Figuring out what kind of antenna you need, where to place it in your home, and knowing what channels you will get are all major questions for those looking to cut the cord. The different types of antennas are vast and figuring out which will work best for you can be an overwhelming task. Here is a guide for choosing the best antenna to fit your needs.
What You Need
Choosing an antenna doesn't have to be hard. The first thing is to know what channels you'll still get after you give up cable or satellite. There are several websites that allow you to put in your address to find which channels you will be able to pick up. The Jasco HD Antenna Selector tool provides a one-stop-shop for finding and purchasing the right GE HD antenna for you. Simply enter your address and the site will automatically organize your results based on the type of antenna. It takes the guess work out of figuring out which antenna you need to buy. Results also show the channel broadcast name, the call sign, and the signal strength all in an easy to read format. With the Jasco site, you will know exactly what channels you should expect to get and what antenna you need to buy within minutes.
Here is a helpful video for getting started with a GE HD Antenna:
Another helpful site is Antenna Web. It is similar to the Jasco website in that it tells you what stations you will get, including the broadcast name, and color-codes the information based on the type of antenna needed. The website also generates a map that shows where the signal will come from for the different stations, which can be helpful when placing the antenna in your home. TV Fool is another good resource, but has a few more complex features and the information is harder to digest. However, it does provide a detailed look at each channel and shows the terrain between your home and the signal, allowing you to determine the strength of the signal.
Another determinant in picking an antenna is to figure what type of channels you want to pick up. Antennas are usually great at picking up UHF (channels 14 - 51) or VHF channels (2 - 13), not always both. To receive digital TV channels, you will need an antenna to pick up both UHF and VHF channels. When picking an antenna it is best to find an antenna that provides reception for both channel types.
Where to Put It
A key tip for determining which antenna you need is to know where your antenna will be placed in your house and what channels you want to pick up. Ideally, you want your antenna to face the broadcast station you want to pick up. If you know your antenna won’t be able to face that direction or you have several signals coming from different directions, you will probably need an omnidirectional antenna. You also want to place the antenna in a location that lessens chances of other signals interfering with your antenna signal. For example, placing an antenna next to a router can cause the signal strength to be decreased or not work at all. With antennas, higher is better; however, it is not always possible to place an antenna on the roof or in an attic. If the antenna cannot be placed on the roof or in an attic, getting the antenna as high as possible in your house will greatly increase your antenna signal. Also, if you place your antenna indoors, it is best to place the antenna near a window or on an exterior wall.
Boost Your Signal
Occasionally, you can follow all the tips listed above and still have trouble getting the most out of your antenna. If you still have trouble, try some of the suggestions below.
Move the Antenna – A few feet can make a huge difference in signal reception, so try moving the antenna around to different locations. Placing it near a window instead of near an internal wall can make a huge difference in reception quality and the number of channels you can receive. Also try changing the direction the antenna is facing, even if your antenna is omnidirectional. It can help to simply face the antenna towards the direction your channels are being broadcast from.
Amplify It – Adding an amplifier to your antenna or buying an amplified antenna can help bring in channels that are broadcasting from farther away. It can also increase the quality of the reception by increasing the strength of channels closer to you.
Add Some Coax - In some cases it may help to use a longer coax cable than you think you need. Coiling it loosely can help bring in channels that may have poor reception or sporadic play.