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Antenna Selection & Installation Primer

 

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The first step in any antenna project is to determine the distance and bearing of the transmitting stations. A good place to start is Antennaweb.org 

 

Next, you will need to determine what type of antenna is best suited for your particular area. Most antennas are classified according to sensitivity (i.e. fringe, suburban.) These ratings are designed to indicate at what distance from a TV transmitter the antenna can provide adequate reception, and are based on optimum conditions over unobstructed terrain. They will help you determine how large and what type of antenna you will need to purchase.

 

The chart below shows antenna classifications based upon distance to transmitter (or course, factors such as height, terrain and objects such as buildings, trees, hills and mountains will affect actual range and reception.)

 

 Designation VHF (mi.) UHF (mi.)
Deepest Fringe 100+ 60+
Deep Fringe 100 60
Fringe 80 45
Near Fringe 60 40
Far Suburban 50 35
Suburban 45 30
Far Metropolitan 30 25
Metropolitan 25 15

 

 

Antenna Types

 

Digital & High Definition Compatible

Digital and High Definition stations typically broadcast on the upper VHF/ UHF band (channels 7-69), therefore you will need an antenna specifically designed for those frequencies. We recommend  the Channel Master UHF bay-style antennas 4221HD or 4228HD. If you prefer a yagi-style antenna, consider the HD Yagi Series in Winegard. If you will be viewing stations on the low to mid VHF band as well (channels 2-6) you should consider a broadband antenna (see below.) Check first with your local stations to determine which bands they are broadcasting on.

 

Low-Profile Antennas

If you are more in the market for a smaller, aesthetically pleasing digital antenna, the Channel Master Stealthtenna or the Winegard SquareShooter provides good reception characteristics along with sleek, streamlined profiles.

 

Indoor Antennas

Most indoor antennas offered today simply do not work - period. The best indoor antenna we've found is Winegard's SS-3000 SharpShooter antenna. It is well worth a look if you are in a situation where an outdoor antenna isn't practical.

 

Broadband Antennas

If you plan on watching stations on both the UHF and VHF bands , Antennacraft , Channel Master or Winegard broadband antennas provide rugged workmanship and excellent performance in a single, convenient package.

 

The color code chart 

 

Your antenna may be coded with a chart like the one below.

This will help you in determining which antenna is right for your area.

Visit Antennaweb for a simple, on-line antenna selection guide.

 

DESCRIPTION
 
The smallest of TV antennas, they receive equally well from all directions.
USE   In yellow map areas where signal strength is highest and away from reflecting structures or low areas.

 

DESCRIPTION
 
Somewhat larger and slightly more powerful
USE   Green areas. An amplified antenna is recommended in the green area anytime a long (20 feet or more) cable run from the antenna is required, or when more than one device (TV or VCR) is to be used with an antenna. They work best away from reflecting structures or low areas.

 

DESCRIPTION
 
Bigger in size, these antennas receive more signal power. Better for greater distances from signal source and areas with low signal strength.
USE   When mounted at rooftop heights (30 feet or higher) outdoors, amplified antennas can be used in light green areas away from reflecting structures or low areas.

 

DESCRIPTION
 
Antennas that act like large multidirectional on channels 2-6 but on higher channels these antennas start to have useful ghost reducing effects. Picture quality is excellent when no signal reflecting structures are around.
USE   Suitable for far edge of light green map areas. Amplified antennas with rooftop mounting can be used in light green map area if the area is free of signal reflecting structures and is not in a low area.

 

DESCRIPTION
 
Most popular rooftop antenna because of its modest size and ghost reducing characteristics.
 
 
USE   If there are ghost producing reflective structures near TV receiver antenna location, this kind of antenna is best for yellow, green, light green and red map areas. Amplified antennas with rooftop mounting can be used in blue map areas.
 

 

DESCRIPTION
 
Large antennas used in weak signal areas for maximum possible TV reception.
USE   Can be used in any map area, but requires an amplifier and roof mounting for blue, violet and pink areas. Amplifiers are not recommended in yellow areas.
 

 

Will I need a pre-amplifier?

In general, if the distance to the transmitting tower is 25-30 miles or more, you live in difficult terrain or if you wish to put your antenna in your attic, you will most likely need a pre-amplifier. A pre-amplifier comes in two sections:

The power supply feeds power back to the amplifier via your coax cable, thus eliminating the need to run a separate power line and insuring that only the television signal is amplified, not any induced noise or interference that may be present on the coaxial line. The AP4800, AP8275 or 7777 pre-amplifiers are recommended for these installations.

 

Can I mount my antenna in my attic?

Yes, but this type of installation will impact your reception. Roofing materials (nails, shingles, boards etc.) can attenuate signals by 20-50%.  Depending on location, terrain and other factors, some attic installations do work well, but for the best possible reception it is better to mount your antenna outside. If you do decide to install your antenna in your attic, we highly recommend using a pre-amplifier to offset signal loss.

 

What other items will I need to complete my installation?

Whether this is a new installation or you are replacing an existing antenna, you will need some or all of the following (remember, masts do not come with antennas):

You can find these items and more listed in our accessories section.

 

SAFETY FIRST!!

Installation or removal of antennas near power lines is dangerous! Never let any part of the antenna, mast or guy line touch any power line! It is recommended you stay at least twice the length of the antenna and mast away from all power lines! If you are unsure, please let a professional installer do the job for you.