Step 2. Selecting the proper signal amplification for rural TV reception.
Once the proper antenna is selected for rural TV reception the next step in the process is signal amplification. Proper signal amplification is more important than most people realize. The first thing to understand is this. Signal amplifiers do not make the antenna work better. Proper signal amplification cause the reception to be better but the performance of the antenna remains the same. The function of signal amplification is to boost the signal the antenna is producing enough to compensate for any signal loss created by getting the signal from the antenna to the TV(s). This includes the length of coax cable between the antenna and TV(s) and signal splitters.
Here are a few things that everyone should be aware of when it comes to signal amplification.
- You can't amplify a signal into existence that the antenna is not receiving.
- Too much signal amplification can be just as bad for reception as not enough.
- Signal amplifiers are not created equal.
There are two specifications you should look at when selecting a signal amplifier.
- The amount of signal amplification produced by the amplifier.
- The amount of "noise" added to the signal during the amplification process.
The amount of signal amplification a signal amplifier produces is referred to as "signal gain". The gain of the amplifier is measured in decibles (dB). The higher the gain number the more amplification the amplifier produces.
The "noise" figure is also measure in decibles (dB). the lower the "noise" figure is the better. For TV reception in rural areas the amount of "noise" produced by the amplifier becomes a critical factor.
Below are my recommendations for signal amplification for rural TV reception in weak signal areas.
When supplying 1 TV or 2 TVs using a 2 way signal splitter I recommend the LNA 200 preamplifier. This preamplifier produces 18 dB of signal gain with an ultra low 1 dB noise level. Signal splitter cause signal loss. The more times the splitter divides the signal the greater the signal loss becomes. This is not a bad thing as long as proper signal amplification is in use. Remenber the amplifiers function is to get the signal from the antenna to the TV(s) without loosing signal strength while adding minimal noise to the signal.
Proper signal amplification is pretty simple. In the example above there is a 2 way signal splitter inline. The 2 way splitter causes a 3.5 dB signal loss when inserted inline. It doesn't matter if the second port of the splitter is connected to anything, or it the TV is on or off, the signal loss still occurs. It's called "insertion loss".
Now consider the coax cable from the antenna to the TV. Using a quality solid copper RG 6 coax cable a 100 foot length of coax cable will cause as much as 6 dB of signal loss. More if an inferior coax cable is in use.
A rule of thumb for best performance is the best performance is obtained when the signal amplification in use is 5 dB to 10 dB greater than the loss that occurs between the antenna and TV(s).
Lets add up the signal loss from the example above.
100 feet of RG 6 solid copper coax cable 6 dB. Figure 1 dB of signal loss per 16 feet.
One 2 way signal splitter 3.5 dB.
Total 9.5 dB of signal loss between the antenna and TV.
The LNA 200 preamplifier provides 18 dB of gain resulting in a plus 8.5 dB. That's perfect for the best possible TV reception in rural areas.
When supplying 3 to as many as 8 TVs in rural reception areas in addition to the LNA 200 preamplifier I recommend the LNA 100 ultra low noise signal distribution amplifier. This unit provides 20 dB of signal gain with only 1 dB of noise. The LNA 100 installs inline just before the signal splitter on the antenna side of the splitter.