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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.