Even after decades in service of bringing us our entertainment and news, television antennas haven’t lost their luster. They are more important than ever in an era when people are trying to cut the cord from cable or satellite subscriptions and supplement their streaming services with live TV.
One potential drawback of using an antenna is that sometimes you don’t get the best reception. You don’t want to have to go running over to reset your antenna right in the middle of a big play when the game is on the line or just as a cliffhanger is resolved on your favorite drama.
Here are some steps to take to improve your antenna reception so you can get the most out of your free over-the-air television viewing experience.
Find the sweet spot
We’re going to focus on indoor antennas, which are a popular option for picking up over-the-air television channels. These have changed a lot over the years and most of the new ones don’t look at all like the old-fashioned loop-and-rabbit-ears varieties. Many of them are flat and feel like a thin sheet of cardboard. Your antenna may have a stand already, or it may have come with mounting supplies. You can also use double-sided tape, Velcro, suction cups, or other similar methods to mount your antenna to a wall or window if necessary.
Your most important task now is to find the best placement for your antenna. This is as much an art as it is a science.
It helps if you know where the main broadcast towers for your area are located so you can set the antenna where it has a better line of sight to those towers. Aim to mount the antenna higher up on the wall or in a window. Experiment and try moving it around if your reception is shaky.
If you’re still having trouble, see if you can mount the antenna even higher, like in your attic (again, near a window is best). The downside to mounting in an attic or in your second-story is that you will need to run a long cable from that location to where your television is located. Not everyone is willing to do this, but it can help boost your channel reception if you’re having a lot of difficulty getting your favorite stations to come in.
Finding the best location for your antenna may feel like an exercise in trial and error, but start with our basic guidelines and then move it around from there if needed.
Try a new antenna
If your old antenna isn’t cutting it, it may be time to upgrade to something better. You will run into a lot of variables when shopping for a new antenna. You’ll need to choose between an indoor or an outdoor antenna.
Indoor antennas are convenient and affordable, but may not be powerful enough if you live far away from your local TV towers, or if you’re located in a difficult spot where landscape features or tall buildings hamper the signals. In those cases, an outdoor antenna, which mounts on the outside of your house, can be worth the investment and installation.
One last step: Rescan for channels
Television channels don’t always stay in the same place. A recent FCC TV spectrum auction means that around 1,000 stations are changing their frequencies. If your favorite channel disappeared, then this could be the culprit. Open up your television settings and rescan for channels. It’s a good idea to do this periodically, but it’s especially important since so many stations are changing around.