Cable and satellite TV packages can be expensive, and if you don’t watch TV that often, you may find yourself wondering if there is a more affordable option. Well, how does free TV sound? Cord-cutters have been enjoying this wonderful perk for years, and you can, too, with the help of an outdoor TV antenna that gives you access to all of the over-the-air (OTA) channels in your area. With an antenna like this in your arsenal, you can watch some of the most popular local channels in your vicinity without paying a dime.
Notably, it is not a good idea to simply buy the first antenna you spot on Amazon or at the store. There are a number of factors that should be considered before you purchase a new TV antenna. First and foremost, you should consider which channels you would like to receive and view. Then, use that information to determine the range, channel frequencies, and type of TV antenna you would need to achieve this goal. A strong signal is required, and that can only be attained by maximizing your signal reception.
Some outdoor TV antennas include a mast so you can elevate your TV antenna above your roofline.
Your preferred channels
Your initial task is to determine which channels are available in your area and decide which ones are of interest to you. You can do this by visiting a website like TV Foolor Antennas Directand entering your address. The website will then show you all the broadcast towers, and therefore all of the available over-the-air channels, in your vicinity. It will also show you exactly how far away each broadcast tower is from your location. Note the local channels that you may be interested in, and write down their azimuth and real channel numbers for your reference. These will come in handy later.
Look at your list of channels, and determine how many miles away the farthest channel that you’re interested in is. Use this as your baseline when determining the range (in miles) that your antenna needs to offer. Antennas possess various stated ranges, from a short 40 miles to a lengthy 150 miles or even more. You should choose an antenna with a range that is slightly greater than what you think you might need. That way, you won’t have to grapple with poor video quality from faraway channels.
If you don’t see what you need right away, keep looking. Many outdoor TV antennas offer a 50- or 60-mile range, but some exceptional ones can pick up TV signals from as far as 200 miles away.
If you already own a high-definition TV, make sure your TVtuner can receive HDTV signals before investing in a new antenna.
Over-the-air channels may be classified as Very High Frequency (VHF) Low, VHF-High, or Ultra-High Frequency (UHF). VHF-Low channels have a real channel number between 2 and 6. Real channel numbers 7 to 13 are considered VHF-High, and real channel numbers 14 to 51 are considered UHF. Note that the real channel numbers may be different from the channels that appear on your TV when you are scrolling around to see what’s on.
It’s important to understand which types of channels you want to access because not all antennas can pick up all signal ranges. Most can pick up VHF-High and UHF frequencies easily, but you may need to do a little more research to find a product that can pick up VHF-Low frequencies, as these are less common.
Directional vs. omnidirectional
Outdoor TV antennas are either directional or omnidirectional. Omnidirectional antennas pick up signals equally well in all directions, but these products may have a smaller overall range than directional antennas, which can only pick up signals pointed in a single direction. The right type for you depends on where the TV signals for the channels you’re interested in are coming from and how far away they are. This is where the azimuth data you should have recorded earlier comes in handy. The azimuth gives you an idea of which direction the signal is coming from. If all signals are coming from roughly the same direction, a directional or omnidirectional antenna should work equally well. But if signals are coming from different directions, an omnidirectional antenna works better.
Another option is to select a directional antenna with a rotating base. You control it via a remote, and you can rotate it 360 degrees to pick up signals in all directions, thus making it a “multi-directional” antenna.
When choosing the right outdoor TV antenna, an important consideration is how far you need it to reach. We keep in mind how accurate each option is over long distances.
Multiple channel frequencies exist but not all antennas can pick every frequency up. We assess how effective each outdoor TV antenna is at picking up certain channels.
Directional outdoor TV antennas are designed to be pointed towards whatever tower you need to access. While they are a little more budget-friendly, they need to be manually adjusted from time to time, which is something we weigh when recommending products.
Outdoor TV antennas can range in size and typically if you need a greater range, the antenna will be bigger. We investigate how big each product is and how that affects its performance.
Outdoor TV antennas will always need to be installed in some way. We research how easy each product is to install and whether you will need help doing so.
