Are you concerned by the subscription fee(s) for Pay TV that you’re considering switching to free OTA (over the air) TV broadcasts?
If so, you’re making a smart move, for the most part. Experts estimate that you can save up to $1000 a year on a pay-TV subscription if you switch to free TV.
The main attraction of OTA TV is you get to watch some local-based programs (news and sports), that you may not get over cable and satellite TV services.
There is no shortage of channels to watch, too. Digital TV, as free TV, is popularly known allows you to catch anywhere from 25 to 60 channels depending on your location.
Free TV doesn’t mean low-quality pictures. The contrary is true. You actually enjoy higher-quality pictures. Really? Yep. How’s this so?
Many do not know that cable and satellite TV services compress video in order to save on bandwidth with a view to offering you a stable reception. In that way, more channels can be streamed to subscribers.
Free broadcast TV doesn’t do that. So, you get to enjoy higher image quality.
Many are ditching Pay TV for free OTA TV as they don’t really watch the channels included in their subscription packages. Plus free Internet video streaming services like YouTube offer a good deal of video content. When you’re spoilt for choice, why pay monthly bills just for the odd few programs you watch every now and then?
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve to terminate your pay-TV subscriptions. You can use the free TV service to complement existing services.
The next time your cable or satellite TV service is unavailable due to a service problem or bad weather, you can fall back on the OTA TV service, which is much more reliable and less susceptible to service disruption.
Getting Started with Free Digital TV
Your only spending to get started with free TV is an HD TV antenna. There are three things you need to start receiving free TV.
You’ll need a TV equipped with a digital tuner. If your TV is manufactured after March 2007, you already have it.
You’ll also need to choose the right antenna for the location you’re in. You can use the FCC DTV reception Checker.
Finally, you’ll need knowledge of the locations of broadcast towers close to your area. When you’ve installed your HD TV antenna, all you need to do is point your antenna in any of their directions and you’ll get to view quality free digital TV.
How to Choose an HD TV Antenna
First of all, you want to know what channels are available in your area.
A good way to know this is by visiting the TV Fool TV Signal Locator page.
To do this, head over to TV Fool page. This service pulls data from FCC’s broadcast TV database. You’ll get an idea of what signals you can access and how strong they will be.
Get started by entering your address details.
You’ll get a chart that looks like the one below.
Check your favorite channels’ colors against the indicator table below.
Antenna Installation Rules
Before you purchase an antenna based on the signal strength results, you need to check the HD TV Antenna installation rules in your area.
In case you’re worried that your Home Owners Association may block your antenna installation, be informed about the Over-The-Air Reception Devices (OTARD) rule.
It gives homeowners and tenants the right to install a free TV antenna. Go through the rule in case you face opposition from your HOA.
Deciding on an Antenna
Based on the Fool TV signal strength chart, green channels are listed on top.
Generally, a green channel needs no more than an indoor antenna. Yellow channels would need a larger antenna installed in your attic. Red channels would require a quality antenna mounted on your roof.
If you want to view a mixture of these channels, then an outdoor antenna will be the one for the job.
Here are some general tips to keep in mind:
- Always opt for outdoor installation if possible. Indoor antennas are convenient but up to 50% of the signal strength may be lost. Use an indoor antenna only if all the channels you want to watch are green.
- The best installations are straightforward and direct . Installations with more junctions will result in higher signal loss.
- Avoid splitting the signal to more than one TV. Signal strength will fall. If you have to, then you would have to use a low-noise amplifier to recover the lost signal strength. But then there are some antenna sets that come equipped for 2 TVs, as you shall see below.
- Try different locations until you get the optimum signal strength.
Let’s now look at some HD TV antenna ideas to help you get started.
Types of HD TV Antennas
This is the most popular type of TV antenna because they’re easy to set up. They are capable of picking up TV signals coming from any direction. In other words, you don’t even have to know in which direction the nearest broadcast station is.
Mostly they’re flat in design and shaped like sheets or discs. They can easily be fixed to a window. With the correct mounting, they can pick up signals from stations located in the north, south, east, or west.
Multidirectional antennas are usually indoor antennas. Some outdoor antennas are of the multidirectional type, too.
Multidirectional antennas have a major drawback though. Their reception power is weaker compared to directional antennas.
If you have seen antennas in the form of arrows, tubes, and fins, they are directional antennas.
They’re usually mounted outside a building. There must be no obstruction when it comes to pointing towards a station. As such they’re much in use in landed houses compared to apartments or condominiums where walls may obstruct.
The big advantage of directional antennas is that they will allow you to catch weak signals from faraway stations. Providing the antennas are correctly pointing towards them.
Directional antennas need forethought and planning before installation. You need to decide where to mount them, through trial and error, for the best signal reception.
Let’s now look at HD antenna ideas that would help you with a purchasing decision.
Gesobyte Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna
This is one of the highly-rated antennas over at Amazon. Users have said that they can receive up to an average of 60 channels with this antenna.
The closer you place it near your window, the better the reception will be.
It also works on non-HDTV sets with an external digital converter box.
It comes with a smart switch control signal booster. With its use, the signal range is improved. Then there’s the clear filter technology which cuts out cellular and FM signals to give you clearer pictures.
If your house is within 35 miles of the broadcast tower, you just need to use the short-range switch on the amplifier.
According to the manufacturer, the antenna can pick up signals from broadcasting towers as far as 200 miles away. Well, that will depend on your location (whether flat or hilly terrain) and other surrounding conditions.
Check out the Gesobyte Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna.
Matis Digital Outdoor Amplified HD TV Antenna
If the signal strength locator for your area returns many yellow channels, then this outdoor TV antenna should help you with getting a clear free TV reception.
Also if you need reception for 2 TVs in your house, this antenna will do the job. You can connect it to 2 HDTVs without the need to buy an external splitter.
You can rotate the antenna 360 degrees. To help with the installation, a 33ft coaxial cable and a mounting pole are thrown in.
The antenna set also comes with a power adapter and a wireless remote.
The manufacturer says the antenna can receive signals from broadcast stations as far as 150 miles away.
Users have reported that you can get up to 40 channels about 60 miles away from the broadcast station and the HD TV antenna works well in freezing weather and high winds.
Check out the Matis Digital Outdoor Amplified HD TV Antenna.
Luxtronic Digital HDTV Antenna
If the nearest TV broadcast station is about 20 to 30 miles away from your house, you can opt for the 360-degree Luxtronic Digital HDTV Antenna.
More so if most of your channels are green coded.
Also, if you need to use an HD TV antenna on the go, especially on a truck or recreational vehicle (RV), you would like this antenna with a space-saving, portable design.
The shape and design help you snugly fit the antenna behind your TV without being noticed.
You’re provided with a 10-feet coaxial cable to connect it to your TV set.
Expect to get at least 200 channels from this portable HD TV antenna.
Check out the Luxtronic Digital HDTV Antenna.
If you are new to HD TV antenna installation you would have learned enough about digital TV antennas to help you make a wise purchasing decision.
Before you go, don’t forget to c]heck out more HD TV antenna buying ideas.