Ideally, getting a television up and running is as simple as connecting the antenna or satellite cable to the back of the TV. Realistically, a bit more work may be necessary before every channel comes in without static. Other tools can be used for protecting your televisions from power surges, extending the signal, and more.

TV Antenna Booster/Amplifier

Boosters/amplifiers are fairly self-explanatory; they make a signal stronger. Many amplifiers today are line-powered, meaning they receive power from the coax cable they are connected to. Make sure to check whether the coax cable being used transmits power; most modern coax cables do, but when working with older cables that may not be the case. If using a non-powered line, make sure to select an amplifier with a separate cord for plugging into a wall outlet.

Antenna signals and satellite have different frequency ratings and amplifiers can cover different ranges, measured in MegaHertz (MHz). Antenna signals typically run from 5 to 900 MHz. Satellite signals are in the range of 950 to 2350 MHz. When selecting an amplifier, check the frequency range it covers to see if it works with antenna, satellite, or both.

When a booster is being installed, it should be placed as close to the signal source (antenna or satellite dish) as possible. Many boosters are outdoor rated, so if possible the ideal placement is on the roof right next to the antenna/satellite dish. If the roof is not an option, shoot for wherever the cable comes into the building, like in an attic. Boosters will still work when installed somewhere else, just not as well.

TV Coax Attenuators

Attenuators have two main functions, the first of which is acting as a surge protector. Coax lines do transmit electricity and can damage a television during power surges. This can be just as damaging as electricity coming through a power cable, whether that comes from a problem with the electrical grid or lightning striking a house. By having an attenuator on the coax line, electrical damage to the television can be avoided should the worst happen.

The other main feature of an attenuator is acting as a signal dampener. It is possible for a television signal to be too strong, which can cause as many problems as a signal that is too weak. An overpowered TV signal is too much of a good thing; TVs are only built to handle signals up to a certain level of strength. When that becomes an issue, attaching an attenuator is a simple fix to the problem.

TV Coax Diplexers

Diplexers are used when an antenna and satellite signal both need to go into the same television. Most TVs only have one spot for a coax cable, which normally forces users to reach behind the TV and swap the cables when switching between antenna and satellite stations. A diplexer fixes this issue by taking both the antenna and satellite cables as inputs and running a single cable to the TV as an output. Combining both lines into a single coax makes for a much easier TV watching experience.

TV Coax Grounding Blocks

Grounding blocks are a common tool for protecting televisions from power surges. The block attaches to the coax cable and then connected to something else, such as a grounding rod, that can run electricity into the ground during a power surge, lightning strike, etc. Grounding blocks can have different MHz ratings, so make sure to select one that will work with either antenna or satellite depending on which you are using.

HDTV Antennas

TV antennas can be fickle things, especially old antennas that have been up on the roof for the past 30 years. Newer antennas are built for HDTV signals, more compact, and can even be controlled with a small remote. The remote allows the antenna to spin around, letting users reposition it to pick up TV signals better without having to climb up onto the roof. There are also flat antennas that can be mounting to the side of a home for easy access. They can even be put inside of a home instead of leaving them outdoors.

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TV Coax Taps

Taps are fairly similar to coax splitters. A splitter is designed to take a coax cable to multiple TVs and that is all. It is the “end of the line”. A tap can take a signal to one television and then keep going onto another tap that is much further away. Taps are most commonly used when a single, main coax line needs to be spread around throughout a building, such as in a school or a hospital. Generally, taps are only available for antenna signals and not satellite.

TV Coax Transformer/Combiners

Some older equipment, such as old VCRs and TVs, use an older type of signal called UHF instead of the modern VHF. UHF does not use F-type coax connectors the way modern VHF does. Using a transformer converts the old UHF signal into a modern VHF signal, allowing old equipment to be used with F-type coax cables. There are also combiners that allow users to connect old UHF and modern VHF inputs into a single VHF/F-type output.