Get the best performance out of your attic mounted HDTV antenna.
Before you install Determine the following:
- Are some TV signals too weak to be received with an attic mounted TV antenna?
- What building materials will the TV signal have to penetrate to reach the antenna?
- Is there enough space in the attic for a suitably sized TV antenna?
- How much signal will be lost when compared to mounting the antenna outside?
- How to select the best TV antenna for my attic.
Building materials play a big role in determining the success of an attic mounted TV antenna. A while back I connected a TV antenna to my field strength meter. A field strength meter measures the signal strength of any individual TV signal. I grabbed a piece of 7/8" OSB particle board and tested the signal strength of several TV channels without the board in front of the TV antenna. Then I placed the board at a distance of about 6 feet in front of the antenna. I found that on every channel the signal strength decreased from as little as 10% to as much 30% with the board in front of the antenna. The closer I moved the board to the antenna the weaker the signal became, as I moved it further away the signals became stronger. Keep this in mind when placing the antenna in the attic. The further you can keep the antenna from any signal obstruction in front of the antenna the better.
Do you have a metal, brick, masonry or tile roof? If the station transmitter direction requires the signal to penetrate any of these materials your chances of success are diminished. However, if the TV transmitter direction allows the signal to penetrate through wood, common roofing or vinyl siding to reach the antenna you should be okay. A plywood roof covered by a single layer of asphalt shingles is best. Many homes have a 2-3 foot wide metal stripping that can't be seen installed under the roof shingles at the bottom edge of the roof. Always install the antenna above this point so the transmitter signal line of sight to the antenna is above or below the metal stripping.
Do the attic sidewalls have metal siding, foil faced insulation, brick, or masonry of any kind? All of these materials are nasty signal blockers. It;s best to try to place the antenna in a position so the line of sight from the TV transmitters to the antenna is not block by any of the above mentioned materials.
Signal loss attic installation VS. outside. By now you know that the building materials are a big factor. TV antenna elevation will also play a role in signal strength. The extra antenna elevation that can be gained by mounting the antenna outside above the roof line must be considered. Weaker TV signals and TV signals from a greater distance will be effected most by antenna elevation. Will the extra outside elevation place the antenna above surrounding signal obstructions such as neighbors homes, hills etc.
However, the the biggest factor in determining your success may be the attic gremlin. Several years back I installed an antenna in a customer's attic. They and I were tickled with the reception results. A short time later the neighbor of this customer called and requested the same work be done at their home. Both homes were new construction and located within 250 feet of each other Both homes were two story and are constructed of the same materials by the same building contractor built within a couple of months of each other. Both were surrounded by several miles of open farm land and the antennas in each attic were within a foot or two of elevation of each other. Do you think I could get the second customer's antenna to work in the attic. I tried relocating the antenna to several locations within the attic. I tried a different antenna and nothing worked. I couldn't see any reception factors that would make this difference yet I couldn't achieve acceptable TV reception. I took the same antenna that failed in the attic outside on the roof about 4 feet above where it was located in the attic. The difference was amazing it was almost like flipping a switch. To this day I can't tell you why this happened. I'm sure there's a good reason but I just blame it on attic gremlins. Don't be too worried about the attic gremlin. They're rare and usually aren't a problem.
How to select the best TV antenna and equipment. The first thing to understand is that a TV antenna of the same kind will always work at least a little better mounted outside above your roof line. In certain areas it's possible that some incoming TV signals may be too weak to be received with an attic mounted TV antenna but can be received with the same antenna mounted outside. However, that doesn't mean you can't have success with the antenna mounted in your attic. The first thing I suggest is that you visit the Digital TV Antenna Selector or submit a TV antenna recommendation form. This will help you determine the correct TV antenna and equipment for your location. Consider the topics above and if everything seems favorable for success then by all means mount the TV antenna in your attic.
Note: TV antennas mounted in the attic are more likely to benefit from the installation of a signal preamplifier or a distribution amplifier located near the antenna. The signal amplifier can help offset some of the effects of the attic. All Winegard preamplifier's and distribution amplifier we offer can be powered from below via the coax cable if an electrical outlet is unavailable in the attic.
The biggest mistake made when selecting a TV antenna for attic installation is selecting an antenna that's too small and inadequate to do the job. If the antenna best suited for your location is too large for the attic space available it is best to go outside with the antenna. Too many people down size the antenna just so it will fit in the attic and that's a mistake. If a high signal gain (powerful) antenna is required to meet the reception requirements of your particular location I suggest you take a look at the HD Stacker antenna. The HD Stacker antenna unique design at just 70" long allows it to perform as well as antennas that are 12 plus feet long. If your attic space won't allow an antenna the size of the HD Stacker take a look at the EZ HD antenna. Inch for inch both antennas outperform any competitors antenna.