Eliminate Over The Air Antenna Interference

I received an email from a reader last week with an interesting problem. Every time her friend turned on the lights in the living room she would lose 4 over the air antenna stations from her television. Once she turned off the lights the channels came back. It turns out that using certain types of LED light bulbs can cause interference with some frequencies. The LED pulses on and off at a very high frequency (beyond that which our eyes can perceive). This pulsing can create RF noise. If not shielded sufficiently, this RF noise can interfere with TV or radio signals. So I figured in this article, I would discuss what else can cause OTA antenna interference and how to eliminate it.

OTA Antenna Interference

OTA antenna interference can be very frustrating, especially if your favorite station loses it’s reception. There can be a number of different causes for over the air antenna interference. Some interference can cause pixelation, picture noise or loss of signal. Let’s look at some of the causes.

Electromagnetic Interference

Electromagnetic interference can be caused by many different things like outside power-lines, thunderstorms, LED or fluorescent lights and solar flares. Many household appliances like a blender, electric heater, popcorn maker, electric blanket and refrigerators can also cause interference. Any appliance with electric motors like a ceiling fan can disrupt an over the air TV signal. In some cases, light dimmers have been known to cause issues due to poor wiring. To troubleshoot start by unplugging or switching off each appliance and then check to see if your signal improves.

Power Conditioner

Furman M-8X2 Merit Series 8 Outlet Power Conditioner and Surge Protector

If you’re having problems with Electromagnetic Interference, in some cases a power conditioner can help clean up dirty power in your home. It can help to reduce RF and EM interference. It can also protect your equipment from power surges and spikes.

Tripp Lite Isobar 2 Outlet Surge Protector

Tripp Lite Isobar 2 Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip, 6ft Cord, Right-Angle Plug, Metal, Lifetime Limited Warranty & $25,000 INSURANCE (ISOBAR2-6)

The Tripp Lite Isobar can also help to reduce EMI/RFI noise. It will protect against outside interference. The isolated filter banks protect against internal interference.


Ferrite Core Cord Noise Suppressor

Parts Express Ferrite Core 1/4

A Ferrite core cord noise suppressor can also help. It filters out high frequency noise or EM interference in the power cord or cable. Just place it around the cable and small magnets in the suppressor removes the interference.


Multipath Interference

Multipath Interference is caused by the OTA signal being bounced around certain surfaces such as wet or icy surfaces, buildings or a passing airplane. Certain hilly terrains and trees can cause issues. Often times just moving the OTA antenna a few feet can help alleviate the problem. If the problem persists you may have to elevate your antenna to the roof or mount it to a pole.

See Our Article on Different Mounting Options for Your OTA Antenna.

Cell Phone Tower Interference

Eliminate Over The Air Antenna Interference

With the proliferation of smartphones, there are more and more cell towers being built. Many of these towers broadcast very close to the frequencies of the TV towers. This can cause pixelation and signal problems. If you live close to a cell tower and are having receptions issues you may need to add an LTE filter to your antenna setup.

Channel Master LTE Filter

Eliminate Over The Air Antenna Interference

The Channel Master LTE filter will filter out any offending 3G and 4G cell frequency interference. The filter simply screws in line with your antenna set. The video below explains how it works and how to set it up according to your antenna system.


Poor Shielded Cable

Eliminate Over The Air Antenna Interference

Another common place interference happens is with poorly shielded cables. A coaxial cable is used to transmit an over the air signal from the antenna to your television tuner. The coaxial cable comes wrapped in shielding usually consisting of metal and plastic. Shielding helps to reduce electromagnetic interference. If the cable is poorly shielded you can get signal loss and interference. One way to alleviate this is to upgrade to thicker shielded RG6 coaxial cable.


If you want to know more about how to improve your OTA antenna reception see our article below.

How to Improve Poor OTA Antenna Reception

Feature image courtesy of panuruangjan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Conclusion

As you can see there are many things that can cause interference with your OTA antenna signal. You can mitigate many of these problems by a simple process of elimination. Have you had any antenna signal interference? If so please comment below and share your experience.

