With cable and satellite subscriptions becoming ever more expensive, many households are considering using an antenna to receive television programming for free from their local broadcasters. AntennaWeb can help you become a more informed consumer before shopping for an antenna.
This page provides information about over-the-air antennas, the CTA’s color-coded labeling standard for classifying antennas, and how AntennaWeb may be used to determine the outdoor antenna type that matches your viewing interests.
Optimum television reception relies on a clear, unobstructed line of sight between the antenna and the local towers. The quality of broadcast TV reception via an antenna is determined by a wide range of factors. They include:
Due to these and other factors, choosing an antenna solely on a manufacturer's distance claims may not provide satisfactory reception.
AntennaWeb helps you make more informed decisions about choosing the antenna type that best matches the availability of stations from your local broadcasters and your viewing needs. It also allows you to explore your television viewing options beyond a cable or satellite subscription.
This site will help you to:
To learn more about receiving broadcast TV, enter your address and press the Go button.
To simplify choosing the correct outdoor antenna, the CTA (Consumers Technology Association) has created a color-coded labeling standard for classifying antennas by type. Within each color code, the features, designs and prices of antennas will vary greatly between models and manufacturers, but the standard ensures that all models within a given color will have similar reception qualities.
Antennas fall into two general classes.
The Yellow, Green and Light Green codes refer to non-directional or multi-directional antennas. Each successive color has a greater effective range. This type of antenna will receive signals equally well from all directions. This design feature limits their effective ranges because they are also susceptible to noise from weak, distant signals and they can interfere with the reception of local stations.
The Red, Blue and Purple codes are directional antennas. These antennas are designed to receive distant signals from the direction they are pointed. Due to their relatively focused field of view, directional antennas will have a much greater effective range in the direction they are aimed; however, they may be incapable of receiving relatively close stations from other directions around the compass.
Television antennas have always been designed to perform just one task: receive signals from within a specific range of frequencies within the electromagnetic spectrum. If you currently have an antenna that is providing satisfactory service, a new antenna is NOT needed to receive a specific type of television signal (HD, 4K, NEXTGEN TV, etc.).
While the underlying technology in the data transmitted within those frequencies has changed dramatically as television broadcasting has evolved, the role of the antenna in receiving those signals has not. The antenna receives the signal and passes it through the downlead to the TV, where the specialized tuners within the set will ingest the incoming signal, process the data within it, then present it as the picture, sound, and program/episodic info onscreen.
In the days of analog broadcasting, a TV's tuner would process every signal it received. This would often result in a snowy, rolling, unstable picture and missing or static filled sound. The tuners in today's digital TVs are much more discriminating. A station's signal must be above a pre-determined minimum threshold, or the tuner will disregard that station altogether. Processing a weak signal would result in a broken, pixelated picture and distorted sound.
When making its reception predictions, AntennaWeb assumes the use of an outdoor antenna installed at 20’ above ground level to put it above interference from surrounding structures. A checkbox is available that directs AntennaWeb to alternately use an installed height of 30’ in its calculations.
AntennaWeb does not make recommendations about indoor antennas. In addition to all the physical and environmental factors that can affect TV reception through an outdoor antenna, indoor antennas introduce a wide range of factors within each home that can further impact the reception.
These factors include the structure's sheathing, roofing, siding and other building materials, the presence of gas, water, and electrical lines, HVAC systems, masonry and/or stonework, and so on.
Due to this combination of real world factors, an indoor antenna’s actual effective range may be a fraction of those claimed by its manufacturer. Like an outdoor antenna, an indoor antenna also requires a clear line of sight toward the transmitter for the best reception.
If you must use an indoor antenna, it should be mounted in a window facing toward the transmitters. Glass does not interfere with the passage of TV signals. It may be necessary to buy a longer length of coax cable to reach the clearer view. The cables shipped with most indoor antennas are far too short to allow it to be installed anywhere but near the TV.
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