Along with the TV antenna you choose, your location, avoiding obstructions and interference, the next important consideration that impacts your ability to receive free Over-the-Air TV is the location you place or install your antenna.
The quality of your Over-The-Air signal reception is highly dependent on this location choice, so take the time to discover the best installation spot for your TV antenna.
In fact, the ideal location for your antenna within your home may not be near your TV, but instead on the roof, off your garage, in your attic, in a bedroom window, or on a balcony.
(Thankfully there are ways to get your antenna’s signal to your TV, even if it’s not in the same room. More on that below.)
So, when searching for the ‘sweet spot’ for OTA TV reception in your home, keep these considerations in mind:
TV Antenna Positioning Consideration #1 – Height
By far, the most critical factor for TV antenna placement is height. The higher you can get the antenna either inside our outside of your home, the better your TV reception will be.
For outdoor TV antennas, the best locations are on your roof or garage. If your attic is accessible, and you don’t have a radiant heat barrier or metal roof, you can also try installing an outdoor TV antenna within your attic.
If you don’t feel confident in tackling a roof or attic mount installation yourself, a quick Google search can connect you with a local TV antenna installation expert.
Alternatively, a balcony or other outdoor space can be a great location to install your TV antenna, especially for those living in condos or apartments.
You can even purchase pieces of flat coaxial cable that make it easy to thread the antenna’s cabling through a window or door.
(Cord cutters living in homes governed by Home Owner’s Associations, Condo Boards, or cranky landlords are protected by FCC regulations which give you the right to install a TV antenna in ‘exclusive use areas’.)
Indoor TV antennas are easier to position and install and are designed to blend into your decor.
Try a spot near a window or patio door. If your home has multiple stories, an upstairs window is preferable. Be sure however to avoid windows or doors with metallic mesh coverings or reflective coatings as these can block the TV signals.
TV Antenna Positioning Consideration #2 – Antenna Direction
Over-the-Air TV antennas will perform best when they face the source of the signals – your local broadcast towers.
Choose a window or outdoor location with a view towards the towers, free from obstructions.
Omni-directional or flat panel TV antennas don’t necessarily need to be pointed beyond this, but you may see marginal improvements by playing with the positioning by a few feet or even a few inches. Using a compass can be helpful when pointing directional TV antennas.
As you make small directional adjustments, remember to use the ‘rescan’ option within the Settings screen of your TV or Tablo app to help find the ‘sweet spot’ for the strongest signal for the TV channels you want most.
TV Antenna Positioning Consideration #3 – Distributing OTA TV Antenna Signals
What happens when the best place to put your antenna isn’t anywhere near your TV (or DVR)?
There are a few options to get your TV antenna signal from point A to point B, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
Option A – Run New Coax Cable
Yes, you can certainly get a spool of coaxial cable, and run it from your antenna to your TV or DVR. However, unless you’re comfortable drilling holes in walls this can be at best, unsightly and at worst, a tripping hazard.
Plus, the longer the coaxial cable run between your TV antenna and the tuner (either on your TV or your Tablo DVR), the more likely it is that your OTA signal will degrade.
Option B – Reuse Existing Coax Cable
If you’ve recently had satellite or cable TV, you may be able to reuse the existing wiring to connect your antenna and your TV or DVR. However, you’ll still see some signal degradation, especially if you don’t terminate unused endpoints.
Option C – Distribute TV Signals Over Your WiFi Network
By connecting your TV antenna to a network-based tuner or OTA DVR like Tablo, you can put your antenna virtually anywhere in your home and use your home WiFi network to distribute the OTA TV signals.
While costlier than the first two options, network-based distribution enables a single antenna to deliver video and audio to every screen in your home while avoiding potential cabling nightmares. It also makes it easy to add services like an on-screen TV guide, DVR, and out-of-home streaming to your antenna signal, replicating a cable or satellite TV experience without the hefty monthly costs.
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Check out these tools and posts on Over-the-Air TV antennas, OTA signals, and reception next:
Tablo’s TV signal locator
What Is the Best Over-the-Air TV Antenna for Cord Cutters?
How Your Location Impacts Your Over-the-Air TV Reception
Top Sources of Obstruction & Interference That Can Impact Your Over-the-Air TV Reception
Why OTA Frequency Bands Matter for Cord Cutters with Antennas
Getting Technical with Over-the-Air TV Reception
Reusing Existing Infrastructure for OTA Antenna Connections
How to Access OTA Signals from Multiple Directions
How to Find a Local Over-the-Air TV Antenna Installer