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How to Point an RV TV Antenna

Unwinding and watching your favorite show or movie should be easy. Grab a drink or snack and turn the TV on to tune in. An RV TV antenna can make the setup process a little more complicated, though thankfully doing it once should have you well setup.

An RV TV antenna probably needs some adjusting to work properly with all the channels you want. The same can be said of a home TV antenna, so our RV experience isn’t all that different.

Getting your RV TV antenna to work properly is a matter of understanding how the antenna works and how to align it with the right channels. Adjusting your antenna can be done from the inside or out in most cases.

Why would I need to adjust my antenna?

Antennas can be a bit fickle. They are receiving a signal from broadcast towers that can be far away. The signal itself might not be strong enough depending on the placement of your antenna. Other things can physically block your antenna from receiving a signal.

Pointing your RV TV Antenna

Before we talk about where to align your TV antenna, let’s talk about how to physically move your RV TV antenna.

Many RVs have roof mounted antennas. This is the best place for the antenna, as high ground in open air is generally the best way to get the signal you need to watch TV. 

When you first saw your RV, you might have wondered how you adjust the antenna without climbing on the roof of the RV. If you want the exercise, feel free to physically climb the ladder on the back of the RV to get to the antenna, though you probably won’t have to.

Most RVs have a device in the interior ceiling that looks a bit like a smoke detector. This can be turned in place to rotate your TV antenna in the right direction. The rotator sometimes also has indicators to show which way our TV antenna is pointing and sometimes even a compass.

The rotator often has a spring and other mechanics built in. You might hear some sound as the antenna itself turns, which isn’t a bad thing. 

Now that you know that getting on top of you RV is probably unnecessary, we can discuss the thought process in where to point the RV antenna.

Using an app to point your RV antenna

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” Well, there certainly are a few apps for figuring out where to point your RV antenna for certain channels. If you have a smartphone, follow these instructions.

  1. Go to your phones app store and search for antenna apps
  2. Many of these apps have the ability to use your current location to help show you what channels are available near you. Allow the app to use your location
  3. These apps often have a map of your location and show you which way to point your RV antenna (north, south, east, west) for the particular channel you want to watch.
  4. Turn the rotator for your antenna to the correct direction.
  5. You’ll want to do a channel scan once you have the antenna crank pointing the right direction. The channel scan is necessary to determine the strength of the signal and ensure all your channel numbers show the right channels. A channel scan is generally shown in your TVs settings menu
  6. If the TV channel isn’t show, or showing well, turn the crank a quarter turn at a time until it improves.

The app can show where the strongest signal is so you can point in the right direction. Over time, you’ll likely learn from the app where to point the antenna for the purpose of the strongest signal in similar areas.

Adjusting the antenna itself

Antennas can be built a little different. If you have direct, easy access to your antenna, you can hand move it in the right direction.

Here are a couple things you might want to know:

Omni-directional vs directional

You might have an omni-directional antenna. An omni-directional antenna is usually flat and square. These are convenient because they shouldn’t require much, if any adjustment. Adjusting these antennas often requires moving them instead.

The only downside to an omni-directional antenna is that since the antenna is attempting to absorb signals from all directions, the range can be lower. 

A directional antenna looks like a classic “bunny ears” antennas in some ways. The smaller end of the antenna is the receiving end and is the one to point in the right direction. These need adjustments more often to find the right place for a signal, but are more powerful and work when further away from the source.

If you have a directional antenna that you have direct access to, you can still use apps to determine which way to turn the smaller part of the antenna. Do your channel scan as previous described and see how it works.

Other issues

Pointing your antenna might not be the only problem. When you are around a city with tall buildings, or even near tall trees, the signal can be obstructed.

The solutions here include having a more powerful antenna, pointing the antenna in a slightly different spot, or moving the RV. Cell phone users have similar issues in large metro areas and can have signals bounce away, especially near concrete and steel.

Conclusion

Pointing your antenna can be a bit of a process, but it can be made easy with a smartphone and a crank antenna. Using a bit of knowledge about where transmitters are generally located can aid you in finding a clear picture of our favorite movie or TV show. 

Knowing how to adjust can help you reconnect a bit while on the road. Whether you are off the grid or on it, TV shows are a good way to relax and reconnect with the family or friends with you.

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