Antenna FAQ

What is the difference between VHF and UHF?

VHF stands for Very High Frequency and UHF stands for Ultra High Frequency. VHF and UHF signals require two different kinds of antenna for best reception. VHF needs long splines for best reception, such as the old “rabbit ears” indoor antennas or the outdoor antenna with the long splines that used to be atop everyone’s roof. UHF, on the other hand, requires a “loop” antenna, which you may remember from indoor antennas or attached to the back of your TV.
 
There are many newer “DTV” antennas that lack the long rabbit ears, such as the popular flat panel antenna. They look high tech, but they’re really just the old metal loop UHF antenna in a nice plastic case.
Locally, channels WNPT and WSMV are broadcasting on VHF (channels 2-13) while other local stations broadcast on UHF (channels 14 and above). To receive all Nashville channels best with an indoor antenna, you are better off with an inexpensive antenna like this one (http://www.rcaantennas.net/indoor-hd-antenna/?sku=ANT111F) than the more expensive flat panel.

Why are indoor antennas not the best choice?

One thing that’s different in TV reception since the DTV transition; whereas one used to be able to view a weak “snowy” signal, with digital TV it’s either crystal clear or not there at all, there’s very little middle ground. We also know that VHF signals travel further than UHF, but do not penetrate walls as well as UHF. If you have even one wall between your antenna and the NPT transmitter, it may be enough to weaken the signal to where you see nothing.
 
Try to eliminate any walls between your indoor antenna and NPT’s transmitter by putting your antenna in a window facing the transmitter. NPT’s transmitter is located due south of Nashville, about two miles west of where I-65 intersects with Old Hickory Blvd. If you place your antenna in front of a window facing NPT’s tower and scan again, you may be able to receive NPT that way. You can find the exact direction to point your antenna from your house on the web at http://antennaweb.org or http://tvfool.com. Enter your address to see where all Nashville transmitters are on the compass in relation to where you live.
Another problem with indoor antennas:
Reception issues are not always due to weak signal with indoor antennas. Often the problem is RF interference within the home. Electrical equipment such as computers, routers and even cell phone chargers can generate interference. Appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dryers and microwave ovens can also cause problems that block out certain channels. Even LED light bulbs can cause interference. For these reasons, you’ll get the best reception with an attic or outdoor antenna.

What kind of outdoor antenna should I buy?

Make sure you get one that states clearly that it receives BOTH VHF & UHF. There are a lot of new “DTV antennas” that only receive UHF. You can find many quality and inexpensive outdoor antennas at vendor sites like http://www.solidsignal.com and http://antennasdirect.com.
 

Where should I install my outdoor antenna?

High up on your roof is best if that’s possible. You may want to go online to search “antenna installation” to find professionals to do the job for you, as they are experienced working on roofs. If you live in a neighborhood that prohibits rooftop antennas, they can be installed under the eaves.
 
If these are not options, you may want to install your outdoor antenna in your attic. This will reduce signal strength slightly, but will still be better than an indoor antenna.
Enter your address at www.antennaweb.org  or www.tvfool.com/ to see a map indicating which direction to point your antenna for best reception on all Nashville stations.

Will an Amplifier Help?

Not always. A weak TV signal has a low signal-to-noise ratio, and amplifying the signal also amplifies the noise, which continues to block reception. An amplifier may also boost the signal strength too high, which will also cause reception problems.
 
There are situations where an amplifier does help solve weak signal problems, but it’s best to start with a good antenna pointed in the right direction before resorting to amplification.