby objects

Buildings and trees aren't the only sources of signal obstruction. If you have a metal roof, you should be wary of installing an outdoor antenna on it. The metal may reflect the radio waves and prevent the antenna from intercepting them. To avoid reflection, you can install a wooden platform under the antenna. 

Other common sources of interference are electrical wires, copper data cables, HVAC ductwork and air handlers. Do not install your antenna near these pieces of equipment. Don't run antenna cabling alongside data or electrical wiring as they may interfere with the signal quality.

Cabling quality

The type of coaxial cabling used to connect the antenna to your tuner can affect signal quality. Some cables have a lower gauge, which offers less space for signals to transfer. Thus, when buying, opt for cabling with a higher gauge, especially if you are aiming for HD-quality pictures. However, note that the distance between the antenna and tuner can affect signal quality. Ensure the antenna is located as close as possible to the tuner for better signal reception.

Installing an OTA antenna may seem like a simple job. However, if you don't consider the above issues, you may end up with poor signal reception. For professional help, contact a TV antenna installation contractor!