Solid Signal TV Antenna Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Have a question about TV antennas, preamplifiers, antenna mounting, or TV antenna rotators? There’s a good chance you’ll find your answers here in our FAQ file.
The appeal of free HDTV inspires many people to the cut the cord on cable. This leaves many people in need of setting up a TV antenna, even though they don’t know how all of these stuff works. To help these new cord-cutters, we’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions from our customers and provided the answers to each. We’re sure the information presented here will help you make the most of your TV antenna experience. And if you need further clarification on any of these answers or have other questions, feel free to call our product experts at 877.312.4547. We’re always happy to help you make the right choice in TV antennas, preamplifiers, antenna mounting, or TV antenna rotators.
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TV Antenna Questions
Why does my TV antenna get great reception for most channels but some are really bad?
This is a typical problem for most TV antenna installations. OTA broadcasts come from different towers, locations, and frequencies. Because of this, some channels can come in great while others not so well. Generally, antennas are designed to work best when pointed directly at the transmitter. If the antenna is pointed north, all those channels might come in great, but stations from the south could appear very weak. To troubleshoot these issues, take into account the location of the stations, which frequency they usage, and how strong the TV station broadcasts the signal.
The TV antenna you recommended is very large. Do I really need an antenna this big?
Unfortunately, if we recommended a large antenna, it probably is necessary. A general rule of thumb is that the larger the antenna, and the more elements on it, the better it receives far away stations. A large antenna with many elements will have a much better dB gain for each frequency than a small TV antenna does.
I am unfamiliar with all the terminology used to explain the types of OTA antennas and was hoping you could explain it to me?
At the bottom of this document, there is a glossary of common terms.
Can I purchase my OTA antenna products locally?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many local retailers that sell OTA products anymore because the demand for them is not high enough. Some large stores such Best Buy and Costco sell antennas, but the options are very limited along with their support and knowledge of OTA products. Most TV antennas and related products are purchased online from retailers such as us that have many years of experience with the products and can offer full 24-hour tech support and customer service.
My antenna was working the other day and now it’s not. What happened?
There are more than a dozen different things that can cause your OTA antenna to stop working. Let’s focus on the more common issues to troubleshoot first. If there is any type of amplifier in your set up, first find the power supply to it and make sure it’s plugged in. If it’s connected, make sure the indicator light (if it has one) is lit up. Next, unplug the power supply, plug it back in, then go to your television to run a full digital channel scan. If that does not work, you’ll need to walk through your existing set-up to check for damaged or old cables, splitters, transformers, and amplifiers. Also check the antenna to make sure it has no physical damage , and that it has not been turned toward a different direction. After you troubleshoot, or make any changes, always run a full digital channel scan on your television to see if that fixes your issue.
When I use my new OTA antenna, will I have an on-screen guide so I can see what shows are on?
It depends on the type of ATSC tuner card that’s built into your television or converter boxes. If your ATSC tuner card incorporates what’s known as a PSIP Digital Standard (Program and System Information Protocol), then yes, you will have a digital on-screen guide for your programming. You will need to look in the manual of your television or converter box to find out if it has PSIP capabilities.
How come I can´t get the same stations with my new OTA antenna that I was able to get with my old satellite or cable provider?
An OTA antenna allows you to receive free local broadcasts that are being aired from your nearest cities. The stations that broadcast to the public for free are very limited in comparison to channels provided from a satellite/cable company that charges monthly payments. OTA stations usually are limited to the popular local broadcasting stations such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, and ION.
Besides the HD antenna, what else do I need to purchase?
Everybody’s scenario and set up is going to be different; however there are a couple general rules of thumb that you should know. Besides the antenna you need something to mount it on. You need coaxial cable to go from the antenna to your televisions. Call us at 877.312.4547 and we'll help you with your specific setup.
Why do you still sell those antennas that look like the one on my grandfather’s house back in the day? Aren´t they obsolete now with the digital transition?
These devices are called yagi antennas and these units still are the best design out there. Yagi antennas have great range and are usually designed to pick up all the different frequencies that TV stations use for their digital signals. Even though the signals are digital now, they are still broadcast in the air using RF (radio frequencies), just like when the signal was analog. This is why the antenna is still able to work properly.
Where can I find a local installer for my new HD digital OTA antenna?
Professional installers solely dedicated to doing OTA installations are hard to come by these days. You can check your local Yellow Pages or search on the Internet. Sometimes local TV stores and repair shops do installations on the side. If you can’t find anyone in your area, remember that most antenna installations are a do-it-yourself project. Luckily, you have Solid Signal to help guide you through the process! Just call us at 877.312.4547.
Will my TV get the new digital signals?
The answer to this question depends on how old your television is. For example, if your TV is over ten years old, it might need a converter box to work with a digital antenna. To be more specific, your television needs what is called an ATSC tuner card to be able to be used with an antenna without a converter box to receive digital OTA signals.
