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Simple Tricks To Fix Your Caravan TV Reception

Article by Peter Smith - Caravans Plus
Read Time: 6 mins

You don't always need to spend more money to get a better picture on your TV.

What is Signal Polarity and is it important?

It sounds technical, but it can be a simple and important concept with the digital TV transmissions.

When you are at home you don't need to worry about Signal Polarity because your antenna will be set for your local area. There is an 85% chance you will be getting your TV via a horizontal signal.

But those that travel in a Caravan, Motorhome or Camper Trailer will be highly represented in the areas that use vertical signals for some or all of their channels. You will miss these channels unless you understand and prepare.

Below: Red signal is Horizontal Polarity

Horizontal signals are always the most powerful and will travel much further from the transmitter than the vertical signals.
Around 60% of the Australian channels are transmitted using horizontal signals.

This equates to around 85% of the viewing population due to the stronger signal.
Some antennas will only pick up these signals.

Below: Green signal is Vertical Polarity

The vertical signals are lower powered and are intended for local broadcasts only.

The remaining 40% of transmissions will be sent out using a vertical signal.

This equates to around 15% of the viewing population because of the more limited range.

Some transmitters may send one channel vertical and another horizontal.

Some antennas can be rotated to pick up these signals and some will pick up both all the time.

Why is polarity more important now?

Since December 2013 Analogue has been fazed out. With analogue signals, the signal loss for a caravan TV antenna mounted with the wrong polarity is important. If the signal power is strong, this would result in a noisy analogue picture. If the signal power is low, you will not get a picture at all. Analogue signal was all about the signal strength.

Digital signal however is very different. You MUST match the polarity, it does not matter how strong the signal is, it will not work with the wrong polarity. With a digital signal it is all about the equipment reading the zeros and ones and when you have the wrong polarity it cannot read them and you get a 'No Signal' reading on the TV. Digital is a lot about polarity.

How can I find what polarity is being transmitted where I park?

There are a few ways to get this information, read on to see which will suit you best.

1) iPhone/iPad and Android app, Australian Government

Free: mySwitch allows you to enter your address or location to find the closest transmitter - direction and distance. After selecting the transmitter, you can select ....more info....to find Frequency, Channel number and Polarisation.

For Satellite reception it gives bearing and angle to the Satellite, including recommended dish size and LNB Skew for your current location.

iphone android app

2) The Antenna Mate iPhone/iPad App

This Australian App, costing around $5.50 will point to your closest transmitter. Internet access is not required.

Selecting the 'Info' icon will display all Channels that are broadcast through that transmitter, together with the frequency, power, polarisation (vertical or Horizontal) and signal type (Analogue or Digital)

Selecting the 'Search' icon will show more transmitters within 150km so you can select an alternate one if the closest is hidden or does not provide a channel you want.

Iphone app
Above: As soon as you open the App. it shows direction to your closest transmitter.

Will your antenna receive vertical signals?

I will cover the antenna's we know about.

Own an EXPLORER antenna?

If you find the polarity needs to be set to vertical you should do this before tuning. The later Explorer Antenna come with a vertical bar that gives a ninety degree angle to the main mast. This will set your antenna to receive the vertical signal. They are available as an option and can be used with any brand of antenna that attaches to mast pole.
Below: The vertical bar adapter

Own a Winegard or Antennatek antenna?
These very popular roof mounted antenna were setup to receive horizontal signals and this has proved a problem as we are migrating to Digital.Some owners release one mounting point to allow the antenna head to drop to the vertical, but this is inconvenient when travelling.

In 2011 we did an article on the Wingman that went a long way to address this issue, and this is still valid, but 2012 brought an even better range of solutions.
The Winegard Freevision HV antenna - either complete or retrofit kit, will receive both vertical and horizontal signals when it is elevated and is an excellent upgrade if you are having a problem.

Winegard Freevision Caravan TV Antenna - Complete Kit

Winegard Freevision Caravan TV Antenna - Complete Kit

4 In Stock Now.
Winegard Freevision Caravan TV Antenna - RetroFit Kit only

Winegard Freevision Caravan TV Antenna - RetroFit Kit only

6 In Stock Now.

Foldaway Antenna. By their very nature, these can be easily rotated to suit either the vertical or horizontal signal, or both at once. They are initially supplied without a booster, however a booster is recommended for use in fringe areas.

