Should you buy an expensive antenna meter?

A few weeks ago, a discussion got started on our forums about antenna meters. The question is, do you need an expensive signal meter to aim your antenna? And honestly, the answer is sort of up to you. But let’s look at the pros and cons here.


Pros
A signal meter is a long-term investment. If you’re willing to spend over $300, you’ll get a meter that can really tell you what’s going on with your signal.

  • It’s going to be portable and battery powered, so you can make changes on the roof.
  • It will show you real details you want to see, not just signal strength. Signal strength doesn’t determine how well a signal comes in, signal-to-noise ratio usually does.
  • It will let you know what channel you’re tuning into, very important if you’re aiming at two different cities.
  • It will give you audio feedback so you don’t need to take your eyes away from the sky while you’re aiming.

Cons
There’s one big con, obviously, and it’s price.

  • Using PC-based software can give you a lot of the same information and more for under $50 (not counting the cost of the PC.)
  • Using your TV’s signal meter can often give you the information you need for free.
  • If you don’t move around a lot, this may be something you use once and never use again.

So you can see the issues. On the one hand, it’s easy and does just what you need. On the other hand it’s expensive and you won’t use it every week. And you know, if it were me and I felt like it would be used once, maybe I wouldn’t have an expensive signal meter. But then again, there’s wind, there’s trees, and I’m looking at next year when potentially a lot of stations could change their frequencies. Then I’m back to aiming again. Is that enough to make me spend $300?

Maybe, maybe not. It might make sense for me and a bunch of friends to pitch in on one, and I’ll tell you that since I do have a signal meter (helpfully supplied by my friends at Solid Signal) I do use it a lot. You’d be surprised how much.

In the end it’s your call.