A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Best Indoor or Outdoor HDTV Antenna
The global HDTV antenna market is growing, with indoor antennas recording a sales volume of approximately 72%. The indoor antenna is the most popular type, but the outdoor HDTV antenna is also becoming a favorite among users. Whether you choose an indoor or outdoor antenna depends on the strength of transmission of each.
Having an indoor or outdoor HDTV antenna can also help reduce your monthly satellite or cable TV bill. Wondering what other reasons there are for an antenna? Keep reading to learn more.
1. Free OTA Signals
Over-the-air (OTA) TV signals are what existed long before pay TV came into the market. OTA TV signals are free and you can still access them using HDTV antenna (broadcast TV signals are actually much clear in HD).
You can watch local channels without cable as all you need is a digital tuner and TV antenna.
2. Local TV Broadcasts
People living in cities have a lot to choose from in terms of broadcasts. With an HDTV antenna, you can enlarge your selection list regardless of your location.
3. Excellent Picture Quality
OTA TV signals provide the best picture quality, unlike cable and satellite signals. The latter employ data compression that compromises the quality of pictures.
Factors to Consider When Looking for HDTV Antenna
TV antennas deliver different quality signals in different locations. No one antenna type delivers excellent reception in every area. Some of the factors that determine reception quality are the direction from the TV station transmitters and distance.
The power of the transmitter and height of its tower also matter. If you live close to the transmitter, the signal path is unobstructed, giving you a stable reception. As you move further away, the signal strength becomes weaker.
This is where the careful selection of an HDTV antenna and installation becomes essential. Here is some information that’ll help you zero in on the type antenna to choose. However, remember the conditions can vary from one specific location to the next within the same neighborhood.
VHF and UHF
Just like analog signals, digital TV signals broadcast over two frequency ranges. VHF refers to "very high frequency" and ranges between 2 and 13. The “high band” channels range between 7 and 13 while the “low band” ranges between 2 and 6.
UHF refers to "ultra high frequency" and the range is between 14 and 51. In the U.S., there are approximately 1,800 full-power TV stations. Among these, 1,300 are UHF powered, while the rest are VHF powered.
If the stations you want to receive are below 14, a VHF or UHF antenna will serve your needs. The main difference between the two types is mainly in size. Antenna elements are designed depending on the waves they receive.
VHF frequencies are lower but the waves longer. They hence require a larger antenna surface for better reception.
Directional vs. Multi-Directional Antennas
Directional antennas are designed to receive antennas from a single direction. Multi-directional ones can receive signals from several directions at once. They're also known as omnidirectional.
Multi-directional antennas are more likely to pick multi-path distortion, noise, and distraction from the environment. When deciding on directional or multi-directional antennas, first locate your desired locations. Have a proper direction to your home.
If the coverage is 20 degrees or less, a directional antenna can be the right choice for you. For transmitters that are more than 20 degrees apart, go for the multi-directional ones. Alternatively, you can use a directional antenna and combine it with a rotor.
The rotor lets you rotate the antenna remotely to pick up stations in several directions.
Indoor vs. Outdoor HDTV Antenna
Indoor antennas are small, easy to connect, and lightweight. Most people place them near their TV for convenience. However, they’ve got better reception if placed relatively high on a wall.
Outdoor HDTV antennas are much larger and designed for roof or attic mounting. The larger the surface area of the antenna, the stronger the signal it will provide. The strength of the signal an antenna can deliver is referred to as gain, measured in decibels.
Most outdoor antennas perform better than the best indoor ones. Indoor ones also have a height disadvantage and can adversely be affected by walls and human movement.
Amplified vs. Non-Amplified Antennas
Height or size disadvantages of indoor or outdoor HDTV antennas can be solved using signal amplifiers. They can be built in or can come separately. The separate ones are known as RF distribution amplifiers and are installed in-between the TV and antenna.
If installed on an outdoor HD antenna or mast, it's known as a preamplifier. The downside of amplifiers is that they may amplify noise alongside the signal. They also can be over-driven by powerful signals, making reception worse.
The best TV antenna is the one that’ll adequately respond to the signal strength in your area. You can check the signal analysis for the channels you want to receive on TVFool.com. Choose an HDTV antenna powerful enough to pull in all the signals you want.
Be careful not to go for more antennas than you need. If they are too powerful, they’ll overwhelm your digital tuner if the signal strength is high in your area.
Outdoor HDTV Antenna - Final Thoughts
Whether you buy an indoor or outdoor HDTV antenna depends on several factors. Among them is the strength of the signals you wish to receive. The distance from the TV transmitters determines how well you'll receive the signals.
When choosing an antenna, decide between VHF and UHF signals. They both provide you with different signal strengths. Consider also if you want to have directional or multi-directional antennas.
They both differ in the way they direct signals to your TV. Multi-directional antennas are more prone to interference and disruption by external factors.
Outdoor antennas are better if you live far from the TV transmitters. They tend to be more convenient and may not necessarily need an amplifier. With proper installation, you'll hardly suffer signal loss or disruption.
If you're looking for the right HDTV antenna, be sure to check out the TennaZ Ultra-Thin HDTV Antenna.