4 Things to Know Before You Buy a Digital TV Antenna


Do you want to watch TV for free? You can get local channels without paying a monthly fee when you buy a digital TV antenna.

Here are four things to consider if you’re thinking about buying an antenna…

1. Should You Get a Digital TV Antenna?

TV antennas let you pick up extra channels in your area. They’re especially great if you want to (or already have) cut the cord. These live over-the-air channels may include ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS and independent stations.

Money expert and football fan Clark Howard loves his digital antenna because of the crisp picture he gets from it on his TV. Watch the video above for even more information from Clark about TV antennas.

2. Types of Digital Antennas

Once you decide you want a digital TV antenna, you’ll have to figure out which kind you need. There are three basic types of antennas:

Indoor TV Antenna

An indoor digital antenna hooks up to a single TV to pick up over-the-air programming.

It’s the simplest antenna to install, but it won’t work well for everyone. This type is usually best for urban areas where broadcast towers are close.

If you want to improve the signal of a single digital TV antenna, moving it closer to a window or higher up on a wall might do the trick.

One member of Team Clark has the Mohu Leaf, a popular indoor digital antenna that connects to the back of a single TV to pick up local channels. He also secures it to the back of his TV with a Velcro strip to keep it out-of-sight.

Mohu Leaf antenna

Attic TV Antenna

An attic antenna is a larger unit, similar to an outdoor antenna, but installed in your attic on a mounted metal pole.


Follow any directions accompanying the attic antenna for the best results. The installation process will involve connecting the antenna to your home media wiring, so take proper precautions when proceeding with the installation.

The main disadvantage is that roofing materials may prevent the antenna from picking up channels clearly. Other factors like fluorescent lights and computers may also negatively affect your TV’s ability to receive a clear picture from the antenna.

Outdoor TV Antenna

An outdoor antenna, also known as a whole-house antenna, is best for people who live far away from broadcast towers. Generally, the outdoor antenna serves homes in rural communities the best picture and the most channel options.

Outdoor antennas are the trickiest to install since you’ll have to get on your roof and anchor the unit down, as well as ground the wiring. As with attic antennas, follow directions and take proper precautions when installing an outdoor antenna.

3. What’s the Best TV Antenna for Me?

The best way to find the best digital TV antenna for your home is to visit antennaweb.org. There, you can input your ZIP code and review the antenna recommendations from participating Consumer Technology Association (CTA) vendors.

AntennaWeb offers choices from several companies for each search, so be sure to comparison shop those options to get the best deal for your wallet.

Another way to find out if an antenna might work for you is by asking your neighbors. This tactic may seem old-fashioned, but the signals picked up by an antenna vary a lot depending on location. Your neighbors might have already gone through trial and error to find a TV antenna they love.

Reading reviews may also be a good way to choose an antenna, but make sure you know how to spot fake reviews before you buy!

4. How Much Do Digital Antennas Cost?

How much an antenna costs depends totally on the type of antenna you need to pick up the channels you want.

Usually, single TV antennas cost between $10 and $40, while attic and outdoor antennas are generally in the range of $60 to $150.


You can find reputable retailers when you search your ZIP code on AntennaWeb, so be sure to check out those results and comparison shop other viable options.

Final Thought

A digital antenna is a one-time purchase that can make a big difference in your entertainment budget. If you haven’t cut the cord yet, using a digital TV antenna can make the transition easier.

Do you use a digital antenna? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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