FAQs

How to Select the Best Off-Air TV Antenna to Receive Off-Air Local Channels

Off-air antenna systems allow consumers to receive broadcasting from their area’s five major television networks, which include NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and PBS. A consumer’s designated market area, or DMA, may also receive television programing from independent broadcasters, such as QUBO, CW, MY-TV and ME-TV, with their off-air antenna as well as channels from foreign language stations like Telemundo and Christian networks.

Signal Details

Off-air television antennas receive programing signals from local transmission towers. Consumers who are considering purchasing an off-air antenna should establish the location of their area’s transmission tower or towers to purchase the right unit. Some communities install several transmission towers while others use one tower to transmit channels. Consumers can contact a local TV station to find out the details of their community’s setup.

Antenna Types

Indoor and outdoor off-air television antennas are available. In addition, consumers can purchase outdoor units that feature coding established by the Consumer Electronics Association, or CEA, which confirms the functionality of the antenna based on the consumer’s distance from a transmission tower.

About CEA Coding

To help consumers buy the best outdoor off-air antenna, the CEA has established a color coding system. Antenna color codes are separated into six zones. The zones help consumers identify their television reception conditions according to their home’s geographic region. People who live close to transmission towers will receive better reception. Therefore, they may be able to watch off-air television stations with an indoor antenna as opposed to a more powerful outdoor unit. Indoor antennas are easier to position and more affordable.

Indoor Antenna Details

The CEA does not include indoor antennas on its color-coded mapping system, but the organization allows antenna-manufacturing companies to include its mark of approval on indoor units. The approval stamp confirms that the indoor antenna’s functionality meets or exceeds the CEA’s performance requirements.

Outdoor Antenna Details

Small, medium and large multi-directional outdoor antennas are available as well as small, medium and large directional units. If you’re in a yellow area, then you can install a small multi-directional off-air antenna. Be sure to place the device away from structures that feature signal-reflecting surfaces. Also, avoid installing them in a low location. The unit will receive a signal from all directions, and manufacturers build the device in different shapes and designs. Style options include disks, antennas that connect to a satellite system and patch antennas. The antenna option’s size is typically compact, which allows consumers to place the device behind a satellite dish to avoid visual clutter on the exterior of their home.

People who live in a green color-coded area will need a medium multi-directional antenna. The units are larger and slightly more powerful than small devices. Antenna manufacturers design them in a stick, disk or wing shape. Consumers should buy an amplified antenna when they need a cable that is 20 feet long or if they intend to hook up more than one device, such as a gaming system or DVD player, to the cable.

Large multi-directional units are required for light green coded areas. The devices are bigger, and they have more signal strength. Consumers who live far away from transmission towers should invest in large antennas. An element antenna is one of the large unit styles that consumers can select. If a rooftop is 30 feet or higher, then consumers should use an amplified device.

Consumers may consider purchasing a directional antenna to reduce ghost images on higher channels. As long as the antenna is installed away from signal reflecting structures, TV viewers will receive a high quality picture with the antenna type.

Other Considerations

To obtain the best signal, be sure to install the off-air antenna in the proper location. To determine the best location, installers should assess the signal’s position from the antenna, the distance of the antenna from the signal area and the building’s materials. Also, to avoid signal interference, check for natural or manmade obstructions like mountains or tall buildings.

Accessories, such as ghost cancelling devices and outside amplifiers, can provide a stronger signal to give viewers better television reception. A high quality cable can also provide a clearer and more constant TV image.

Benefits of Selecting the Proper Off-Air Television Antenna

By investing in the right TV antenna, television viewers can make sure that they receive a strong broadcasting signal to obtain the best and most consistent television picture.

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