Whether you’ve experienced it while enjoying your favourite TV show or passively using your TV as background noise while working, TV disturbance is annoying.
A weak signal on an analog TV could make your TV appear grainy. TV signal loss for a digital TV is different; it may cause the picture or TV sound you’re watching to break. You may also get a “Weak Signal” or “no signal” notification to signify the same.
Did you know that too much signal will also affect your TV in the same way? A faulty TV or peripherals can also cause similar malfunctions.
It’s important to troubleshoot these issues before getting fixated with your aerial. How can you boost your TV signal after troubleshooting your TV and its accessories?
Focus on your antenna placement
The rise of tall skyscrapers and high-rise apartment buildings has led to obstruction of aerials, leading to a weak signal.
Something as innocent as a tall tree can interfere with the signal transmission between your TV’s aerial and your provider’s tower.
Choosing the suitable aerial and placing it at the right place will go a long way in making your viewing experience seamless.
Choosing the correct antenna
Sometimes, switching from an analog to a digital one is the key to getting a clearer TV signal. You can also upgrade in terms of antenna size. A bigger antenna has more gain than its smaller counterparts.
Aerials come in two types: indoor and outdoor. So how do you gauge which one you need?
Outdoor aerials have to be placed at least 30 feet above the ground to remove all obstructions. Once you are clear of obstructions, you’ll have a clear connection with the nearest tower.
You can choose to get the amplified or non-amplified versions. Indoor antennas are better for really crowded areas with high-rise buildings; they work best with digital TVs.
Non-amplified antennas are multi-directional and will work in areas with little interference. Amplified signal boosters work by magnifying your TV signal, sound and pictures in crowded areas.
Amplifiers come in two categories: Masthead and Distribution amplifiers.
Masthead amplifiers are usually hidden inside the roof and have wires to connect them to the lower part of your TV’s antenna. They best serve lousy coverage areas, e.g. areas with tall apartments or trees.
They are also effective for areas that get their signal from far-flung towers.
Distribution amplifiers are needed in areas where there are TV wall points that weaken your TV’s signal. These are visible and can be placed somewhere inside your home.
Where using an amplifier is disadvantageous
We have learnt how easy an amplifier can make your TV watching experience better. But are there situations where you shouldn’t amplify? The answer is yes. Overboosting will take you back to square one with the signal and reception problems.
Getting an inexperienced person to install your amplifier is also not advised. An incorrectly set-up antenna will mess with all your neighbours’ computers and other unrelated mobile devices.
Amplifiers also tend to amplify noise, and they don’t discriminate signals; they may amplify even the strong signals from closer stations.
An amplifier will also not get you an out-of-range channel. It will simply amplify an existing weak signal to a digital tuner. Amplifiers are a bit costly; exhaust other TV signal reception issues before settling on getting yourself one.
Why should you own an antenna?
Antennas are an effective way of breaking free from having to pay for cable and satellite. Using your aerial doesn’t guarantee as many TV channels as you’d get from these TV channel providers, but you can play it smart and also subscribe to a third-party streaming service. This way, you’ll get fresher TV shows that are relevant to your preferences.
Invest in a High-Gain Antenna (HGA)
High-Gain Antennas have narrow radio beams that target and strengthen transmitted radio signals and are most useful in areas that depend on long-range TV networks.
If you live in a weak signal area, then this is the perfect solution for you.
High-Gain Antennas are also essential when using several TVs that depend on one aerial for signal. They are typically heavier than most antennas, and you should consider this when mounting them.
Move your antenna outside
If you’re using an indoor antenna, and it’s proving ineffective, then try an outdoor one and install it at the highest point of your house.
If you live in a residential area, try a chimney or fix it at the top of a mast. Ensure that the mast is sturdy with extra support.
You can also look for a signal by moving the antenna around and then identifying where best it picks the signal.
This is usually a game of trial and error until you find a position that brings the strongest signals. Remember to rescan your TV for channels each time you move your antenna somewhere different.
You can make readjusting your antenna easier by locating your broadcast towers early in advance.
There are a few resources that have this information, thanks to the internet. Several websites have detailed reports on the signal strength and the location of your nearest broadcast towers. With this information handy, you can even choose which antenna is best for your area.
Place your indoor antenna near a window
It may be impossible to install an outdoor antenna in your building, but that doesn’t mean your indoor one won’t serve you. Ordinary things such as walls, ceilings and electromagnetic appliances can obstruct your indoor antenna’s signal.
To get the least amount of interference, consider placing your antenna close to the window. Choose a window with no obstacles around.
Stack your antennas
You can combine two or more antennas if your TV signals are coming from different directions. You can combine them by placing them next to each other or one on top of the next.
Some antennas have narrow beamwidth, which means they will miss out on signals outside their width even if they are good at capturing far-flung TV stations.
Combining antennas at different angles to get a wider reception can be an option. Antennas can either be unidirectional or omnidirectional. To get the best TV reception, you may need to boost your unidirectional one with a multidirectional antenna or gamble with two unidirectional antennas.
