Improve Your TV Reception and Get More Channels - Tips and Tricks

From FreeTV.Info


There are not-so-obvious things you can do to improve and optimize your over-the-air TV reception. There are more obvious and simple things you can do to improve your over-the-air TV reception. This page will show you the most common mistakes people make when hooking up an over-the-air TV system. This page also shows several simple things you can do to improve your TV signal reception and get more channels.

1. Incorrect TV Setting

If the TV antenna is connected directly to your TV, the TV has to be manually set to use the TV antenna. Many TV's are set to use cable TV by default. Your TV will not receive all available channels if it is set to cable TV while you are using a TV antenna. Within many TVs, the ability to select the TV antenna option is not within the same settings menu where you choose your external video inputs. Most TV's have a separate settings menu that allow the user to choose between a cable tv input or a TV antenna input. Within many TV models, this setting is usually buried underneith several submenus. Some TV's will call this option "Terrestrial" or "Terrestrial TV". Other TV manufacturers may call this option "Broadcast" or "Broadcast TV". Some TV's will simply call this option "Antenna". Regardless of the TV model, your TV will NOT display all of your available channels if it is set to cable TV while using a TV antenna.

A 2023 Sony Bravia TV's settings menu. Notice the TV Antenna setting is NOT located in the same setting menu as the other external video inputs. Starting on this screen and after clicking through several sub-menus, you will eventually arrive at the screen shown within the photo on the right. Other TV manufacturers' antenna setting may also be buried in the same manner as this Sony's.
After several clicks through the settings starting in the menu shown in the picture to the left, you finally come to this screen. This is where you need to select "Antenna" on a 2023 Sony Bravia TV. Other manufacturers will have this antenna setting buried as well.

2. Add a LTE Filter

There are hundreds of thousands of cell phone towers all over the United States. If you live close to or far away from TV broadcast tower(s), there will always be dozens of cell towers between your TV antenna and the TV broadcast tower. There will always be dozens, if not thousands, of cell phones in use that are between your antenna and the broadcast tower. As a result, it is vary common for cell phone signals to interfere with TV broadcast signals. This interference includes unexplained signal drops of strong and weak TV signals, sudden picture pixilation (blurry picture), and channels not showing up after channel scans. Adding a LTE filter will filter all cell tower signals and filter all cell tower interference. Some TV antennas and some preamplifiers have LTE filters built-in. Before purchasing a LTE filter, check your TV antenna and preamplifer specifications. Confirm these items do NOT have a built-in LTE filter before purchasing a LTE filter for your TV system.

The LTE Filter gets installed in between your TV antenna and your tuner. If you have a preamp, the LTE filter gets installed between your TV antenna and the input of your preamp.

LTE Filter by Channel Master
LTE Filter by Silicon Dust

3. Add a Preamplifier or Replace Your Existing Preamplifer

Adding an antenna preamplfer will often help in receiving TV stations that have weak signal strengths at your location. A coax cable weakens the signal as the signal travels through it. The longer the coax cable, the weaker the signal becomes before it reaches your TV tuner. A preamplifer is always located near the antenna. It is connected between your antenna and the coax cable that hooks to the input of your TV tuner. Even though you may have short coax cable runs, adding a preamplifer can often allow you to receive channels that you were not able to receive before.

Do not add a preamplifier if you already have a preamplifier installed. Installing more than one preamplifer will make the signal noisy and you will actually loose channels.

Do not install a preamplifier if you already have power splitters installed or you have a distribution amplifier installed. Power splitters are coax cable splitters that amplify the signal.

There are dozens of low quality preamplifers made offshore. Using one of these low quality preamplifers can actually reduce the number of channels you receive. This is due to the fact that a low quality preampifier introduces a great amount of noise within the signal. Noise degrades the signal quality. Always use preamplifiers from a reputable manufacturer. Read the page titled Preamps for TV Antennas - What You Need to Know. This page contains a list of good quality preamplifers and reputable preamplifier manufacturers.

