TV Antenna Questions
Why is it that my antenna gets a great picture for most of my channels, but a few of them are really bad?
This is a very typical problem for most antenna installations. OTA broadcasts come from different towers, locations, and frequencies. Because of this, some channels can come in great, and others not so well. For example; generally antennas are designed to work best when pointed directly at the station. If the antenna is pointed north, all those channels might come in great, but stations from the south may appear on your TV very weak. To troubleshoot these types of issues take into account the location of the stations, which frequency they are using, and how strong the TV station is broadcasting the signal.
The antenna you recomended is very large, is it really necessary to purchase an antenna of this size?
Unfortunately if we recommended a large antenna, it probably is necessary. A general rule of thumb is that the larger the antenna, and the more elements on it the better it will do for stations very far away. The reason for this is because a big antenna with many elements on it will have a much better dB gain for each frequency than a small one will.
I am unfamiliar with all the different terminology used to explain the types of OTA antennas and was hoping you could explain them to me?
Listed below for you is a glossary of many OTA terms and also types of TV antennas:
AM: A type of frequency used for radio stations. Some OTA TV antennas can also pull in AM signals.
Amplifier (Booster): An amplifier is a device used in conjunction with an OTA antenna designed to help make up for signal loss due to long runs of cable or splitters.
Bow-Tie: This is a design of antenna typically used for UHF only antennas and is named that because the front of the antenna usually has elements that look like a bow-tie. Typically these antennas are square, or rectangular in shape, and have a metal mesh screen on the back of them.
Channels 2-6: Not to be mistaken with the channel number on your television, this actually refers to the RF frequency that is used for the Low band VHF frequencies. The RF channel frequency and the actual channel on your television will often be different from one another.
Channels 7-13: Not to be mistaken with the channel number on your television, this actually refers to the RF frequency that is used for the High band VHF frequencies. The RF channel frequency and the actual channel on your television will often be different from one another.
Channels 14-69: Not to be mistaken with the channel number on your television, this actually refers to the RF frequency that is used for the UHF frequencies. The RF channel frequency and the actual channel on your television will often be different from one another.
Coaxial Cable: This is the type of cable used to connect an OTA antenna to your television. This is the same type of cable that satellite and cable companies use. The most popular type used is called RG6 coaxial cable.
Deep Fringe: A term used to describe an antenna that has the ability to pull in OTA stations that are very far away.
Directional: A term used to describe an antenna that is designed for picking up stations in the direction it is pointed at only. These types of antennas usually do not have much more than a 30-50 degree range on a compass.
FM: A type of frequency used for radio stations. Some OTA TV antennas can also pull in FM signals.
High VHF: A category of VHF frequencies that is in regards to RF channels 7-13.
Low VHF: A category of VHF frequencies that is in regards to RF channels 2-6.
Multi-directional: A term used to describe an antenna that is designed to be able to pick up channels from the direction it is pointed at, and it also has a range of about 50-90 degrees on a compass.
Omni-directional: a term used to describe an antenna that is designed to be able to pick up stations from any direction at the same time without having to rotate it.
OTA: Stands for “Over the Air”, which is used in reference to antennas that receive RF signals that broadcast in the air.
Rotator/Rotor: A device used to rotate an antenna in different directions. If your local broadcasts come from different directions a rotator is recommended.
Splitter: A device used to split your signal from your antenna off to multiple televisions. If you plan on splitting your antenna to multiple televisions you should also purchase an amplifier to make up for signal loss.
UHF: Stands for “Ultra High Frequency”. In TV antenna terms it represents the RF frequencies used from 14-69.
UHF/VHF: This is used to represent that the antenna can receive both UHF and VHF frequencies.
VHF: Stands for “Very High Frequency”. In TV antenna terms it represents the RF Frequencies used from 2-13.
Can I purchase my OTA antenna products locally?
