The Best HDTV Antenna for Rural Areas

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The TV antenna you use in a rural area depends on the distance from the nearby cities and the terrain between. There is no distinction between standard and high-definition antennas, and usually cities transmit both VHF and UHF signals. So your selection depends mostly on your physical location with reference to the nearest cities. No single antenna choice will cover all rural situations.

Location

  • Because television signals decrease in power as they travel, the farther away from a city, the lower the power of the signals available in the air. Because TV signals tend to travel in straight lines, hills or mountains may block signals from the closest city, reducing signals more from some directions than others. Some rural locations may be so isolated from signals that you can't pick up any at all. Since you can't be sure, check the return policy and keep the receipt for any antenna you buy. If none work, a satellite dish may be your best solution.

Dipole Theory

  • A dipole antenna has two elements much like rabbit ears. Adding more dipoles to an antenna by stacking them vertically or horizontally increases the gain or amount of signal it can pull out of the air. The more dipoles stacked in a single antenna, the more gain it will have. Dipole antennas tend to be omni-directional, meaning they pick up signals from all directions. Manufacturers attempt to design the highest gain possible, but are limited by weight and wind-loading conditions to build a safe antenna. Use a dipole arrangement to pick up signals from different directions.

Directional Antennas

  • If you are located near a single city that has broadcast stations, a directional antenna may be a wiser choice. It has more gain than a dipole, but only in a specific direction. Different designs have a wider angle of reception, called the beamwidth. Some cities have a nearby hill upon which several stations have transmitters. If your city has such a hill, a directional antenna with a narrow beamwidth pointed directly at it may pick up all the stations. Without the hill, try a wider bandwidth directional antenna pointed at the city.

Combinations

  • You may use a combination of dipole and directional antennas to pick up as many stations as you can. If you connect them together, you may get ghosts from both picking up the same signal. But you can use a switch to allow only one antenna to be connected at a time. The height of the antenna should be reasonable and safe, but the higher the better. Try the attic first and then the roof. You may also install it on a nearby hill. If considering a tower, consult an engineer or licensed contractor to be safe.

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