Choosing an Over the Air TV Antenna for Free HD Channels

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One of the most expensive bills each month is the cable bill. Losing the cable bill can save you upwards of $1,500 a year. What the cable companies don’t want you to know is that by installing an over the air TV antenna you can get free hi-definition channels right in your living room. The process is very basic. All of the newer televisions have what they call a digital tuner built right into the TV. This allows you to plug in an over the air TV antenna and you can start watching free TV. You get all the major stations like: ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CW just to name a few.

Looking For a Digital Aerial Antenna in The UK? Click Here for Our How to Guide.

How Does an Over The Air Antenna Work?

It’s Easy Follow These 3 Steps:

OTA antenna diagram

  1. Connect to ‘ANT IN’ on the back of any digital-ready TV.
  2. Place the Antenna– Place on wall, window, attic or roof and find the optimal position for the antenna.
  3. Scan Channels – Select ‘Menu’ then ‘Channel Search‘ and you are ready to enjoy your free TV shows.

 

Finding The Right OTA Antenna

Choosing an Over the Air TV Antenna for Free HD Channels

OTA Attic Antenna

Since the signal is being broadcast from a transmitting tower, you need to find out how far away you are. The first thing you need to do is find the proper antenna for your location. Generally if you live close to a major city, you may not need such a large over the air antenna. There are some great websites and apps that will tell you what size and style antenna you will need. Let’s take a look at them:

Websites

  • TV Station Locator Tool – Use our website tool for finding channels, maps and antennas for your area. Just enter your zip code for results.
  • Mohu Antenna Selector – Enter zip code and will generate antenna list and stations.
  • Antennas Direct Antenna Selector – Gives you a channel list and range results for your location.
  • Tvfool – Gives you options on what size antenna you need and channels you will receive.
  • Channel Master – Nice antenna selection guide. Giving you the distance and location of broadcast towers.

Smart Phone Apps

These apps for your phone can help point your OTA antenna. They can be useful and accurate when you are in the attic or on the roof trying to adjust your antenna. Just use one of these apps to point your antenna in the right direction.

iPhone

OTA Map

OTAmap

TV Towers USA
tv towers usa

Android

Digital TV Antennas

digital tv antennas app logo

TV Antenna Helper

tv antenna helper logo

Generated Maps and Channel Lists

For most of these sites you enter your street address and zip code. It will then generate a map and a list of channels that you will be able to receive. It will also tell you what style antenna you will need and which way to point it.

Antenna map

Mile Range

These sites will also tell you the distance the broadcast towers are from your house. This will give you an idea of the mile range antenna you will need to pick up the stations.

Antenna channel list

Color Code

As you can see in the picture below there are quite a few channels available for the area I entered. The chart is color coded and tells you what type of antenna you will need to receive the signal.

Choosing an Over the Air TV Antenna for Free HD Channels

Type of Over The Air Antenna You Will Need:

Green – An indoor “set-top” antenna is probably sufficient to pick up these channels (30 mile range)

Yellow – An attic-mounted antenna is probably needed to pick up channels at this level and above (60 mile range)

Red – A roof-mounted antenna is probably needed to pick up channels at this level and above (100 mile range)

Grey – These channels are very weak and will most likely require extreme measures to try and pick them up

tv station locator tool

Let’s Choose an Over the Air Antenna

There are many companies that make over the air antennas. We will show you what we consider the best of the field. We will list these HD antennas by the color code system we showed in the previous graph. For most people that live within there city limits a yellow (60 mile) range should work well. A general rule of thumb is the higher you place the antenna the better the reception.

Green Antenna – 30 Mile Range

Mohu Leaf 30 Indoor Over The Air TV Antenna (30 Mile)

Mohu Leaf 30 TV Antenna, Indoor, 30 Mile Range, Original Paper-thin, Reversible, Paintable, 4K-Ready HDTV, 10 Foot Detachable Cable, Premium Materials for Performance, USA Made, MH-110598

The Mohu Leaf 30 Indoor HDTV Antenna is one of the best interior digital TV antenna on the market today. It’s Omni directional flat design and weight makes it very versatile. Its simple square design makes adjusting unnecessary. Assembly is as easy as attaching the cords per the directions, powering up the amplifier, and hanging the Leaf in the best spot for over the air reception. This antenna will give you crystal clear reception. Initial setup is as easy as screwing in a light bulb.

