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TV For Free!

By David Ward

 

Want TV For Free? Choose an Antenna based on CEA Antenna Ratings

Selecting the proper antenna for your location is easy with the proper information and tools. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have jointly created a tool to help the consumer select the best TV antenna for their location. Factors such as the distance you are from the TV station transmitter, the transmitting power of the TV station, and the terrain between you and the TV station transmitter are all taken into consideration in determining the antenna needed. They have developed a color coding system that gives an excellent guide to antenna selection. All of this information is on the antennaweb.org web site. Once all the requested information is submitted to the web site, it will provide a list of all of the available TV stations at your location, the direction and distance to those stations, and the color code for the antenna needed to receive those TV stations. You can find the corresponding color codes to each Channel Master antenna when viewing the individual product pages, or by viewing the antenna specification chart at the end of this article. In general, TV antennas rated for Yellow, Green, or Light Green are good for receiving signals from TV stations up to about 30 miles from your house. TV antennas rated for Red and Blue are designed for homes up to about 45 miles from the TV station, and TV antennas rated for Violet are good for up to about 60 miles. It is possible to receive signals over greater distances, but many factors will impact the quality of the received signals. 

The following chart provides descriptions of the different color codes for TV antennas: 

Color Code Antenna Description
Yellow A Small Multi-Directional Antenna is recommended in Yellow color code areas. Signal strength is highest, so small antennas that receive signals equally well in all directions work very well. Indoor antennas work very well in Yellow color code areas, which are usually 10 to 15 miles from the TV station transmitter.
Green A Medium Multi-Directional Antenna is recommended in Green color code areas. Signal strength is still good, but weaker than in yellow areas. An amplified indoor antenna may also work in Green color code areas, which can be up to 30 miles from the TV station transmitter.
Light Green A Large Multi-Directional or Small Directional Antenna is recommended for Light Green color code areas. Signal levels are weaker, so a larger omnidirectional antenna or a directional antenna is needed to receive signals effectively, which can be up to 30 miles from the TV station transmitter.
Red A Medium Directional Antenna is recommended in Red color code areas. Signal strength is weaker, and directional antennas are needed to pick up signals. These are the most popular antenna types due to their modest size and effectiveness 30 to 45 miles from the TV transmitter site.
Blue A Medium Directional Antenna with an Antenna Preamplifier or a Large Directional Antenna is recommended for Blue color code areas. Signals are weaker, so larger antennas or antennas with amplification are needed to receive TV signals effectively. TV antennas in the blue color code area may also need to be installed on a tower or high rooftop to pick up distant channels, which can be 45 to 60 miles from the TV station transmitter.
Violet A Large Directional Antenna with an Antenna Preamplifier is recommended for Violet color code areas. These are areas farthest from the TV station transmitting towers, and need the largest antennas and best preamplifiers to pick up TV signals effectively, which can be 60 miles or more from the TV station transmitter. TV antennas in the Violet color code area may also need to be installed on a tower or high rooftop to pick up distant channels.

 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also has a tool on their web site to help you select an antenna. They do not use the CEA/NAB color code system, but instead list each station by Strong, Moderate, Weak, or No Signal. These will roughly correspond to the color code system with Strong being Yellow/Green/Light Green, Moderate being Red and Blue, and Weak being Violet.

Follow the steps below to determine which antenna will work best for your area. 

Visit www.antennaweb.org and enter your Address to find out which local TV stations are available in your immediate area. Take note of the following items from the antennaweb.org results 

1) Color Codes - Each available local channel will be given a color code, which indicates the expected signal strength for that TV station at your location. To watch that channel, you will need to select a Channel Master antenna that corresponds with that color code. In order to pick up the most stations possible, you need to make sure that the selected antenna has the color codes for all channels you wish to view. For example, if most TV channels in the list for your address are Green or Light Green, but one is Red, you would need to select an antenna that is able to receive red color coded channels. Antennas designed for TV stations at longer distances will also perform fine with TV stations that are closer to you. 

2) Signal Range - Look at the "Miles From" column. The TV antenna's signal range capabilities will need to be equal to or greater than the distance of the broadcast tower from your location. This is taken into consideration when the color code requirements are determined for your location, but becomes critical when the distance to the TV station transmitter is over 45 to 60 miles. At this range, the largest antennas are needed to effectively receive the TV stations. 

3) RF Channel -The RF Channel column will list the actual RF channel of the TV station you are trying to receive. RF channels are frequently different than the display channel on your TV set. For example, channel 2.1 on your TV set may actually be RF channel 50, which is in the UHF band. Make sure the antenna you are selecting can pick up the actual RF channels that you wish to view. 
They will range from 2 to 69.

  • RF channels 2-6 are in the Low VHF band. FM signals are also in this band.
  • RF channels 7-13 are in the High VHF band.
  • RF channels 14 - 69 are in the UHF band.