If I purchase an OTA antenna, will I get channels from multiple cities?
The answer to this question depends upon your geographical location. If the proper antenna and/or rotator are purchased, you might be able to receive channels from cities as far away as 60-70 miles. In rare cases, you can receive OTA TV programming from 100 miles away.
What does OTA stand for?
OTA stands for “over the air” television. OTA TV is free in the United States and Canada, and can be received with the appropriate TV antenna if you live close enough to the broadcast stations.
How come I can’t get certain channels after the switch to digital?
There a few different things that could have caused you to lose stations during the digital transition. The main problem though is that digital signals act differently from older analog signals. Another reason you might be missing channels is that the broadcast station changed its frequency and your antenna might not have a good design for that frequency. In some cases, the broadcast stations change their tower locations. Visit our geographical page and click on the main page for the TV market in which you live. The locations of all your local transmitters are listed on this page to help you reposition your TV antenna.
I saw an antenna on your website that states it can get channels 100 miles away and I was wondering if this is true?
Most manufacturers are accurate in regards to the ranges of what their antennas can do. However, 100 miles is most likely out of the question and this is why; Digital signals are broken up into VHF and UHF frequencies. UHF frequencies can travel at most about 70 miles due to the design of their wavelength, and VHF about 100 miles. However, most stations broadcast on UHF and even VHF stations rarely reach that far. Beware of these claims.
Are there any additional information or tips you can give me before I purchase my new HDTV Antenna?
A couple of the things that most people forget about when purchasing an antenna are in regards to their own existing products that they’re trying to use. If your television is very old, it might need a converter box to work with a digital antenna. OTA antennas use the same type of RG6 coaxial cable that satellite and cable companies use. Often times you can use existing cabling, however it might not always be this easy. If your cables or splitters are old, or you are trying to hook the antenna up to multiple televisions, signal issues can occur. A pre-amplifier is a product that’s purchased to make up for those signal issues. Give us a call at 877.312.4547 if you have any questions about your installation set-up.
If I purchase an OTA antenna, what HD and digital channels can I get in my area?
With a television antenna, you can get the local free broadcasts that are available in your nearest city if you are close enough to the stations and the conditions are right. The stations very from city to city and mainly consist of NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, ION, and PBS. To get a better idea of what channels might be available in your area, you can visit our geographical pages, click on the main page for the TV market you live, and read the listing of channels and transmitters in your area.
Do I need VHF or UHF digital TV antenna for my HDTV?
A: Most cities throughout the U.S. and Canada use towers that broadcast OTA signals in both VHF and UHF signals. If you’re unsure whether or not a certain channel, such as NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, ION, and FOX, are UHF or VHF frequency, play it safe and buy a VHF/UHF antenna or call us at 877.312.4547.
Will a TV antenna work for me if there are many trees around my house?
You will never know until you try! The most important thing to remember is, like a satellite dish, an HD antenna works best with a clear view. So your best bet is to install the antenna atop your roof which will give you the best opportunity to get above the tree line.
Can you help me find an HD antenna that will work where I live?
Yes, we can! Our online antenna help form is great for making sure you find the proper digital antenna for your location. You also can call us at 877.312.4547. Whether you live in the country, the suburbs, metro areas, rural areas, or almost any city in the country, there will be a perfect over-the-air antenna for you. We’ll help you find the best TV antenna for you.
How do I know which antennas are high definition antennas and which ones are analog TV antennas?
It’s a common misconception that only certain antennas are capable of receiving HDTV. The truth is that HD signals are broadcast on the same VHF and UHF frequencies that have been used since the beginning of broadcast TV. All antennas have the ability to receive HD Broadcast, just be sure to pick one that covers the frequency range (VHF or UHF) that’s being used in your area.
How do I know if I need an HD indoor antenna or an HD outdoor antenna?
It is a general rule of thumb that an antenna loses about half its strength when installed inside a home. Since most TV antennas are limited to around 70 miles and indoor installations reduce mileage by 50 percent. For people over 35 miles away from the transmitters, we recommend using an outdoor antenna. Determining which antenna is best for you will take a little investigating. Simply call one of our techs at 877.312.4547 or search our geographical pages for broadcast towers in your area. In most situations, an HD outdoor antenna is the best option; however, if the only option you have is an indoor antenna with HD, give us a call. We can help find if there is an indoor antenna that will be able to get you true 1080i HDTV.
Do I need to ground my HD antenna to prevent against damage from lightning?
