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 four 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), and 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 its reception. There can be several 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 reasons.
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.
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
The Tripp Lite Isobar can also help to reduce EMI/RFI noise. This surge suppressor provides two widely spaced NEMA 5-15R outlets. The built-in isolated filter bank will limit noise interaction among connected equipment.
Ferrite Core Cord Noise Suppressor
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 remove the interference. Ferrite cores can be placed on multiple cables to reduce interference.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Noise Suppressor Power EMI Filter
A noise suppressor power EMI filter can help to reduce noise in the power line. An EMI filter serves to limit the electromagnetic noise, thus enabling other equipment in the network to function properly and in agreement with the rules. Try wiring the filter inline with the appliance that is causing the interference. This should help to reduce the noise.
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 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.
Cell Phone Tower 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 reception issues, you may need to add an LTE filter to your antenna setup.
Channel Master LTE Filter
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.
Wireless streaming devices can cause interference. Some of the popular streaming devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Chromecast connected directly to the HDMI port of the television. In some cases, there is not enough cable to distance itself from the antenna input. I experienced problems with signal interference when my Fire TV Stick was touching the antenna cable going into the television tuner input (See picture above). On certain stations, the signal kept dropping, causing pixelation and signal loss. To fix the problem, I added an HDMI extension cable to extend the Fire Stick and move it away from the antenna cable, which fixed the interference problem.
Poor Shielded Cable
Another common place interference happens is from 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 a thicker shielded RG6 coaxial cable.
If you want to know more about how to improve your OTA antenna reception, see our article below.
Feature image courtesy of panuruangjan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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. You can also visit our forums page to post questions and share information.