An outdoor HDTV antenna installation means you get to enjoy free-to-air channels. However, it’s one thing to install it and another to get good signal reception.
There’s a lot you must consider and get right, which can be challenging. For example, how should you place the antenna?
What direction should it face, and how high should it be?
If you’re about to take on an antenna installation project, here’s all you need to know, including some practical tips that can help you improve signal reception.
Table of Contents
- What Is an HDTV Antenna?
- Outdoor HD Antenna Installation Steps
- Where Should I Place My Outdoor TV Antenna?
- Tips to Improve Signal Reception Quality of Outdoor HD Antenna
What Is an HDTV Antenna?
Then the TV channels can show the different channels based on their frequency specification.
Like the standard antenna, an HDTV antenna only picks up free-to-air channels and streams them to the TV but in high definition or HD quality.
The only difference between an HDTV and a standard antenna is when the antenna is incorrectly placed.
While an HDTV antenna will display a blank screen, a regular one will show wavy lines.
Outdoor HD Antenna Installation Steps
Now the installation process for an HDTV antenna is very similar to any outdoor antenna.
Get the Tools Together
First, gather all the tools you’ll need. Typically, you’ll need:
Likely, you’re installing the antenna on the roof or a wall. And undoubtedly, you’ll need to climb up and down, hence the need for a ladder.
Now this is what supports the antenna.
The mast is a ground-based structure, while the mount is whatever you’ll attach the antenna to before mounting it on the wall, pole, or other structure.
It can include through holes, wall handles, J-pipes or brackets.
This is a copper cable, which you’ll plug into the receiver. It serves as a way to connect the antenna to the receiver.
Generally, the way manufacturers design it, it can fight electromagnetic interference.
But you can’t just run out and get any cable. It might not fly. Instead, check for quality. That way, you’re assured of no pixelation.
Grounding Wire and Grounding Rod
In order to avoid constant shocking and even damaging other devices in the house, you’ll ground the antenna.
When you do that, it helps act as a lightning arrestor. Also, it helps strengthen the signal.
So the grounding wire and grounding rod are what you’ll use for the purpose of grounding the antenna.
Determine Where You’ll Mount the Antenna
You need to choose a location with the least signal interference. Also, consider the line of sight from the antenna to the transmission tower.
It should be clear of obstructions that would block the line of sight.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Location
- Antenna direction: First, determine the location of the transmission tower and the polarization of the antenna signal. That way, it becomes easy to know the direction to point your antenna. Thankfully, there are tools you can use to figure out the location of the tower. Some examples of these apps include AntennaWeb, Signal Finder, and Rabbit Ears.
- Antenna height: Naturally, the higher you place an antenna, the more it can avoid all obstructions. So choose a place that enables you to place the antenna as high as possible.
- Installation ease: Also, consider the hustle installing an outdoor antenna entails. Likely, you’ll want to drill holes and run the coaxial cable along the walls. So choose a place that will make your work easier. At the same time, avoid bends and sharp turns that would damage the cable.
- Ease aiming the antenna: Even if the antenna you’re mounting is omnidirectional, choose a place that will make it easier for you to aim the antenna toward the transmission tower.
Choose an Appropriate Antenna
Undoubtedly, not all antennas will provide the same service suited to your needs. So you’ll need to consider factors such as the range you want it to cover.
Other factors you should consider include optimal throughput, maximum distance, signal strength, and reception.
You won’t just place your antenna anywhere you think is fit. No, instead, you should consider factors like height and directivity.
That’s why the roof or chimney is an ideal spot. Also, first test the reception and ensure the coaxial cable is of sufficient length.
Remember, a too-long cable will disappoint you as it causes pixelation.
(Caption: Antenna mounted on the roof)
Also, you don’t want your antenna falling or being swayed out of position by the wind. So use a sturdy mount to ensure the installation is firm and secure.
Connect Coaxial Cable
The next step is to connect the coaxial cable. This connects the antenna to the TV and needs to be of good quality.
