Best Outdoor TV Antennas

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

8 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
151 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best outdoor TV antennas

Last Updated September 2019

Cable and satellite TV packages can be expensive, and if you don’t watch TV that much, you may decide to look for a more affordable option. Well, how does free sound? An outdoor TV antenna gives you access to all of the over-the-air channels in your area so you can watch some of the most popular channels without paying a dime.

You can’t just buy the first antenna you see, though. There are a number of factors to consider. First and foremost, you should consider what channels you hope to receive, and then use that information to determine the range, channel frequencies, and type of TV antenna you need.

Here’s a quick guide to walk you through all the factors you should consider. When you’re ready to purchase an outdoor TV antenna, check out the choices we’ve highlighted as some of the very best.

Some outdoor TV antennas include a mast so you can elevate your TV antenna above your roofline.

Key considerations

Your preferred channels

The first step is to see which channels are available in your area and decide which ones are important to you. You can do this by going to a website like TV Fool and entering your address. This will show you all the over-the-air channels available in your area, along with how far away each signal is coming from. Note the channels you’re interested in and write down their azimuth and real channel numbers for your reference. These will come in handy later.

Range

Look at your list of channels and determine how many miles away the farthest channel that you’re interested in is. Use this as your baseline when determining the range your outdoor TV antenna needs to have. It’s always best to choose an antenna with a range that’s slightly farther than what you think you need. That way, you won’t need to worry about poor video quality from faraway channels. Some outdoor TV antennas may only have a 50-mile range, but some can pick up signals up to 200 miles away.

Channel frequency

Over-the-air channels may be Very High Frequency (VHF) Low, VHF-High, or Ultra-High Frequency (UHF). VHF-Low channels have a real channel number between 2 and 6. Real channel numbers 7 to 13 are considered VHF-High, and real channel numbers 14 to 51 are UHF. Note that the real channel numbers may be different than the channels that appear on your TV when you’re scrolling around to see what’s on.

It’s important to understand which types of channels you want because not all antennas can pick up all signal ranges. Most can pick up VHF-High and UHF frequencies easily, but you may need to do a little more research to find one that can pick up VHF-Low frequencies, as these are less common.

Directional vs. omnidirectional outdoor TV antennas

Outdoor TV antennas are either directional or omnidirectional. Omnidirectional antennas work equally well in all directions, but these may have a smaller overall range than directional antennas, which can only pick up signals pointed in a single direction. The right type for you depends on where the signals for the channels you’re interested in are coming from and how far away they are. This is where the azimuth data you should have recorded comes in.

The azimuth gives you an idea of which direction the signal is coming from. If all signals are coming from roughly the same direction, a directional or omnidirectional antenna should work equally well. But if signals are coming from different directions, an omnidirectional antenna works better.

Another option is to go with a directional antenna that has a rotating base. You control it via a remote so you can rotate it 360 degrees to pick up signals in all directions.

EXPERT TIP

If signals aren’t coming in clearly, try adjusting the angle of your outdoor TV antenna to see if that helps.


Staff  | BestReviews

Outdoor TV antenna features

Installation

Installing most outdoor TV antennas isn’t complicated, but the exact nature of installation depends on the model you choose. Your outdoor TV antenna should include instructions on how to set it up, test it, and troubleshoot it. It should mount firmly to your roof and should not wobble in windy conditions. If you’re uncomfortable installing your own outdoor TV antenna, consider hiring someone else to do it.

Size

As a general rule, the farther an outdoor TV antenna’s range, the larger the antenna is. Size plays a factor in two ways. First, it may be more cumbersome to install a large TV antenna than a small one, so you may want to enlist some help if you cannot manage it on your own. Second, some may find large TV antennas to be unsightly. If this is the case, choose the smallest TV antenna you can that offers the range and channels you need.

Durability

If you live in an area prone to extreme weather, such as strong winds and heavy rains, it’s especially important that you choose a durable outdoor TV antenna that won’t wobble, twist out of position, or fall apart in these conditions. If the manufacturer offers a warranty, that’s a good sign. It indicates that the company is willing to stand behind its product, and if you do run into any issues, the company will give you a new outdoor TV antenna at no cost to you.

CAUTION

If you use a signal splitter to connect multiple TVs to the antenna, you could experience a drop in signal quality.

Outdoor TV antenna prices

Outdoor TV antennas vary in price from around $35 to well over $100. A higher price tag doesn’t necessarily indicate a larger range or superior signal quality, but it could be an indicator of better build quality. If you live in an area that receives significant snow, rain, or wind, consider investing in an outdoor TV antenna that costs at least $50 to be sure that the antenna you’re purchasing would hold up well over time.

Tips

  • You can boost the signal of an outdoor antenna by purchasing a range amplifier which attaches to the cable running from the antenna to your TV.
  • If you don’t own your residence, get permission from your landlord before installing an outdoor TV antenna.
  • If your signal quality is poor, consider upgrading to a more powerful outdoor TV antenna. Alternately, try removing obstructions, like tall trees, that may be blocking the signal.
  • If you’re concerned about weather affecting your outdoor TV antenna, you can try installing it in an attic to protect it from the elements.
  • If you choose an outdoor TV antenna with a rotating base, keep the remote in a secure spot, and always put it back when you’re done using it. If you lose the remote, you may not be able to rotate the outdoor TV antenna, and you could lose your ability to tune in to certain channels.
EXPERT TIP

Large buildings and tall trees can interfere with your outdoor TV antenna’s signal, so try to point it in a direction that is free from obstructions.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

The pingbingding HDTV Outdoor Antenna has an impressive 150-mile range and includes a mast to help elevate the antenna above nearby trees and buildings. It also has a rotating base with a remote, so you can adjust the direction of the antenna with ease. Users are pleased with how easy the snap-on installation process is and how clear the signal comes through. It can support two TVs without any loss in signal quality.

The GE Pro Outdoor TV Antenna has a 70-mile range and can pick up VHF and UHF channels. It can even deliver 4K video quality if you have 4K channels in your area. It’s simple to put together, and users praise the signal strength. If you don’t want to mount it to your roof, you can mount it in the attic instead without diminishing the signal or the image quality.

Check your outdoor TV antenna after heavy winds or rain to make sure it hasn’t bent or moved out of position.

FAQ

Q. What channels will I receive with an outdoor TV antenna?
A.
That depends on where you live and the range of your outdoor antenna. You can check which channels are available by entering your address into a signal analysis website.

Q. Would an outdoor TV antenna work with my older TV?
A.
Your outdoor TV antenna should work with most TVs, but if you have an older one, you may need to buy a converter box that connects to your TV and the cable leading to your antenna.

Q. Do outdoor TV antennas work better than indoor TV antennas?
A.
Outdoor TV antennas are not necessarily better than indoor TV antennas, though they do tend to have longer ranges, so an outdoor antenna is the way to go if you’re trying to reach signals that are far away.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kailey
    Kailey
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Samantha
    Samantha
    Writer

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