March 1, 2019 2

Over The Air HD Antenna Scams

Last updated: Friday, March 1, 2019All over the air antennas have a particular range that they can receive broadcast channels. Generally, the larger and higher you mount the antenna the more likely it can obtain broadcast signals from a greater distance. Lately, I have noticed some antenna manufacturers are claiming they can obtain signals from 100 – 150 miles away with OTA antennas the size of a standard indoor flat window or wall-mounted antenna. These claims are false and misleading to consumers. OTA Antenna Scams 4K Many of these antennas are also claiming they will broadcast your images in 4K and improve your image quality. Over the air broadcasters have not made the switch to 4K and there is still no date on [...]
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About Johan
I started the site to educate the public on the alternative ways you can watch television besides subscribing to cable. I have been in the audio visual business for over 20 years. I also have an extensive computer networking background. I am a Microsoft Certified Professional and CompTIA Network+ Certified Technician. I hope you will find my articles and reviews helpful in conscious uncabling.

38 Comments

  1. We had new neighbors move in across the street. Well now we no longer can use our antenna when they are home unless I hold the antenna high in the air right in front of the TV. No sure what to do.

    • Interesting. It may be some electromagnetic or RF interference from their lighting or appliances. It might be time to mount an antenna outside or in the attic. Put it up higher than your previous one. Hope this helps.

  2. I loose 2 sec of audio only whenever the account STOPS or if I turn a ceiling fan or any electric motor OFF. Figure that one out.

    • That’s an interesting dilemma. Seems like some type of Electromagnetic interference. It could be a grounding issue. You could try lifting the ground from the main power to your TV or antenna. Here is an example of a power ground lifter: https://amzn.to/2uM93du

  3. I lose two of my favorite stations usually at the same time. Between 8:30 to 9:30 am these two stations go from unwatchable to perfect and stay perfect until between 5:30 and 6:30 pm when they become unwatchable and stay like that until the next morning as above. LTE signals are on all the time, terrane stays the same. I have tried turning off every circuit in my house and it has no effect. Wet weather maybe slightly worse but not much different when dry. ANY IDEAS.

    • That is an interesting one. Sounds like something turns on between those time periods that causes interference. It could be the broadcast tower or something in between. Do any of your neighbors have the same problem? This could eliminate the broadcast tower. Did you try an LTE filter to rule out cellular interference? Some stations also reduce their broadcast power during certain times of the day and increase them during prime viewing hours. Do you have more than one TV? If so, does it happen to both?

  4. I have a 25 foot outdoor tv antenna on the side of my home. I also have an outdoor LED light fixture installed at the rear of my home, about 30 feet from the antenna. Whenever the LEd light comes on at night I lose a couple channels on my TV. When I turn the outdoor LED light off the TV stations come back in. Is the emi interference coming thru the antenna cable, power, or the antenna itself? What would be a good way to reduce this emi interference?

    • Can you replace the outdoor light with a non-LED bulb and see if it goes away. The LED diodes could be producing EMI. Then you will know for sure if it is the LED bulb. Are the antenna and outdoor light on the same circuit? If so you could try moving the antenna to a different circuit and see if it eliminates the problem. Good luck. I hope this helped. Please let me know if you fixed the problem.

  5. Hi Johan,

    I also have interference with OTA channels. I first thought it was my very old TV I had mounted on the wall in my exercise room. So I recently purchased a new HD FIRE TV for my exercise room. When I turn on my treadmill I still get picture distortion with the new TV for OTA channels, but not with the FIRE TV internet based apps. So I do have it narrowed down to the OTA channels. I do have an digital roof antenna/coax cable. What do you suggest I do to correct the situation? It’s really frustrating and causing me not to even use my treadmill (believe me I do like my treadmill and have a regular walking habit). Do I need an electrician or is there something I can purchase to fix the issue? I did buy regular surge protectors for both the TV and the treadmill.
    Thank you for your assistance!

