Whereas installation of an indoor antenna is a trivial task, an outdoor TV antenna can be a bit trickier to install. Before you begin climbing to great heights in order to install your TV antenna, start by creating a plan of execution. Determine the proper spot, angle, and direction of the antenna. Consider these quick tips before you begin.
Generally, outdoor TV antennas can either be installed in an attic or on a roof. Although attic installation does not have you teetering on a roof top, the reception is not of the same quality as the same antenna installed on a roof. Attic installed antenna may be disturbed by electrical home appliances, nearby cables and roofing material. Metal roofing exacerbates the problem, as it can kill the signal completely. Radio waves can not penetrate a metal shield and will not be received by an antenna installed in the attic. In any case, we strongly recommend roof top mounting.
Before you start climbing the ladder, take safety measures regarding installation/maintenance. You should ensure the weather is appropriate for being on the roof and that the roof or the ladder is not wet. Due to electric shock hazard, do NOT install antenna near electric power lines.
If you have omni-directional antenna skip this section.
Directional outdoor TV antennas must be aimed in the correct direction. The first step is to figure out what direction your antenna points to. The direction is obvious with Yagi, the most popular outdoor TV antenna. Yagi antenna receives radio waves coming towards its directing elements. The figure below shows the direction and the polar pattern of Winegard PR-9032 Yagi antenna. The same principle applies to all Yagi antennas: antenna directors should be pointed towards the towers. The next step is to find the direction to the towers from your location so that you can place your antenna accordingly. Check AntennaWeb to find broadcasts in your area and compass orientation to the transmitting towers.
An ideal spot for an outdoor TV antenna installation is the one where a line of sight between the antenna and the towers is unobstructed. This is rarely possible. But at least make sure that the antenna is not pointed straight into a neighboring house or a tree. Even a tree can block a signal on the UHF band and will cause sensible attenuation on the VHF band.
As a general rule of thumb, the higher the placement of your television antenna, the better. Any obstructions can potentially block the signal, prevent the reception of certain stations, or produce low quality images. By placing the antenna as high as possible on your roof, these problems will be eliminated.
When installing your television antenna, take special care to avoid metal present on other parts of your roof or neighboring roofs. Any metallic object located at less than a wavelength distance becomes a part of your antenna, changing its electrical properties such as resonance frequency, bandwidth and directivity. So what distance from metal objects is acceptable? Depends on the frequency. On the UHF band, separation of three feet would be sufficient, but on the lower VHF band you need 5-8 times more than that.
Antenna cables should be as short as possible. Radio signal energy is dissipated while traveling along a cable, and the longer cables are the more signal energy is lost before reaching a TV set. After your antenna has been mounted, shorten the cables that run from the antenna into your home. Trimming these cables will also prevent outages that may be caused by the wind blowing the cables out of the antenna or anything snagging the excess length.
When in doubt, call a professional. Most stores that sell television antennas also have the capability of sending a professional to do the installation. Most of these installers will guarantee their work, which is helpful if you experience any issues. Furthermore, these individuals will be available to troubleshoot any problems you may be experiencing.