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How to boost indoor TV antenna signal?

Indoor antennas are losing popularity day by day because of this one misconception that they receive less signal than outdoor antennas because they are placed indoors. This is not completely true, however. Indoor antennas can give the same level of performance. 

It’s just that you need to set it up properly which is also the case for outdoor antennas. When placing your indoor antenna, there are various factors to consider and work upon. There are a few tweaks and tips which if followed can boost indoor antenna signals dramatically. In this article, we have talked about the same.

It is finite how much of a TV channel’s signal you can receive from a digital TV signal. This ability can be measured by noise margin, which is an easy metric to use. It is the margin of noise that the TV channel may receive before the television signal becomes unreliable. It is measured in decibels (dB).

As the signal reaches the tower, it is obstructed by noise. So, a tower’s signal is subtracted from the antenna’s noise margin by obstacles or interference between them.

Noise can be caused in the line as well. Signal splitters and coaxial cables cause this noise along with a special tuner that receives the signal

Antenna and receiver components are both potential sources of noise as well. If the noise level is too high, there will be no signal and the noise margin will be negative. In the below section, we will discuss it further.

1. The Direction Of Our TV Antenna

To determine the best position for your TV antenna, you need to know two things. How much noise margin does my location have on which channels? Second, in what direction is the signal coming from the towers?

You can find this information using some online tools. You can also use a bull’s-eye chart to find your way around or you can use a compass. A compass app is available for download or installed on many smart devices.

A directional antenna may be an option if all of your targets are facing the same direction. An omnidirectional antenna is designed to receive signals from many directions while a directional antenna receives signals from only one direction.

An advantage of a directional antenna is that it “gain” than an omnidirectional antenna. Gains are added to the noise margin (again in dB) to balance some noise reduction. Gain from an amplifier is not the same as gain from this type of device. 

2. Calculating Indoor TV Antenna Reception

Noise margins provide an estimation of the threshold noise level at your location that meets the legislation while taking into account, the terrain. It does not consider trees or buildings blocking the signal’s path.

In most cases, TV antennas are high enough to be ignored by most buildings and trees that impede their route. Regardless, a distant tree or building that casts a shadow on your house might still interfere with your signals.

When you can see the sky from a 45-degree angle in front of the tower, there shouldn’t be any obstructions that reduce the noise margin. 

There is a loss of 10-21 dB when buildings are located in the path. A roof-pointing antenna will minimize noise loss if it is in the shadow of a building.

Other major sources of noise include trees. Nevertheless, different types of trees and wind conditions vary in the attenuation they cause to TV signals. A study found that trees can reduce TV signal strength by 8.6 dB to 17.8 dB.

In addition to antenna gain, factors such as obstacles, inclement weather, and omissions should all be deducted by 10 dB. A noise buffer can ensure reception even in non-ideal conditions since too many factors could result in a signal loss for us to list.

An indoor TV antenna is only a good option if the noise margin after removal of the noise estimates is above 35 dB. It is important to note that passing through exterior walls or roofs results in losses.

TV antennas work best in front of non-metal windows without screens. If this ideal situation is followed, a 2 dB loss will result.

The noise margin is subtractable from the signal loss caused by an exterior wall which can vary from 10-15 dB. Depending on the construction, this loss can reach a maximum of 40 dB.  

3. Eliminating Signal Noise

We have to determine whether the television line can receive the signal if there is still a sufficient amount of noise margin. TV tuners, splitters, and coaxial cables are to blame for this loss of signal

Signal loss per 100 feet of cable on a standard RG-6 cable is 5.65 dB. When installing indoor TV antennas, coaxial cables are more efficient but are more expensive. 

Noise margins are also reduced by splitters. Using one splitter or more splitters won’t affect the quality of the coaxial signal. 3.5dB must be subtracted from the final output count to calculate the signal loss. 

The noise margin should be subtracted from that number. Noise is still considered even if it is not used. Therefore, only split the signal if necessary.

A 1dB loss is measured at the connection between antenna and tuner. Noise is also created by the TV tuner. You should assume an 8 dB loss if the information is not available in the TV tuner or television owner’s manual.

A preamplifier can be used in the majority of indoor TV antenna installations. Before installing any splitters, this device must be installed. To compensate for interference between the antenna and TV, it adds gain to the signal received by the antenna. 

Due to the nature of this device, it cannot provide a higher signal margin over and above what is already received by the antenna.

4. Using Indoor Antenna Amplifier

An indoor antenna amplifier can also reduce the margin of noise. But still, it can be used because the noise loss generated by it is much less when compared to a TV tuner.

As an example, an 8-dB loss TV tuner and a 2-way splitter would produce an 11.5 dB loss. The total loss is 15.4 dB considering that the RG-6 cable is 50 feet long and there is a 2.9 dB loss due to the connection on both ends.

Adding a 15 dB gain amplifier after the antenna would lower the loss to only .4 dB. Noise, however, is also carried by the amplifier. By assuming 3 dB, the total noise reduction would be 3.4 dB.

Even adding a 20 dB gain amplifier to the same noise level, however, wouldn’t increase the margin by 1.6 dB. An antenna shield would simply cancel the loss added by the cable, ensuring that there would not be any interference between the antenna and TV. Therefore an antenna cannot be helped by a preamplifier since signals already below the noise margin won’t be picked up.

5. When Amplifiers Are Not Needed

Amplification may not be necessary for some situations. Because TV reception can suffer from it. You don’t need to use an amplifier if you already have at least 30 dB of noise margin. And there is less than 3DB loss in the line. 

It is already possible to receive all stations. As well, an over-amplified signal might not be received by the tuner if it is over-amplified.

Quick Tips To Boost Your Indoor Antenna Signal

1. Install The Antenna In A Window Or Near One

You should keep your antennas away from obstructions between the towers and your antenna. The walls and ceilings that are too thick are certainly obstructions. 

The best results are often attained when your antenna is placed near a window. Only when the view from the window is clear and there is no obstruction like huge trees or buildings.

2. Metal Should Be Kept Away From The Antenna

You can have reception problems if metallic surfaces are nearby your antenna. Putting your antenna in a window and having metal bug screens or bars outside the window, for example, might present challenges.

For the same reason, installing your antenna in your attic when you have a metal roof is unlikely to bring you any benefits.

3. Different Antenna Placements Should Be Tested

There is nothing better than plugging in your antenna and watching all available channels in brilliant HD right when you turn it on. So, if you want to find the position that produces the best results, you will probably need to test out several positions. 

You can use your TV’s channel scan to check which channels are receiving signals after relocating the antenna. After which you can manually test out all the possible positions in your house.

Final Words

Using indoor antennas may seem tricky and hard the first time but it’s not a big deal. You need to put in your efforts only at the beginning and then you will be able to enjoy your favorite channels in the long run.

It is a great way to save a few bucks. The quality keeps it at par with satellite connections. You just need to maintain your antenna from time to time. That’s it in this article on how to boost indoor TV antenna signal.