It seems as though many people have forgotten about over-the-air (OTA) television. It wasn’t too long ago that in order to get anything on the old boob tube, you had to have a decent antenna in order to pull in broadcasts from television transmitter towers. However with the rise of cable and satellite TV, the old antennas were taken off of the roof and largely forgotten.
As any good cable cutter knows, antennas like the Mohu Leaf are an invaluable tool in breaking away from the cable companies and still maintaining a large variety of programming options. Today’s OTA transmissions give access to most of the larger networks, which are still the number one place to grab your local news, prime time shows, and local sports, all in high definition resolution. And you can even setup one antenna to work on all the TVs in your home.
That said, what happens if you get a new antenna but your favorite channel gets spotty reception? Or doesn’t come in at all? Back in the day, pulling in nothing but white noise and static meant breaking out the tinfoil or wildly waving the bunny ears around in frustration. Today, however, antennas are more sophisticated and the methods to improve their reception is a little more nuanced than in the past. Read on to see our top tips for improving your TV antenna reception.
1. Change the antenna placement.
The majority of today’s indoor antennas are small and sleek, allowing you to place them in inconspicuous spots around the house. However, if you’re getting poor reception, you might want to experiment with placing your antenna in different locations.
The quality of your reception is largely due to interference with the broadcast signal. The more solid objects you have between you and a broadcast tower, the weaker the signal will be. To alleviate the degradation of the signal and increase your reception is to try and place your antenna so as to limit these obstructions. The best places tend to be on or near windows. If that’s not possible, then try and situate it near an outward facing wall.
When all else fails, get the antenna to a higher location!
2. Swap the coax cable.
The majority of antenna offerings today come with all the bits and pieces you need to get going right out of the box, including a length of coaxial cable. This cable is what delivers the channels from the antenna to your TV. While it’s awfully nice of them to include one to get you up and running, more often than not these cables are RG59. Most will benefit from tossing that cable in a drawer and grabbing the heftier RG6 cable. The RG6 cable is much thicker in diameter, and has the capability of delivering a stronger signal over greater distances. If you really want an in depth look at the difference between RG59 and RG6, head over to for the nitty gritty.
3. Point it in the right direction.
Many antennas on the market today are “directional”, that is they need to be pointed in the direction of the origin of the signal (ie the broadcast tower). If you don’t know what direction the signals are originating from, simply pop your details into a site like TVFool, AntennaWeb, or the FCC’s Digital TV Map. These websites give you valuable information like what channels you are likely to receive and even offer a map illustrating where the signals are coming from in relation to your address. Once you know where your signals are being broadcast from, point your antenna toward them and rescan.
4. Eliminate any interference.
Electronic equipment that communicates wirelessly or emits an electromagnetic signal can have a negative impact on your antennas reception. If you have a lot of electronic equipment (particularly Wi-Fi routers) situated near your TV or your antenna, try shutting everything off save for your TV, and rescan for channels. If you see an improvement in the number of channels you receive, then something is obviously the culprit. Move as many of these devices away from your TV as you can, and monitor for improvement.
5. Consider an amplifier
Many of the antennas on the market have a built-in amplifier, which can boost your antennas reception to pull in more distant channels. If your antenna doesn’t have a built-in amplifier, you can pick one up that will work with your current antenna for a relatively low cost.
In theory, amplifiers should work; however, their success rate is somewhat of a mixed bag. The problem with amplifiers is that they amplify everything, not just weak stations. That means you have a chance of attracting more noise and distortion, which could just make everything worse. That being said, an amplifier is worth a try for the cord cutter who has tried everything and still can’t tune into your favorite daytime soap.
I hope these tips help you get the best signal from your antenna. If you’ve found it helpful, please share using the social media buttons!