As all installations are different, these are generalized steps and provide a solid idea of the tools and issues involved with setting up an antenna for outdoors. As you’ll see, it’s not a complicated task but it’ll take some medium DIY skills and an awareness of safety risks when going up on your roof. The easiest part will be assembling the antenna, which you should do beforehand (and many antennas come pre assembled these days). Some antenna models may only require you to extend and lock the dipoles into place, and that’s it. Others may require you to use a screwdriver to attach the various elements to the frame. Probably the most challenging task will be running the coaxial cable from the antenna down through your house and to your TV. If you’re not comfortable with this, I’d recommend finding a professional – texnikoi tileoraseon – to set things up for you.
Lastly, be sure to read the antenna instructions before you start the installation to anticipate any surprises. Whatever obstacles you encounter on the way to cutting the cord, remember to keep a cool head and don’t rush to finish everything.
How Much Does It Cost to Install a TV Antenna?
When installing a TV antenna, you’ll basically pay for the hardware. The antenna itself and any parts shipped with it. Dιy’s won’t spend a dime on labour of course. But hiring a professional to do a proper job will probably cost the equivalent of around two to three months of your cable bill.
Asking for Assistance
Even if you don’t call a professional, I recommend asking one or two other people to assist with the installation. Besides helping with the installation itself, another person such as a spouse, friend, or neighbour can stand by the TV and give feedback on the number and quality of channels you’re getting as you orient the antenna in different directions.
Know the Specifications of Your TV
Before installing an antenna, you should first take a look at your TV. Now there are real TVs, and then there are “kinda sorta” TVs. Don’t be fooled by these latter types; they have big screens and look like TVs on the outside, but they’re missing a crucial part for usage with an antenna:a digital (ATSC) tuner. A digital tuner receives the signal from your antenna (in digital format) and converts it to analogue picture and sound for your television.
How to Tell it’s Not a True Television
Older televisions (manufactured prior to 2009) are often missing this critical piece. Also, some modern “displays” (so-called cable-ready TVs) are missing both tuners and coaxial cable inputs (F-types or F connectors). Often you can tell these by the fact the product name doesn’t contain the word “television.” Basically, these are no different than computer monitors.
If your TV doesn’t have a built-in tuner, or was manufactured prior to 2009, then you’ll need a converter or set-top box. This device usually sits on or near your TV, and will basically act as your external digital tuner. You’ll plug the coaxial cable from the antenna right into this box. From there, you’ll run a cable from the box to your TV set. Most converter boxes have HDMI or coaxial cable outputs so make sure your television has matching inputs. Besides having a digital tuner, converter boxes have features such as:
- An electronic programming guide of available TV channels
- Recording and playback of TV shows
- Parental control, etc.
What You Need to Install an Outdoor TV Antenna
Every antenna installation is different, and that’s why it’s hard to give a standardized list of tools and parts.
Such a list would depend on:
- Where you’re planning to install it, such as on the roof or side of the house. If you intend to mount it in the attic, check out my article on attic installations.
- How you’re setting it up. For example, whether you’ll be connecting several TVs to the antenna, using the same cable as a previous satellite dish installation, or running a new cable down through the house to the TV, etc.
Most outdoor antenna installations will require a ladder. If most of your work will involve standing on the ladder, I’d recommend wearing a tool belt for holding parts and tools you’ll be needing. It’ll be better than clambering up and down the ladder to retrieve extra screws.
Tools and Parts: The Ultimate Antenna Installation Checklist
Below you’ll find the checklist of items that most antenna installations will require:
- Antenna mast: The mast can be either manufacturer supplied or purchased separately, a simple PVC pipe from your local hardware store. While dedicated antenna masts are usually aluminium and durable, don’t underestimate the stability of PVC if you’re thinking of saving money.
- Base mount: If mounting the antenna on the surface of your roof, you should get either a base mount or a tripod. A base mount holds the antenna mast. Many manufacturer-supplied masts include base mounts. If using PVC pipe you can buy a swivel mount separately. Just ensure the mount’s diameter matches that of the pipe.
- Guy wires for securing the mast: For a mast that’s fixed by a base mount (rather than wall brackets), and that’s several feet in length (especially if over 10 feet long), you might consider using guy wires made of galvanized steel, as a swaying antenna can disturb TV reception.
- Wall bracket or chimney mount strap: This allows you to attach an antenna mast to the side of your house, or your chimney respectively. Depending on whether the mast is ground based or not, you may need several wall brackets to hold the mast securely to the side of the house.
- U-bolts for securing the antenna to a mast: Usually two of these will be supplied with any outdoor antenna. These also come with a bracket and screws for easy mounting.
- Sealants: You’ll need to apply various kinds of sealants to waterproof any openings or holes drilled during the installation. Examples include silicone caulk, roofing tar, and moisture-proof sealing tape.
- Extra coaxial cable: Although some antennas ship with a coaxial cable, these are usually of poorer quality than you can buy yourself. I recommend having extra RG6 coaxial cable around in case you need to run it further than anticipated, or for replacing a damaged segment (see below for the types of cable I recommend).
- Coaxial cable compression fittings: These are metal fittings that “cap” a coaxial cable, allowing you to plug it in to device connectors.
- Compass for orienting the antenna: Once you’ve set up the antenna, you’ll use a compass for getting the correct orientation towards transmission towers. For this task you can also use a smartphone compass app.
- A carpenter’s level tool: If you’ve set up the antenna on a mast, you should use a level tool to ensure the mast is perfectly vertical, as reception might be affected otherwise.
- Power drill
- Adjustable wrench
- Roofing screws
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