Unfortunately there are not many retailers locally selling OTA products anymore because the demand for them is not high enough. Some large stores like Best Buy and Costco sell antennas, but their options are very limited along with their support and knowledge of OTA products. Most OTA products are purchased online from retailers such as us that have many years of experience with the products and can offer full 24 hour tech support and customer service.
My antenna was working the other day and now its not, what happened?
Unfortunately there are over a dozen different things that can cause your OTA antenna to stop working. Let’s focus on the more common issues to troubleshoot first. If there is any type of amplifier in your set up, first find the power supply to it and make sure it’s plugged in and the outlet is in working order. If it is plugged in make sure the indicator light (if it has one) is lit up. Next, unplug the power supply, plug it back in and then go to your television and run a full digital channel scan. If that does not work, then you need to walk through your existing set-up to check for damaged parts. Check and/or replace damaged or old cables, splitters, transformers, and amplifiers. Also check the antenna to make sure it has no physical damage to it, and that it has not been turned towards a different direction. After you troubleshoot, or make any changes always run a full digital channel scan on your television to see if that fixes your issue.
When I use my new OTA antenna will I have an on-screen guide so I can see what shows are on?
It depends on the type of ATSC tuner card that´s built into your television or converter boxes. If your ATSC tuner card incorporates what is known as a PSIP Digital Standard (Program and System Information Protocol), then yes you will have a digital on screen guide for your programming. You will need to look in the manual of your television or converter box to find out if it has PSIP capabilities.
How come I can´t get the same stations with my new OTA antenna that I was able to get with my old satellite or cable provider?
An OTA antenna allows you to receive free local broadcasts that are being aired from your nearest cities. The stations that broadcast to the public for free are very limited in comparison to channels provided from a satellite/cable company that charges monthly payments. These stations are usually limited to the popular local broadcasting stations such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, and ION.
Besides the HD antenna what else do I need to purchase?
Everybody’s scenario and set up is going to be different; however there are a couple general rules of thumb that you should know. Besides the antenna you need something to mount it on. You need coaxial cable to go from the antenna to your televisions. If you are trying to hook your antenna to multiple televisions you should get an amplifier. If your television is older and does not have an ATSC tuner card, you will need a digital OTA converter box. Finally, if the local broadcasts available to you are in different directions you may need to purchase a rotator.
Why do you still sell those antennas that look like the one on my grandfather’s house back in the day? Aren´t they obsolete now with the digital transition?
Actually those antennas are still the best design out there. They call them a “Yagi Design”. These have great range and are usually designed to be able to pick up all the different frequencies TV stations use for their digital signals. Even though the signals are digital now, they are still broadcasted in the air using RF (Radio Frequencies) just like when the signal was analog, which is why the antenna is still able to work properly.
Where can I find an installer in my area for my new HD digital OTA antenna?
Unfortunately professional installers solely dedicated to doing OTA installations are hard to come by these days. You can check your local yellow pages, or search on the internet. Sometimes local TV stores and repair shops do installations on the side also. Most antenna installations though are more of a do it yourself project. This is why you have Solid Signal to help guide you through the process!
Will my TV get the new digital signals?
The answer to this question depends on how old your television is. For example, if your television is old, it may need a converter box to work with a digital antenna. To be more specific, your television needs what is called an ATSC Tuner card to be able to be used with an antenna without a converter box to pick up digital OTA signals.
If I purchase an OTA antenna will I get channels from multiple cities?
The answer to this question solely varies on your geographical location. If the proper antenna and/or rotator are purchased, you may be able to receive channels from cities anywhere from 60-70 miles away. In rare cases, even 100 miles away.
What does OTA stand for?
OTA stands for “Over The Air” television. OTA television is free in the United States and Canada and can be received with the appropriate TV antenna if you live close enough to the broadcast stations.
How come there are some channels that I can no longer get since the switch to digital?