When should you stack your antennas?
- When you want to watch stations not in your current antenna’s reception width
- To boost the strength of signals from distant TV stations
- When hoping for both VHF and UHF signals by different TV stations
- When wanting to increase signal quality and increase the number of TV channels you can access
Why place your antennas adjacent to each other?
To avoid ghosting. Ghosting happens when the same TV signal travels to both antennas, one after the other. This can happen for both analog and digital TV and cause a TV channel’s picture to look hazy.
To reduce interference. Interference can either be a co-channel, man-made or adjacent channel. These may be caused by severe weather conditions and when one antenna interferes with another one’s signal.
Lower your aerial
This may seem counterproductive as logic states that signals get better as you go higher. Placing your aerial somewhere unexpected may bring better results; test your signal in different parts of your house or property to find the optimal location.
Lowering your aerial may get rid of structures obstructing your signal and get you a better viewing experience.
Reset your Digital Tuner
A digital tuner works with digital TVs and essentially connects your TV station’s digital signals with your TVs for your viewing pleasure.
Sometimes, broadcasters change their metadata, and these changes don’t automatically reflect in your tuner, which causes a mismatch in signal reception. To fix this, simply reset your digital tuner.
How does resetting happen?
- Remove the coaxial cable connected to your TV
- Rescan your TV channels
- Switch off your TV and its converter box
- Connect the TV channel and switch on your TV and converter box
- Rescan for channels
Passive splitters are ineffective
A splitter will divide TV signals between your devices so that you’re using one cable connection for multiple devices.
This may sound like a sensible idea, but you lose signal every time you split it. This may not be a problem if your area’s TV signal strength is high, but you will begin to notice a difference in weak signal areas.
It’s more effective to use a distribution amplifier instead. These amplifiers come with in-built splitters and can distribute TV signals without losing their strength.
Placement is also crucial with these amplifiers as they need to be located somewhere central to all distribution lines. A longer distribution line causes more signal loss.
Invest in an antenna preamplifier
Considerable signal loss happens as your TV signal moves through your coaxial cable to your TV or digital tuner. If these cables are long and you’re distributing signals to several TVs, then your signal will become weak.
Distribution amplifiers are usually an effective way of boosting signal loss caused by splitting, while a preamplifier makes up for the signal loss caused by long cables.
A preamplifier usually works for outdoor antennas, and you can position them as close to the antenna as possible to strengthen your signal before it reaches the coaxial cables.
As usual, ensure that you’ve exhausted other possible causes of weak signals before settling for amplifiers. You can also look out for over amplifying your signal to prevent overloading the TV signal.
Go for double-screened coaxial cables
Coaxial cables are essential in transmitting video signals.
These cables come with a copper conductor that’s insulated and then covered by shielding to prevent Electromagnetic Interference (EMI).
They come in three forms, namely RG59, RG6, and RG11 and their differences range between their width and the strength of the copper conductor. Copper conductors are responsible for signal loss, and the thinner you go, the more signal you lose.
Coaxial cables come with a protective conductive layer of insulated wires, mainly copper or aluminium to reduce coupled noise from electrical sources.
Some coaxial cables come without the protective layer, which leads to a lot of EMI, leading to RF leakage and signal losses.
Choosing a high-quality cable will at least minimize this loss and get you a better TV signal. Good coaxial cables for TV include HD100, PF100, CT100 and WF100.
Choose the correct transmitter for your home
Your area may have several signal transmitters, but which is the best one for your TV?
Choosing a transmitter doesn’t only rely on how you position your TV; directing your aerial one way may bring you many channels, but with weak signals, and moving it, the other may get fewer but clearer channels. Identifying the correct transmitter to connect to is therefore imperative.
Types of transmitters
Main Transmitters: The main transmitter dispenses TV signals to an entire area.
Relay Transmitters: Relay transmitters transmit signals where main transmitters can’t work due to obstructions. They receive their signals from the main transmitter and distribute them to aerials using a different frequency.
Freeview Lite Transmitters: UHF bands for TV signals are becoming smaller; Freeview lite transmitters offer fewer channels than the other transmitters.
Identify TV transmitters by providing your postcode and house number to an online checker, and it will return the transmitter nearest to you.
This will help you figure out where best to position your antenna. You can also assume that your neighbours researched the best transmitter to point at and set your antenna the same way they have. Go wild and choose a differently positioned antenna and see whether the signal is better; it’s all about trial and error.
Investing in the correct TV equipment is the first step towards enjoying uninterrupted viewing.
Always go for high-quality equipment, starting from something as simple as a coaxial cable to antennas and amplifiers so that you aren’t disappointed.
Thinking outside the box and doing the unexpected, such as lowering the antenna or pointing it to a different transmitter, may also work wonders.
If a task is too difficult, like climbing your roof or installing the more complicated equipment, then use a certified professional.