8 Proven Tips to Boost Your TV Signal
1. Position Your Aerial Correctly
Have you ever noticed most TV aerials are on the chimneys? They’re high up, away from trees and other buildings. When an aerial is up high, it can catch the TV signal better. If you can see where the TV signal comes from (the transmitter), your aerial will have a better chance of working well.
If your TV picture isn’t great and your aerial is inside, like in a loft, you can install it outside. This way, the signal won’t get blocked by roof tiles, solar panels and insulation.
But height matters too. If you’re in a place with a weak TV signal, a taller mast (like 10′ or 12′ instead of the usual 6′) can help. Just ensure you’re using heavy-duty fittings and that the brackets are installed securely so they won’t come down in a strong wind.
Using one in the loft is still better than other indoor options for those who can’t put their aerial outside. Just check if your loft has foil lining; if it does, it might block the signal.
So, for the best TV signal, install your aerial outside and as high as possible, but if you can’t, then the loft is the next best place.
2. Upgrade to a High-Gain Aerial
Consider opting for a high-gain aerial to boost your TV signal. With more elements, this improved aerial captures TV signals efficiently for more precise viewing. Its design also pulls in signals from a broader range. This is particularly beneficial in areas with many obstructions like tall buildings or trees, as the aerial can ‘reach out’ better to get the signals, even with potential local interference. The high-gain aerial is a game-changer for regions with inherently weak TV signals. Its optimised design amplifies even the faintest signals to deliver more precise viewing. Plus, if you’re running multiple TVs off a single aerial, then the high-gain option ensures the signal strength remains robust across all sets. By upgrading to a high-gain aerial, you can be sure of a more consistent and precise TV viewing experience, especially in challenging signal conditions.
3. Integrate a Signal Booster or Amplifier
Sometimes, you might still need help with signal issues even after optimising your aerial’s position or using a high-gain TV aerial. If these methods don’t work or aren’t feasible for your setup, it’s time to consider a masthead amplifier.
A masthead amplifier boosts your TV signal right at the source. Installing it at the bottom of the aerial mast will ensure the signal remains strong throughout the system, preventing signal loss.
While you might assume that the best place for an amplifier is right on the aerial mast, there’s a caveat. A masthead amplifier is powered remotely since there’s no power supply outdoors. A separate unit behind your TV sends power up the aerial cable, powering the amplifier. For the best results, ensure at least 1 metre of cable between the TV aerial and the amplifier. Also, the amplifier should be fitted before any distribution equipment, like splitters. And, importantly, ensure that your splitters and wall plates allow for the passage of DC power. Otherwise, they’ll block the amplifier’s power source.
When to Use an Amplifier:
Amplifiers are great for counteracting signal losses due to long cable lengths or when signals are split among multiple TVs. And while they’re beneficial when aerial signals are weak, remember: their primary role isn’t to boost weak signals but to maintain signal strength across a system.
Choosing the Right Amplifier:
Masthead amplifiers vary in the amount of signal gain they provide. Try and opt for models offering around 13dB gain, as these versions are adjustable and with a simple screwdriver turn; you can fine-tune the amplified signal, giving you more control over your viewing experience.
4. Limit the Use of Signal Splitters
In modern home entertainment, distributing a TV signal to multiple rooms or devices is commonplace. One method often considered is using signal splitters, but it’s vital to understand the effects they can have on signal quality. By its very nature, a signal splitter takes a single incoming TV signal. It divides it, allowing the user to send it to multiple outputs. But this division comes with a caveat.
Every time you divide a signal, its strength diminishes. Each split reduces the signal quality for each output, and further splitting to each device receives a progressively weaker signal. This can risk degraded picture quality or even a total loss of signal, especially if the initial signal was already on the lower end of strength. So instead of risking the quality of your TV signal with multiple splitters, a more efficient and effective solution would be to use a distribution amplifier.
What are Distribution Amplifiers?
A distribution amplifier takes a single TV signal input and boosts its strength before sending it out to multiple outputs. This way, even though the signal is being sent to several devices, the strength of the signal going to each device is maintained or even enhanced.
Benefits of Using Distribution Amplifiers:
Consistent Quality: By amplifying the signal before distributing, you ensure that each output receives a strong and clear signal, maintaining consistent picture quality across all devices.
Reduced Signal Degradation: With a distribution amplifier, the risk of signal degradation due to long cable lengths or multiple splits is significantly diminished.
Efficiency: Distribution amplifiers are particularly beneficial when multiple TVs or devices are far apart or when the incoming signal strength is weak.
5. Invest in a High-Quality Fly Lead
Flyleads, though often overlooked, play a vital role in ensuring an uninterrupted, high-quality TV signal. If your current TV setup involves a fragile, factory-produced fly lead protruding from your wall plate, it’s time to upgrade. These standard-issue leads are notorious for substantial insertion losses, impacting your viewing experience.
While choosing a robust fly lead is essential, there’s no need to spend excessively on aerial leads boasting gold or platinum connectors. In most scenarios, these extravagant additions sometimes mean better performance. Instead, consider making your own aerial fly lead. You can make a fly lead tailored to your needs with some DIY skill and coax cable, a pair of coax plugs, a Stanley blade, and a set of cutters.
6. Maintain Cable Integrity
To achieve the best possible TV viewing experience, the quality of the coaxial cable you use is a significant factor. Think of the signal from your TV aerial as water flowing through a pipe – you don’t want any leaks!
For top-notch performance, it’s essential to use a coaxial cable that’s double-screened with a solid centre conductor. Suppose you’re using a single-screened “low loss” cable or one with a stranded centre conductor. In that case, you’re allowing a significant portion of your signal to be lost, which can lead to a weak TV signal.
Consider cables with all-copper conductors – including a copper braid, screen, and centre conductor for the most effective signal reception. This ensures minimal signal degradation from your aerial to your TV.
Top-tier coaxial cables renowned for their performance and reliability include WF100, CT100, PF100, and HD100. You ensure a clear, uninterrupted TV viewing experience by prioritising cable quality.
7. Opt for Screened Wall Plates
Believe it or not, the wall plate can be a major culprit for signal loss. Unscreened wall plates, where the cable end is exposed, can let a lot of signal escape. Switch to wall plates with screened connections. Here, the coaxial cable’s end is enclosed in a metal casing. This not only guards against external disturbances but also combats the signal loss termed as RF leakage. Besides, screened wall plates offer a sturdier connection and are less prone to damage.
Some reputable brands in the industry that you might consider include: Labgear, Triax, Vision and Antiference. These makes are renowned names in the TV and satellite industry, and are well-known for their durability and quality and are widely used.
8. Regularly Retune Your TV
Channels often change their broadcasting frequencies, new ones get introduced, and some are occasionally removed. Furthermore, broadcasters might tweak their transmission settings to optimise coverage or minimise interference. If your TV isn’t retuned to accommodate these changes, you could end up with outdated channel listings or missed channels altogether.
Another less obvious reason is the periodic engineering work on transmission masts. Occasionally, engineering works being carried out on the transmitter can alter the frequencies, leading to signal disruptions, which can compromise your TV’s signal strength, causing reception problems.
How Retuning Can Fix Poor Signal Issues:
When you retune, your TV or set-top box scans the available frequencies to fetch the most updated list of channels. If you’ve been experiencing a sudden drop in signal quality, pixelation, or missing channels, a simple retune can often rectify the problem. This ensures your TV aligns with the latest broadcast frequencies, helping to clear up any issues arising from outdated signals.