Now that everything is available online to stream, more and more people are dropping cable television services. Instead, you can gain access to live television for free with a TV antenna.
Little do most people know, but TV stations around the world still broadcast their signals the old-fashioned way. All you need to connect to their broadcasts is a functioning TV and an antenna connected to it.
Here are five steps on how to choose the best TV antenna for your viewing pleasure.
1. Figure Out Your Favorite TV Stations
Antennas aren’t as expansive as cable or satellite television. You won’t be able to get every station out there, and depending on the size you buy, you’ll only get some of your local TV.
There are multiple online tools that can help you learn where the nearest TV stations are. You can find out their distances, what frequency they operate on, and what shows are available.
If a station is further away, you’ll likely need a much larger antenna in order to receive their signal. Closer stations don’t need much to connect with. You also have to consider if there are any obstructions in your area. Trees, hills, and large buildings can interfere with your digital TV reception.
2. Inside or Outside
The placement also matters when investing in a TV antenna. Whether you put it inside your home or outside can determine how well it receives a signal as well as how big it can be.
The best outdoor TV antenna should let you watch TV broadcasts from further away, and from different directions. If it’s possible, mounting an outdoor TV antenna is almost always the better option.
However, that’s not always an option. You may live in a city or apartment that doesn’t allow outdoor antennas. In that case, an indoor TV antenna will usually be sufficient if you live near the TV broadcast towers.
Indoor antennas can be small and discreetly placed in your home. They’re no longer those “rabbit ear” antennas your parents or grandparents used to have.
One of the downfalls of using an indoor TV antenna is that it’s not the best at picking up signals. They’re not as big as outdoor ones, and the inside of your home can be full of interference.
Household appliances can affect your signal, as do common building materials. You can relocate the antenna by a window facing the nearest broadcast towers.
You could also purchase a TV antenna amplifier to boost your reception. However, amplifiers can also amplify noise and distortion from closer stations. Use them sparingly or not at all if your signal is already great.
The best TV antenna should fit your needs, but also cover as many frequencies as it claims.
3. What Frequency You Need
A digital TV antenna is specifically made to capture both VHF and UHF frequencies. However, there are often antennas that claim to process both signals but instead only cover VHF well.
VHF stands for Very High Frequency, and UHF stands for Ultra High Frequency. You’re probably wondering why that distinction matters.
VHF and UHF refer to the frequencies that television travels on. VHF channels are typically numbered 2 to 13, while UHF channels are 14 to 51.
Often, you’ll find more popular networks broadcast on VHF. If your antenna only works with UHF, then you won’t be able to watch them. Once again, an outdoor antenna will pick up both signals much better than an indoor one.
4. Directional or Multidirectional Antennas
There are two types of antennas past inside or outside ones. Multidirectional antennas pick up signals from any direction, while directional ones don’t.
Multidirectional antennas are typically flat and can be easily mounted on a window. They can tune into any station within range, and you don’t have to worry about aiming them in any particular direction. As such, they’re the most common kind of TV antenna in the market.
If you’re looking for an indoor antenna, you’re in luck. They’re almost always multidirectional, as well as most outdoor antennas.
The only drawback to using one is that they aren’t as powerful as the alternative. They work at shorter ranges, so you won’t pick up broadcast signals that are further off.
Directional antennas, meanwhile, are shaped like fins, arrows, or tubes. You have to manually point them at the stations they’re tuned to.
A good example of a directional antenna is the original rabbit ear antenna that you’d have to physically adjust to get a better signal. As opposed to multidirectional antennas, a directional one has a much further range. Modern ones are typically mounted outside, aimed at whatever station you’re most interested in.
5. Try Different Ones Out
Don’t be afraid to try out different options to find the best TV antenna for your home.
Reception can depend on a number of different factors, such as terrain, placement, and the antenna itself. Not all antennas are as good as their manufacturers claim them to be. Often, cheaper antennas work just as well as, if not better than, more expensive models.
If a certain setup doesn’t work well for you, it might help to reconsider where you can place it. An indoor TV antenna in your attic or a second-story location can be better than in the middle of your living room. You also might find that an antenna that claims to work with both VHF and UHF only works well with one and not the other.
Get the Best TV Antenna
Cutting the cord doesn’t have to mean giving up live television. Hopefully, with the help of this article, you now know how to choose the right TV antenna for your home.
The best TV antenna isn’t necessarily going to be the biggest one or the most expensive. If you live close enough to a broadcast station, you can get away with a small one right in your living room. For more tips and advice, check out our other articles.