How Do TV Antenna Boosters Work?

by Nellie Day ; Updated September 28, 2017

Strengthening TV Signals

A typical television antenna can only work so hard because its range can only go so far. By adding a television antenna booster, you are essentially providing your television with a more powerful antenna with which to bring in a television signal. This is because the beam width of the antenna has been significantly strengthened thanks to the booster.

These devices work best when the antenna's output is plugged directly into the booster, according to Motorola, a manufacturer of television signal boosters.

The National Association of Broadcasters and PBS agree that boosters are most effective when they are connected directly to the antenna before any additional line or VHF/UHF (very high frequency or ultra-high frequency) splitters are added. This applies both to television antennas installed inside the house and those installed on the roof. In either case the booster needs to be installed as close to the antenna's base as possible.

The National Association of Broadcasters and PBS also note that the best reception is usually obtained when an antenna is installed as high as possible, ideally on the roof. However, boosters can still be effective when installed on indoor television antennas.

To install a booster on an indoor antenna you simply plug its power cord into the wall before placing the antenna's output into the booster's corresponding outlet. Outdoor antenna boosters must be mounted onto the base pole of the antenna. They typically include a U-shaped rod and bolts that securely fasten the booster around the pole's base.

The electrical cord, which may require an extension cord, will plug into an outlet, while the antenna's output cord will attach to the booster. An electrical current filters through the television antenna booster and captures the signal from nearby television antenna towers.

Advantages

By capturing and amplifying the signal, a television antenna booster is able to clear up a lot of issues that people have with their televisions. It can make a picture more clear and sound more crisp. As long as the signal remains intact, it can also alleviate any problems with a jumpy picture or spotty signal strength.

Note, however, that in times of bad weather or if a television antenna tower is damaged, the booster will not be able to do much, as the actual signal may be interrupted.

Size is also an advantage when it comes to antenna boosters. Outside boosters are typically between four and six inches long, making them hardly noticeable so high up. Indoor boosters are typically six to 12 inches long. They can sit on top of the television or VCR/DVD player.

How They Do Not Work

Many people believe that if they have no or extremely poor television reception that a television antenna booster will solve their problems.

However, this may not be so. A television antenna booster can only strengthen the current signal. This means that if your actual signal is extremely poor, or if you have no signal at all, the television antenna booster will not be able to do much to help the situation.

This is similar to a cell phone and a cell phone booster, in that if you're in an area with little to no reception, the cell phone booster will not be able to provide reception.

About the Author

Nellie Day is a freelance writer based out of Hermosa Beach, Calif. Her work can regularly be seen on newsstands, where her specialties include weddings, real estate, food and wine, pets, electronics, architecture and design, business and travel. Day earned a master's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California.