Foldaway Tallboy Caravan TV Antenna - 2.0m - Complete Kit

Foldaway Tallboy Caravan TV Antenna - 2.0m - Complete Kit

2 In Stock Now.
Foldaway Caravan TV Antenna - Quick Fit - Complete Kit

Foldaway Caravan TV Antenna - Quick Fit - Complete Kit

5 In Stock Now.

JACK Digital Antenna. These are designed for the horizontal signals. If used on the Winegard extension arms, it is possible to release one top mounting pin and rotate the unit to receive the vertical signals but again this is inconvenient.

King Jack Digital HD Antenna - Suit Winegard Lifter and Round Mast

King Jack Digital HD Antenna - Suit Winegard Lifter and Round Mast

4 In Stock Now.

Signal Finders - What do they do, and are they worth it?

A Signal Finder will do a great job telling you where the signal is coming from, but it will not tell you the polarity. You can check out the antennas on the local houses or other caravans to identify on what polarity the local transmitter is transmitting on or use one of the methods above.

What the Signal Finder does better than anything else already mentioned is tell you exactly what direction works best from where you are parked. With the signal finder plugged into your antenna cable, between the antenna and the TV, slowly rotate or have someone else rotate your antenna until you get the maximum signal shown by the number of LED's that light up.

What a Signal Finder will not do, is find a signal if your equipment is faulty or of poor quality. The items that can effect a signal are the quality of the antenna, if the amplifier is working, if all connections and cables are in good condition and good quality, if you are getting a direct signal, or if the signal is getting bounced off buildings or landforms.

Other Improvements.

It is surprising how often a cable is at fault where it looks to be in good condition. Try swapping your working cables from inside your house as a first step.

The other items that will also effect your TV reception, and should not be overlooked are:

  • The height of your antenna
  • The connections on your co-axial cable. Screw type are best.
  • Do you have a booster, if so, is it working as they can be damaged by lightning in the area.

    Was this helpful?


    • comment-avatar


      You don't clearly say HOW to point the antenna - the most important part.

    • comment-avatar


      Hi Tim: I have a vertical antenna and find this adequate. Firstly I wind up aerial and search for any TV station. If it is pixelated I turn aerial until it is clear. I then retune and find that I have a lot of stations and clearer pictures as well. Also I notice that wind can sometimes distort the picture so I lower the antenna until the picture is clearer. I

    • comment-avatar


      Point the long single antenna (T) i.e. the bottom of the "T" to the transmitter direction.

    • comment-avatar


      i have trouble setting up the tv i get to set up and thats as far as i go not sure what to do next thank you

    • comment-avatar


      Has anyone tried a marine style aerial such as a Glomex omnidirectional UFO style. On our boat they worked great and as I have just purchased a camper, I was thinking of trying it on the van. No need point anywhere specific and the new ones have automatic gain control of Approx 27db?

    • comment-avatar


      I just purchased a 2016 van in South Aust and was unable to get much reception at either Mt Barker (Adelaide hills or in the Berossa valley however as soon as I got to Victoria via The Great Ocean Rd I was able to pick up lots of stations same thing in NSW lots of stations WHY??????? Fitted with Winegard antenna

    • comment-avatar


      With antennas we also have to consider frequency Most capital city’s use VHF whilst regional areas are mostly UHF. The issue is many caravan antennas preform much better for UHF rather then VHF, this is largely due to UHF being the dominant frequency band used overseas. This is why in some areas in Australia you will struggle to get a good reception especially on the outskirts of the main capital cities where VHF are used but also the power from the transmitter is low.

    • comment-avatar


      I note Joseph's comment however I have the winegard free vision areal Which is suppose to receive both UHF & VHF just thought it strange that some people could get reception (parked next to me) & I could not but only in SA Other states reception OK. going to Broken Hill in September see how I go out there Thanks for input. Alan

    • comment-avatar

      Ron Jarvis

      Are WA stations all vertical.? We recently toured Aust for 8 months. Our Winegard was fine . Entered WA near Kunnunurra-- fine. From Kunna all the way down the coast to Perth--- nothing, tho in Perth we get 44Indigenous perfectly, but nothing else. A pair of rabbit ears--- in poly pipes gives 27 channels most of the way, even with them flat, or V shaped and with no booster. Suspect Winegard has blown a circuit? tho 44 is fine. Booster light is on.

