Do I Need a Separate Antenna For Each TV?

Nov 28, 2014

I get a lot of questions from folks who want to get free broadcast TV using an antenna, but who have multiple TVs. There are several ways I know of to get an antenna signal to all of the TVs in your home.  I cover them below.

Method #1: A Separate Antenna for Each TV

The easiest thing to do is to just have a separate indoor antenna (like the Mohu Leaf) for each TV. The problem with this is that some of your TVs might be on the side of the house that is away from the TV stations. Perhaps one of your TVs is in the basement, where reception might be bad. If you have strong signals in your area (enter your zip code into the Station Finder to see), you still might be able to get all of the channels you want everywhere in your home, so maybe it won’t matter. But chances are, some of your TVs will get worse reception than others due to the location in your home.

So, don’t go out and buy a whole bunch of antennas. Just get one, and confirm that it works with all of your TVs before getting an antenna for each TV. I recommend the Mohu Leaf.

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.

Method #2: One Antenna with Tablo – Wireless!

Tablo is a whole-home DVR (digital video recorder) that works with your broadcast TV antenna. Plug your antenna in, and watch live and recorded TV an any TV in your home that is connected to a streaming player such as a Roku.

Basically, you hook up your one antenna to Tablo and it streams the signal to all of the Roku boxes in your home.  Now, this requires that you have a Roku box or stick or each TV, which you may or may not want to do. Check out this video which explains it:

But, the bonus is that Tablo TV offers recording to a hard disk drive that you attach to it. So, if you want recording capability, Tablo may be for you.

Tablo Dual Lite DVR
Tablo Dual Lite DVR

Method #3: One Antenna with Amazon Fire TV Recast

This is very similar to the previous method, except that it uses the Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR. Same principle: hook your antenna up to the Recast, and watch it on all TVs in your home. The only difference is that you’ll need Amazon Fire TV Sticks on all of the TVs that you want to watch your recordings on.

Method #4: One Antenna Using Your Home’s Unused Cable or Satellite TV Wiring

This is the most elegant solution. If you’ve ever had cable or satellite TV, your home has the wiring it needs to distribute free broadcast TV signals from an antenna! If you can find out where it connects to the cable company’s line and disconnect it, you can connect your antenna to this cable and use it to distribute free TV throughout your home!

This will require a little detective work. Look in your garage, basement, and outside of your home to see where the cable company’s cable connects to your home.  There should be a junction box where it connects.  If you had satellite, look where the cable from the satellite dish comes into your home.  Note, you might need special tools to disconnect it, and it might be a violation of the cable / satellite company rules to mess with their equipment, just be aware.

If you are able to disconnect the signal from the cable company, you can now connect your antenna anywhere you see a cable TV outlet in your home.  Probably the best place would be at an upper story, i.e., the highest point in your home.

Also, if you do this, I would recommend adding an amplifier (see below).

One antenna with amplifier driving existing cable TV cabling
One antenna with amplifier driving existing cable TV cabling

I recommend amplifiers from Channel Master (or see the Amazon links in the next section).

Note, you cannot use this method if you are using your coax cabling for Internet access.  The cable has to be completely disconnected from any satellite or cable, whether it is for TV or Internet.

Method #5: One Antenna to Many TVs Using New Cabling

If your home does not already have coax cable running through it, you cable it up yourself. If you only have one TV, and your cable run is short (say, 30 feet or less), you can get away with connecting your antenna cable directly to your TV.

But, most of the time you’ll want to add an amplifier, and so you’ll want to use a distribution amplifier to split your signal to all of your TVs:

I recommend amplifiers made by Channel Master.

The distribution amplifier should be close to the antenna, so that the signal is amplified as soon as possible:

Antenna with distribution amplifier driving three TVs
Antenna with distribution amplifier driving three TVs with new cabling

If you have a lot of cabling to run, you might want to invest in a spool of cable and a special kit that enables you to cut custom lengths and attach connectors at each end. Here is my set of tools and supplies for doing this:

Coax cable tools
Tools for cutting your own coax cable to length

Starting from the upper left, we have a cable stripper, cable crimper, and spool of cable.  In the second row from the left we have an all-in-one tool that cuts, strips, and attaches the connectors, and finally the splitter.

This might cost less than buying pre-cut cable, and you’ll be able to make the lengths perfectly right instead of having a lot of slack (which is ugly and degrades the signal). Just be sure to get “RG6” cable! Cheaper cable will degrade your TV signal.

If you are going through all of this trouble, you should consider just going with a rooftop or attic antenna, if that is possible in your dwelling. A rooftop or attic antenna will get you the best signal quality and the most channels. An outdoor or attic antenna will be better than an indoor antenna.

Before doing any of this, I recommend buying a single antenna and trying it out at each TV location.

