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How to Pick Your TV Antenna

By Brian Shim | Updated 
12/06/2021

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 flat indoor antenna. 

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I test or research each product or service before endorsing. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. I own this site and the opinions expressed here are mine. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Mohu Leaf Antenna
Mohu Leaf Antenna

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
If you did, please share it and sign up for my email updates. I'll send you my new articles, no more than once a month.

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. 

When you comment, you'll automatically receive replies by email. Your email address will not be displayed.

I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story!  Thanks! - Brian
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Rhonda Shotwell
Rhonda Shotwell
11 months ago

Hi Brian, I just used the DTV Reception Map to locate transmitters in my area, and the two it located are in the yellow/moderate zone. The one I care about the most is CBS which broadcasts the gameshows that my mom likes to watch which we no longer have through Dish Network. It is listed as 43 degrees and 48 miles from here with an RX strength of 56 dbuV/m and Hi-V of which you will have a better understanding of than I do. I know that an outdoor/rooftop antenna is recommended for this situation, however that would mean I will need to buy a ladder for a possibly one time use. I have read good reviews about the Gesobyte Amplified Digital +V indoor antenna with some claiming that it was strong even when they didn't have it in their window, and as best as I can tell my living room windows do face the direction of the transmitters. I do have cable running under and into my house behind the tv that runs around the outside of my house because of a Dish Network satellite receiver that is up on the roof, so if all else fails I would consider a roof top antenna, but again the ladder situation leaves me less than enthusiastic about that. Also there are a few cables running along side each other, and don't know which ones are currently in use. My query is if an indoor window antenna will work for me, and would a streaming device like a Roku help to bring in the signal better than just the antenna alone. After a couple of days of reading lots of different opinions I'm exhausted, and had in mind of trying the indoor first, followed by a Roku, and the rooftop being the last. Help, please, I'm confused on which direction to go, and don't want to waste money needlessly!

Brian
11 months ago

Hi Rhonda,

That station is pretty far away and is Hi-V, which means it's more difficult to receive. It's impossible to know without trying whether you can pick it up using an indoor antenna or not; You might be able to, but there's a good chance you won't.

Here's what I suggest: before buying ANYTHING, talk to your neighbors, or people on Facebook who live near you, or people on Nextdoor to see what channels people in your neighborhood are able to pick up and what kind of antennas they are using. That will give you a better idea of whether an antenna will pick up CBS.

Regarding a Roku, that won't help you with antenna reception. Rather, it allows you to get paid and free streaming TV services through your internet connection. What you could use a Roku for is to get local channels using the Locast streaming service:
https://www.locast.org/

That is a free service that gives you local broadcast TV for free using a Roku or other streaming device. However, it's not available in all markets.

Regarding the Geosbyte antenna, I have not tried that model, but I'm very skeptical about about the claimed 180 mile range. The coax cable looks very thin and cheap; the amplifier is in the wrong place (it should be at the antenna end of the cable, not at the TV end), and it's got no VHF elements.

If I was in your situation, I'd check out the Channel Master STEALTHtenna 50, which does have VHF elements. It's an outdoor antenna, but it's small; you can mount it on a patio or under your eaves; you don't necessarily have to put it on the roof.
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/improve-tv-reception-with-patio-antenna/

BUT, like I said, I can't say for sure if it would work; be prepared to return it if necessary.

Best,
Brian

Rhonda Shotwell
Rhonda Shotwell
11 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Thank you, Brian, for the helpful advice! I will follow those suggestions.

Estelle Groth
Estelle Groth
1 year ago

Brian, I'm going to get my converter for my old tv now and have a question about the aerials. When I click on the Amazon ads you've linked, I notice that they all say that it won't work if the tv is older than 2006. I was assuming that the converter would correct that situation so that it WOULD work with a tv older than 2006. Am I right, or is there some other reason that the tv has to be newer than that?

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  Estelle Groth

Hi Estelle,

Correct. The converter would let you use an antenna with a TV that is older than 2006.

However, before buying anything, please make sure there are channels in your area by using the Station Finder:
https://www.disablemycable.com/station-finder/

Also, new TV's are pretty inexpensive these days; you might want to save up to buy a new TV (which has much better picture, uses less power, etc.) instead of buying a converter box.