Unfortunately there a few different things that may have caused you to lose stations during the digital transition. The main problem though is that the signals are broadcasting from the television stations at a weaker signal then they used to, so the digital signal does not travel as far. Also because of the weak signal broadcasts, you may need to add an amplifier to your existing set-up to improve the signal. Another reason you may be missing channels is because perhaps the broadcast station changed their frequency and your antenna may not have a good design for that frequency. Also, in some cases, the broadcast stations change their tower locations and their tower may no longer be in the direction your antenna is pointed. If you go to TVfool.com you can use that website to find out about your local stations specifications and location.
I saw an antenna on your website that states it can get channels 100 miles away, and I was wondering if this is true, because I have a couple of cities about that far from me.
Most manufacturers are accurate in regards to the ranges of what their antennas can do. However, 100 miles is most likely out of the question and this is why; Digital signals are broken up into VHF and UHF frequencies. UHF frequencies can travel at most about 70 miles due to the design of their wavelength, and VHF about 100 miles. With that said, the other part of the equation that factors in is how powerful the TV station is broadcasting their signal. Due to many guidelines they have to follow, many times they are broadcasting the signal at a fairly week wattage. So since their signal broadcast is week, it is not going to travel as far. This is especially true for VHF frequencies because VHF stations broadcast a very week signal almost all the time. So no matter what range your antenna says it may be able to do, if the signal coming from the television station does not travel far enough to make it to your house, there is nothing any antenna would be able to do to get that station.
Any additional information or tips you can give me before I purchase my new HDTV Antenna?
A couple of the things that we notice most people forget about when purchasing an antenna are in regards to their own existing products that they are trying to use. For example, if your television is old, it may need a converter box to work with a digital antenna. To be more specific, your television needs what is called an ATSC Tuner card
to be able to be used with an antenna without a converter box. Another good example is with your existing cable already wired in your home. OTA antennas use the same type of RG6 coaxial cable that satellite and cable companies use so many times customers buy an antenna with the impression that they will be able to just hook into their existing cabling and they are good to go. Often times this is true, however it may not always be this easy. If your cables or splitters are old, or you are trying to hook the antenna up to multiple televisions, signal issues may occur. A pre-amplifier is a product that is purchased to make up for those signal issues. However a pre-amplifier needs to be installed in a specific way to be utilized properly and your existing set-up has to accommodate for that. Give us a call at 888-233-7563 if you have any questions about your installation set-up.
What HD and Digital channels can I get in my area if I purchase an OTA antenna?
With a television antenna you can get the local free broadcasts that are available in your nearest city if you are close enough to the stations, and the conditions are right. The stations very from city to city and mainly consist of NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, ION, and PBS. To get a better idea of what channels may be available in your area you can go to TVfool.com, and provide them with your zip code and view your local area broadcast towers.
Do I need VHF or UHF digital TV Antenna for my HDTV?
Most cities throughout the United States and Canada use towers that broadcast OTA signals in both VHF and UHF signals. If you are unsure whether or not a certain channel such as NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, ION, is a FOX are UHF or VHF frequency; play it safe and buy a VHF/UHF antenna or call us!
Will a TV antenna work for me if I have many trees around my house?
You will never know until you try! The most important thing to remember is like a satellite dish, an HD antenna works best with a clear view. So your best bet is to install the antenna on your roof which will give you the best opportunity to get above the tree line.
Can you help me find an HD antenna that will work for me where I live?
Our online antenna help form is great for making sure you find the proper digital antenna for your location. Whether you live in the country, the suburbs, metro areas, rural areas, or almost any city in the country, there will be a perfect Over-The-Air antenna for you!
How to I know which antennas are High Definition antennas and which ones are analog TV antennas?
It is a common misconception that only certain antennas are capable of receiving HDTV. The truth is that HD signals are broadcast on the same VHF and UHF frequencies that have been used since the beginning of broadcast TV. All antennas have the ability to receive HD Broadcast, just be sure to pick one that covers the frequency range (VHF or UHF) that is being used in your area.
