What Should I Consider When Buying a TV Antenna?

Sherry Holetzky

If you watch fuzzy TV long enough, you might start getting used to it, that is until you see a crystal clear picture elsewhere and then go back to your fuzzy screen. If you have this problem, or if you want to be able to receive local channels when not watching your cable or satellite programming, you need to look into a TV antenna. The only problem is deciding which one to buy.

You can opt for an indoor digital antenna.
You can opt for an indoor digital antenna.

Should you get an indoor TV antenna, or an outdoor one? Do you want something inexpensive and simple? Do you need more than one?

An outdoor TV antenna may be prone to weather damage.
An outdoor TV antenna may be prone to weather damage.

First, learn what types of signals you need to receive. If you don't need to receive UHF channels, or those above channel 13, don't buy a UHF/VHF antenna. Stick to the VHF type, which will also provide reception for FM radio. If you need all three, you can get a combination TV antenna, designated UHF/VHF/FM.

A lot depends on how many stations you hope to receive and in which direction they are located. If you want to receive signals from several stations in different directions, you may need a "rotator." You can adjust the rotator as needed to pick up a specific signal. This may of course lead to problems if you have more than one television in the home, and they are being watched on different channels simultaneously. If you rotate the TV antenna toward the station you want to watch, others in the home may lose their signal or receive a weaker signal.

If your family has more than one television, you may want to opt for an indoor TV antenna for each one. You can position the antennas to point in the direction of the station each person wants to watch. It helps if the TV is positioned in a way that allows the TV antenna to point towards a window or an interior wall. Exterior walls, heavy doors, and high ceilings may decrease reception.

When you are shopping for a TV antenna, you will likely notice a mileage rating on the package. This rating should not be the deciding factor, since other factors play a role in reception. Things like trees and other homes can block the signal, so make your selection based on other criteria, rather than just the mileage rating.

Deciding on whether to buy a TV antenna depends on what kinds of channels a person may want to view.
Deciding on whether to buy a TV antenna depends on what kinds of channels a person may want to view.

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Discussion Comments


I was going to get an outdoor TV antenna, but now I think I'll just get several indoor antennas -- one for each TV.

I have a big family, and there are always multiple stations on at the same time. I think we'd have a huge problem if everyone had to agree on one show to watch!


Thanks for the information! I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get a good picture with the antenna I bought. It turned out that I just needed to adjust the placement of my television.

I wasn't aware that pointing the antenna at an outer wall could interfere with reception. I figured that pointing it that way would be better, because it was pointing towards the outdoors, where the signal was coming from. Boy was I wrong!


I wish I would have read this article before buying an antenna for my TV. I obviously bought the wrong kind, because my picture comes in horribly.

If I'm lucky I'll be able to return it, and get the appropriate one. I think the problem is that I bought a VHF type, and I need a UHF/VHF antenna.

Serves me right for going out and spending money before researching which is the best indoor TV antenna for my needs.

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