Outdoor high-definition antennas are a relatively inexpensive, subscription-free method of receiving high-quality digital broadcasts – but choosing the right HDTV antenna takes some research and planning. Various geographic obstructions such as mountains, large structures, uneven terrain and distance will influence your antenna decision. Numerous online sites are designed specifically to help users choose the type, shape and ideal mounting location for a new HDTV antenna.
Your geographic location relative to the antennas in your area is important in selecting an HDTV antenna as well as for installation and pointing. Many locations are in between broadcasting towers, making it easy to receive one station but difficult to pull in another. You may not know where you are relative to these towers, but websites like AntennaPoint.com can help you pinpoint your location on a digital map. This permits you to choose an omni-directional antenna if you are in between multiple locations or directional array to maximize signal strength if you are line-of-sight.
Most households in a typical urban/suburban area are within the 40- to 70-mile range of broadcast towers, but the curvature of the earth, hills and mountains may make the broadcasts weak in your area. You can avoid this by mounting outdoor HDTV antennas as high as possible, away from other obstructions, and by using antenna amplifiers. In outlying rural areas further away from broadcasting towers, alternative installation solutions like pole-mounting or multi-antenna arrays are options. Multiple large antennas mounted high and pointing in different directions to pull in all channels might be necessary in fringe locations.
The band in which a station broadcasts is an important factor when choosing the array of elements on the antenna. For example, although most HD stations broadcast predominantly in the ultra-high frequency or UHF band, low-band channels 2 through 8 will need more VHF elements. The charts provided by sites like AntennaPoint.com tell you the division of bands and their relative strengths, arming you with data that will make the difference between receiving and not receiving certain channels.
Outdoor antennas are available in more shapes and sizes than you might think. Many antennas come in square and round shapes, chiefly to address aesthetic concerns that conventional rake-style antennas might create. These antennas are omni-directional and work well in urban locations where other buildings and/or foliage might be blocking a direct signal. Antenna range is 40 to 50 miles, serving the majority of those within broadcast range. These antennas mount in a similar fashion to satellite dishes and are found clustered together in many installations.
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