We sell, install and service off air antenna systems. These are traditional TV antennas that have been in popular use since the 1940’s. Today these antennas receive a digital TV signal (DTV) broadcast by the television networks. In the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex all the major networks and independant television stations broadcast their DTV signals from transmission towers on Belt Line Road in Cedar Hill. Almost all residents within a 100 mile radius of those towers can receive broadcasts from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, WB, UPN and several independant networks with a properly installed antenna. There are a number of advantages to local DTV broadcasts:
- They are FREE! Stop paying your cable or satellite provider for local channels!
- DTV is much higher quality than the old analog TV broadcasts. Poor analog TV reception is what put the cable and satellite companies in business in the first place. Now you can receive local network programming in crystal clear digital quality without annoying interference.
- High Definition TV (HDTV) is available on DTV. If you have a High Definition (HD) TV set, you will see a vastly improved image.
- DTV includes Digital Audio as well, in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound format. The old analog TV broadcasts had a very poor quality stereo audio signal. Now you can get true discreet multi-channel surround sound to go with the improved picture of DTV.
- DTV is not subject to “rain fade” like satellite TV. DTV signals are broadcast in a much lower frequency band than satellite signals. These signals are not absorbed by water in the atmosphere like the microwave signals from satellites.
- DTV is higher quality HDTV than cable or satellite TV. Cable and satellite companies compress the signal from the broadcasters, with a resulting loss in image and sound quality.
Do I need a “digital” antenna?
No. There is no such thing as a digital antenna. The digital TV signal is modulated to an analog signal for broadcast and reception by your analog antenna. It is demodulated back to a digital signal in your digital TV receiver. Any antenna that worked for analog television will work for digital television.
How many channels can I get?
Most locations in the DFW area can receive 60 or more channels. To find out how many you can receive, start here. Enter your street address and zip code and you will see a list of channels you can receive. Some broadcasters use sub-channels. For example WFAA has a main channel and two sub-channels (8.1, 8.2 and 8.3) so it shows up on your TV scan as 3 channels even though all three are broadcast in one channel location.
What size antenna do I need?
It depends on your location. The website antennaweb.org will show you a prediction of what size antenna you need. In general, the farther away from the transmitters you are, the larger the antenna will be. The lowest frequency (longest wavelength) channel in the DFW area is channel 8. A dipole antenna for channel 8 is about 35 inches wide. Any antenna that doesn’t have an element of at least 35″ probably won’t do very well in this market.
Do I need an antenna rotator?
Not in the DFW area. We are very lucky that all the TV transmitters are located in a small area on Belt Line Road in Cedar Hill. From almost any location in our area your antenna will only need to point in one direction. This is another reason why you can usually install your antenna in your attic.
Do I need a booster or preamplifier?
Maybe. A properly sized and installed antenna has enough signal to drive at least one TV and usually can be split to drive 2 to 4 TVs. If you want to connect more TVs than the antenna signal can handle, then a preamplifier will take care of that.
My Home Owners Association won’t let me install an outside antenna. What can I do?
The FCC has ruled that homeowners have the right to install a reasonable antenna for TV reception. Federal law trumps HOA rules. You can get a copy of the FCC ruling on their web site and show it to your HOA. Most homeowners in the DFW area can install their antenna in their attic, which avoids this issue, but outside installations are permitted by the federal government.
Where do you install the antenna?
About 95% of the time we install the antenna in your attic. Out of the weather, it will last much longer than an outdoor antenna. We have seen attic antennas that were installed 65 years ago that still work just fine today.
Doesn’t the roof stop a lot of the TV signal?
Yes, most roofs stop about half of the broadcast TV signal. Fortunately most homes in the DFW area receive a very strong signal so that the half of the signal that makes it to the antenna is still more than enough for reliable TV reception. Unlike the old analog TV signals, a stronger digital TV signal does not make the picture look better.
I have radiant barrier under my roof. Can I still install an antenna in my attic?
Maybe. Radiant barrier stops most of the TV signal. However sometimes there are areas in the attic that don’t have radiant barrier. Radiant barrier is part of your roof sheathing. If you have wall sheathing in your attic, like on a gable end, it won’t have radiant barrier on it. If you can point your antenna through this wall sheathing it will work just fine. Dormer windows are another place you locate an antenna. They have to be conveniently located looking toward the transmitters however.