Best,
Brian

Estelle Groth
Estelle Groth
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian

Thanks! I actually do want the old tv (a "round" tv, my 20-year-old calls it, because of the convex screen), and the two people who have offered me free flat screens are shaking their heads in disbelief. If you have astigmatism, it's just so much easier to see the picture on the older tv. I did check the stations, which gives me more than I need, and I got the converter today through Best Buy's Black Friday sale. Now to order the antenna!

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  Estelle Groth

Great! Here are a few that I recommend:
https://www.disablemycable.com/antennas/

Best,
Brian

Marijo Fazio
Marijo Fazio
1 year ago

Hi, I was all set to order Mohu Leaf 30, then saw that many of the channels I want are over 50 miles. Please advise what the difference is between the Mohu Leaf 30 and the Max style/ 60 miles. Many thanks! mjbf2018@gmail.com

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  Marijo Fazio

Hi Marijo,

50 miles is at the extreme end of broadcast TV range, especially for an indoor antenna. You would get the most channels with an attic or rooftop antenna. You can try some of the indoor models which claim longer range, but they may or may not give you more channels. Bottom line, try one out (yes, the longer range one), but be prepared to return it if you can't get the channels you want.

Best,
Brian

Marijo Fazio
Marijo Fazio
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian

Thanks, Brian!

mcalhad
mcalhad
1 year ago

Well I am in 76011zipcode in new apartment complex but my apartment windows face north and the tv towers are @145 degrees south east 13.5 miles away.. I was getting all of the vhf stations until the apartment complex started building new addition due east across street. Now I can't get the following vhf stations ABC, Fox, quest channels, H&I channel 27.2 all of these are vhf stations. My current setup is a clearstream 2V antenna, on a 12' pole in a tripod stand with a Skywalker Signature Series SKY38323 25dB Amplifier. I also have new rg-6 coaxial cable. I can get abc, and quest at night only, once sun comes up I lose them. So What
I am wanting to know if I replace the VHF dipole Kit: on the clearstream antenna with the HD Frequency Cable Cutter Aerowave, Indoor Outdoor HD Digital TV Antenna (CC-17A) would this vhf antenna bring back these channels. I have the 2018 lg digital Flat screen Tv 48 " with all the latest technology built into it. My email for replies is bluemcgoo@protonmail.com

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  mcalhad

Hi Mcalhad,

I don't think the Aerowave antenna will outperform your Clearstream 2V. I would stick with the setup you have and tweak antenna location and direction.

Best,
Brian

Patti A Martinson
Patti A Martinson
1 year ago

I was getting about 20 channels with my indoor HD antenna, but a few days ago, I lost all of them and haven't been able to get them back. I tried getting a new antenna and have tried many different locations/angles within my third-floor apartment with no luck. Not sure what steps to take next.

John Massman
John Massman
2 years ago

On October 18th we had to rescan our digital tv for the new frequencies for TV statins in Chicago. Every since then we've had trouble consistently getting all the channels. First remedy I tried was an Onn amplifier and after hooking it up we rescanned again and were getting 70 channels, a combination of channels from both Chicago and Milwaukee even with the antenna pointed toward Chicago (we're about 45 miles NW of Chicago). But then a day or two later we had nothing. Then occasionally one or 2 would come back (ones out of Chicago), then nothing again in a day or 2. Now I've purchased a new antenna (Winegard Platinum Series HD7694P Long Range TV Antenna (Outdoor / Attic, 4K Ultra-HD Ready, ATSC 3.0 Ready, High-VHF / UHF)) and after hooking that up today again got all the channels, great reception, strongest signals we've ever had on the Signal Diagnostics indicator, turned the TV off again came back a few hours later, nothing. Any suggestions?

Teresa Burgoni
Teresa Burgoni
2 years ago

Brian I use the Mohu Indoor Antenna as well. I found that if I mounted it high on the wall that was facing the direction where the towers are I could get NBC. I watch NBC 99% of the time over the other networks.
One weekend a friend was over and we accidentally unplugged the power supple to the antenna. When I plugged it back in and did a rescan, multiple times. I haven't been able to get NBC. I tried moving it around, adding foil and making sure the cables were all plugged in. I really miss not having NBC. ANY suggestions?
Help
Teresa

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Teresa Burgoni

Hi Teresa,

A good number of readers have complained about similar problems after re-scans. The FCC did move a bunch of channels around in the spectrum, but I'm not sure why this is happening only after a rescan.

