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 eleviate 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 can be caused by many different things like outside powerlines, 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 RFI and EMI interference. It can also protect your equipment from power surges and spikes.
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.
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 receptions issues you may need to add an LTE filter to your antenna setup. This 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.
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.