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Amplified VS Non Amplified Antennas

When you’re considering an antenna for your TV or radio, you might come across the terms “amplified” and “non-amplified” (or passive). Here’s what those terms mean:

Amplified Antenna (Active Antenna):

  • An amplified antenna includes an electronic amplifier that boosts the signal.
  • It is usually powered by an external power source or a USB connection to the TV.
  • It can help in situations where the signal strength is weak due to distance from the broadcast towers or obstructions like buildings or trees.
  • Amplified antennas are typically more expensive than non-amplified ones.
  • They can potentially introduce noise to the signal if the signal is already strong enough or if the amplifier is of low quality.
  • Useful in suburban and rural areas where the broadcasting tower is far away.

Non-Amplified Antenna (Passive Antenna):

  • A non-amplified antenna does not have any electronic boosting of the signal. It relies solely on its design and materials to capture the signal.
  • No power source is needed.
  • Less expensive compared to amplified antennas.
  • Better choice in areas where the signal strength is already strong because it does not add extra noise.
  • Ideal for urban areas where broadcast towers are relatively close.

Choosing Between Amplified and Non-Amplified:

Choosing the right antenna depends on several factors:

  1. Distance from Broadcast Towers: If you are far from the broadcast towers or if the signal has to pass through or around obstacles like tall buildings or mountains, an amplified antenna might be necessary.
  2. Signal Strength: If you live in an area with strong signals, a non-amplified antenna should suffice. Using an amplifier in strong signal areas can actually degrade the signal quality.
  3. Installation Location: If the antenna is going to be placed indoors where signals might be weaker due to walls, an amplified antenna may help. For outdoor installations, you might get by with a non-amplified antenna, especially if it’s mounted high where it has a clear line of sight to the broadcast tower.
  4. Budget: Amplified antennas cost more, so if you’re on a tight budget and live in a strong signal area, a non-amplified antenna might make more sense.
  5. Channel Frequencies: UHF signals are higher in frequency and thus can be received well with smaller antennas. VHF signals are lower in frequency and typically require a larger antenna element to be received well. Depending on the channels you wish to receive, the type of antenna and whether it needs amplification can vary.
  6. Interference: Amplified antennas can sometimes amplify interference, so if you live in an area with a lot of electromagnetic interference, it may be counterproductive to use one.

It’s often advisable to check a signal strength map or use an online tool to determine the broadcasting strength in your area before deciding which type of antenna to purchase.

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