Do Electricians Fix TV Antennas?
6 January 2021
When a residential home owner experiences a fault with their TV reception, it is often the case that they will think they require an electrician to fix their antenna system to get their favourite TV channels back up and running.
This is completely understandable. Electricians run all sorts of wiring, they can often terminate all those cables (even if it is with a little bit of help from YouTube) and they can buy antennas from Electrical Wholesalers too. So, what’s stopping them from being able to correctly fix your TV reception or install a new digital tv antenna to get your channels back?
Whilst electricians are often very highly skilled tradespeople (particularly in lighting and power), only a very small subset of trained electricians learn about antenna systems and digital TV antenna signal knowledge. Chances are, if you call your local electrician, you will have a very small chance of finding one that truly knows how antennas (and RF more broadly) actually work.
Here are a six reasons why an electrician should not fix your TV antenna:
1. Electricians Are Not Trained in TV Antenna Systems
Electricians are known to be one of the smartest trades around. The combination of very detailed (and hugely important) theoretical knowledge, as well as an average of 3-5 years of being an apprentice to learn just the start of how to run cables, etc, means that they are very intellectual and skillful people.
However, TV antenna systems are simply not part of their training materials. Unless they choose to take additional certifications or qualifications, many will often never learn anything about how TV antenna systems work. They might touch on what type of coaxial cable should be used, and how to run that cable in conduit and on cable tray, however, they will learn very little about how TV signal is received using an antenna, transported through a TV antenna system (through cabling, splitters and amplifiers), and how it is processed by a TV tuner.
For example, if you were to ask an electrician what a pass level is for a VHF signal in Melbourne, they will likely not even be able to tell you how the signal is measured. In particular, electricians will understand the concept of signal power, but will often miss the very important concept of signal quality. As a result, they will likely not know what MER or BER stands for, or what it actually means for a TV system.
For a specialised TV antenna installer, signal power, MER and BER is their bread and butter! They are measuring those signals levels each and every day in your local suburbs.
Even on large new construction sites, the MATV or PayTV portion of the Electrical Contractor’s scope of works is almost always subcontracted out to a TV antenna specialists. In fact, the engineers in charge of writing the Electrical Specification often make it mandatory that the Electrical Contractor subcontract out this part of the scope to an MATV specialist with at least 10+ years experience.
2. Electricians Do Not Use Spectrum Analysers
Spectrum analysers (or test meters) are a digital TV antenna installers’ most important piece of equipment to measure digital TV signals. They measure those same attributes of TV signal that we mentioned above (signal power, MER, pre-BER, post-BER) and do a range of other things as well (show the RF spectrum and can detect 4G signal interference to mention just two).
An experienced TV antenna installer will tell you that it is impossible to conduct a fault find on an existing TV antenna system without using a spectrum analyser to locate the fault. Without such a TV test meter, there is no accurate way of determining the exact fault and the electrician technician will most likely recommend replacing everything in the system. You may end up with a new antenna, new amplifier and new cabling, when all that was required was a wall plate replaced behind the TV.
Digital TV spectrum analysers come in all shapes and sizes, however, a reputable base grade model will cost around $2,500 and a top of the range version can get to $5,000+.
3. Not Licensed or Qualified
Whilst antenna work is not a recognised trade (and there is no license to complete just antenna work), there are a number of qualifications that all TV antenna technicians should obtain prior to working on your TV antenna system. At a minimum, they should have the following:
- Open Cabling License (with Coaxial endorsement)
- Working Safely at Heights Certificate
- Asbestos Awareness Certificate
- At least 5-10 years experience in installing TV antennas or a Certificate III in Digital Reception Technology
Before you engage with any technician to complete your TV antenna work, be sure to check that they have each of these qualifications so you know that they won’t be simply ‘guessing’ when it comes time to fix your TV system.
4. Not Insured For Antenna Work
Did you know that as a homeowner, you can sometimes be held responsible if a contractor is injured whilst on your property?
Ensuring that the company you engage to complete your TV antenna work is fully insured for the specific type of work they are performing is an important step in selecting an appropriate technician.
As a minimum, you should be making sure that the company is registered, has workers compensation insurance and also carries a minimum of $20m public liability insurance to cover TV antenna installation work. There are a range of additional risks that TV antenna installers undertake when completing a job, as compared to an electrician. The main additional risk is working at heights (often above 6m in height for double storey houses). Insurance policies held by TV antenna installers specifically allows for working at this height and will cover you and them in the case of any accident taking place.
5. Electricians Do Not Carry The Correct Tools and Equipment
Whilst electricians carry nearly everything they need to install a new powerpoint, or repair a fan or light fitting, it is very rare for them to carry the tools required to install new TV antenna equipment.
TV antenna specialists will carry F-type compression tools, RG6 and RG11 stripper tools, as well as most of the standard equipment required to mount an antenna, run a new TV point, install a new wall plate and even make a patch lead to go in the back of your TV. If your electrician knows how to use these tools, its probably the case that they haven’t done it in quite some time, and they may even use a video from Google to brush up on their skills.
Any technician that completes 10-20+ terminations of RG6 quad shield cable each day will be more reliable than the technician that performs one every 6 months!
6. They Don’t Use The Best Quality TV Antennas
There are two reason why electricians don’t get the best quality TV antennas.
Firstly, they often don’t know which TV antenna is best for any given suburb. Given they are not trained on antenna signals and they might install a new antenna only once every 6 months, it is difficult for electricians to dedicate time and effort into learning about antennas and discovering which one is best for every area. Furthermore, they simply do not gather enough evidence of which antennas work best, as they don’t install many.
As a result of the electrician trying to stay price competitive with other TV antenna installers, they will often buy a cheaper lower quality TV antenna from their Electrical Wholesaler. Most TV antenna specialists will either buy digital TV antennas from manufacturers directly, or purchase them from specialist TV antenna and communications based wholesalers. This means they are ‘cutting out the middle man’ and you will end up getting a better quality product at a cheaper price.
Taking the time to call a local, experienced TV antenna installer will result in you getting the best value and lifespan from your antenna. Install My Antenna provides a 25yr antenna warranty and has over 40 years experience. There is no situation we have not encountered in the past. We are antenna professionals and can help you get your TV antenna system back up and running in no time at all. For a professional, high quality TV antenna installation, call us on 1300 800 123 and speak to one of our friendly contact centre representatives today!