Yes, it is very important to ground your TV antenna. Improper grounding can result in damage to pre-amplifiers, coaxial cables, TV converter boxes, and even the tuner cards in your HDTV. Proper grounding technique is to run one ground cable from the mast to the grounding rod. This is to protect the outdoor TV antenna from lightning strikes. You can also add another ground cable from the ground block to the ground rod. On a proper installation the coax from the antenna should go to a ground block, then another coax into the house to prevent excess of static electricity discharging. Static charges on coax can damage preamplifiers!
Do I need a converter box to get local off-air channels on my HDTV?
Any flat television or any TV you’ve bought in the last decade has the proper tuner card built in to receive off-air digital broadcasts from a HD antenna without needing a converter box. If the TV has a sticker on the front that says "HDTV" or "ATSC" you are fine. If not, especially if this is an older TV, you will need a converter box.
What’s the difference between a directional HD antenna and an omnidirectional HD antenna?
A: A directional antenna needs to be pointed in the direction of the city you want to obtain your local channels from and picks up around 30° wide, and an Omnidirectional antenna can pull in stations from a 360-degree radius. However Omnidirectional antennas rarely receive beyond 40 miles and are subject to interference.
What TV antenna should I get if I live in an apartment and cannot put an antenna on my roof?
It is always best to install an HD antenna outdoors if possible; but if you can’t, you may still have options. We have many indoor HD antennas. If your only option is an indoor high-definition antenna, feel free to call our Solid Signal tech support team at 877.312.4547. They’ll help you choose the right TV antenna for your situation.
I live in a metro-area and all the transmitters surround me in different directions. What HD antenna would be best for me?
Why does my signal for local channels get worse when it rains or is windy?
The main reasons are usually because of a loose connection or a bad coaxial cable. Make sure to check that the 75-Ohm transformer on the antenna is connected to the antenna firmly. Check to see if the antenna is secured to the mast and does not sway when it is windy. Also, replace any old coaxial cables and/or splitters that are in your home setup.
Why is it that a lot of HD antennas you sell are unable to get channels 2-6?
When you see that in the description of an HD antenna, we’re not referring to the actual channel on your television. We’re referring to the RF channel frequencies the HD antenna can receive, which are completely different things.
Can I use my antenna to hook up to more than one HDTV?
Yes, you can. You would need a splitter so you can run a coaxial cable to each television in your home. We recommend purchasing a pre-amplifier so your digital signal does not become too degraded.
Do I need a separate antenna for 4K?
No, you wouldn’t need a separate TV antenna to watch 4K programming. Any TV antenna would do, including those made in 1960. Keep in mind that currently, there is no 4K television available to watch over-the-air and it’s possible that there never will be, either. The ATSC 3.0 standard required for 4K transmissions may never be adopted.
Preamplifier Questions & Answers
I just hooked up my pre-amp and now I can´t get any channels. Now what?
If you aren´t getting any channels after hooking up a pre-amp, it could be that the pre-amp has over-driven your TV tuner. You may not need an amp at all. The problem also could be a case of the pre-amp not getting power. If the amp does not have power, then the unit will not pass any signal. A good way to test if your preamp is having power issues is to unplug the power supply from the wall and see if your reception is affected. If there is no change in signal, then there´s either a bad cable, bad power supply, or something´s installed that´s blocking voltage between power injector and pre-amp.
How do I install a preamplifier for my HDTV Antenna?
Check out our in-depth installation guide that details the process of installing a preamplifier.
Can I get a preamp that’s too strong?
Yes, this typically occurs for antennas within 20 miles of a TV transmitter. At that distance, the signal is already so strong that amplification can over-drive your tuner. When the signal is that “loud,” the TV tuner cannot understand the signal. Reducing the signal by using a variable attenuator is recommended. For those around the 20-mile mark, we recommend a high input amp such as the HDP-269, which can handle strong signals. Check out our guide for more information about choosing the correct preamplifier.
TV Antenna Mounting Questions & Answers
Can I purchase a TV antenna and install it in my attic or window?
Attic and window installations are sometimes a viable option; however, this can lead to many signal issues. The majority of the time, an outdoor installation is recommended. With an attic installation, you risk losing anywhere from 20-40 percent signal strength based upon the design and construction of your home. With a window installation, you might have good results if the window faces the direction of the TV transmitters. If the window is on the opposite side of the stations, your reception could be poor. Plus, with a window installation on the first floor, results may vary because the TV signal is usually better up high than it is at ground level. Typically, we recommend only choosing any type of indoor installation if it’s your only option. A general rule of thumb also states that if the stations are 30 miles or more away from you, an indoor installation likely will present many issues.
How do I mount my high definition antenna?
Most mounting supplies are sold separately from the HD antenna that you´ve purchased. In most situations, the roof is the best place for installing your high definition TV antenna. To determine what you need to install it, first ask yourself this: Do I want the antenna on the peak of my roof, the flat part of my roof, the chimney, the eave, or the side? For the peak, most people purchase a tripod with a mast. For a flat roof, you could purchase a non-penetrating roof mount. For the chimney, most people purchase a chimney mount and mast. For the eave of your home, you can get an eave mount and mast. Finally, for the side of your house, you can purchase a J-mount. Feel free to give our Solid Signal pro technicians a call at 877-312-4547. They’ll help determine what mounting solution would work best for you.
