As more people "cut the cord," TV antennas have become increasingly popular. Streaming Netflix and Hulu is great, but occasionally you just want to watch the local news or weather. For that, you can purchase an antenna that will help you tune in to local and network programming. But even the priciest antenna model can have trouble connecting if you aren't tuned to the nearest TV broadcast tower.
Find the Nearest TV Broadcast Tower
If you haven't bought an antenna yet, make sure you check to make sure you have a broadcast tower nearby. There are several easy-to-use online mapping tools that will help you figure this out. You just need to enter your ZIP code and street address and pick out the closest dot on a map. Chances are that, if multiple TV stations are broadcasting from towers nearby, you'll have no problem getting free TV.
Determine Your TV’s Capabilities
Once you've identified the broadcast towers existing in your area, it's time to start using them. If you purchased your TV during or after the mid-2000s, it should have a digital tuner built in. If, however, your TV is older, you'll need a converter box or DVR with a digital tuner. Next, you'll need to get an antenna.
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Purchase Your Antenna
Knowing how many TV networks are broadcasting nearby can help you choose the right antenna when it's time to make your purchase. If you're most interested in a network broadcasting from 50 miles away or more, you'll need a directional antenna. But if multiple towers are in two locations within the same general area, you'll need a multidirectional antenna.
Set Up Your Antenna
Part of setting up your new antenna will involve finding the nearest TV broadcast tower. You'll first connect your antenna to your TV or converter box, then set the TV to the channel directed on your TV. This is usually Channel 3 or 4.
Scan for Channels
Once your antenna is hooked up, go to "Setup" and choose "Scan channels." Hit "OK" to begin the scan and wait while it auto-populates the channels you can access. You may, however, have to invest in a different type of antenna if you find that the channels you want aren't coming in clearly enough. If you notice from time to time that one of your channels has dropped out, simply launch the scan process again to get things back to normal.