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How to test the signal strength of TV air antennas

Updated April 17, 2017

Proper TV antenna placement is essential to having the best possible viewing experience when cable or satellite television is not an option for your home or business. One of the best investments you can make to ensure picture quality is a field meter, used to test signal strength. Though somewhat costly, this device accurately determines the best height and location for the antenna that delivers the signal to your TV, and is relatively easy to use.

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  1. Wearing sturdy shoes and carrying a small, battery operated TV, climb to the roof.

  2. Set the TV in a location that you can see the picture and turn it on. Attach one end of the transmission line to the antenna receptor, and the other to the input jack of the field meter.

  3. Point the antenna toward the transmitter tower from your local stations. Slowly turn the antenna, watching the meter and the TV as you do. When both the meter is at it's highest reading and the TV is showing a clear picture, you have found the best signal strength for your location.

  4. Tip

    Each field meter has its own set of explicit instructions, though these are the basic steps they all follow. Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully. You can skip using the TV on the roof, relying solely on the meter measurement, but having the picture available will ensure that you're getting the best results.


    Never climb a roof without another person present.

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Things You'll Need

  • TV antenna and mast
  • Small battery operated TV
  • Transmission line
  • Field strength meter

About the Author

Shereen Skola is a freelance writer with a wide range of publication credits. She holds a BS in Journalism from UMass-Amherst. Skola specializes in writing scripts for radio, web, and television, as well as providing voiceover services for dozens of clients nationwide. She draws from a long, 16 year career in radio broadcasting for her marketing and public relations expertise, and is considered an expert in these fields.

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