Where to Buy:

The Mohu Leaf 30 Indoor HDTV Antenna is available at these retailers:

From Mohu:

Mohu Leaf 30 Indoor HDTV Antenna

From Amazon:

Green Antenna – 30 Mile Range

1byone Super Thin Digital Indoor HDTV Antenna (30 Mile)

1byone HDTV Antenna - 25 Miles Range with 10ft High Performance Coax Cable

Installation is super simple with the 1byone indoor antenna. Just connect the coaxial cable to your TV. This indoor/outdoor antenna from 1byone is a great way to cut loose from your monthly cable bill or to get over the air signals for rooms that aren’t wired for cable. In the package is the flat panel antenna, mounting accessories, the power adapter, the power booster and a waterproof connection cover for outdoor installation. You will need a coax cable of the necessary length to hook up to your television. You can mount the antenna on a wall or on a pole. It’s light weight, so it’s easy to mount or put up anywhere.
1byone window

 

Where to Buy:

The 1byone Super Thin Digital Indoor HDTV Antenna is available at these retailers:

From Ebay:

From Amazon:

Yellow – 60 Mile Range

Mohu Sky 60 Amplified Attic/Outdoor Antenna (60 Mile)

Mohu Sky 60 TV Antenna, Outdoor, Amplified, 60 Mile Range, Durable Lightweight, Mount Kit Included, Roof or Attic, 4K-Ready, 30 Foot Detachable Cable, Premium Materials for Performance, MH-110585

The Mohu Sky 60 HDTV Antenna is nice and solid. This antenna is extremely light. This size antenna will fit comfortably between typical roof joist spacing in an attic or a crawl space. The mounting components are high quality and can be adjusted for any mounting configuration. This multi-directional antenna provides excellent quality HD television from signals approximately 60 miles away. The build quality and construction is top notch. This antenna is completely weather proof. Lightweight and will not topple in high winds. All the needed hardware is included in the package and the instructions are well written.

MHMounted

Key points

  • You can use this antenna inside or outside.
  • Comes with a 30-foot cord
  • Comes with hardware and mount to bolt it down
  • Brings in many channels and makes existing channels more solid
  • Comes with a USB powered preamplifier
  • Small footprint
mohu setup

Mohu 60 parts for easy install

Where to Buy:

The Mohu Sky 60 Amplified Attic/Outdoor Antenna is available at these retailers:

From Mohu:

Mohu Sky HDTV Antenna

From Amazon:

Yellow – 60 Mile Range

1byone Omni-directional Outdoor Antenna

1byone 60 Miles 360° Reception Omni-directional Amplified Outdoor HDTV Antenna for FM / VHF / UHF, Anti-UV Coating, Detachable Amplifier USB Power Supply, Waterproof and Super Compact

The 1byone Omni-directional Outdoor Antenna is very easy to set up-no tools are required. This antenna comes with a quick and easy mounting bracket. Just mount the antenna and hand tighten with 2 wing nuts. The size of the antenna allows for many applications. It is much smaller then most antennas in this mile range. It can be mounted on a balcony, on the roof or in the attic. It comes with a power amplifier which will help to boost the signal for long distances. In some cases, the amp may over modulate the signal if you are closer to the broadcast tower. You have the option to remove the amp, which will help with your signal quality and channel reception.

Where to Buy:

The 1byone Omni-directional Outdoor Antenna is available at these retailers:

From Ebay:

From Amazon:

See Our Full Review of The 1byone Omni-directional Outdoor Antenna Here

Yellow – 60 Mile Range

RCA Compact Indoor/Outdoor Yagi HDTV Antenna (60 mile)

RCA Compact Outdoor Yagi HDTV Antenna with 60 Mile Range

With the RCA Yagi HD antenna you will get superior reception without the whole neighborhood noticing. This compact outdoor antenna is designed to maximize signal reception and integrate seamlessly into any home environment, indoors or out. It’s easy to install. You just unfold it and mount it outdoors or in the attic. It’s a complete kit with a very strong mount.