 

4) Additional Equipment - Additional equipment and accessories may be required to receive the channels listed at antennaweb.org. The following information will help you determine which additional products may be needed for your TV signal installation.

a. Antenna Rotator Kit - The "Compass Heading" column will show the compass heading of the broadcast station relative to your location. If the list of channels available in your location have compass headings more than 20 degrees apart, an antenna rotator may be required. All Channel Master directional TV antennas need to be pointing at the broadcast tower in order to receive the strongest signal. Channel Master offers the CM-9521A antenna rotator kit, which is used to rotate your antenna so it is pointing at the TV station transmitter (omnidirectional antennas, such as Channel Master's CM-3000HD, receive signals from all directions, so do not require a rotator). The controller unit for the rotator can be programmed with each stations compass heading so that your antenna can be properly aligned for the station you wish to watch with the touch of a button. 

b. Antenna Preamplifier - Violet and Blue color coded stations indicate that the signal will be weak and will require a TV antenna preamplifier to reliably and effectively view these stations. Wired@Home.com has a full range of TV antenna preamplifiers that can be viewed Check them out Here.

c. Digital TV Splitters and Distribution Amplifiers - To connect your antenna to more than one TV set, you will need a TV Splitter or a Distribution Amplifier. TV Splitters will distribute the signal to multiple locations, but lose signal strength when dividing the signal. Distribution Amplifiers can also be used to distribute the TV signals to multiple locations, and will also amplify or boost the signals, which helps ensure the proper signal strength is received at each TV set. Distribution amplifiers are recommended over splitters in weak signal areas, on long runs of coaxial cable, and for installations where more than four TV sets are connected to the antenna. Wired@Home.com carries a full range of digital TV splitters and distribution amplifiers to fit every installation need.
 
d. Mounting your antenna -You will need a mounting solution to keep your TV antenna in place. Check out our roof, chimney, wall and attic Antenna Mounts. Channel Master antennas come with the hardware needed to attach it to a mast, which is secured to the structure by the mount. * Note: Attic or indoor installations will result in losing some signal strength. A TV Antenna Pre-amplifier is recommended for indoor installations to help overcome the additional signal loss.

5) Remote Areas / No Antennaweb.org results - For some remote areas, the antennaweb.org tool may indicate that no TV stations are available for viewing at your location. This means you are in a rural or very difficult reception area. In these extreme cases, you will want to go with one of our strongest "deep fringe" antennas (CM-3020, CM-3671, or CM-5020) in conjunction with our strongest preamplifier the CM-7777. This combination will give you the best chance of receiving the most stations. 

Still not sure what antenna or equipment you will need to pick up your local stations? No worries, our experts can help you select the proper antenna and equipment for your area. Simply email the below details to support@wiredathome.com for an expert recommendation:

  1. Installation address
  2. Desired installation spot
  3. Number of TVs you would like to include
  4. Any other items of interest that you think we should know about
6) Money Back Guarantee - Should you purchase equipment that does not work for your area, you will have a 30-day money back guarantee for most products purchased via www.wiredathome.com. For details please see our Return Policy. 
 

Part Number

Antenna Type

Distance Rating (Miles)
VHF  UHF

Antenna Web Color Code

CM-2016

VHF High / UHF

Outdoor

35

35

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

 

 

CM-2018

VHF High / UHF

Outdoor

60

45

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

 

CM-2020

VHF High / UHF

Outdoor

60

60

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

Violet

CM-3000HD

VHF/UHF

Outdoor

45

30

Yellow

Green

LT Green

 

 

 

CM-3010

VHF/UHF

Outdoor

45

30

Yellow

Green

 

 

 

 

CM-3016

VHF/UHF

Outdoor

45

30

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

 

 

CM-3018

VHF/UHF

Outdoor

60

40

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

Violet

CM-3020

VHF/UHF

Outdoor

100

60

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

Violet

CM-3022

UHF

Outdoor

30

30

Yellow

Green

LT Green

 

 

 

CM-3023

UHF

Outdoor

60

60

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

Violet

CM-3026

FM Only

Outdoor

40

40

Yellow

Green

LT Green

 

 

 

CM-3671

VHF/UHF

Outdoor

100

60

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

Violet

CM-3679

VHF/UHF

Outdoor

50

60

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

Violet

CM-4220HD

UHF

Outdoor

N/A

30

Yellow

Green

LT Green

 

 

 

CM-4220MHD

UHF

Outdoor

N/A

30

Yellow

Green

LT Green

 

 

 

CM-4221HD

UHF

Outdoor

N/A

45

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

 

 

CM-4228HD

VHF High / UHF

Outdoor

45

60

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

Violet

CM-5016

HD / VHF High / UHF / FM

Outdoor

60

60

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

 

 

CM-5018

HD / VHF High / UHF / FM

Outdoor

80

80

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

Violet

CM-5020

HD / VHF High / UHF / FM

Outdoor 

100

100

Yellow

Green

LT Green

Red

Blue

Violet


7) Find the channels available in your market- Go to DTV.gov, input your home address, and view all the channels you should receive. Contents are subject to change.


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