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Buying a TV Antenna

TV antennas are hardly a new technology, but today's sleek and powerful options offer a money-saving alternative to traditional cable. If you're looking for a way to enjoy your favorite entertainment, the right TV antenna will have no problem picking up your local broadcast stations and giving you a clear picture without the subscription fees that come with a cable service. Learn more about how antennas work and what you need to look when making a decision.


Why Buy a TV Antenna

A TV antenna will instantly cut your entertainment expenses when you swap out free local broadcast stations for your cable subscription. The cost of an antenna is your only expense, and you won't have to deal with monthly fees.

TV antennas can pick up both standard network television and digital sub-channels. Sub-stations are different in each area, but they typically feature a 24-hour weather station and local television channels.

Modern TV antennas are more reliable than older models. While a satellite may lose its signal in inclement weather, many TV antennas can typically keep working.

Features of a TV Antenna


  • Amplified antennas are ideal for rural areas, homes surrounded by obstacles like trees or buildings, and for anyone more than 25 miles from a tower.
  • Built-in amplification is better at strengthening audio than a supplementary amplifier.



Signal Frequency

  • VHF (Very High Frequency) picks up channels 2 through 13.
  • UHF (Ultra High Frequency) covers channels 14 to 51.
  • VHF/UHF antennas are available for users who want to receive channels on both frequencies.



Size and Shape

  • Flat indoor antennas are sleek and unobtrusive, fitting nearly anywhere in the home.
  • Indoor amplified antennas are moderately large and require adequate space in the home.
  • Outdoor antennas may be very wide and require assembly.



Types of TV Antennas

Indoor Antennas

Indoor antennas fit easily on a shelf near your television set, and many flat options can even be mounted on a wall, making them nearly invisible to guests.

  • Standard Flat Antenna Size: 7 1/4 inches wide by 9 1/4 inches deep
  • Standard Standing Antenna Size: Dipoles up to 39 inches
  • Reception: Within 25 miles



Indoor antennas are best for…

Apartments and rental spaces: If you have limitations on outdoor installations, an indoor antenna is an ideal option. You don't have to worry about where to place it or installing any permanent mounting equipment.


Urban homes: If you live within 25 miles of a tower, you won't need the added boost of an outdoor antenna. An indoor model and can get a quality signal and provide a small, sleek and unobtrusive solution.


Simple installation: The installation process for many indoor antennas is plug and go. Most systems have a quick three-step set-up that anyone can follow. You don't need DIY experience for this option.






Outdoor Antennas

Outdoor antennas naturally boost your signal their added surface area increases signal strength proportionately.

  • Standard Size: 1-9 feet across
  • Reception: 25 miles or further



Outdoor antennas are best for…

Rural homeowners: If you live more than 25 miles from the nearest tower, you'll need an outdoor antenna to pick up a sound signal. You may also need the strength of an outdoor antenna if your home is surrounded by trees.


Homes in densely populated areas: When you live in an area surrounded by other buildings, they create challenging barriers that aren't suitable for an indoor antenna.


Hilly terrain: A few hills between your home and the nearest tower can create challenges for an antenna. An outdoor model has the powerful signal you need to provide clear reception.





HDTV Compatible Antennas

HDTV compatible antennas are the only way to get high-definition channels, and they're available in indoor and outdoor options.

  • Standard Indoor HD Antenna Size: Typically 7 1/4 inches wide by 9 1/4 inches deep
  • Standard Outdoor HD Antenna Size: Up to 9 feet
  • Reception: Includes HD channels



HDTV compatible antennas are best for…

HDTVs: If your family owns a high-definition television, you likely to want best programming with outstanding quality and clarity. Only an HDTV compatible antenna will meet your needs.





Uni-Directonal Antennas

Uni-directional antennas, also known as directional antennas, point their signal in just one direction, boosting their range.

  • Standard Size: 1 foot to 9 feet long
  • Reception: 25 miles or more



Uni-directional antennas are best for…

Rural homeowners: If you live in a rural area, you'll likely need the signal boost of a directional antenna. This model reaches much farther.



Areas with one tower: A uni-directional antenna is the best choice, if you're trying to reach a far tower. It will boost your signal and offer clearer reception by focusing on that single point.

Multi-Directional Antennas

Multi-directional antennas can pick up signals from several directions at once.

  • Standard Size: 8 inches wide by 9 inches deep
  • Reception: Less than 25 miles



Multi-directional antennas are best for…

Urban homeowners: If you live in an urban area, you're probably within 25 miles of an antenna, giving you the ability to easily pick up a signal with a multi-directional antenna.


Areas with several towers: If you're surrounded by multiple towers, a multi-directional antenna will give you the ability to pick up a signal from all of them.

The Bottom Line

A TV antenna can eliminate your need for subscription based cable services, and may even let you tune in to some channels you aren't getting through your cable provider. This is a cost-saving option that can work for many homes. Make sure you assess your needs carefully before making this purchase, so you can find the ideal antenna for your home's location.