How am I able to determine if I need an HD indoor antenna, or an HD outdoor antenna?
It is a general rule of thumb that an antenna loses about half of its strength when installed inside a home. Since most TV antennas are limited to around 70 miles, and indoor installations reduce mileage by 50% we recommend going outdoor for people over 35 miles away. Determining which one is best for you will take a little investigating, simply call one of our techs or search the internet for broadcast towers in your area. In most situations an HD outdoor antenna is the best option. However if the only option you have is an indoor antenna with HD, give us a call at 888-233-7563 so we can help find if there is an indoor antenna that will be able to get you true 1080i HDTV.
Do I need to ground my HD antenna to prevent against lightning?
Yes, it is very important to ground your TV antenna. Improper grounding can result in damage to pre-amplifiers, coaxial cables, TV converter boxes, and even the tuner cards in your HDTV. Proper grounding technique is to run one ground cable from the mast to the grounding rod. This is to protect the outdoor TV antenna from lightning strikes. You can also ad another ground cable from the ground block to the ground rod. On a proper installation the coax from the antenna should go to a ground block, then another coax into the house to prevent excess of static electricity discharging. Static charges on coax can damage preamplifiers!
Do I need a converter box in order to get local off air channels on my HDTV?
Most televisions bought in the past 20 years have the proper tuner card built in to be able to receive off-air digital broadcasts from a HD antenna without needing a converter box. However to find out for sure if you need a converter box, you need to see if your television has a digital tuner card and if it does, find out if it´s an ATSC tuner card or a NTSC. If your television does not have a tuner card you´ll need a converter box, and if it has an NTSC tuner card you will need a converter box in order to get full high definition picture. If you have an ATSC tuner card, you will not need a converter box.
What is the difference between a directional HD antenna and an Omnidirectional HD antenna?
A directional antenna needs to be pointed in the direction of the city you want to obtain your local channels from and picks up around 30° wide, and an Omnidirectional antenna can pull in stations from a 360 degree radius. However Omnidirectional antennas rarely receive beyond 40 miles and are subject to interference.
What antenna should I get if I live in an apartment and cannot put one on my roof?
It is always the best option to install an HD antenna outdoors if possible but if you can´t, you may still have options. We have many indoor HD antennas which you can find by clicking here. If your only option is an indoor high definition antenna feel free to call our Solid Signal Tech Support Team so they may help you choose the right one for your situation.
I live in a metro-area and all the towers surround me in different directions and I am wondering what HD antenna would be best
In this scenario your best option would be to buy yourself an Omnidirectional antenna..
Why does my signal for my local channels get worse when it rains or it is windy?
The main reasons are usually because of a loose connection or a bad coaxial cable. Make sure to check that the 75 Ohm Transformer on the antenna is connected to the antenna firmly. Make sure that the antenna is secured to the mast and does not sway when it is windy. Also, replace any old coaxial cables and/or splitters that are in your
Why is it that a lot of HD antennas you sell are unable to get channels 2-6?
When you see that in the description of an HD antenna, we are not referring to the actual channel on your television. We are referring to the RF channel frequencies the HD antenna can receive which are completely different things.
Can I use my antenna to hook up to more than one HDTV?
Yes you can. You would need a splitter so you can run a coaxial cable to each television in your home, and we recommend purchasing a pre-amplifier so your digital signal does not get too degraded.
How do I install a pre-amp for my TV Antenna?
We have an in-depth installation guide located here.
Can I get too strong of a pre-amp?
Yes, this typically occurs for antennas within 20 miles of a TV station. At that distance the signal is already so strong that amplification can over-drive your tuner. When the signal is that “loud” the TV tuner cannot understand the signal. Reducing the signal by using a variable attenuator is recommended. For those around the 20 mile mark we recommend a high input amp, that can handle strong signals like the HDA-200.
