The Best Outdoor TV Antenna Options of 2022 – Top Picks by Bob Vila

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Instead of subscribing to streaming services, you could be pulling in free TV channels from the airwaves around your home. The best outdoor TV antennas require only a small investment of time and money, so, in little time, you could be saving money on cable and subscription services, while watching your favorite channels in HD quality.

Outdoor TV antennas can pull in a range of channels, including local, national, and public broadcasting. They’re also relatively easy to install, either by enlisting the help of a handyman or doing it yourself—provided you don’t have a fear of heights.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Antennas Direct Clearstream 4V TV Antenna C4-V-CJM
  2. BEST LONG-RANGE: Five Star Outdoor Digital Amplified HDTV Antenna
  3. BEST MOTORIZED: PBD Digital Outdoor TV Antenna
  4. BEST FOR ATTICS: GE Pro Outdoor TV Antenna, 29884
  5. BEST APP SUPPORT: RCA Outdoor Yagi HD Antenna, 4K 1080P

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Outdoor TV Antenna

Before you start shopping for the best outdoor TV antenna for your home, there are several considerations to keep in mind to ensure that you choose the most suitable model for your situation.

Location and Building Structure

Both your home’s location and construction can have a lot to do with choosing the right outdoor TV antenna. For instance, if you live in a city, you’ll have different factors to contend with than if you live in a remote valley, far from broadcast towers.

If you live in a city, you might not have to worry much about your antenna’s reception. What might be a factor, though, is your HOA or historical society’s rules on outdoor antennas. Many of these organizations don’t want your antenna to be visible, so you’d be better off choosing a model that you can mount inside your attic.

If you’re on a large parcel of land in a remote valley, you’ll have to worry less about your antenna’s appearance and more about reception. If this is the case, you may need to use a tall antenna pole to lift the satellite as high above your home as possible. The higher it is, the better your chances of having a strong reception.

Antenna Size and Height

When shopping for the best outdoor TV antenna, understand that size and height can be important factors in how well the device will work. The signal waves that antennas pick up can be blocked by large obstructions like tall buildings, mountains, and even large depressions in the ground. If you’re receiving poor reception, it might be due to a blockage between you and the broadcast tower.

In this case, you can purchase an antenna that is larger in size or increase the height of your antenna. A taller antenna is more likely to pick up a quality signal and improve your reception. This is especially true in a valley. However, larger antennas can pick up weaker TV signals, so they also have their benefits.

Signal Range

If a standard cable isn’t available in your area, signal range is, by far, the most important factor when choosing the best outdoor TV antenna for your needs. For those located a short distance from a broadcast tower, an antenna with a 70-mile range is more than sufficient. If you’re nowhere near the closest broadcast tower, a short-range antenna could be useless. Instead, look into an antenna with a 150- to 200-mile range for optimal broadcast quality.

Keep in mind that while you can purchase a signal amplifier as well, they don’t improve your antenna’s reception. They simply make up for the quality and signal loss that occurs between the antenna and the TV. With that said, signal loss could be the actual problem—not the reception the antenna is receiving—so note signal amplifiers as a potential solution.

HD Capability

Controversy swirls around whether HD capability actually matters much to the quality of your TV programming. Regardless, most of the outdoor TV antenna manufacturers claim their products offer HD capability. For this reason, it might be worth considering, if only as an indication of capability.

In today’s TV broadcasting, antennas receive a digital signal, which means you either have a channel or you don’t. If you have poor reception, you won’t see a fuzzy picture; instead, your screen will display a “no signal” message. So, if your antenna has HD capability, your TV picture should be crystal clear, or HD-like quality, in most cases.

Omnidirectional Reception

If you’re not interested in dialing in the perfect reception but would rather purchase a set-and-forget style antenna, a model that is made to be a omnidirectional antenna may be the best choice for you. These antennas don’t need you to point them directly at a broadcast tower for the best possible reception. They’re round, like a disc, and have antenna elements throughout the disc to draw reception from any direction.

Beware that many omnidirectional antennas have shorter ranges than directional antennas. This style might be an option only if you’re relatively close (less than 100 miles) to a broadcast tower.

Connectivity

While it’s possible to connect more than one TV to your outdoor TV antenna, there are several factors to consider. It usually works well to use a splitter to divert your antenna’s signal to connect to two TVs; however, it can be difficult to divert the signal to more than two TVs if your antenna doesn’t support dual connectivity.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase a coaxial splitter, if one is not included with the antenna you purchase, to take advantage of dual connectivity. Despite the word “dual,” it is typically possible to split the signal among three or more separate TVs using a coaxial splitter.

Cabling

If you’re experiencing issues with your outdoor TV antenna’s reception but you’re within range and pointed directly at a broadcast tower, it could be an issue with cabling.

A TV signal travels from the source to the TV through a coaxial cable, and not all coaxial cable is of high quality. Coaxial cable is available in various grades, with RG-6 being sufficient for standard TV reception and RG-11 being the best for an HD signal. Regardless of whether you subscribe to the HD signal mindset, using HD-ready coaxial cable will provide the best pathway for your antenna’s signal to travel to the TV.