Here are my recommended tools and supplies if you want to run your own cable:

To Sum Up

Which solution you choose depends on your situation. The simplest thing to do is to get a separate antenna for each TV. But, each TV may not get equally good reception. If you have existing cable TV cabling in your home, you might be able to use that and just have one antenna. Finally, if you want recording ability and no messing around with long cable runs, consider Tablo or Recast along with streaming players for each TV.

Hope this helps! – Brian

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Brian Shim

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Walter Yablonski
Walter Yablonski
3 years ago

Can I use an extra router for tv signals as an extra wi-fi and would it interfere with my internet wi-fi. Also would the tablo work better with a roku stick and then use an external hd drive to download and play later

Brian
3 years ago

Hi Walter,

I haven’t really heard of anyone using two WiFi routers in their home (one for data the other for TV), but I suppose it could be useful to increase wireless bandwidth and keep the networks isolated from each other. I’ve never tried it so I can’t comment much on it.

If you want to get better WiFi reception throughout your home, I think what you need is a WiFi Extender (Google or check Amazon).

Tablo is a DVR which does require some streaming device such as a Roku stick to view your recordings. Note that the drive can only contain recordings off of live TV, not content that you download from the Internet.

Best,
Brian

Walter Yablonski
Walter Yablonski
3 years ago

I seen an article on using your direct v connections with an ota.Can you express some thoughts on this

Brian
3 years ago

Hi Walter,

Can you elaborate more on your question?

Thanks,
Brian

diane Ribbentrop
diane Ribbentrop
3 years ago

i am so confused Can I get by with 1 mohu leaf 30 indoor antenna ? Pls keep it simple This stuffs makes me crazy

Brian
3 years ago

Hi Diane,

Yes, you can use one antenna, but you’ll need other equipment, either cabling and splitters or other devices to make it work for all of your TVs. Or, you could buy separate antennas for each TV.

Best,
Brian

diane Ribbentrop
diane Ribbentrop
3 years ago

OMG I need answers Just want free TV Is there a simple way for seniors like me I sure hope so or I am screwed.

kil hefner
kil hefner
2 years ago

your attention please. As somebody else also ask, I need to know if it is possible to hook up several antennas to one tv. The reason is that when I hooked/tried ONE antenna from my condo balcony in the second floor, I could get around 10 free channels when the antenna pointed to the west. Later on, when I pointed it to the south I could get different channels, among them channel 13 in which I like to watch Judge Judy. So, please, guide us to see if this is possible. And the second request is, is it possible to get free internet, since I really enjoy youtube in my smart tv and pretty soon our spectrum contract will expire and prices may go up.

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  kil hefner

Hi,

Yes, you can use two antennas if you get a coupler. See tip #16:
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/antenna-tips/

I don’t know of a sure-fire way to get free Internet, but here are some tactics to reduce cost:
https://www.thefrugalnoodle.com/save-on-internet/

Best,
Brian

Mich B
Mich B
1 year ago

Hello Brian,

Thank you so much for taking the time to create this post. I have a question about Method #2. Regarding the bit about “If you are able to disconnect the signal from the cable company, you can now connect your antenna anywhere you see a cable TV outlet in your home.” What type if antenna do I use for this scenario? One like the Mohu Leaf, or something different? And I just need to connect this antenna to any cable TV outlet? Is there any other equipment I have to buy/anything else to hook up to each of my three TVs that I wish to receive the basic channels?

Thank you!

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  Mich B

Hi Mich,

You will get the most channels if you connect your cabling to an outdoor or attic antenna.

It would also be good to use an amplifier to drive your cabling (see the same article above).

But, before buying anything, I would recommend doing a test to make sure your cabling is good and not connected somewhere to the cable company’s equipment (which would stop it from working).

Connect your TV to your cabling, then at another cable outlet connect a length of coax cable with the tip touching anything that is metal, like unplugged extension power cord or unplugged lamp power cord. Holding that in place, do a scan on your TV to see if gets any channels. If it gets even one, the your cabling is good.

Best,
Brian

Michelle
Michelle
1 year ago

This was very enlightening. Can I plug the antenna into the cable line outside my house, there is a connection from the cable company line to the line going in to house. the splitter is in a bedroom closet. So I want to attach the antenna on the side of the house and run the cable to that outside line. Is that possible or do you have to connect the antenna directly to a tv?

Michelle
Michelle
1 year ago

This was very enlightening!! Can I plug the antenna into the cable line outside my house, there is a connection from the cable company line to the line going in to house. the splitter is in a bedroom closet. So I want to attach the antenna on the side of the house and run the cable to that outside line. Is that possible or do you have to connect the antenna directly to a tv?

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  Michelle

Hi Michelle,

Yes, you can attach an antenna directly to your house cabling if you disconnect the cable box outside your house, and then plug a TV into any cable outlet inside your house.

You need to make sure the cable company’s equipment is completely disconnected from the cable network in your house though.

Also, for best signal strength, you might need to add an amplifier right near the antenna. But for testing purposes, just try it out with an unamplified antenna.

Best,
Brian

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