My chimney is only 10-feet in diameter but your smallest chimney mount is 12ft. Will this work for me?
Yes. These mounts are sold based upon the circumference of your chimney. They adjust like a belt, so on a 12-foot model, anything 12 feet or smaller will work fine.
I don´t want to put any holes in my roof. What mounts do you have that won´t penetrate my roof?
A: As long as you use the silicon sealant, there really shouldn´t be any issues that come from drilling into the roof; however, there are some choices that suit your request. Purchasing a non-penetrating roof mount is one option. This mount is a metal frame that’s made to hold cinder blocks as a ballast so no drilling is required. Alternatively, if you have a low-profile antenna, you might be able to use a J-mount. These go on the side of the house or under the eave.
Rotator Questions & Answers
Do I need to buy a rotor/rotator for my HD antenna?
It depends on how far apart your stations are. The general rule of thumb is if you live in an area where the towers are in multiple directions greater than 35 degrees from each other, then we recommend one. Give the Solid Signal tech support team a call at 877-312-4547. They can help determine if a rotor will work for you.
Will I have to run a cable up to the rotator for power?
The rotor wire itself supplies power to the rotor and commands to turn from the control unit inside. So the rotor wire and the coax cable are the only two cables required for a rotator setup.
How much mast do I need to use with a rotator?
The most common practice for a new install is to take a five-foot mast or pipe then cut off a foot and a half. That leaves you with a 3.5-foot and a 1.5-foot piece. The longer piece is used for mounting, such as a tripod or wall mount, while the short piece goes in the top of the rotator. We do not recommend going beyond 1.5ft piece of mast coming out of the rotor because longer masts cause unnecessary torque on the rotor motor.
- AM: A type of frequency used for radio stations. Some OTA TV antennas can also receive AM signals.
- Amplifier (Booster): An amplifier is a device used in conjunction with an OTA antenna. Amplifiers are designed to help make up for signal loss due to long cable runs or splitters.
- Bow-Tie: This is a TV antenna design typically used for UHF-only antennas. The name “bow-tie” is used because the elements on the front of the antenna resembles a bow-tie. Typically, these antennas are square or rectangular in shape and have a metal mesh screen on the back.
- Channels 2-6: Not to be mistaken with the channel number on your television, this refers to the RF frequency that’s used with low-band VHF frequencies. The RF channel frequency and the actual channel on your television will often be different from one another.
- Channels 7-13: Not to be mistaken with the channel number on your television, this actually refers to the RF frequency used for the high-band VHF frequencies. The RF channel frequency and the actual channel on your television often are different from one another.
- Channels 14-69: Not to be mistaken with the channel number on your television, this refers to the RF frequency that is used for the UHF frequencies. The RF channel frequency and the actual channel on your television will often be different from one another.
- Coaxial Cable: This is the type of cable used to connect an OTA antenna to your television. It’s the same type of cable that satellite and cable companies use. The most popular type is called RG6 coaxial cable.
- Deep Fringe: A term used to describe a TV antenna that has the ability to pull in OTA stations that are very far away.
- Directional: A term that describes a TV antenna designed for picking up stations in the direction it’s pointed at only. These types of antennas typically don’t have much more than a 30-50 degree range on a compass.
- FM: A type of frequency used for radio stations. Some OTA TV antennas also receive FM signals.
- High VHF: A category of VHF frequencies that refers to RF channels 7-13.
- Low VHF: A category of VHF frequencies that corresponds with RF channels 2-6.
- Multi-Directional: A term used to describe an antenna that’s designed to pick up channels from the direction it’s pointed. These antennas typically have a range of about 50-90 degrees on a compass.
- Omni-Directional: a term used to describe an antenna that is designed to be able to pick up stations from any direction at the same time without having to rotate it.
- OTA: Stands for “Over the Air,” which refers to antennas that receive RF signals that broadcast in the air.
- Rotator/Rotor: A device used to rotate an antenna in different directions. A rotator is recommended in situations where local broadcasts come from different directions.
- Splitter: A device used to divide your signal from your antenna to multiple televisions. If you plan on splitting your antenna to multiple televisions, you also should purchase an amplifier to make up for signal loss.
- UHF: Stands for “Ultra High Frequency.” In TV antenna terms, it represents the RF frequencies used from 14-69.
- UHF/VHF: This is used to represent that the antenna can receive both UHF and VHF frequencies.
- VHF: Stands for “Very High Frequency.” In TV antenna terms it represents the RF Frequencies used from 2-13.