HD-quality television is an important factor to many people. As such, these types of outdoor TV antennas are our go-to’s for our list.
The durability of an outdoor TV antenna can make or break how useful it is during extreme conditions. We vet each product for how well it handles bad weather.
Omni-directional outdoor TV antennas can pick up signals in every direction. We look to these products for their ability to not be as finicky when it comes to finding a signal.
Outdoor TV antennas can range in price anywhere from $35-$100. We research how well the performance matches up with each product's price point.
One of the most important considerations in determining which Outdoor TV antenna to buy is what channels you like to access. We look for products that can locate the most channels possible.
Installing most outdoor TV antennas isn’t complicated, but the exact nature of installation depends on the model you choose. Your antenna should include instructions on how to set it up, test it, and troubleshoot it. It should mountfirmly to your roof and should not wobble in windy conditions. If you feel uncomfortable installing your own antenna, consider hiring a professional to do it.
As a general rule, the greater an antenna’s range, the larger its size. Size is a significant factor to consider for two reasons. First, it may be more cumbersome to install a large TV antenna than a small one. If you go the former route, you may want to enlist the help of others just in case it is too cumbersome to manage on your own. Second, some people may find large TV antennas to be unsightly. If this is the case for you, consider investing in the smallest TV antenna you can find that still offers the range and channels you need.
If you live in an area prone to extreme weatherconditions, such as strong winds and heavy rainfall, it’s especially important that you choose a durable antenna that won’t wobble, twist out of position, or fall apart in these conditions.
If you choose to use a signal splitter to connect multiple televisionsto the antenna, be aware that you could experience a drop in signal quality.
These antennas vary in price from around $35 to well over $100. As you shop, you will likely notice that some brands offer different iterations of an antenna at different price points. Notably, a higher price tag does not necessarily indicate a larger range or superior signal quality.Often, a higher price is an indicator of better build quality.
If you live in an area that receives significant snow, rain, or wind, consider investing in an antenna that costs at least $50 to be sure your purchase holds up well over time.
If you’re a cord-cutter who lives in a rural area with weak signals, consider investing in a Yagi antenna. A Yagi antenna soaks up weak signals and concentrates them so you can enjoy high-quality free TV despite your location.
- You can boost the signal reception of an outdoor antenna. Investing in a high-quality range amplifier, which attaches to the cable running from the antenna to your TV, can help you get a strong signal. You can also buy antennas that have built-in amplifiers.
- Some landlords are finicky about tenants who want to perform their own installations, particularly on the outside of the building. If you don’t own your residence, obtain permission from your landlord before installing a TV antenna outdoors.
- If your signal reception is poor, consider upgrading to a more powerful antenna. Alternatively, try removing any obstructions, like tall trees or branches, that may be blocking the signal and interfering with your TV reception.
- If you’re concerned about weather affecting the performance or integrity of your outdoor antenna, there is a possible workaround. If you have an attic, consider installing your new antenna there. It will be shielded from the elements but should maintain its effectiveness in this location.
- If you choose a model with a rotating base, place your remote control in a secure spot. Always put it back when you’re done using it, too. If you were to lose the remote control for your antenna, you may not be able to rotate the antenna anymore. Subsequently, you could lose your ability to tune in to certain channels.
Check your antenna after heavy winds or rain to make sure it hasn’t bent or moved out of position.
What channels will I be able to receive with this kind of antenna?
A. The answer to this question depends on where you live and the specific range (notated in miles) that your outdoor antenna offers. As previously mentioned, you can research which channels are available in your vicinity by entering your address into a signal analysis website.
Would this type of TV antenna work with my older TV?
A. It should work with most televisions, but if you have an older TV set, you may need to buy a converter box that connects to your TV and the cable leading to your antenna.
Do TV antennas placed outdoors work better than indoor TV antennas?
A. These antennas are not necessarily better than indoor TV antennas, but they do tend to offer longer ranges. Therefore, an outdoor antenna is likely the best option if you intend to reach signals that are far away.
What if my TV does not have a built-in tuner?
