Cut the Cord: Best Tips for Over the Air TV Antenna

An over the air TV antenna isn’t what it used to be. And that’s a good thing! 

The ones you get today are capable of picking up more channels than ever before. They also deliver content in stunning HD for the major networks. 

Best of all, they give you the ability to cut the cable cord altogether if that’s what you desire. In the following article, we’ll be talking more about why you should go this route, what you’ll get for it, and how to find the best one for your situation.

(That’s right. Not all antennas are created equal.) So tune in, and let’s begin! 

Why Choose an Over the Air Antenna? 

The introduction of the HD TV antenna has made this a pretty easy question to answer. It used to be that antennas were limited in scope and quality. But today, the stronger signals mean more to watch and a lot better clarity while doing it. 

More antenna owners also are choosing to go this route because they want more freedom than the typical cable service provides. Cable companies are all about locking you into a commitment. Cord cutters want no part of that.

They would rather choose the streaming services individually. This makes for a more “a la carte” option. 

The two things that, until recently, has held them in place have been accessing local channels and live sports. This used to require a cable connection. Thanks to the antennas of today, it no longer does. 

Still, the Internet can cause excessive buffering depending on the connection and server traffic levels. An antenna negates this issue and gives you access to all the weather, news, and network broadcasts of interest so long as the channel has a signal.

What Over the Air TV Channels Are There? 

Obviously, you’re not going to (legally) pick up HBO or Showtime through an over the air TV antenna. But you’re going to do better than expected (probably). 

It depends on where you live, your type of antenna, how you choose to set up/install it, and the presence of any obstructions in the path of the signal. We’ll get more into these in a bit.

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You can expect the major networks provided you’re in a prime area. By “major,” we mean ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, The CW, and FOX. 

To know for sure, check your specific zip code and see what comes up. Also, don’t be surprised if some of the channels fare better than others as signal strength differs by the affiliate. 

Picking the Best Antenna for My Area

If you find yourself asking, “what kind of antenna do I need for my TV?” you’re not alone. It can be confusing as most products will advertise a channel reception distance that may be misleading.

“Channels up to 50” or “100 miles,” is common. But so are the mixed-bag results of only getting a percentage of the channels in that range.

This happens because it’s difficult to get into the fine print of how it all works on retail packaging. To help you along, here are some helpful tips for picking the best one to suit your needs.

1. Know What Is Available

You can expect the major networks provided you’re in a metropolitan area.

To know for sure, check your specific zip code and see what comes up. Also, don’t be surprised if some of the channels fare better than others as signal strength differs by the affiliate. 

2. VHF, UHF, or Combined? 

VHF are low-numbered channels, usually between 2-13, that broadcast at a lower frequency. UHF consists of higher-numbered channels, broadcast at a higher frequency.

The UHF advantage comes in its ability to broadcast at such high frequencies, so it’s able to “drown out” any noise it picks up along the way. VHF produces larger wavelengths, but its comparably lower frequency has a tougher time canceling things out.

So, while you can get a strong signal with either of these two, you’re more susceptible to outside interference when using VHF. That said, as the use of electronic systems increases, UHF is becoming more susceptible to interference.

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Some antenna setups are now capable of doing both. But this can come at the cost of diminished quality in one capacity or another. (As in, it does VHF better than UHF or vice versa.) 

3. Directional or Omnidirectional? 

A directional antenna points toward one signal area. It only will try to pick up the signals it comes across on a singular pathway.

Omnidirectional antennas tune in every direction. To do this, they have to sacrifice decibel levels (dB), which can affect distance.

In a dense metropolitan area, omnidirectional could be the better way to go as any diminished distance capacity is made up for by the fact channels are more likely to be grouped closely together. Directional works better if you live a long distance away and most of the channels come from a single metro area.

4. Decide Your Preferred Level of Elbow Grease

Indoor antennas are easier to install on your own than the outdoor ones. While outdoor antennas tend to produce better, more extensive reception, they’re also vulnerable to the elements and require grounding.

If you want the plug-and-play experience, go the indoor route. If you want something with more “oomph”, consider a paid outdoor installation. 

5. Find the Right Installation Point

Antennas can be sensitive in their ability to pick up signals. They’re susceptible to obstructions, so arrange yours in a place that has as few as possible. You might even consider setting up an aerial antenna for maximum quality.

If you’re unfamiliar with how to do this, save yourself the headache of DIY and ask a professional. They’ll know where and how to handle it in a manner that guarantees the most channels and best quality for your particular area.

Over the Air TV Antenna Is Your Key to Cable Freedom

We hope this look at what an over the air TV antenna can do for your television viewing experience will lead you to the right purchase should you choose to follow through. And click here if you’d like to read more about our helpful life hacks.