How Do I Get Better TV Reception? RV Antenna Not Picking Up

When you are parked under the stars or in a campground, those quiet, peaceful nights can get fairly long. One way to shorten them is to watch television. However, not every RV TV antenna or location allows this to take place.

One of the simplest and best ways to improve RV TV reception is to move your location. You may have parked in a spot that is good for protection from the sun but the obstructions will interfere with your TV antenna. Moving even a few feet can bring the improvement you need.

To learn more about this topic and what to do about bad TV reception, just continue to read our article. It explores the topic so you have the best options to make an improvement to your television watching time.

The Different Television Signals


As technology has advanced, so has television viewing and reception. From the good old days when Radio Frequency was the only way to transmit video and sound to different television sets to the digital age where satellites and other broadcast methods are used, the reception has always been a problem.

Digital broadcasts took over from analog broadcasts in 2009. The major television stations started to broadcast their signals in digital format making it hard for analog TV owners to see their favorite shows.

Getting the right reception, including satellite signals, meant placing a compatible antenna on top of your RV or somewhere close by. Not all antenna-making companies make antennas to capture all the different signals that are sent over the air.

The best REV antennas to buy would be the ones that can pick up UHF, VHF, and digital broadcast signals. If you like to camp in out of the way close to nature spots, then a satellite antenna would be the one to buy.

To get good reception, you need an antenna that has a good amplifier as local channels have a limited broadcast area. You also need an antenna that is compatible with digital frequencies. If not, you may have to read or talk to your spouse till bedtime.

Do RV TV Antennas Work?

Yes, they do. Some models and brands are better than others but in general, when you buy a digital or other television antenna you will get what you paid for. Whether the reception is good or not depends on many factors including the quality of components in the antenna.

The drawback to TV antennas on your RV is that usually, you change locations frequently. This can cause havoc with your television reception because the signals are not going to be the same in each area or coming from the same direction as your previous location.

What this means is that you either have to do a new channel scan every time you move or you have to change the position of the antenna. These actions are only an inconvenience till you get the right direction and set up.

In general, RV TV antennas do work and they provide a lot of entertainment for those long, quiet, peaceful nights you have when you are out camping. Some of the RV TV antennas are equipped with wifi components.

This is done so you can spend your time surfing the internet or staying in contact with loved ones around the country. The reception and strength of the signal will depend on many factors including your location.

Why is My RV Antenna Not Picking Up Channels?


Unfortunately, RV television antennas come with a long laundry list of sources for why your TV antenna is not providing a good picture on your television set. Here are most of those sources:

1. Your antenna is too low- the simple fix for this situation is to raise it up a little or a lot. The distance will depend on where the best location for the antenna would be.

2. Facing the wrong direction- this is a problem when you own a directional antenna. These devices only pick up signals from one direction. If it is pointed the wrong way, you need to go out and adjust it until the reception improves.

3. The antenna is in the wrong location- this is not the same as the previous two problems. What this issue is referring to is that the antenna is in the wrong location on your RV, in your campground, and in similar places.

You have to go out and physically pick up the antenna and move it to a new spot.

4. Too much cache- or you need to do another scan. This happens when you change locations and different antenna makers will tell you to re-scan for channels every time you move.

For too much cache, you just need to clear it.

5. The weather- when the weather turns bad, it can greatly impact your antenna’s ability to pick up broadcast signals. Make sure both the antenna and the connections are weatherproofed to minimize this problem. Sometimes you just have to wait for the storm out before getting a better signal.

6. Frequency interference- since the invention of digital appliances and LED lights, your antenna may be getting too much interference that keeps it from picking up those TV signals. Turn the extra lights and appliances off to clear up your reception

7. Location- as real estate agents will tell you, location is key to everything. The same applies to RV TV reception. If you are in a bad spot, the only thing you can do to improve the reception is to move.

8. Distance- as mentioned earlier, local television stations have a limited broadcast range. You may be too far away for your antenna to pick up those signals. This situation calls for a signal amplifier to solve the problem

9. Change your antenna- it could be that the model you are using is not the best in the world. The best fix you can do is to upgrade to a better model.

How To Test an RV TV Antenna

The first method employs a multimeter. Antennas run on electricity and the best way to test them to see if they are working or not is to use this device. To do the test, you just need to set the multimeter to Ohms.

Then one lead is touched to the metal parts of the antenna and the other to the center pin of the cable. Keep the leads there while reading the screen, a digital screen is best for this test. It is easier to read.

The positive reading, the one that says your antenna is still good, will be 0 or a very small register of ohms. Anything greater than that and you should replace the antenna.

Another way to test your antenna is to hook up a newer cable to it and the other side of the system. This will tell you if the antenna is bad or the cable has failed. If either one is the problem, replacement is your only fix.

Check your connections as well. If they are exposed to the outside, it is easy for them to be corrupted or get corrosion on the metal parts. You can clean the corrosion off if you catch it in time. If not, then replace the connections and possibly the cable.

How To Adjust an RV TV Antenna


Some brands making RV TV antennas design their products to be adjusted without leaving your RV. The companies have built in a little knob that after pushing the release button, you can turn the knob till you get better reception.