    • It sounds like interference from the treadmill motor. You can try a few things. First, try running an extension cord from the treadmill to another outlet in the house in a different room. The antenna, TV, and treadmill could be on the same circuit. How old is the wiring in the house? Are your outlets 2 prongs or 3 prongs? If they are 2 prongs then it could be a grounding issue and you may need to upgrade your electrical system. I know you said you have surge protectors for the TV and treadmill. Do they also isolate and filter out noise? I recommend something like these: Tripp Lite Isobar 2 Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip or Tripp Lite Isobar 2 Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip Direct Plug-In. If your OTA antenna is powered. Make sure that it is also on a different circuit and plugged into an Isobar surge protector. If these suggestions don’t work you may have to call an electrition to isolate the problem. Good luck!

  6. You do realize that your using “interference” redundantly every time you write “EMI interference” or “RFI interference” since the “I” in “RFI” & “EMI” stands for “interference”. Thus your actually saying Electromagnetic interference interference. 😉

  7. I have an interesting variant. I live in New York City within sight of an elevated portion of the #7 subway. I have good reception with a (heap Amazon Basics) antenna, but whenever the 7 train goes by (once every few minutes), the signal cuts out. I can see electricity arcing at times below the train, so suspect it’s EM related, though I obviously can’t shield it as you mention in the post. Is there any product or antenna I can buy that will help?

    • Looks like that train is causing an obstruction. The only suggestion I have is to try and place your antenna as high as possible. Can you place an antenna outside or on the roof of your building? It seems like you need to get your antenna out of range of the train. You could also try putting the antenna on the opposite side of your building away from the train.

  8. For several years, I’ve used an outdoor antennae on a 20 foot pole. Inside, a splitter sends the signal to two TVs. One in the living room and the other in the den. We’ve had great reception but limited by range. No problem there. Recently, like Christmas, we started losing reception of several local channels. All hours of the day, our channel 5 and channel 9 are unobtainable. We have rescanned over and over, and can’t even get them to be included in the scanning line up. The list jumps from 4.3 to 14.1 on the channels. My wife is having to live without her General Hospital on channel 5. She’s not happy about that at all. We added an antennae booster, and changed the antennae transformer that connects to the antennae atop the pole. We are now starting to loose other channels as well, like 62.1, etc. Yes, we do have LED lights in the kitchen and den. But they’ve been there for two or three years with no problems. Nothing new has been added inside or outside the home.

    • It could be several things. The FCC is re-banding some channels and those channels have been affected and moved. Although they should pop up as new channels on a rescan. The other could be the broadcast towers have recently decreased their power or moved and you are out of range and need a bigger antenna. Can you check with your neighbors who have antennas and see if they are experiencing the same problems. It might be worth a call to the local channel affiliate and see if they made any recent changes to their broadcast setup. Did you check to see if there is any damage to your antenna and if it moved out of place? There could also be an obstruction causing the problem. Are any new buildings going up in your neighborhood? As for the other channels, the new booster could be over boosting the signal causing channel loss.

  9. Our channel 9 did move, and we were instructed to rescan by a particular date in November. That went well, and hasn’t been a problem. There isn’t any other blockage like tall buildings, etc. Our problem began immediately, not gradually. We checked the antennae for damage when it was down on the ground. We will attempt to check out the other suggestions, although I doubt the channels would change something without warning us of a change. Thank you for responding, and we’ll see what we can find out.

  10. Seems so much of our reception success or failure is through trial and error. There should be a better way to determine precise antenna placement, (like with a meter or even a phone app). I can get everything running well and then two weeks later reception starts messing up on channels that were once OK. Do changes in the season/atmosphere cause reception problems? I have definitely noticed clean channels start to act up when the weather is bad. Can cloud reflection cause multi-path interference? There should be a filter developed that will detect multi-path interference and attenuate/block the weaker duplicate signal. Also, I am using two antennas (with a reversed splitter) which greatly improved the weaker signals, which used to be unwatchable, but I fear I might be over-driving the receiver sometimes with too-strong signals from the nearer stations (which can also produce reception problems). There should be a filter to detect and attenuate a signal that is too strong down to the proper level. This OTA business shouldn’t involve so much guesswork. Seems many of the problems described by us readers could be solved electronically.

