Digital Antenna Installation: Do I Need an Amplifier
You just had your sparkly new digital antenna installed, but you’re not getting the most reliable TV reception. Frustrating, right? But this issue is a lot more common than you think. So, let’s dive into why this is happening and what you can do to fix it.
How to Know If You’ve Got Reception Problems
Usually, if you have reception problems, the picture will break up or freeze on your digital TV. Unlike analogue TV, it won’t look snowy or fuzzy. In fact, a weak TV signal can still show up clear but then cut in and out. If that’s happening to you, it’s most likely a reception problem.
Why You’re Having Problems with Reception
Bad reception sucks, especially when you’ve just paid to get a new digital antenna installed. Shouldn’t it be working perfectly? Unfortunately, no. Here’s why you won’t always get the best reception even with your new antenna:
- TV wall points – If you have multiple TV wall points installed, you’re actually splitting the signal, and if it gets too weak, it’ll start cutting out, depending on how strong the signal was to start with
- Distance from TV signal transmitters – If you live far away from your nearest TV signal transmitters, you’re less likely to get a strong signal
- Interference – If you live in a hilly area or have large buildings nearby, these may be blocking the signal
- Faulty antenna – Occasionally, you’ll end up with a faulty digital antenna or installation error, especially if you tried to DIY, and this could be the cause of reception issues, especially if your reception was working better before your new antenna
Amplifier… The Answer to Your Problems
If you’re experiencing reception problems, you’ll need to get a technician out to diagnose the issue. But if they confirm that a weak signal is the issue, they’ll likely recommend a TV amplifier as the solution.
An amplifier works to correct weak signals in your antenna. Sort of like an audio amplifier that can take a small noise and make it much louder, an antenna amplifier can take a weak signal and make it strong enough to broadcast channels, pictures, and sound on your digital TV.
This is especially important with digital TV because if the signal isn’t strong enough, you won’t get any picture or sound at all. (Back before digital TV, you could usually get fuzzy reception when you had a weaker signal.) But the good news is that if you can increase the signal enough with an amplifier, you should be able to enjoy the full TV experience, with a clear picture and sound.
Are There Different Types of TV Amplifiers?
There are two types of TV antenna amplifiers:
These look like a small plastic box (usually black or grey) that’s attached to the lower part of your TV antenna. Occasionally it’s hiding inside the roof and won’t be visible from the outside. You should be able to see wires connecting your antenna and masthead amplifier, and wires also running down into your roof and home. Masthead amplifiers are the most common type of amplifier used in residential free-standing homes in Australia. They’re mainly used to boost the signal if your location has bad coverage and interference like large buildings and tall trees.
Distribution amplifiers are usually a lot bigger than masthead amplifiers and if you need one, it’ll get installed either inside your roof, a cupboard, or a service duct. Distribution amplifiers are mainly used in units or flats where there are multiple homes and TVs connected to one antenna. Or you might need a distribution amplifier if you have multiple TV wall points installed and this is causing your signal to weaken.
Is There a Difference Between Amplifiers and Signal Boosters?
No. In the digital/antenna industry, these words are used interchangeably. They both refer to devices used to boost or amplify your TV reception and signal.
How Does a TV Amplifier Work?
An amplifier is powered by the antenna cable that runs from a 240-volt plug near or at the back of your TV. When your antenna picks up a weak signal, your amplifier will boost, repeat, or amplify this signal to make it clearer and help transfer the data to your TV. That way, your TV can get a signal that’s strong enough for it to work, even if your antenna isn’t able to pick up a strong enough local signal directly.
Other Ways to Boost Your Signal
Before adding an amplifier, your technician might recommend some other options that may be better for your situation (and possibly cheaper). You might be able to boost your signal by:
- Moving your antenna – Sometimes moving your antenna to a different location, adjusting the direction, or moving it up a bit higher will do the trick
- Upgrading your antenna – In some cases, a larger antenna can improve your reception, or switch to a digital antenna installation if you’ve still got the older analogue style antenna
Should We Add an Amplifier Just In Case It’s Needed?
No. There’s a good reason why your digital antenna installation doesn’t come with an amplifier by default. Amplifiers can cause problems if you don’t need them or if they’re not used properly. Problems like:
- A signal that’s too strong – If you increase your TV signal too much, it will cause signal and reception problems for your digital TV
- Interference – Incorrect installation can cause reception interference and could affect your neighbours’ TV reception, mobiles, and other broadcast/communications systems
- Potential failure – It’s another element in your TV system that can potentially fail down the track and prevent your TV from working properly
- Cost – It’s an unnecessary cost if you don’t need one
So, if you don’t need an amplifier as part of your digital antenna installation, don’t get one. And if your antenna technician suggests adding an amplifier, they should be able to give you a good reason why that doesn’t include “just in case”.
Installing an Amplifier
As you can see from the list above, there’s a lot at stake here, especially if you don’t need an amplifier, or if it’s done wrong. So, just like your digital antenna installation, it’s important that your situation is properly assessed, and your amplifier is installed by a professional.
Here’s the process:
- Step 1: Your technician will diagnose your signal strength, check for other issues, and perform any other necessary assessments before they even start your installation.
- Step 2: Then they’ll choose the right type of amplifier for your situation.
- Step 3: They’ll carefully install it in the ideal location (whether it’s on your roof, inside your roof/attic, or in a cupboard).
- Step 4: And they’ll test it to make sure your amplifier isn’t causing interference and make sure you’re getting the right signal strength to your TV so you can enjoy good reception and a clear image.
It takes experience and specialist equipment to properly and safely install an amplifier, so don’t attempt to do this yourself.
Book Digital and Antenna Installation Services
Do you need a digital antenna installed? Or think you might need an amplifier to improve your weak signal and get better reception? We can help. Call us on 1300 800 123 for a free quote or to book a digital antenna installation and we’ll send a technician to your place.