Most people take their home TV for granted, so it can be frustrating to struggle to get a clear picture when you’re on the road – especially when you want to catch up on news and weather. And with all channels now digital, caravan TV reception can be even fuzzier than it was with analogue.
But don’t rush out and buy a new TV or antenna just yet. There are several things you can try first to improve your caravan TV’s reception.
In Australia, digital TV is transmitted on both VHF and UHF bands, so check that your antenna can receive both. Caravan TV antenna models from Voyager and Happy Wanderer are popular as they can be easily adjusted to receive signals from any direction.
A signal finder can also help. Simply plug the antenna into the signal finder and then rotate the antenna until a strong signal is detected. Even a slight antenna adjustment can make a big difference. They can be purchased for $30 or more at Dick Smith and Jaycar as well as some caravan dealers.
Alternatively, mySwitch is a great smartphone app that will tell you if digital TV coverage is available in the area. It can be downloaded for both Apple and Android devices.
In low altitude areas, raising the antenna higher can significantly improve signal quality. Some travellers will slot it into a section of pipe to elevate it a few more feet above the ground. If you are using a satellite dish, make sure it has a clear and unobstructed line of sight to the sky.
If you have a small antenna and lots of distance between you and the signal tower, you might still be able to catch your favourite shows by adding a signal booster which can be purchased for as little as $15. Boosters are often essential in remote areas and some caravan antenna models have them built in.
Rust, bird droppings and broken antenna rods can all degrade your TV signal. Other things to check include:
- Cables: Always use a high quality shielded RG6 co-axial cable. You can test it by swapping it with the one in your house.
- Connectors: Inspect them for rust. Screw-type connectors are recommended as they will stay locked in place during travel.
- Wall connection: Condensation and water leaks inside the caravan can corrode the wall plug.
- Booster: Lightning can damage your booster, so check that it’s still working after a storm.
Finally, just a few minutes chatting with the caravan park owner (or neighbors) to find out what channels are available and where to point your antenna, could spare you hours of frustration.
Going away but still want to stay in touch? Here are some tips on how to take the internet with you on your travels.