  11. >>There are some phone apps to help point your antenna. You could try using a splitter with a Channel Master CM-7777HD TV Antenna Amplifier with Adjustable Gain. This would allow you to control the output of your antenna signal to your TV tuners. This could help with overmodulation to the tuners.<<

    Good tips! Thanks.

  12. I have my antenna on a 16 foot pole beside my house and I hadn’t had any interference with my TV signal until about a month ago. Every time my neighbor gets in his truck and starts it up I loss my TV signal until he is down the road and their are a couple of houses between us or until he shuts his truck off. Please advice me as to what I can do to fix this.

    • The only thing I can think of is that his truck has some type of electronics in it that is interfering with your OTA reception. Does he have a large antenna on his truck? Maybe he has a ham radio in his truck that is causing interference. Could you tell him your issue and maybe both of you could troubleshoot the problem? You could try adding an EMI power conditioner. It may help. Good luck!

  13. I have trouble when my neighbor starts his 78 ford pick up. It knocks out my tv.
    Anything I can do besides kill thy neighbor?

  14. Trying out an OTA antenna in our family room for the second day and have discovered that closing the backdoor is disrupting the signal, causing it to completely disappear or severely breaking up. Open the door and signal is restored and all is good. Thankfully, there’s a storm door on the outside that leads onto a screened porch, which keeps the cold out. The door faces the SE, and transmission tower is NW of our house. ???

    • Looks like the door is blocking the signal. You may have to move the antenna to a higher location or another room with less obstructions and movement.

  15. I have a powered antenna in my attic. We get 4 channel 7s and 3 9s.out of the blue the 9s will get interference after having coming in fine but it does not effect the 7s. ??????? neighbors have same problem. also certain vehicles knock out the signal until they get down the road a ways

    • Seems like you may have some type of obstruction in your area that is causing a multipath issue. It could also be a cell tower. Any new cell towers in your area? You could try adding an LTE filter to filter out cell phone interference. As far as vehicles, this seems to be an ongoing issue for many people. The only suggestion I have is trying to reposition your antenna away from the road. If possible.

  16. I am wondering if an antenna could be made or modified to limit sidelobes. Every RF antenna has sidelobes that pick up non line-of-sight transmissions. Maybe a directional shield around the antenna would help, to make it more like a dish antenna that is focused on a precise direction? This would require more precise pointing of the antenna, but that should be doable. I might try some aluminum foil “walls” around my antenna, just for fun.

  17. We get really bad interference on our tv in the livingroom when we use the waterpik in the bathroom beside. What do you think will help that? Thanks!

    • Sounds like it could be the Waterpik motor oscillation causing interference. It may be causing interference in the power lines of your house. You could try adding a Ferrite core noise suppressor around the power cord of the Waterpik. This could help reduce interference. The other option is to try moving the Waterpik to different outlets in the house to see if there is an improvement. The Waterpik and your TV could be on the same circuit.

  18. You were right:) The ferrite core noise suppressor worked. Not completely, but much improvement! That was with just attaching it closest to the waterpik. I’ll try wrapping it (I think with the 1/4″ I’ll only be able to wrap it once) and see if that helps even more. Thank you so much for your help!!

  19. I’m finding that gps in cars and trucks are cutting off my ota signal as they drive by my house. Attic antenna is as high in the attic as I can get it 30ft and as far from the road as I can 18ft. any filters or any solutions? thanks

    • I haven’t heard of GPS causing these problems. OTA broadcast signals and GPS operate at different frequencies. Sorry, I don’t have any more solutions to your problems.

  20. We have an 8-bay Channel Master antenna about 20′ on a pole. We are at the bottom of a hill with trees and a two story neighbor’s home. Even so, we got all the channels we wanted to see fine, until they built 2 schools at the top of the hill. Now most of the channels are still fine, a few are spotty, and 1 is nearly impossible to receive. The signal already goes to an amplifier. Would a higher pole help? Would a second amp closer to the TV make a difference?

    • A higher pole should help. If you can get the antenna higher or away from the obstruction it will make a difference. Adding a second amp will not help. In fact, it could make things worse. The signal will be overmodulated.

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