Skip to Content
Tech tips

How to buy and install the perfect HD antenna for free HDTV

Are you part of the cord cutting revolution yet? Let’s face it, with the number of streaming services out there, it’s difficult to justify the hefty monthly bills from cable and satellite providers.

Services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon even have original programming on top of everything else you can stream. These services offer a less expensive alternative to cable and you can save hundreds of dollars a year.

It’s a growing trend and cable-TV providers have reportedly lost a record-breaking 762,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2017. That’s five times more than they lost in the same period last year!

If you choose to join the trend and become a cable cutter yourself, you need to add an HD antenna to your system. An HD antenna will allow you to pick up local channels, and several others, that will let you watch live TV for free. You might be surprised at how many free channels you can pick up with an HD antenna.

When you hear the word antenna, you might think of old-school rabbit ears that struggled to give you fuzzy reception. Those days are long gone!

With an HD antenna, you can pick up over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW, PBS, ION and many others. Many of the most popular television shows, along with sporting events and local news, are broadcast on OTA television in High Definition. FOR FREE!

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Check for the available channels in your area

Before you shop for a TV antenna, make sure you first survey your home’s location for all the available channels and their corresponding signal strength with a tool like our Komando Channel Finder.

Just enter your ZIP code and our tool will show you all the networks and their channels, their distance, band, heading (direction) and signal strength relative to that ZIP code.  Note: To check a specific address, try

Keep in mind that your home’s surrounding landscape plays a big part in your antenna selection and channel availability. If you live in an area surrounded by hills, mountains or even buildings, your reception may be poorer than what these tools indicate. On the flipside, if you live in an elevated area, you might get strong signals even from a distance.

2. Pick the right antenna based on your geography and channel availability

Once you get a good idea of channel availability based on your location and geography, it’s time to decide what type of antenna you’ll pick. There is a wide variety of HDTV antennas available out there and you want to make sure you pick one that’s right for your needs.

First, all antennas have distance ratings so make sure you get one that covers your home’s distance from the broadcast towers. Typically, the shorter the range, the cheaper an antenna will be, so weigh your options carefully.

If there are multiple channels coming from different directions, then consider getting an omnidirectional or multidirectional antenna. These types of antennas don’t favor any particular direction but they do give up reception strength in exchange for their farther reach. Check out this powerful multidirectional antenna from the Komando Shop.

If your desired channels are all coming from one direction, then a directional antenna is the better choice. These antennas have generally better reception and range than comparable omnidirectional antennas.

Next, check your favorite channels’ bands (UHF or VHF) and make sure that you’re picking an antenna that’s capable of both. Note: Most HD antennas available now are better at picking up the higher UHF channels than VHF channels (1-13).

Additionally, based on the broadcast tower distances from your home, consider getting an amplified antenna to improve your reception. If the broadcast towers are located 50 miles or more away from your home, then amplified antennas can help your TV receive more of these distant channels reliably. Note: Amplified antennas also help if you’re splitting the signal to several TVs or running a long cable from the antenna to your TV.

The Komando Shop has an Indoor Amplified HD Antenna too! Click here to learn more!

In most cases though, an unamplified antenna should be good enough in most major areas.

3. Install and position it for the best reception

Once your chosen antenna arrives, the fun starts. It takes only two simple steps. Anyone can do it. And if you need help, you can call us here in Phoenix and our reps will help you out!

Just screw in the coax cable into the back of your TV like a normal antenna, and hook up the power (if the antenna is amplified). The setup shouldn’t take more than five minutes and then you can sit down to watch your favorite channels and shows.

After plugging it in, have your TV scan for the available channels. It varies by manufacturer but do this by going to the TV’s Settings menu then look for an option called “Tuner,” “Auto-Program” or “Auto Scan.”

It’ll take a bit of trial and error to get the most out of your antenna’s reception but try putting it at an elevated location. Putting it beside a window also works wonders. If you live in an area with good enough reception, you can even stick a flat antenna on the back of your TV.

Still struggling with your antenna’s reception due to distance? Then you may need an outdoor multidirectional antenna instead. These types of antennas work best when installed way up on a pole outside your home for best results.

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community!

Get even more digital know-how and entertainment with the ad-free Komando Community! Watch or listen to The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, and get answers in the Tech Forum.

Join Now