Most TVs give you the ability to re-add a channel manually. Can you try that? Let me know what happens.

Thanks,
Brian

Debby Burleson Stiller
Debby Burleson Stiller
2 years ago

When channels were changed and we had to re-scan we got a lot of "No Information" stations and a ton of stupid stations at the bottom of the list. We lost some good stations. Then we had to re-scan again on the 28th of October for another change of channels. Now we have more "No Information" (no channel, on a gray screen.) than we do channels that we can watch. We also have many of the same channels with the same show on the headings but only one number will work. The rest are the gray screens. They took the channel "THIS" off completely. Why! I watched that one a lot. They replace it with a channel that has three other number locations and it is not a good program at all. How do I get "THIS" channel back? We have a very expensive and big antenna on top of the house. This should give us more channels. Thank you for any advice you may give.

Brian
2 years ago

Hi Debbie,

The loss of certain channels might be a temporary thing as they offload channels to different antenna towers while they upgrade the main ones. Check the Station Finder to make sure your antenna is still pointed in the right direction:
https://www.disablemycable.com/station-finder/

And, wait a while and scan again to see if stations change again.

Best,
Brian

Dogloverinohio
Dogloverinohio
2 years ago

Hi, Brian! I just lost my CBS, ABC, and FOX affiliates from DirecTV. The station is about 30 miles away n the indoor antenna didn't work. I have a outdoor antenna on my roof that was here when I moved in, I recently realized there is a cable wire connected to it that leads into my basement. Would I be able to pick up stations with it even though it's definitely an old one?

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Dogloverinohio

Hi Dawnelle,

Yes! Even "old" TV antennas can pick up modern digital TV signals. It's worth a try!

Best,
Brain

lammy
lammy
2 years ago

Hi, Brian. Unlike most of the rest of your blog pages, the comments on this one are partially covered up by the menu sidebar at left, making them basically unreadable. Can this be fixed please? Thanks.

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  lammy

Hi,

Thank you so much for letting me know about this problem!!! It's fixed now. I appreciate the head's up!

Best,
Brian

z zim
z zim
2 years ago

Thanks so very much for your brilliantly clear explanations and instructions, Brian. And yet...I'm massively remedial in this realm and have been trying to find someone to hire to come to my West LA apartment and help me get set up to cut the cord. Is that a gig you would do, or can you recommend someone?

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  z zim

Hi Z Zim,

I'm glad you found my site helpful! I don't offer in-person setup services. I'd recommend asking a friend, neighbor or relative to help. You shouldn't have to pay for this type of help.

Best,
Brian

Catherine Gillespie
Catherine Gillespie
2 years ago

Is it possible to use an antenna for local channels and use my streaming box for Netflix without complications such as changing TV settings?

Brian
2 years ago

Hi Catherine,

Yes! You just need to change your TV input when you switch; It's not hard - it's right in your remote, usually the INPUT button.

Best,
Brian

Rachel
Rachel
2 years ago

Do I need an antenna for each TV? I live in a small town house but we have 4 TV’s...instead of buying 4 separate antennas, is there a way to split, etc? Thoughts on if it’s difficult or reduced quality, etc...
Thank you very much

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

Hi Rachel,

This article is for you:
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/need-separate-antenna-tv/

Bottom line, you can split and there will be no loss of quality if done correctly (i.e., with an amplifier placed in the right place relative to the TVs and antenna)

Best,
Brian

Mandy Getty
Mandy Getty
2 years ago

Do you recommend a digital antenna over HULU Live? Also, I have Amazon Prime already so was looking at Amazon fire for using HULU.

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Mandy Getty

Hi Mandy,

If you live within range of TV broadcast towers, I would recommend trying a digital antenna, because there's no monthly cost of using it. If you can't get the channels you want using an antenna, then I would look into Hulu Live TV.

Amazon Fire or Roku will work with Hulu. I like them both.

Best,
Brian

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