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How To Get Better Reception On Your Camper Antenna


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Improve The Reception On Your Camper Antenna

When you finally arrive at your destination and make camp after a long day on the road, few things are better than kicking your feet up and enjoying some TV. But poor reception can put a real damper on this ever-so-important relaxation time. Instead of watching your favorite shows, you’re stuck wondering how to get better reception on your camper antenna.

Thankfully, whether your antenna is over-the-air or satellite, there are plenty of solutions you can try to fix the issue. 

Let’s take a look at how to get better reception on your camper antenna, focusing first on over-the-air antennas. Then, we’ll discuss improving satellite antenna reception, including for satellite internet.

Over-the-Air Antennas

Need to know how to get better reception on your camper antenna and have an over-the-air antenna?

Over-the-air antennas, commonly known as TV antennas or TV aerials, are used to receive local TV broadcasts over the air. These are typically installed on the top of your camper and come in two types: unidirectional and omnidirectional.

A unidirectional antenna needs to be manually adjusted for the best signal, while omnidirectional antennas automatically adjust to give better reception. 

How to improve reception on a unidirectional camper antenna

The best method to try to get better reception on your unidirectional camper antenna is by adjusting it. 

You typically adjust the height of a unidirectional antenna using a crank and change the direction with a circular plate inside the roof of your camper.

  • To begin, raise the antenna, turn on your TV, and run a channel scan. 
  • Once the scan is complete, set the TV to your desired channel and note the quality. 
  • Turn the plate 90 degrees at a time, watching to see if reception improves or worsens.
  • Once you’ve found the position with optimal reception, set your antenna to this position. 

To help you improve your signal, you can use a signal finder tool to locate nearby broadcast towers and orient towards them. 

Use an amplifier

Whether your antenna is unidirectional or omnidirectional, you can use an amplifier to improve the signal. An amplifier takes a weak signal and strengthens it for better reception. Amplifiers frequently come preinstalled, especially with new omnidirectional antennas, but if you don’t have one, you can buy and install one. 

Your location

Another factor is location. Because over-the-air-antennas pick up local broadcasts, you’ll typically get better reception in more populated areas. If there are obstacles blocking your antenna, it can negatively impact signal strength as well. 

Equipment interference

Other electronics in your RV, such as lights and appliances, can cause interference when turned on. If you’re having reception problems, try turning off unneeded electronics to see if it fixes the issue. 

Equipment damage

Finally, it’s possible the cause of the poor reception is equipment damage. Carefully check your antenna, cables, and any other equipment for damage, such as a bent antenna or frying cables. 

If you find damage or all other methods have failed, consider replacing your antenna, cables, and/or amplifier. 

Satellite antennas

If you want to know how to get better reception on your camper antenna when you have a satellite antenna, many of the same techniques as over-the-air antennas also apply. For example, checking for damage and turning off electronics are both possible solutions for satellite reception issues. Plus, just like over-the-air antennas, you can use an amplifier with your satellite antenna to strengthen the signal. 

While it’s not as common to adjust satellite antennas as over-the-air ones, it’s still a possible solution. Typically, you can find this option in the setup menu for your antenna. Here, you can carefully adjust the azimuth (left-right orientation) and elevation (up-down orientation) of the dish to see if it improves your reception. 

With many newer antennas, this adjustment can be done automatically. Generally, you just need to connect the antenna to the receiver and point it in the general right direction, and it does the rest. 

Another solution is moving your camper (or your antenna, if it’s portable). For the best reception, you ideally won’t have any obstacles blocking your reception and should have a clear view of the southern sky. If you can get to an elevated position, even better. 

If none of these solutions fix your problem, your best next step is to contact your service provider. Whether you have Dish or DIRECTV, a call to their customer service line can hopefully help you get to the bottom of the issue.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the weather can affect satellite reception. Wet and windy weather can reduce signal quality and weaken your reception. Unfortunately, unless you can somehow control the weather, the only solution to this problem is to wait until the weather improves. 

If all else fails, you may need to purchase a new satellite antenna or replace it if it’s under warranty. 

A woman in a camper using a laptop
With satellite internet, you can get internet access from almost anywhere.

How to get better satellite internet reception

Besides TV service, a satellite antenna can also be used for internet access through companies such as Dish and RVDataSat. Many of the steps to solve these kinds of reception issues are the same as for satellite TV, but there are a few extra things to try to solve this kind of reception issue. 

In particular, if you have a poor internet signal, the problem may not be your antenna at all. Check your modem, router, and any connections to make sure everything is properly connected and shows no signs of damage. 

Next, try resetting your modem and/or router. If this still doesn’t fix it, consider updating the firmware for your router. For your modem, firmware updates are typically handled by your service provider.

Consider the location of your router; while a router can typically cover the full interior of your camper easily, moving the router closer to you may still improve the signal.  

Finally, if none of these solutions work, your best bet is to contact your service provider. 

Now you know how to get better reception on your camper antenna

If you’ve got bad reception, there’s no need to despair. There are plenty of solutions to try, regardless of what type of antenna you have.

If you have a unidirectional over-the-air antenna, getting better reception can be as easy as adjusting the antenna’s position. Whether unidirectional or omnidirectional, using an amplifier, changing location, and turning off electronics can all improve reception.

For a satellite antenna, you can apply most of the same solutions as over-the-air antennas. Even better, many satellite antennas can adjust themselves automatically. If you can’t find a solution, your satellite service provider can likely help you out. 


RVers looking for valuable how-to information have learned to go to the experts. Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.

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3 thoughts on “How To Get Better Reception On Your Camper Antenna

  1. We are about to take a trip in our grand design travel trailer. We just do not understand how to get TV reception on the road. Any pointers?

  2. The standard digital broadcast is very narrow and running a scan on wherever you put your directional antenna up will probably find nothing. Have an idea of where the tower is or get a signal meter on your coax. 90 degrees at a time is way too much. I live 40ish miles from my towers and have to be within 5 or 10 degrees to get a signal. Broadcast signals are line of sight and you can’t be too far from a transmitter or repeater or you will get nothing.

  3. Best option is to download movies or shows before you leave home. I port to my HDMI on the TV from my iPhone and am guaranteed a crystal clear image with no commercials. I never bother with OTA TV while camping.

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