When you cancel cable TV, adding an Over-the-Air TV antenna to your cord cutting setup is one of the best, and most financially sound decisions you can make.
But before you buy or install a TV antenna, there are four factors you should consider during the planning stages so that you enjoy free OTA TV for years to come.
Keep reading to learn more…
Factor 1 - Indoor TV Antenna vs. Outdoor TV Antenna
To ensure you get strong, consistent Over-the-Air TV signals, you need to choose the right Over-the-Air TV antenna for your needs.
It’s very tempting for new cord cutters to choose lower-cost indoor TV antennas. While they’re less expensive and easier to install, indoor antennas work best for those who live within 30 miles of their local broadcast towers.
Folks who live further away — between 30 and 70 miles from your local broadcast towers — will need to invest in a larger, more powerful outdoor TV antenna to properly capture Over-the-Air signals.
But don’t think that bigger is better in all cases. Using a powerful outdoor antenna model in an urban area can overpower the tuner in your TV or DVR and make it harder to get a solid signal.
Factor 2 - Amplified vs. Unamplified TV Antennas
Some antennas come with built-in or optional signal amplifiers that need to be plugged in to a wall socket or the USB port on your TV for power.
While amplified antennas can’t help you bring in stations that you normally couldn’t receive, they can help lock in signals from stations that occasionally have difficulty coming through clearly.
Those who live very close to their local broadcast towers should avoid amplified models. Those who live further away, especially in the 25–30-mile range for indoor antennas and the 60–70-mile range for outdoor antennas should consider amplified models.
However, cord cutters should almost always avoid antenna models with built-in amplifiers. Why? Those with separate, optional amplifiers give you the flexibility to test using the antenna with and without amplification to determine what works best in your situation. Plus, when a built-in amplifier fails, it can’t be replaced and will often block ALL signals from getting through making the antenna useless.
Factor 3 - Watching Antenna TV on One vs. Multiple TVs
Connecting a single antenna to a single TV is usually straightforward. But connecting multiple television sets or connecting a TV in a location where Over-the-Air TV signals don’t reach (like a basement) requires some logistical planning.
Cord cutters should avoid purchasing and connecting a TV antenna to every screen in their home. Not only could this wind up being more expensive than other alternatives, but you could receive fewer channels on some sets depending on the reception.
Instead, plan on distributing signals from your Over-the-Air antenna via coaxial cabling or a network-connected OTA DVR or tuner.
Your home may already have coax in the walls from when you had satellite or cable TV which can be re-used. If not, connecting your antenna to an OTA DVR like Tablo will allow you to wirelessly distribute signals to all the internet-connected screens inside your home, including hard-to-reach spots like basements.
Factor 4 - DIY vs. Professional TV Antenna Installation
If your location calls for an outdoor or attic mount antenna, it’s probably time to call in an expert.
Even though a confident DIYer could tackle mounting a TV antenna and running cabling through walls, a professional TV antenna installer will know the right installation location, suggest the best parts, and have the tools to test and adjust the setup to ensure the best possible Over-the-Air TV reception. Some will even suggest and set up accessories like Over-the-Air DVRs.
On the other hand, indoor TV antenna installation shouldn’t require any tools. With the right antenna, proper placement advice, and a bit of trial-and-error, almost anyone living close enough to their local towers can get started watching Over-the-Air TV.
If you’re still unsure about how to switch to free Over-the-Air TV, quality antenna manufacturers offer 1-800 help lines. YouTuber and Over-the-Air expert Tyler the ‘Antenna Man’ also offers online consultations. And of course, we’re here to help. Ask us your questions on Twitter or Facebook and/or sign up for our free and helpful newsletter Cord Cutting This Week.
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