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How to Pick Your TV Antenna

By Brian Shim | Updated 

One of the most common questions people ask me is “which antenna should I get?” There are so many on the market, it can get pretty overwhelming.  Below are my recommended TV antennas.

Before You Buy an Antenna

But before buying an antenna, you need to find out how many channels are available in your area.  To do this, enter your zip code (or full address) into the Station Finder:

If you got a lot of green channels, congratulations! You should be able to use a simple non-amplified indoor antenna and get most of those channels, if not more! Check out my recommended indoor antennas below.

If you didn’t get any green channels, and just got yellow or orange ones, you probably need an outdoor antenna (in your roof or attic), possibly with an amplifier.  Skip ahead to my recommended outdoor antennas.

If you didn’t get any channels at all, or just got orange ones, you are probably too far away from the transmitter towers to get good reception. Try some of these streaming TV services.

An Even Better Resource

Online antenna guides are great, but it's impossible for them to be 100% accurate given the variables of location, antenna type, antenna height, local obstructions, local interference, and so on.

You'll get the most accurate information on what broadcast channels are available in your area using particular antennas from your NEIGHBORS.

So, check with your neighbors! Walk around your home and look for homes and apartments with TV antennas on the roof. Post on Facebook or Nextdoor asking people in your immediate area how many channels they are getting and what kind of antennas they are using.

That will get you the most accurate information on what channels YOU can get!

Older TVs

If you have an old tube-type of TV, you’ll need a converter box in order to use an antenna. Read about my suggested converter boxes here.

The Best Antennas

You will get the most channels and best reception by using an outdoor antenna or attic antenna, simply because these are higher up and have fewer obstructions than indoor antennas have. Skip down below if you are looking for an outdoor antenna.

However, many people can’t set up a rooftop antenna because they live in apartments, are renting, etc. If that is your situation, keep reading.

The Indoor Antenna that I Recommend

If you have a lot of strong stations in your area and are not able to install an outdoor antenna, I would recommend the Mohu Leaf (affiliate link) flat indoor antenna. 

Mohu Leaf Antenna
Mohu Leaf Antenna

When you purchase through the affiliate links on this site, I receive compensation from the retailer or manufacturer at no extra cost to you. I personally test and/or research each product or service before endorsing it. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. #CommissionsEarned

The Mohu Leaf Antenna

The Mohu Leaf is a super-flat indoor TV antenna that you can hang on a wall or window, as shown below. It is made in the U.S. and has performance on par with or better than much bulkier metal antennas. The Leaf is fantastic in terms of performance relative to other indoor antennas, and hide-ability. You can simply hang it on a wall, and it doesn’t look bad! (See my comparison between the Mohu Leaf and a bulky metal antenna).

Mohu Leaf antenna in window
Mohu Leaf antenna in window

Mohu has a variety of Leaf models, but the one I recommend is the Mohu Leaf 30. This is the original non-amplified version:

In my testing, this model hits the sweet spot of price and performance if you can't use an outdoor antenna.

Use Higher-Quality RG6 Cable!

My only beef about the Leaf is that it comes with an under-performing RG59 coax cable.  I highly recommend swapping that cable out for a higher-quality RG6 coax cable which will give you more stations and better reception. Many readers have confirmed this, and I’ve seen it first hand myself. (See this third-party article on why RG6 is so much better than RG59 coax cable). Happily, the cable is removable so you can attach any cable to the Leaf. Here are some RG6 cables that should work well:

Some VHF TV Antennas You Can Mount Indoor

The Station Finder will tell you if the channels in your area are VHF (It will say "Lo-V" or "Hi-V") or UHF. VHF channels are more difficult to receive. Even "green" (strong) VHF channels might be hard to pick up with your indoor antenna.

If mounting an antenna outside is not an option for you, Clearstream makes some great outdoor antennas that you could mount inside. They're relatively flat compared to most outdoor antennas.

Good Outdoor/Attic TV Antennas

If your TV stations are far away, an outdoor or attic antenna will get you the most channels, hands down. 

But before going to the trouble of setting up an outdoor or attic antenna, I highly recommend asking one of your neighbors how many channels they are getting with their rooftop antenna. Just walk around your neighborhood and look for homes with an antenna on the roof!

I like the Channel Master Advantage and Digital Advantage series of outdoor antennas. These have UHF as well as VHF reception. These are ideal if most of your stations come from one direction.

Antennas Direct and Channel Master are two respected antenna companies with high-quality outdoor antennas. I have purchased from them before and recommend them. Check out their sites, which have guides to help you pick an outdoor antenna:

Antenna Regulations

Do you live in an apartment or condo? Worried that your landlord or HOA won’t let you mount an outdoor antenna? By Federal law, a landlord or HOA cannot prohibit you from setting up a broadcast TV antenna or satellite dish on a part of the building that you own or are renting. While you might not be able to mount an antenna on the roof, you should be able to mount one in your balcony. For more information, see the FCC website on Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule.

Indoor TV Antennas to Avoid

The main thing to avoid in an antenna is one with the cable permanently attached to the antenna.  All of the antennas I recommend have a removable cable.  That will allow you to upgrade it to a better RG6 cable if necessary, or use a longer cable to reach that window.

I would also avoid the super-cheap $10 antennas that you see on TV infomercials. Those will not give you as many channels as the Leaf or Metro unless you have really strong TV signals in your area. Take a look at the reviews on Amazon to see what I’m talking about. So, save money and get a quality antenna to start with.

Setting Up Your Antenna

When you get your antenna, go to the next section where I give you tips on setting it up. You’ll also want to read my article on how to get the best reception.

Did You Like This Article?

Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com
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Check out my other site, thefrugalnoodle.com, with ideas on saving money and living simply.

Ask a Question or Tell Me Your Story

If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story! Note, I cannot answer individual email sent to me; please leave your questions here instead. - Brian

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My Favorite Indoor Antennas

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. This is an independent review site that receives compensation from the retailer or manufacturer (at no extra cost to you) when you purchase through the affiliate links on this site. I personally test and/or research each product or service before endorsing it.

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