 Choosing an Over the Air TV Antenna for Free HD Channels

Specifications

  • Withstands tough outdoor conditions
  • Superior reception outdoors or even when mounted in the attic
  • Includes mast, locking mast clamp, mounting hardware and 75-ohm matching transformer

Where to Buy:

The RCA Compact Indoor/Outdoor Yagi HDTV Antenna is available at these retailers:

From Ebay:

From Amazon:

RCA Compact Outdoor Yagi HDTV Antenna with 60 Mile Range

by RCA Audiovox Accessories Corporation
Amazon Price: $43.10 £60.33 CDN$ 69.99

Red Antenna – 100 Mile Range

DB8e Extreme Long Range Bowtie HDTV Antenna

Antennas Direct DB8 Multi-Directional Outdoor UHF Antenna
The DB8 Bowtie Antenna has a gain of 17.4 dBi which makes it one powerful OTA antenna. This antenna comes with a special bracket that allows you to turn each panel toward different broadcast towers. This HD antenna is excellent for rural areas. It works well in an attic or mounted on the roof.

Specifications

  • Weatherproof
  • High gain UHF band (UHF channels 14-51)
  • 75 ohm Impedance
  • Gain 17.4 dBi
  • Dimensions: 50″W x 37.5″H x 6″D
  • Product Weight: 12 pounds

 

Where to Buy:

The DB8 Bowtie Antenna is available at these retailers:

From Antennas Direct:

Antennas Direct DB8 Multi-Directional Outdoor UHF Antenna

From Amazon:

Channel Master CM 3020 UHF / VHF / FM HDTV Antenna

Channel Master CM 3020 UHF / VHF / FM  HDTV Antenna - 100 Mile Range (CM3020)

The Channel Master CM 3020 is a keeper and totally worth it. Get crystal clear free HD channels with this antenna. So well built, even on windy days it locks into all channels. It is very easy to install and has excellent reception. The antenna is all that Channel Master claims it to be. Well made with clear easy to follow directions and simple assembly. This antenna has a signal range of 100 miles and will pick up available local digital and HD signals. It is a little on the large size, but that is why it works so well.

Specifications

  • Reception Range: Up to 100 miles
  • Picks up UHF, VHF, FM and HD
  • Antenna Size: 152 x 95 x 22 Inches
  • Easy installation
  • Superior signal strength in weak signal locations
  • Optimized for HDTV and Digital FM Signals

Where to Buy:

The Channel Master CM 3020 UHF / VHF / FM HDTV Antenna is available at these retailers:

From Channel Master:

Channel Master CM 3020 Antenna

From Amazon:

Hire a Handyman

Need help installing your OTA antenna. Hire a handyman from Amazon Home Services.
Just type in your zip code, fill out some information and you will be emailed quotes from contractors.

Scanning Your Television for Stations and Fine Tuning

Once you have your over the air antenna set up, you will need to scan your TV for the stations to show up. That option depending on your television should be in the menu options. Check your user manual for more information. Most TV’s also have an option to allow you to see your signal strength to fine tune your antenna. You may have to move your antenna around a bit to get it in the ideal position to obtain all the channels you want. You can use the map you generated to point your antenna in the right direction.

 

One Antenna Multiple Televisions

basic-splitter-diagram

Now you can take it to another step and add a splitter to the one over the air antenna and distribute it to multiple televisions. You just take the output of the HD antenna and plug it into the input of a powered UHF splitter. Then plug each cable from the output of the splitter into your other televisions. In most cases you can use the existing wiring in your home, left by the cable company.

Check out our article on how to properly set up a antenna splitter.

For more information and help selecting an OTA antenna visit the sites below:

Channel Master

Checkout this video by Channel Master explaining how to select an HD antenna for your home.