How to Get the Best Reception With a TV Antenna

By Jesse Futch

Television antennas have evolved in the recent past. Now that all broadcast TV in the U.S. has switched to digital and some have even become high-definition broadcasts, most TV antennas have changed. Several methods exist to maximize antenna reception, and the strategies for receiving digital channels are slightly different than they were for getting traditional, analog channels. Gone is the day when adding some foil to an antenna helped reception.

Step 1

Place the antenna outside when possible. Generally speaking, an antenna mounted outside will get better reception than one mounted inside. The TV signal received by an indoor antenna is weakened by electrical interference from indoor appliances, phones and electronics. If you choose to install an indoor antenna, try to keep it as far as possible from sources of interference. Some common indoor interferences originate from appliances such as microwaves and clothes dryers. Other sources of indoor interference are multiple or thick walls and excessive wiring from other electronics.

Step 2

Mount outdoor antennas high enough so that the TV signal is unobstructed. Obstacles such as your roof, your neighbor's house or tall trees can interfere with reception. If a directional antenna is used, point it toward the nearest broadcast point. Omni-directional antennas are capable of receiving signals from all directions, so pointing the antenna in a certain direction is not necessary.

Step 3

Get a large antenna. Indoor antennas are generally smaller since space is often an issue. Although large antennas can be an eyesore, the larger an antenna, the more signal it can receive. If you are concerned about the appearance of a large antenna on your roof, consider installing it on a less conspicuous structure, such as on the roof of a shed or detached garage. While a standard, outdoor antenna 12-24 inches wide will perform very well, a 5-foot-wide digital antenna, however, would perform better and may even receive additional channels that a smaller one could not. Indoor antennas are usually much smaller but are still often capable of receiving many digital channels when used in an urban area or close to broadcast point.

Step 4

Mount the antenna securely. If the antenna vibrates or rotates when conditions are windy and bare wires get wet when it rains, the reception will be poor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Follow your antenna's manufacturer specifications and guidelines when mounting. This will help ensure the best reception possible is achieved.