A. A tuner is part of a TV that helps it receive TV signals. If your TV does not have a built-in tuner, consider purchasing an external TV tuner.
Winegard Elite 7550 — Best attic/outdoor TV antenna
The Winegard Elite 7550 immediately impressed with its ability to pick up more broadcast channels than the competition at higher signal levels. It has a built-in amplifier and performed well on both VHF-High and UHF broadcast bands.
When you need an outdoor antenna with excellent reception, the Winegard Elite 7550 is the smart option, and the best TV antenna for outdoor installation. It may cost a little more, but the Winegard Elite 7550 pays dividends, delivering a whopping 73 channels in our tests.What is the best height for an outdoor TV antenna? ›
Higher is better: 10-20 feet off the ground is ideal. Try to avoid obstructions such as tall buildings, forests or hills, which can weaken signals before they get to your antenna. You'll need to be able to point your antenna, even if it's multidirectional, at the source of the TV signal for the best reception.What type of antenna has the longest range? ›
- #1 Winegard Platinum HD7694P Long Range TV Antenna.
- #2 RCA ANT7514 Compact Long Range TV Antenna.
- #3 Pingbingding Long Range TV Antenna.
- #4 Antennas Direct Clearstream 4 Long Range TV Antenna.
- #5 Vansky Long Range TV Antenna.
- #6 Antennas Direct DB8E Long Range TV Antenna.
Choose an antenna that receives both VHF and UHF signals. VHF and UHF refer to the frequencies stations use to broadcast their signals. If your favorite shows come on a network that's only on cable or satellite, you won't be able to watch them with an antenna. Most cable channels don't broadcast over the airwaves.What kind of antenna do I need to get local channels? ›
UHF/VHF rated antennas should be used to receive the most important channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc.)
While a strong signal is often thought of as a plus, a signal that is too high will likely cause pixelation or burn out your TV's tuner. Typically a good signal strength is between 60-65dBuV.How do I get my antenna to pick up channels? ›
- Experiment with Different Locations in Your Home. ...
- Use a Longer Cable To Reach That Window. ...
- Face it Towards the TV Transmitter Towers. ...
- Lay Your Antenna Flat Horizontally. ...
- Move it Higher Up (Highly Recommended) ...
- Put it in a Skylight (Highly Recommended)
Place the antenna in or near a window
The fewer obstructions between your antenna and the broadcast towers, the better. And make no mistake–thick walls and ceilings are certainly obstructions. That's why placing your antenna in or near a window often yields the best results.
The end of the antenna with the short elements is the front of the antenna. You point that end towards the TV transmitter.
You will not receive any pay-TV stations via a TV antenna. We've seen antennas claiming this possibility, but it is 100% false. You will not receive ESPN, CNN, or any other such channel with your antenna.How often should you scan your TV for channels? ›
The bottom line is that a periodic rescan keeps your OTA TV viewing up to date. I recommend that you do a rescan once every three or four months just to make certain that you don't miss out on your favorite shows!Do 100 mile antennas work? ›
A number of companies claim that a TV antenna can receive signals from 100 miles away or more. These claims are simply untrue.Are amplified TV antennas better? ›
An amplifier can also be helpful if you intend to split the signal from one antenna to feed two TVs. But our tests showed that amplified antennas weren't always more effective than nonamplified models—they can also amplify noise and distortion, and overload reception from closer stations.How do I check my TV signal strength? ›
Check for signal presence using the meter's single-channel mode. Select the single-channel option from the menu. A series of values, usually denoted in MHz, and a series of vertical bars appear on the meter's display. A higher numerical value or presence of vertical bars represents a signal and its strength.Does a smart TV need an antenna to get local channels? ›
Do I need a TV antenna with a smart TV? Smart TVs are connected to the internet and provide a number of free streaming options. But if you want free over-the-air local channels then you need a TV antenna to watch them.Why is my outdoor antenna not picking up channels? ›
Your cables may be loose.
If you have loose cables, you'll most likely get no signal or a spotty signal. So make sure your connections are tight at your TV and your antenna. While you're checking your connections, also take a look at your cables to make sure they aren't bent, looped, or otherwise broken.