4. Use RG-6 or RG-11 Coax Cable

The coax cable is just as important as each of the other components within an over-the-air TV system. However the coax cable is often neglected. There are many individuals who believe all coax cable is the same. In fact, there are three (3) different coax cable types that are commonly used within TV systems. These are RG-59, RG-6, and RG-11. Many individuals will use the most affordable, RG-59 coax cable within their over-the-air TV system. The RG-59 coax cable is the thinnest of the three cable types. As a result, a RG-59 coax cable will weaken the TV signal much more than the RG-6 and RG-11 cables. This causes reception problems and it causes the loss of channels. Most RG-59 cables contain very little internal shielding. As a result, the slightest bit of sunshine, weather, or electrical interference will cause signal reception issues. Many RG-59 cables do not contain a solid copper center conductor. These cables contain a conductor made of a cheap composite material. A preamplifier is located near the antenna. A preamplifer power device is located on the other end of the cable near the TV tuner. The power is sent through the coax cable to the preamplifer. Since many RG-59 cables do not contain a solid copper center conductor, the preamplifer power will disturb the TV signal within the RG-59 coax cable. As a result, the loss of channels and/or channel drop-outs can occur. A good quality RG-6 quad-shield or dual-shield coax cable is the recommended coax cable for cable lengths up to 100 feet. For cable lengths above 100 feet, a good quality RG-11 quad-shield or dual-shield is recommended. Before replacing, installing, or purchasing coax cable be sure to read the page titled Coax Cable - What You Need to Know

5. The Best Way to Connect Multiple TV's to One TV Antenna

There are two ways to hook multiple TVs to one antenna.

The first method is to hook your TV antenna into an external TV tuner that is WiFi enabled. The external TV tuner is then connected to your home WIFI network. Each TV accesses the TV Tuner by using the app that comes with the external TV tuner. With this method, the TV antenna's signal and coax cable is never physically split. The popular external TV tuners have DVR functionality that can also be accessed by all TV's. For these reasons, this is the preferred method for hooking multiple TV's to one TV antenna. The most popular external, WIFI enabled, TV tuners are the HDHomerun, by Silcondust, and the Tablo made by Nuvyyo Inc. The Nuyyyo company has been recently acquired by The Scripps Company.

The second method is to physically split the actual coax cable by using coax cable splitters. Each TV would have an individual cable hooked to it. Each instance where a coax cable is physically split, the TV signal is significantly weakened. There are devices called "power splitters". These power splitters amplify the signal before it is split. Although these are commonly used when TV signals are physicially split, power splitters introduce noise into the TV signal. Noise degrades the signal quality and often reduces reception. This method requires more equipment and more coax cable than the first method. For the reasons mentioned above, physically splitting the coax cable is not the preferred method to hook multiple TVs to one TV antenna. If you must split your coax cable using this method, be sure to use powered splitters and/or use a distribution amplifier. There are dozens of overseas manufacturers that make low-quality splitters. Use powered splitters made by Channel Master. If you are currently splitting your coax able, converting your existing TV system to use an external TV tuner that is WiFi enabled, you could improve your TV reception and receive more channels.

HDHomerun External WiFI TV Tuner by Silicon Dust
Tablo External WiFI TV Tuner by Scripps

6. What People Should do to Their TV Antenna

Locating and aiming a TV antenna is one of the most misunderstood aspects when hooking up an over-the-air TV system. Knowing a proper method to locate and knowing a proper method to aim a TV antenna is critical to having reliable TV reception. The digital TV broadcast signals are very fragile. This means you could be receiving channels just perfectly one day and the next day the same channels could drop-out and back in. This is especially true if a person is using an indoor antenna. This is also true if a person is trying to receive television stations containing a weak signal. Properly locating and aiming your antenna could improve your TV reception and it could help you get more channels. Moving your antenna, just a few feet, could make a HUGE difference.

Most individuals simply plug the TV antenna into their tuner, aim the antenna in the general area of the broadcast towers, and rescan their TV tuner. If the most desired channels show up, after the channel scan, most individuals stop here. You will not know if your channels will drop-out days or weeks later. You do not know or if you could pick-up more channels. Assuming you are using the correct antenna for your area, properly locating and aiming your antenna will enable you to receive all channels that are available in your market. In some cases, channels in multiple markets could be received if the antenna is located and aimed perfectly. Visit the page titled A Proper Method For Locating and Aiming Your TV Antenna.