    • comment-avatar


      Does anyone know of a antenna receiving signal from the mobile phone network yes they do exist a mate has one he purchased from JB Hi-Fi works where others wont have been unable to get one anywhere off the market perhaps.

    • comment-avatar

      I have a motorhome that had an old omni directional aerial but as it was for analogue not digital we had to replace it, which we did, with a highly recommended Jack complete unit. I have to say that I am very disappointed with this aerial as we only get a picture in the city areas and not in the country. We are about to replace the jack but don't know what with yet, the jack is only about a year old so have wasted quite a lot of money.

    • comment-avatar

      I must agree with you my Jack mainly works in city areas and after a lot of review and looking and people recommend it I bought it. I agree they are not a cheap item as I bought it as I was worried what would happen if I forgot to wind it down.. Mine too was only new other people were getting pictures with other aerials and me with the you bute one got nothing. Went to the company and they had my try this try that but still no good. In the end they stop taking my calls and emails could not give me a answer on what to do.(besides you must be in a bad area or the signal is blocked the wave were suppose to change in all areas) I asked so what do I do Buy another aerial what would you recommend. No Answer. So I still have the aerial and a heap of DVD's to watch or my laptop.

    • comment-avatar

      John Gage

      I have a digital HDTV with over the air antenna with built in digital slginal meter. I have only picked a reasonlble siginal twice in the last two Year most times i do not have reception . Have you got any idea's on how to rectify this issures. Regards John The unit ia a Jack sure lock antenna.

    • comment-avatar


      Hi, my husband and I are currently in swanhill Vic. We are unable to get reception. We haven't been able to get reception since we left Peterborough SA. Renmark and tempy both no good. I asked the park owner and he was surprised we couldn't get reception as he says excellent reception here. He told me to point my antenna in a particular direction which we did but still no reception, not even 1 chanel. We own a winegard sensar antenna. We are yining correctly as I've followed TV tuning instructions precisely. Any advice. Thanks

    • comment-avatar

      Frank Varga

      Hi All. We have just purchased a Crusader Excalibur Serenity caravan which is in the process of being built. Just wondering weather the quality of the actual TV unit has anything to do with reception being received in either format.

    • comment-avatar


      I have a Winegard HV on the caravan and staying at Boundary Bend Vic caravan park still no tv the tv towers are about 2of 37ks a way and 2 90ks a way is there I can do to get tv ?

    • comment-avatar


      I caught the cable going to the wineguard freevision masthead on a tree branch. It pulled the cableand damaged the connection in the masthead splitter. I had the cable repaired and fitted a new splitter but still no reception. Sometimes i get a wesk SBS signal. Is it possible i could have damaged one of the masthead amplifiers if so how can i check them.

    • comment-avatar


      I have upgraded my antenna to a Winegard Sensar HV. I still cannot get vision on SBS world movies, SBS Vineland and some other channels. I have sound for the channels but no vision. I have tried adjusting the direction. No good. Screen shows invalid format.

    • comment-avatar


      Van purchased with NCE digital fixed antenna no internal control, unable to get a signal,

    • comment-avatar


      I have an antennaTek LPDA which I know is faulty, it needs replacement, I have removed the external unit. My question is - is it possible to fit the winegard sensar HV retrofit unit to the through the ceiling windup mechanism of the antennae tek?

    • comment-avatar


      I have a King Jack antenna. This antenna being horizontal polarity only is totally useless in many parts of Australia. It’s fine in major cities but many country areas have vertical meaning no reception at all. On a trip around Australia with friends whose van had a Winegard free vision. There were numerous places where we had no reception at all while they had perfect reception. On checking with the antenna Mate app these were areas with vertical polarity. These antennas should never have been sold in Australia. As I’m keen to replace this antenna wondering if the Millenco 900L receives both polarities.

    • comment-avatar


      we have a 2017 Kokoka - the antenna/aerial on it is not a common one - in fact I haven't seen another one like it and I'm not sure what it's called. I tried to upload a photo of it on here but couldn't. We have no reception at all. Not sure if anyone can help me with it? also if we needed to replace the antenna/aerial - what would be the best one to get? thanks

    • comment-avatar


      The small circuit board on the bottom (mounted horizontally on the winegard) has water damage evident on the board. Where can I source just a replacement board and not have to spend $425 on new antenna kit?

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