It’s worth noting that you can add a signal amplifier as well in this scenario. While you might think an amplifier is increasing your antenna’s reception, it’s actually just improving the quality of the signal from the antenna.

Ease of Installation

There’s a reason why antenna installers are paid well: It’s not always easy work. If you’re particularly handy, there are outdoor TV antennas that are likely to be well within your capability to install and set up. Most kits provide the necessary hardware to bolt your antenna to a pole, though few come with the actual pole.

Choosing an antenna that can be installed by yourself can save quite a bit of money, even if the pole must be purchased separately. Consider first installing antenna brackets on your home or roof and then installing the antenna and pole as a unit, rather than trying to secure an antenna to the end of a long pole while you are 30 feet in the air. Safety and convenience are both worth planning for.

Our Top Picks

The best outdoor TV antennas are available in a range of sizes and capabilities. Some have incredibly long ranges, which are great for residents of remote areas. Others are compact and less obtrusive to the eye. Whatever your needs, consult this list of top picks that reflect some of the best outdoor TV antenna models on the market.

Our Verdict

Selecting the right outdoor TV antenna can be hard with all of the options available today. One of the best options is the Antennas Direct Clearstream with its 70-mile range, HD, UHF, and FM frequencies included. This medium-sized antenna is easy to install with the included mounting hardware. While it’s a solid unit overall, be aware that it’s not suitable for remote locations.

If you need a wider range, the PBD TV antenna comes with over 120 miles of coverage and has a more cost-effective tag. This medium-sized antenna has UHF, VHF, and HD connection with a built-in amplifier for clear picture and sound. Plus, the included mounting brackets make installation simpler.

How We Chose the Best Outdoor TV Antennas

Whether you are looking to cut back on streaming costs or need to catch the next big game on TV, the right outdoor TV antenna can help to provide a clear picture and ample channels for viewers. Selections for the best options on the market depended upon size, mile range, frequencies provided, durable constructions, as well as added special features included.

Since range depends heavily on the size of an outdoor TV antenna, the above picks prioritize medium to large-sized options for better connection. For those who live close to broadcasting towers, small options are also featured. Though they vary in size, the above picks offer ranges of 70-200 miles depending upon your location. Since the main goal of these products is to offer more channels, these antennas can provide VHF and UHF signals as well as HDTV 1808i, FM, and 4K and 8K resolution.

Since these products are located outside, many are constructed with durable materials and mounting hardware to withstand all-season weather. For added convenience, select picks also include built-in amplifiers, smartphone connectivity, remote controls, and 180 to 360-degree fields of vision. Plus, some of these models can be used as Indoor antennas and can be installed in attics.

Tips for Using an Outdoor TV Antenna

You can make sure that an outdoor TV antenna improves reception and quality of broadcasts by following a few tips.

If reception is an issue, try using a longer pole to lift your antenna higher above your home. The higher you can install your antenna, the more likely you are to pick up better reception. It’s sometimes easier and safer to bring the entire unit to the ground in one piece, swap the antenna onto a longer pole, and then reinstall it as one piece.

If your TV has a signal gauge, you can use it to determine the location of the best quality signal in your area. As you reposition the antenna, the signal gauge on the TV will adjust accordingly when you point it in the direction of the strongest signal.

You can also use transmitter maps from broadcast towers to determine the location of the closest towers in your area and, thus, the direction in which to point your antenna. Keep in mind that the closest tower may not be the best tower if it is blocked by mountains or other obstructions.

  • Try using a longer pole if reception is an issue.
  • Use your TV’s signal gauge to reposition your antenna with best results.
  • Use a transmitter map to determine the location of your local towers.

FAQs

If you’re still unsure about how your antenna works or how to locate the best reception, consult these commonly asked questions and answers about outdoor TV antennas.

Q: How does an outdoor TV antenna work?

TV broadcast towers transmit VHF and UHF signals through the airwaves. Your outdoor TV antenna intercepts those signals and sends them to your TV. Your TV translates those TV signals into the audio and video you see on your screen.

Q: Can I put an indoor TV antenna outside?

Indoor antennas may work outside, but they’re rarely water- and weather-resistant enough to sustain outdoor conditions. It’s best to use an outdoor-rated model as it will be more robust and more powerfully transmit the signal back to your TV.

Q: How do I get the best outdoor antenna reception?

To locate the best reception, you need to point your antenna at the strongest transmitter in your area. You may also need to raise the antenna higher in order to capture the strongest signals if you live in a valley or a depression.

Q: Does aluminum foil boost antenna signal?

Technically, yes. Aluminum foil on your antenna increases the conductive surface area, allowing your antenna to capture more signal. With that said, it’s unlikely that wrapping your antenna with aluminum foil will work past the first strong windstorm.

Q: Can I install an outdoor TV antenna myself?

You can definitely install it yourself as long as you’re comfortable with heights. Installing an antenna will require either climbing a ladder or climbing onto your roof in most cases, unless you live on a mountain or hilltop facing the broadcast transmitter tower.

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