For more information about picking out the correct pre-amp check out more information here.
Just hooked up my pre-amp and now I don´t get any channels, now what?
After hooking up a pre-amp if you aren´t getting any channels, it could be one of two issues. The pre-amp has either over-driver your TV tuner with too strong of signal, which can be troubleshot by adding splitters or attenuators to reduce signal enough that the stations come in; Or it could be that the pre-amp is not getting power. This is caused by adding splitters or any other device that doesn’t pass power, between the power inserter and the amp. If the amp does not have power then the unit will not pass any signal. Another good way to test if your pre-amp is having power issues, is to unplug the power supply from the wall and see if your reception is effected. If there is no change in signal then there´s either a bad cable, bad power supply, or something´s installed that´s blocking voltage between power injector and pre-amp.
TV Antenna Mounting Questions
Can I purchase a TV antenna and install it in my attic or window?
Attic and window installations are sometimes a viable option, however can lead to many signal issues. Majority of the time and outdoor installation is recommended. With an attic installation you risk losing anywhere from 20-40 percent signal strength based on the design and construction of your home. With a window installation, if the window faces the direction of the stations, you may have good results. However, if the window is on the opposite side of the stations, results could be bad. Plus with a window installation on a first floor, results may vary because a TV signal is usually better up high, than it is at ground level. Typically we recommend only choosing any type of indoor installation if it is your only option. A general rule of thumb also is that if the stations are 30 miles or more away from you, an indoor installation may have many issues.
How do I mount my TV Antenna?
Most mounting supplies are sold separately from your HD antenna that you´ve purchased. In most situations the roof is the best place for installing your high definition TV antenna. To determine what you need to install it, first ask yourself this; do I want the antenna on the peak of my roof, the flat part of my roof, the chimney, the eave of my roof, or the side? For the peak most people purchase a Tripod with a Mast. For a flat roof you could purchase a Non-Penetrating Roof Mount. For the chimney most people purchase a Chimney Mount and Mast. For the eave of your home you can get an Eave Mount and Mast. Finally for side of your house you can purchase a J-Mount. Feel free to give our Solid Signal Pro Technicians a call at 888-233-7563 and they can help determine what mounting solution would work best for you.
My chimney is only 10ft around, but your smallest chimney mount is 12ft, will this work for me?
Yes, these mounts are sold based on the circumference of your chimney. They adjust like a belt, so on a 12ft model, anything 12ft or smaller will work fine.
I don´t want to put any holes in my roof, what mounts do you have that don´t have to be penetrate my roofing?
As long as you are using the silicon sealant there really isn´t any issues that arise from drilling into the roof. However there are some choices that suit your request. Purchasing a Non-penetrating roof mount is one option. This mount is a metal frame that is made to hold cinder blocks as a ballast so no drilling is required. Alternatively if you have a low profile antenna, you may be able to use a J-mount. These go on the side of the house or under the eave.
Do I need to buy a rotor/rotator for my HD antenna?
It depends on how far apart your stations are. General rule of thumb is if you live in an area where the towers are in multiple directions greater than 35 degrees from each other, then we recommend one. Give our Solid Signal Tech Support Team a call at 888-233-7563 and they can help determine if a rotor would work for you.
Will I have to run a cable for power up to the rotator?
The rotor wire itself supplies the power to the rotor as well as commands to turn from the control unit inside. So the rotor wire and the coax cable are the only two cables required for a rotator setup.
How much mast do I use with a rotator?
The most common practice for a new install is to take a 5ft mast, or pipe, and cut off a foot and a half. That leaves you with a 3.5 ft. piece and a 1.5 ft.. The longer piece is used in mounting, such as a tripod or wall mount, and the short piece goes in the top of the rotator. We do not recommend going beyond 1.5ft piece of mast, coming out of the rotor. Longer masts cause unnecessary torque on the rotor motor.