What are the most common factors that determine the strength of a TV broadcast signal? 

1.  Distance from the transmitter.  The farther you are from the transmitter, the weaker the picture and sound quality you can expect to receive, and the larger and more powerful antenna you need.   

2.  The intervening terrain.  Unlike AM radio signals, TV signals are line-of-site and don’t follow the curvature of the earth.  This means that obstructions such as hills, trees and buildings between the transmitter and the receiving antenna can block the signal entirely or reflect the signal into the antenna twice (ghosting).   

3.  The type and size of the receiving antenna.  The closer you are located to a transmitter, the less need you have for a large antenna.  The farther you are away from the transmitter, the less signal there is available, and the larger antenna you need to capture what is available. NewsChannel12 and FOX Eastern Carolina’s Transmitter are located in Trenton.

 4.  Amount of signal loss in your system.  In every antenna system there is some signal loss.  This is generally due to downlead cables and splitters. Take this into account  if you plan to hook up your antenna to multiple TV sets.  

I’m thinking of installing an antenna in my attic.  Are there special installation or reception concerns that I should be aware of? 

There are several installation and reception issues that you will need to consider if you decide to install an antenna in your attic.

  • First, be aware that installing an antenna in an attic means an automatic reduction of signal strength by at least 45 to 50%.  This means you may need to purchase an amplifier and/or a larger antenna than you might need if installation was planned for the rooftop. 
  • Second, consider the type of material your house is insulated, roofed and sided with.  If your house has aluminum siding or metal foil-backed insulation, or has a metal roof, and any of these materials comes between the antenna and the signal, the signal will be either blocked entirely or significantly reduced.  Also, if your attic contains power lines and/or air conditioning equipment, these can cause further problems with signal reception.

I have more than one TV set in my home, can I hook all of them up to the same rooftop antenna? 

Certainly.  Depending on the number of sets that you want to hook up, you will need to buy the appropriate number of splitters and possibly an amplifier.  In general, the antenna will need to pull down enough signal to overcome the loss from the splitters and the downlead cable from your roof.  

If I am having problems with TV reception, will it help to use an amplifier with my antenna?
Not necessarily.  Amplifiers raise the strength of a signal in order to overcome signal loss due to equipment such as the downlead cable and splitters.  Amplifiers do not improve the quality of the original signal.

Will an antenna that I purchase today work when TV stations start broadcasting in digital?
Probably.  The antenna you buy now will work for the analog signal now being broadcast, and should also receive the digital signal of the future.  But, keep in mind that stations’ digital signals will be on different channels than their analog broadcasts.