It can be very frustrating and stressful to try to connect to the internet to work on the computer or watch a television program only to have the signal strength continually interfere with reception. Yet this happens every day in households all around the nation. Calling the wireless or television provider is often equally frustrating, as many are prone to blame another provider rather than work with you to troubleshoot and fix the problem.
If you have ever set up a television or WiFi antenna by pointing the antenna straight up towards the sky and then wondered why you weren’t getting good signal, it is time for a refresher in antenna alignment. In this post, learn 4 facts you can teach your parents (and use yourself) to ensure your antenna is aligned to best effect.
Fact 1: Capture better reception with an L-shaped position.
The easiest way to visualize this type of antenna placement is by visualizing your two antennae forming a capital “L” shape.
With one antenna pointed skyward and the other forming a 90 degree angle to the first, there is the greatest possibility that the WiFi router will capture the most radio waves, leading to the strongest internet signal and the clearest reception.
Fact 2: Locate the signal tower and point the antenna in that direction.
If it is possible to get a visual confirmation of the cell tower’s location, then signal strength can be maximized by pointing both antennae directly towards that tower. If you can’t see the tower from your location, you can get a hint by looking to see what direction the antennae on nearby structures are pointing towards.
This method will only work, however, if there are no large obstructions, such as hi-rise buildings, hills or other structures that could interrupt, weaken or otherwise interfere with direct reception from the cell tower. This also works best if the antenna you are using is a directional antenna.
Fact 3: Be sure your antenna is optimized for your needs.
As with all technology products, there are many different types of antenna to choose from. Directional antennas, for example, need to be pointed in a particular direction in order to pick up signal. Multi-directional antennas, in contrast, will work better when all towers are located farther from the source.
Amplified antennas work better when all sources are far away (as do longer antennas), but they may not work well when some towers are quite close. There is no surefire way to determine what type of antenna will work best other than trial-and-error by trying out a few antenna types to see what gives the clearest reception, according to Sunsight Alignment Solutions.
Fact 4: The highest possible placement is considered ideal.
There is actually a reason why so many structures are sporting antennas on the roof. As it turns out, when it comes to an antenna’s ability to pick up signal, a higher placement is nearly always better, as is an outdoor placement if that is an option.
If an outdoor placement is not an option, then aim for the highest indoor placement you can manage and the nearest to a window if possible. In either case, you should also be willing to try out a few different locations just in case there are any materials or objects that may interfere with signal reception.
Since many of these tips rely on locating the nearest cell tower (for WiFi) or broadcast tower (for television) in your local area, it can also help to know which tools may assist you in this task. The FCC makes maps available for this purpose.
If you have just moved to a new area or a new home, it can take some experimenting with both antenna models and antenna placement to find the best combination to maximize reception. By using the free tools listed here to identify the nearest signal towers and studying the type of antenna best suited to your needs, you can help your parents (or yourself) to enjoy the best possible reception for browsing the internet and watching your favorite television programs.