TV Antenna Booster

When Can Antenna Boosters Work and How To Install Them

Antenna Booster

So you have installed your shiny brand new, high-gain TV antenna on the very top of your roof, pointing to your local TV transmitter, but your TV is still pixelating and your TV tuner is showing less than 100% signal strength.

A TV Antenna Booster may be just what you need! But beware some common pitfalls…

Do TV Antenna Boosters Really Work?

Yes, TV antenna boosters (also called TV antenna amplifiers) do work. They have been around for a long time and are a tried and tested way to increase signal strength.

In any TV antenna system (or any RF system for that matter), there needs to be a certain level of signal strength at your TV tuner. If that signal strength is too low, then your TV tuner will not be able to understand what data is being sent and so it won’t be able to convert that signal into a picture or sound. That means no Channel 9 news or Friday Night Footy…. 🙁

Your signal strength may be low for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are for low signal strength are:

  • Poor signal area: you are located too far from the TV transmitter
  • Poor incoming signal: there are objects blocking the line of sight (or RF interference), interrupting the signals travelling from the TV transmitter to your TV antenna
  • Low Gain antenna: you have a low gain antenna that only provides for a low signal strength
  • TV splitters: each time you split the incoming TV signal, the signal strength almost halves. If you are splitting one antenna to serve 3, 4 or 8 TV outlets, then there is going to be a decrease in signal strength
  • Long cable runs: as a TV signal runs down the cable, it gradually loses signal. Long cables runs can result in a significant loss in signal strength 
  • Poor quality cable: using high quality quad shield RG6 or RG11 cable will result in a lower signal attenuation (signal strength loss) as compared to older style tri-shield, ‘air-core’ or ribbon cabling
  • Too many cable terminations: if there are too any ‘cuts and joins’ in a cable run, it can start to impact the signal strength. Ideally, there should be no barrel joiners in any installation, however, sometimes this is simply not feasible
If you’re TV says you have low signal strength, you can start trying to eliminate or ‘fix’ the above issues, or you can install a new TV antenna booster. However, this is not a full list of possible faults, and if there is a loose connection somewhere, or a faulty device, you may still experience issues. Technicians will typically carry a RF Spectrum Analyser to measure the signal strength and signal quality at various parts of your TV system to determine the precise problem.
 

What About Interference? The Perils of 4G, 5G and Other Radiowaves

The most common problem we come across when a TV antenna booster is installed incorrectly is interference.

Interference is basically when there are unwanted radio signals that are being received by a TV tuner, which confuses it or creates ‘noise’ so it is difficult for the TV tuner to grab only the TV signals. The TV signals are all we are after, not mobile phone radiowaves!

4G interference (or LTE interference) occurs when a TV tuner receives strong 4G signals and stops the TV tuner from being able to do its job. Unfortunately, many TV antenna boosters are not smart enough to pick out only the TV signals and will boost a wide range of signals (frequencies), including 4G frequencies. If this occurs, it is bad news for your TV tuner (and you) as it will result in ‘noise’ and probably a loss of picture and sound on your TV.

The better quality quality TV antenna boosters will have a 4G filter built-in, so that the booster will not amplify those unwanted signals. However, older TV antenna boosters or cheap versions found at DIY shops may still not have a 4G filter at all, or sometimes a very low quality one that may not be strong enough (depending how close you are to the mobile phone towers!).

Other methods that may be required to reduce 4G interference are to either install a new antenna with an in-built 4G filter, or to add a stand-alone (or multiple) 4G filters. In some circumstances, all of these steps are required!

As with 4G, 5G is starting to rollout across Sydney and with it comes more frequencies being used for mobile phone reception. These are currently causing serious issues for satellite TV installations for international TV channels, and may cause interference to TV antenna signals in the future.

In addition, there are all sorts of other radiowaves flying past us every day! In particular, interference has been known to be caused by incorrectly installed LED lights and electric fences. This interference can sometimes be diagnosed by monitoring what time of day the TV signal starts to fail.     

What Other Problems Are There With Antenna Boosters?

There are other pitfalls to look out for when installing TV antenna boosters. The most common of these are:

  • Low quality signal: a TV signal has 2 main characteristics – (i) signal strength and (ii) signal quality. Whilst a TV Antenna Booster can solve problems caused by low signal strength, it can do very little to increase signal quality. It is VERY important to get a good quality signal from your antenna, to allow for a booster to do its magic and increase the signal strength in your TV system. 
  • Too much signal: quite simply, too much signal is a bad thing. If your TV tuner receives a signal strength that is too high, it will overload and not work.
  • Poor installation: TV antenna boosters should ideally be installed by a professional who has access to a field spectrum analyser, cable stripping and termination tools, spanners and the appropriate ladders and working safely at heights experience and certifications. As outlined below, simply installing a TV antenna booster at the wrong location in a TV system can cause issues, as can other things many DIYers miss, like terminating empty ports of splitters and other devices.

What Do You Mean A Power Supply?

We get many phone calls from new tenants or new home owners stating that their TV antenna does not work, simply to find that the previous tenant or owner has taken the TV antenna booster power supply with them when vacating the property.

A power supply is an essential device that sends a low-voltage electrical current up the TV cable to power the TV antenna booster. Without this device, the TV antenna booster will not turn on and signal will not pass through the device. Please check that you have not simply turned off this device at the wall (they are normally installed behind a TV), or you have not removed it thinking it was a phone charger or something else.

What Is The Best TV Antenna Booster For Me?

There is no one best TV antenna booster on the market. There are certainly characteristics of antenna boosters that can help with your installation including:

  • 35db gain (or more)
  • 4G (or LTE) filtering
  • Low noise margin
  • VHF/UHF/Combined switchable
  • Single or dual input
  • Shielded or unshielded
And these are just some characteristics of masthead amplifiers. We have not explore distribution, 5wire or wideband amplifiers in this article at all. Your local TV antenna professional has experience with installing TV antenna boosters in your local area and should be an expert to recommend which one will work best for you!

 

If you are still experiencing issues with your TV system, Nu Life TV Antenna can help. Established over 35 years in Sydney, we have technicians available to help you fix all your problems and get that TV back up and running again! Call us today on 9549 0082 or request a free quote by completing the form below.

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