TV Antenna Booster / TV Amplifiers
In some circumstances, installing a high quality TV antenna (and cabling it to a TV point or multiple TV points) alone will not be enough to provide your premise with reliable TV reception. Depending on the TV signal strength and signal quality received by your antenna, or the design of your antenna system within your premise, you may also need to install a TV antenna booster (also called a “TV antenna amplifier”).
There are many different types of TV antenna boosters (the main types are masthead amplifiers and distribution amplifiers) and even more brands of TV antenna boosters, each with different quality, strengths and weaknesses. Installing the correct TV booster for the particular situation can provide you with TV signal strength and signal quality to guarantee you perfect digital reception.
Types of TV Antenna Boosters
Masthead amplifiers are a type of ‘pre-amp’ and are installed directly after the TV antenna (ideally around 0.5-1.0m below the antenna’s horizontal position). They are used in situations where the incoming signal off the antenna is not sufficient in power to provide a reliable service to the TV tuner at the end of the cable. Whilst it can sometimes improve signal quality, it should not be relied upon to provide any improvement to signal quality levels. If signal quality is insufficient, we recommend that a different antenna should be used, or the antenna should be placed at a higher point (perhaps on a higher mast) to fix the problem.
Whilst they are ‘active’ devices, they are low voltage and are usually powered remotely via a power supply that is located internally to a house. This power supply normally looks like a large mobile phone charger and plugs into any standard house GPO. This power supply then allows a low voltage current to be sent up the TV antenna cabling in order to provide power to the antenna booster. When people move house, it is a common issue for the previous tenant or owner to take this power supply with them as they leave. Alternatively, people may accidentally turn off the power supply, thinking it is used for an AV device, only to realise it has left them without TV reception.
Distribution amplifiers are used in larger TV systems, where there is a significant signal loss caused by very long cable runs, or more commonly, many TV points. Whilst masthead amplifiers can assist with boosting signal to multiple points in a standard house, distribution amplifiers can boost signal to tens, hundreds or thousands of points in a high-rise building or complex. Distribution amplifiers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can boost different frequencies, including Cable network and satellite frequencies. As a result, they are used for Free To Air TV systems, as well as Foxtel integrated TV systems. Whether you have a small 8 apartment complex, or a 1,000 occupant building, Install My Antenna can always source the right distribution amplifier to fit your specific need.
How To Know If You Have A TV Booster Installed
If you are wondering whether or not your current TV systems incorporates a TV antenna booster, you will need to trace the cable from your antenna to your outlet cables. A masthead amplifier is normally installed on the same pole that supports the TV antenna, and is contained in a small weatherproof enclosure. The coaxial cabling from the antenna should run directly into the weatherproof enclosure (the masthead amplifier input), and another coaxial cable will run out of the enclosure and into your roofspace (the masthead amplifier output). From there, the coaxial cable will go to your outlet, or feed a TV splitter that will feed multiple outlets in your TV system.
Beware, that the little grey box on the antenna mount (the weatherproof enclosure) is not always a masthead amplifier. Sometimes antenna installers will install similar enclosures for LTE filters and sometimes we even find splitters and attenuators hiding in there.
Alternatively, it is also quite common for masthead amplifiers to be installed in a house’s roof cavity, or underneath the building structure. Yes, that means dusting off a ladder and jumping up in your manhole to see exactly what is going on.
TV Antenna Boosters & Interference
A TV antenna booster is a great device and solves many problems. However, in some circumstances, it can cause issues with interference. As we walk around each day, there are many, many radio waves flying around everywhere, transporting TV signals, 3G/4G mobile phone signals, satellite signals, WiFi signals, internet links, and much more. TV antenna boosters are design for the frequencies on which TV signals are broadcasted (VHF and/or UHF). If there are other radio waves being broadcast on, or close to, VHF or UHF frequencies, then the TV antenna booster will boost those signals as well.
A common issue with a TV system using UHF frequencies is LTE or 4G interference. The mobile networks in Australia (Telstra, Vodafone, Optus and nbn) utilise 4G designated frequencies for sending and receiving data, normally for a mobile phone but also for other devices like tablets, 4G dongles and 4G fixed wireless modems. Some 4G frequencies (in particular, Band 28, or 700MHz) are very close to UHF frequencies. It is becoming increasingly more common to have a UHF TV system impacted by these 4G signals. This problem can be made worse when the TV system uses an amplifier that amplifies those 4G signals, causing increased interference or ‘noise’ to the TV signals. As a result, some masthead amplifiers are manufactured with a built-in 4G filter, that will actually reduce the 4G signals, rather than increase them. And others are ‘fully screened’, or with a more robust metal shell, in order to ensure no signals protrude through the amplifier’s casing. If you are interested about this topic, there is more information available on the ACMA website.
There are other types of interference, which we won’t go into here. However, if you are experiencing intermittent issues (like the signal drops out at the same time every day), then there could be other interference issues, possible caused by incorrect LED lighting installations, electric fences, or other electrical devices.
Important Considerations Regarding TV Antenna Signal Boosters
When the installation of a TV amplifier is required, it is important to ensure it is installed correctly. The incorrect installation and use of a TV amplifier can produce radio signal interference, caused by overload / distortion, mixing, or oscillation. Furthermore, the incorrect installation or the installation of faulty amplifiers can impact not only your TV reception, but also mobile phone systems and two-way radio communications systems. As per the ACMA website, “The person who owns or operates a masthead amplifier or distribution amplifier is responsible for any interfering signals radiated by the amplifier. The ACMA investigates radio signal interference where it is suspected that the Radiocommunications Act 1992 is being breached. For instances of radio signal interference where the Act is not being breached, it’s appropriate for an antenna installer or technician to resolve the matter.”
Thankfully, Install My Antenna has performed many installations of TV amplifiers in many different scenarios around Australia. You will be in safe hands with our fully trained & experienced technicians, as well as our technical and administrative office staff.
Call Install My Antenna today on 1300 800 123 and we can organise a time to visit you and provide a free quote for all your TV Antenna needs.
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