If you Live in the City or in an Apartment and are considering cutting the cord and moving to antenna based TV that is supplemented with online content then you have probably tried to hook a low-end Antenna to your TV and had varied results.
The problem is although you might have great signal to your area due to the proximity of the TV Towers in your area the actual signal that can get to your television can be limited by a number of things.
The first thing you want to do when considering an antenna for your TV is hit a website like www.TVFool.com and do a search of available stations in your area.
If you do a basic search you are likely to come back with really great signals on a bunch of stations. But when you plugin your $10 antenna you picked up at the discount store you find that maybe you might get 10% of the stations you should.
When looking at your TVFool Report it is important to not only look at the DB Levels that show signal strength but to also look at the type of signal they are reporting.
Normally the best signals of 40DB or above are on LOS or Line Of Sight signals. That means if you were to mount your antenna and point it in the direction of the TV Towers and then position a telescope in the same direction you should be able to see the TV Tower… no actually you probably can’t see it with a normal telescope but thats the idea there should be NO obstructions of any type for LOS signals.
When you move your antenna inside your home you are creating an obstruction between your antenna and the TV Tower… whats worse is when you are in an apartment on the opposite side of the building and the Tower is East from your home but your only window points West.
Some apartments or condos will give you an optional outlet for a shared rooftop antenna. Its pretty rare but when the owner of the building is nice and they want to reduce tenants installing their own antennas they install one for you.
If you don’t have this option then in some cases trying to get TV Signal that is reported as excellent to your location may never happen no matter what antenna you install.
So you can live in the city and have worse signal than if you live in the suburbs and the only thing you can do is improve your ability to receive signal.
Now the FCC Says that every tenant should be allowed to install a TV Antenna. Unfortunately this is not always the case. You can find yourself fighting to the point its useless. Optionally you can move and when you do I suggest you test your TV in the exact apartment you are looking to rent.
The realistic thing to do is to buy a better antenna.
There are a number of antenna designs out there but for one that is inside your home you are probably going to do best with a flat panel antenna that is rated for 35 miles or farther and then if that does not work you can move to amplified antennas of the same design.
There are a number of makers out there and you should research them individually. Look at the remarks from people who have bought them on the shopping site and then hit a website like YouTube and search for the exact model you want to buy. Then once you find someone with one make sure they are in the same type of setting as you are in.
This is true if you are living in a high rise apartment made of concrete and steel which will block you like you live in a cave … or if you are living 50 miles from the city. You need to find people that own the same model and who are in the same or similar conditions. And if you are lucky send them a message. If they went to the effort to leave a feedback or make a video they would likely be willing to answer a simple question or two.
So, that really is your best bet. You probably don’t want to go with large antennas in your apartment because thats not going to work out and you don’t want anything that is rated for external or roof top.
How to position your antenna in your Apartment
This is really key to getting signal in the city. You may find that your apartment is on the wrong side of the building to get direct line of sight with the towers but if you have a window you may be able to pickup signal by looking for reflections off buildings that are near you.
You will probably first try just pointing the antenna straight out the window or putting it on the wall.
Next if that wont work point it up in the air and finally try to point it at a near building on an upward angle and see if you get reflected signals.
If you do get reflected signals you probably won’t be able to count on them in harsh weather conditions or even at sun up and sun down when the reflection of light hitting the building or object can interfere with reception.
Basically try your best and try every direction you can. You may find that pointing the antenna straight down when its taped to the ceiling of your bedroom gets you decent signal.. and again that has to do with reflective signals.
But don’t give up.
Amplified Antennas for people in Apartments and the City
Amplification in close proximity to towers should be shied away from. What ends up happening is you will have one really good signal in your lineup but a bunch you can’t get so you try to use an amplifier.
What results is that one good signal blows out all the other signals and you wind up with nothing.
Many many times I have talked with people that can’t understand why the amplifier on the antenna they just bought causes them to get worse signal than the one they had already.
This is the reason…
However as a last ditch effort you can try an amplifier if you keep that in mind. You might get amazing signal on 9 out of 10 stations but that 1 station that use to come in ok with the cheap antenna is now gone.. thats why.
Move out of the City.. Honestly if you don’t need to live there then you should move. Cities are a real pain to live in. They also cost a lot.
But the real question I have is .. why is someone living in NYC or another such place and paying $5,000 a month on an apartment trying to save $200 on their cable bill?
Yeah that makes no sense at all so I am guessing you are either in rent control or something of the like… and if not consider moving 3 miles outside the city and paying half what you do now in rent and everything else and then you will have the money to buy a cable package with every channel in the world and gigabit internet…