Grounding the antenna protects your signal booster or DAS from damage in case of lightning strikes. Lightning can strike the antenna and travel through the coaxial cable to your device, which will not only damage the signal boosting equipment but can cause a fire or shock people in the vicinity.Which direction should I face my TV antenna? ›
How to Correctly Point a TV Antenna for Best Reception - YouTubeAre 2 TV antennas better than 1? ›
Adding a second antenna can increase the signal path coverage and give you a more consistent signal. To accomplish this you will need a combiner or coupler that can combine the two antennas together. I would recommend that you use two identical antennas. This will ensure a balanced signal path and coverage.
A number of companies claim that a TV antenna can receive signals from 100 miles away or more. These claims are simply untrue.Do trees interfere with TV antenna? ›
Interference. Large trees can interfere with TV antenna reception. Indoor antennas in particular might struggle if near tall, bushy trees, according to the government's DTV website. Tall structures such as trees interfere with the signal by obstructing the signal waves or reflecting them off their foliage.How can I get TV reception in a rural area? ›
If you live in a rural area, you may have trouble getting over-the-air TV channels. The farther you are from broadcast towers, the more likely you are to experience reception problems. If you're looking for a simple, effective solution to this problem, an HDTV antenna is the way to go.Which TV has the best antenna reception? ›
- Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV. The best TV with ATSC 3.0. ...
- LG G2 OLED. LG's ATSC 3.0 king is the G2 OLED. ...
- Sony Bravia XR A80J OLED. The best Sony OLED with ATSC 3.0. ...
- LG G1 OLED. 2021's premium LG 4K OLED with NextGen TV. ...
- LG GX OLED TV.
To find out where the local broadcast towers are in your area, go to the FCC's DTV antenna map, then click on the station's call letters to see where the signals are coming from. You'll also be able to determine how many stations you should be able to pull in and their relative signal strength.Can you put 2 antennas next to each other? ›
Placing two antennas within ~1/2 wavelength of each other will cause them to inductively couple - effectively connecting themselves to each other. This results in detuning both antennas, as well as the high power Tx RF getting routed back down the other antenna, possibly damaging the receiver.How far should antennas be from each other? ›
Antenna Positioning: Distance Between Antenna
For effective diversity performance, AB antennas should not be positioned less than ¼ wavelength apart, and ideally, they would be placed ½ to one full wavelength apart.
Combiners (which cost about $30) merge the two sets of signals into a single stream of TV. Using a combiner is as easy as plugging the coax cables from the two antennas into the combiner device and then using a third coax cable from the combiner to connect to the Tablo OTA DVR or TV.Should I set my antenna to short-range or long range? ›
A good rule of thumb is that a short-range antenna is probably fine if the tower transmitting the signal is less than 40 miles away. However, if the signal is weak, getting a long-range antenna can help you pick it up clearly.Can a TV antenna be too strong? ›
TV Antenna Signal Attenuators
If you live in the shadow of your local broadcast towers, you could be killing your TV or Tablo DVR's tuners by sending too strong of an OTA signal. This is called 'overdriving' and can result in a poor viewing experience or even the inability to tune into some stations.
Those days are long gone. These days, if you live in a large metropolitan area and plug in a digital TV antenna to your TV, you can easily receive anywhere from 70 to more than 100 channels. In some areas, such as Los Angeles, you can get up to 157 channels.Which end of the antenna do you point? ›
The end of the antenna with the short elements is the front of the antenna. You point that end towards the TV transmitter.Does rain affect TV antenna? ›
A regular rainfall shouldn't affect reception. High winds, fog and heavy rain, however, can interfere with reception because they affect how the TV signals reach your antenna. Poor reception in inclement weather occurs because the signals are getting disrupted as they are traveling from the towers to your antenna.Can an old satellite dish be used as an antenna? ›
So, will a satellite dish work as an antenna by itself? No, but it can work in tandem with a simple outdoor antenna to produce potentially impressive results. What you'll essentially be doing here is using the bowl-shaped DirectTV dish to amplify the signal for an external antenna to catch.