Keep in mind that turning your antenna does not always guarantee you will get perfect reception. There are other factors involved. When you turn your antenna, be prepared to re-scan for channels. This is always a step in adjusting your antenna.

Other methods include what we have discussed earlier. You can change the location of the antenna or the location of your RV. Those are the best non-technical options you have at your disposal.

A more modern method would be to install a signal meter. This device goes on your RV’s wall and attaches to the antenna. Then you turn the signal meter on and rotate your antenna like you normally would.

As you do this watch the signal meter and when it registers the strongest signal, stop rotating the antenna and lock it in place. Then, finally, part of adjusting your antenna would be to check your cables.

The quality and condition of these cables can interfere with the antenna’s ability to transmit the signal to your television set. Change the cables if they are low quality or if damaged.

Which Direction To Point an RV TV Antenna

If you own an omnidirectional RV TV antenna, then there is very little you can do to point it in the right direction. These antennas are equipped to pick up signals from all directions at the same time.

The rare adjustment you have to make with this style of antenna is to pick it up and move it to a better location. Directional and satellite antennas are different.

These have to be pointed in the right direction or you won’t get a good signal if you get one at all. With satellite dishes, you need to point them to the satellite they are equipped to receive signals. Usually, the satellite TV company will give you those coordinates.

With directional antennas, there are apps you can download, These apps will have a map of the area you are in and they will provide the best direction for you to point your antenna.

Without the app, you will need to find the direction the signal is coming from and manually point your antenna in that direction. It is all a matter of pointing your antenna in the right direction and that signal meter may be your best tool to use.

How To Point RV TV Antenna


The first thing you need to do in this process is to find a high and unobstructed location for the antenna. Once this is done, your next step will be to connect all the cables.

For those rooftop antennas, these two steps may be done for you already. When they are done, you scan for channels. But getting the right direction may be a bit difficult if you move frequently.

One of the best ways to help you point your antenna in the right direction would be to use an online antenna direction map that goes by zip code. You just type in the zip code and a map should be displayed that identifies the local transmission towers.

On the map should be an arrow telling you the best direction to point your antenna. These websites do all the work for you. Satellite antennas will be a bit different as they only work with specific satellites.

You will need to know the location of that satellite and point your antenna in that direction. As you travel across the country, that transmitting satellite may change and you have to point your antenna in a different direction.

How you do this will depend on the technology the antenna maker put in their antennas.

How do I Get Better TV Reception in My RV?

The first thing that you should do is look for obstructions. If you are parked in a campground or remote area, just about anything can interfere with the transmission signal. You do not want to have trees or buildings too close to your RV.

When you park, make sure your spot is free of obstructions that would interfere with the television signal. Next, check your television equipment. Sometimes the cables will be bad, or the signal box is failing or it is some other piece of equipment that is ruining your television watching time.

You need to keep your equipment in top shape for you to have great reception. Also, you may have to upgrade the equipment to have it compatible with the type of signal you want to receive.

HDTV signals are not always captured by antennas. You have to make sure your antenna is equipped to handle VHF, UHF, and HD or digital broadcast signals.

Another option you can try is to add a signal booster to your television and antenna system. Sometimes you are parked too far away from the local area to pick up television signals clearly. Signal boosters will solve the problem in many cases.

RV TV Antenna Hacks To Improve Reception


The first option you have available would be to upgrade your system. Move up to a better-quality antenna, cables, and boosters. This can be expensive but if you value your television time, it is something that should be done.

Another way to improve reception is to upgrade to satellite television. This is the perfect option when you are camping in remote areas. The satellite bounces the signals further than regular broadcast towers can.

The drawback to this system is that it costs you each month to have access to the satellite. Or you can try cellular-type systems. These systems utilize fire sticks, Roku, Chromecast, etc., options that help bring a very strong signal to your television set.

Just remember that no matter what you do, some issues are out of your control. You will get bad reception no matter what improvements you make. You cannot control the weather, stop frequency interference, and so on.

There will be times when you will get nothing but snow on your television screen.

Over-The-Air Signals

This transmission method is a free option. That is the biggest difference between it and satellite broadcast signals. The good news about over-the-air signals is that you do not have to change antennas to pick up digital television signals.

The over-the-air antenna picks up those local analog broadcast signals but if you own an HDTV or other digital television, you do not have to change antennas. There is no such thing as a digital or high-definition antenna.

Your analog antenna should be able to pick up those signals and transmit them to your digital television set. You do need a television tuner for all of these methods to capture all the channels you want to watch.

Both VHF and UHF frequencies hold digital frequencies. This is not a UHF monopoly as some people may think. Which is why you do not need a special antenna for digital television signals.

Some Additional Words

The reason why your RV TV antenna does not pick up television signals varies. It could be your equipment is old and outdated, of low quality or you are just in the wrong location.

The solutions above should provide you with enough options to improve your television reception. Some solutions do not cost you anything while others, like upgrading equipment, can cost you a few hundred dollars.

Pick the best solution for your travel and camping situation. Just remember you have to do a channel scan every time you move.

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