With a TV antenna, you can get tons of channels and countless types of programming for free. You also get better visual quality than cable (antenna TV is uncompressed). In addition, you don’t have to worry about missing your show during a storm, which can knock out cable or satellite. But should you get the best outdoor TV antenna or a top-of-the-line indoor version?
The most important consideration in choosing the proper type of antenna depends primarily on where you live. So the first step is to determine what’s available in your area and if anything might interfere with signals. Then, you can look for the perfect indoor or best outdoor TV antenna for you.
Finding Your Local Broadcast Towers
Several free online tools simplify finding out what stations are in your area and where broadcast towers are located. For example, the Federal Communications Commission DTV Reception Maps site uses your location to display a coverage map.
In addition, the legend shows each network and whether the signal is strong, moderate or weak in your area. If you click on a call sign, you can see right where its broadcast tower is. With this information, you can figure out whether there are any obstructions in the way, such as mountains or tall buildings.
Once you know more about the available networks, you can decide what type of antenna will work for you.
How To Choose The Best Indoor TV Antenna
Indoor antennas are very easy to install and set up. Most of them only need to be plugged into your TV and sometimes an electrical outlet. They are small, compact and affordable. They aren’t designed to withstand the elements; instead, you install them high in your house next to a window, if possible.
If you are close to several broadcast towers transmitting strong, unblocked signals, an indoor antenna might be ideal. Indoor antennas may also work better for apartments or condos where installation of an outdoor antenna is not allowed.
If you opt for an indoor antenna, look for one from an established, reliable brand. Check the antenna’s maximum range to make sure it can pick up signals from the nearest broadcast towers. For those living far from the towers, a built-in signal extender could help.
However, indoor antennas are not as powerful as outdoor antennas are. If there are obstacles along the signal path — like mountains, valleys, large trees, buildings or even certain materials used in your home’s construction, such as concrete and steel — an indoor antenna might not receive some signals.
How To Choose The Best Outdoor TV Antenna
Outdoor antennas are harder to install and can be more expensive than their indoor counterparts. Depending on your comfort level, you may want to hire a professional to put one in. However, they can pick up more signals more strongly from a greater distance. As a result, they can provide additional channels and a clearer, crisper picture on your television.
There are several factors to consider when deciding on the best outdoor TV antenna:
- Think about your location and building structure when considering where and how to place your antenna. For example, you may want to attach it to your roof or side of the house, or you might need a freestanding antenna. You’ll have to site your antenna strategically to catch signals.
- The size and height of the antenna matter as well. A taller antenna will likely improve reception.
- Standard antennas only pick up signals from a single direction. However, multidirectional or omnidirectional TV antennas can receive signals from any direction.
- Check the signal range and compare that with your distance from broadcast towers. For example, an antenna with a 150- to 200-mile range might be required if you live far from the closest broadcast tower.
If you’re thinking of making the switch to over-the-air television using an antenna, you have plenty of modern options that will help you cut your entertainment costs!
This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money. Checkout Don't Waste Your Money for product reviews and other great ideas to save and make money.