Otherwise, using a substandard coax cable can compromise the signal.
As noted earlier, don’t run an extra-long cable. If you do, it will increase the resistance. And as a result, this would mar the antenna’s performance by causing pixelation.
Also, opt for a grounded coaxial cable to minimize electrical damage during lightning strikes.
Ground the Antenna
Undoubtedly, grounding the antenna protects your home’s TV and other devices in case of a lightning strike. That’s because it acts as a lightning arrester.
Simply connect a grounding wire from the antenna to the ground rod at least eight feet away and bury it in the ground.
Test the Signal
Testing the signal of your HD antenna is the final step. To do so more effectively, use a signal meter rather than relying on the antenna’s inbuilt meter.
Often the readings are in dB. Alternatively, you can use a multimeter. This one measures in ohms.
After you have measured the signal and confirmed that it’s strong enough, you can now scan for the available channels.
But don’t get alarmed if the signal is not strong enough.
Sometimes, you may need to adjust and readjust the direction and height of the antenna several times before you can get a good signal.
Where Should I Place My Outdoor TV Antenna?
Now several factors come into play when selecting where to place your antenna. Primarily, these relate to height, the direction of the antenna, and how many obstructions there are.
Granted, there must be objects between the antenna and the transmission tower. But you want to avoid these as much as possible.
To do so, place the antenna at a suitable height (above 10 meters, even 20, if possible).
That way, you avoid interference and maximize signal reception.
Tips to Improve Signal Reception Quality of Outdoor HD Antenna
Below are tips for increasing the signal reception quality of your outdoor HD antenna:
- Know the signal’s polarization: See, the antenna’s polarization impacts the direction you’ll aim the antenna. The antenna produces electromagnetic energy that radiates away from it. The direction of the energy is what is known as polarization. And the antenna’s polarization must match that of the signal coming in.
- Keep the antenna away from metallic objects: That’s because these objects cause signal interference, which in turn compromises its quality. Preferably, leave a distance of at least six feet.
- Adjust the antenna: To find a spot with a good signal, you’ll likely need to adjust it, perhaps spinning or turning it. But beware that a signal that’s too strong is just as harmful as a weak one. It causes picture pixelation or distortion.
- Keep the cable short: Long cables compromise the flow of signal from the antenna to the receiver. Thus, it causes a significant loss of the original signal.
- Use quality coax cable: Besides ensuring the length is right, and there’s no damage to the cable, ensure the coaxial cable is of good quality. Otherwise, if the quality is too low, it will cause pixelation.
- Aim antenna toward the tower: See, there should be nothing standing in between or blocking a straight line of sight between the antenna and the transmission tower. With an omnidirectional antenna, this is not much of a problem. But if you’re using a directional antenna, you must point it toward the transmission tower.
What Is the Best Way to Install a TV Antenna?
No matter which type of antenna you use, there are general rules to employ. First, check the direction you point the antenna.
Second, check the height (a minimum of 10 meters, although the higher, the better). Third, don’t use extra long cable runs. And, lastly, the polarization.
Should TV Antenna Be Vertical or Horizontal?
Usually, antenna polarization can either be vertical or horizontal. What determines whether it’s vertical or horizontal is the signal the antenna receives from the transmission tower.
See, a signal that’s horizontally polarized means the antenna’s polarization should be horizontal. Thus, if not, you should adjust it so that the two polarizations match.
Which Direction Should HDTV Antenna Face?
Generally, your antenna should always stay in the same line of sight as the incoming signal.
In other words, the signal from the transmission tower and the antenna should align.
Now that might sound complicated, but it’s not hard to do. Simply point the antenna in the direction of the tower.
HDTV antenna installation entails much more than slapping the antenna onto your roof.
For example, you now know that when choosing where you’ll mount the antenna, you should consider the location of the transmission tower and where it would be easier to install and aim the antenna.
You also know exactly how high to place the antenna and how you can improve signal reception quality.