There are some questions that consistently come up regarding a tv antenna, so I thought we could benefit by having a post about it. It’s a subject with a lot of science behind it–which is why we try to keep it all in the background!–but it couldn’t hurt to know a little bit more about a product that you’ve invested in. Many of our engineers spent years developing antenna tech for the U.S. military, so believe us when we say that we’ve thought these answers through. These will eventually go into a much larger frequently asked question page with many more questions and their answers.
I’m not getting as many television channels as I expected; what gives?
- What channels are broadcast in your area
- The height of your antenna (higher is always better)
- Any geographical obstructions (hills, mountains, trees) between you and the broadcast towers
- Your distance from broadcast towers
There are plenty of guides devoted to this on the Internet, but the above points are the foundation on which they are built. Antenna technology is something that would work very well if the earth were flat, broadcast towers were in eyesight, shrubberies were the only vegetation—cultivated by the knights who say, “ni,”—and all antennas were on the roof.
What is the best placement option for my tv antenna?
The best location for an indoor antenna will vary by location, meaning you have to experiment and play around with it. Placing it near a wall is generally a good idea, and placing the antenna in or around a window is even better. The higher you can put it, the better it will perform as well.
Definitely do not place the antenna on or near any large metallic objects because nothing defeats radio signals like metal—remember Apple’s antennagate with the iPhone 4? The same principle applies with TV antennas.
Can using an amplifier actually be counterproductive?
Strangely, yes. Here’s an explanation from our chief technology officer, Mike Barts:
“If you have broadcast towers around three miles of you, using an amplifier could be bad for your reception. The reason is that too many strong signals, or even a single very strong signal, can overload the amplifier. When that happens, additional ‘garbage’ signals are generated within the amplifier. These ‘garbage’ signals are effectively interference to the TV signal you are trying to watch. The result is dropouts and pixelation, the same as if your signal were not strong enough to receive a good signal.”
Conclusion: try your tv antenna with and without the amplifier, then go with whatever works.