How To Test TV Signal Strength Using A TV Antenna Tester

Understanding how to use a TV antenna tester is important in ensuring optimal signal reception and high-quality pictures. 

We sometimes refer to this device as a signal strength meter/signal meter, and we use it to determine the signal level. 

Therefore, you can comfortably employ it to identify issues in your antenna setup and make the relevant adjustments. 

Today’s article focus on the steps to testing the TV signal strength and why the tests are necessary. Let’s get rolling!

Table of Contents

What Is A TV Antenna Tester?

As mentioned, we refer to this electronic device as a signal meter, which is useful in determining signal strength. 

Generally, any DIY or professional installers can use this device to optimize their antenna installation. 

The signal meter has a display where you take real-time readings of the signal strength in decibels. 

All you have to do while using the device is connect your antenna and adjust the orientation and position as you observe the signal strength. 

You should implement your installation in a position that records a higher antenna signal strength on the meter.

Therefore, an antenna tester eliminates guesswork during installation by helping you avoid issues like signal interference and obstruction. 

Understanding TV Antenna Signal

A user handling a TV antenna

(A user handling a TV antenna)

This refers to the quality and strength of the electromagnetic waves carrying broadcast signals from the broadcasting tower to an antenna. 

Once the signals from the broadcasting tower reach the antenna, they travel through the wire to the decoder. 

The function of the decoder is to convert the signals into digital data (videos or audio) that users can view on TV screens. 

The more clear and quality a signal is, the higher the quality of pictures you will receive on your antenna. 

However, we have factors affecting the signal quality, including the available obstacles/interference and the distance between the transmitter and the antenna

Why Test TV Signal Strength?

A technician aligning an antenna

(A technician aligning an antenna)

Below are reasons why you should test your television signal strength. 

Achieve Optimal Reception

Testing the TV signal strength is a sure way of determining the strength of the signal that the antenna receives. 

And by knowing the signal strength, it is easier to determine the orientation or location that offers a stable reception. 

As a result, you won’t experience common problems like signal dropouts or pixelation

Maximize Channel Availability

You can identify the weak spot in the antenna setup by testing the antenna signal strength. 

Consequently, you can position the antenna in a way that captures more channels. 

Limit Interference

Interference arising from physical obstruction and electronics can cause signal degradation. 

Therefore, testing the signal strength helps you identify potential sources of interference and address them immediately. 

Funny enough, a solution as simple as moving the electronic device or repositioning the antenna could improve the signal strength. 

Confirming A Successful Installation

A signal strength test helps guarantee a successful installation for professional installers. 

Generally, from the result, installers can tell whether the antenna has the right alignment and positioning to offer optimal signal reception. 

Provide Signal Information

A simple signal test can help you determine any fluctuations in the conditions or availability. 

For example, you can determine whether the signal strength is enough during heavy rains and decide to include a signal booster for better performance. 

Steps To Testing TV Signal Strength

A man working on a high tower pole

(A man working on a high tower pole)

Testing TV signal strength involves evaluating the quality of signals your antenna receives. Follow these steps to successfully test your antenna. 

  1. First, acquire a reliable TV antenna/signal strength meter from an electronic shop. The meter should be compatible with your antenna and display where you can view the readings. 
  2. Follow the instructions in the user manual to install the antenna in your desired location. Ensure any outdoor antenna installation is secure and firm on a mast or pole. 
  3. Next, connect your antenna cable to your signal meter’s input port. You can then power on your signal meter and television. Tune your television to the channel accessible in your area (this could be your favorite channel).
  4. Check your signal meter’s display for the reading in decibels. The meter display could also show signal strength as lights or bars, with more showing a stronger signal. You can rotate or change the antenna alignment by checking the meter display for positions with a stronger signal. 

What Are The Signs You’re Getting A Bad TV Signal?

A television with no signal

(A television with no signal)

You can identify a bad signal by checking the audio and image problems highlighted below. 

  • Pixelation: This is a situation where the images on the television screen appear blocky. It clearly indicates that interference is present or the signal is generally weak and needs an immediate solution. 
  • Freeze frame: This situation involves the pictures on the screen becoming frozen/stuck. Besides this being a poor signal problem, it could also be resulting from challenges with the cable box. 
  • No picture: If there is no signal at all, the television screen will display an error screen/black screen. Surprisingly, this could result from a weak signal, faulty coaxial cable/antenna, or problems relating to the television or set-top box. 
  • Audio problems: Generally, a TV signal carries both video and audio signals. Therefore, any distortion in audio/sound is evidence that the signal is poor. 
  • Multiple television problems: If you own multiple televisions and note that all have issues, they are likely experiencing poor signal-related problems. It can not be by coincidence that all the televisions are not displaying clear pictures or audio. 


How do you measure antenna strength?

The most common device for measuring the antenna strength is a signal meter which measures the signal level in decibels. You use a signal meter by connecting the antenna cable to its input port. 

Moreover, many modern televisions have built-in diagnostic tools to measure signal strength. 

To use the tool, look for the settings menu and navigate to the signal strength or diagnostic option. 

You can easily determine the signal strength from here and even identify some problems. 

Generally, measuring antenna strength helps you determine the best location or orientation for the best signal reception. 

What is the appropriate TV signal strength?

Appropriate signal strength varies depending on the antenna you’re using and your location.

Generally, we consider at least 60 dB appropriate for most antennas in different locations. 

However, anything below 50 dB is a poor signal and can cause dropouts and pixelation.

Therefore, focus on higher signal strength for high-quality television pictures. 

Final Remarks

With the current high-level technology, it would be dangerous to install an antenna unthinkingly. 

An appropriate approach would be testing the antenna signal strength before settling on a particular installation location. 

Therefore get a reliable antenna tester (signal meter) from a reliable electronic shop and follow the above guidelines to measure the signal strength. 

Only settle on installing an antenna at a particular spot if the signal strength is above 60 dB. 

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