Digital TV Reception Factors Tower Locator Antennas Amplifiers Cables Installation Frequency Networks

OTA DTv Television Antennas

PAGE CONTENTS-- Bands | Gain | Indoor Antennas | Outdoor Antennas | UHF Antennas | Multi-Directional

Most antenna's are directional and must be pointed in the signal direction for best reception. Antenna's can pickup signals from all directions, but signals out of the main beam are greatly reduced compared to signals in the main beam.

Indoor antennas may be sufficient for receiving full power broadcast less than about 20 or 25 miles away, if there is a relatively clear line-of-sight (see Reception / Indoor Signal Loss). Attic mounted antennas will have greater range, but there is at least a 3 dB loss compared to outside antennas. Outside antennas work the best, but are more difficult to install and should be properly grounded for best reception and safety (see Installation). A preamp mounted on or close to the antenna will extend range in most cases (see Amplifiers).

The higher the antenna is above ground level, the greater the signal density. The higher the antenna is above ground clutter, the lower the signal loss.

Antenna size is proportional to wavelength. UHF antennas are smaller than VHF antennas because UHF wavelengths are shorter. UHF wavelengths vary from 1 to 2 feet, VHF varies from 5 to 17 feet. A VHF/UHF antenna is actually 2 separate antennas built into one. The smaller UHF elements are built-in or around the larger VHF elements, and the UHF and VHF signals are combined then routed to the output connector. Additionally, the VHF gain is typically less than the UHF gain.

Television antennas are designed to receive up to 3 frequency bands; VHF-Lo, VHF-Hi, and UHF. Most stations are in the UHF band, and most areas have at least one VHF station. Antennas on the market are available in 4 common configurations.

Frequency Band
Band RF
VHF-Lo 2 - 6 54 - 88
VHF-Hi 7 - 13 174 - 216
UHF 14 - 69 470 - 806
VHF RF 2 - 13
UHF none none RF 14 - 69
VHF-Hi / UHF RF 7 - 69
VHF / UHF RF 2 - 69

VHF and VHF/UHF antennas will also pickup FM radio (just above RF 6), aircraft voice (AM), amateur radio, police, fire, ambulance, business, public services.

Also see TV broadcast Frequency.

antenna coverage ANTENNA GAIN AND BEAM

The larger the antenna the more signal captured and;

Gains vary with antenna and frequency from around 2 to 15 dBi (0 to 13 dBD). Range doubles for a 6 dB gain increase.

Antenna Gain dBi
Indoor Antenna 2 to 4
Moderate Gain 5 to 10
High Gain 11 to 15

Antenna gain is measured in dBi or dBD. Manufacturer's use a standard dipole antenna to measure gain in dBD. The dBi unit is used for calculations. Be suspicious of antenna gain expressed in "dB", this can mean anything. Also see Reception / Antenna Gain Calculator.

dBi = dBD + 2.15
dBD = dBi - 2.15
dBi - decibels (dB's) compared to a lossless isotropic radiator.
dBD - dB's compared to a standard half wave dipole antenna with a gain of +2.15 dBi.

Antenna beam width varies from less than 30° for a high gain antenna, to 120° for some indoor antenna. At the beam edge gain is down by - 3 dB, and drops rapidly past the edge. Also see Reception Factors / Beam Loss.

Antenna Gain Patterns
Horizontal Angles at 0° Vertical

Indoor Antenna Pattern Moderate Gain Antenna Pattern High Gain Antenna Pattern

Indoor antenna gain varies from about 2 to 4 dBi without a preamp. Gain is proportional to physical area (square inches).

Indoor Antennas (VHF / UHF)
40 in2
70 in2
75 in2
135 in2
155 in2
90 in2, ultra thin

Manufacturer antenna published ranges are based on a Full Power station, 1000 kW for UHF and 185 kW for VHF signals. Antenna gain can roughly be approximated from range.

20 3 dBi
30 6 dBi
35 8 dBi
40 9 dBi
45 10 dBi
50 11 dBi
60 12 dBi
65 13 dBi
75 14 dBi
85 15 dBi

Outdoor Antennas (VHF / UHF)
30 Miles
35 Miles
45 Miles
UHF 70, VHF 25 Mi

75 Miles
14.1 dBi
Preamp, 70 Miles
Preamp, 85 Miles

Outdoor UHF Antennas
45 Miles
60 Miles
60 Miles
70 Miles
70 Miles
Preamp, 80 Miles


Distant and spread out broadcast headings may require multiple antennas, an omni directional (360° coverage) antenna, or a rotor antenna. Multiple antenna systems have greater losses (see Installation Section) and limited angle headings. Omni antennas require a preamp to compensate for low gain (wide beam). A rotor system has the advantage of good gain and full 360° coverage, a disadvantage is it takes time changing angles. Most rotor antennas have a built-in amplifier.

Outdoor Multi Directional Antennas
Omni / Preamp
Omni / Preamp
Rotor, 60 Miles
Rotor / Preamp
Rotor Only


Digital TV Reception Factors Tower Locator Antennas Amplifiers Cables Installation Frequency Networks

Television Antennas
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