These days, there are more and more ways to watch live TV without paying a fortune for cable. From utilizing streaming services to getting a TV antenna, there are several ways to watch TV for free or for very cheap. An HD antenna can help pick up local broadcast networks, and is a must-have for cord-cutters. In this guide, we’ll help you find the best HD antenna for your situation, needs and budget.
There are lots of good options out there. To help you choose, we’ve put our recommendations for the best TV antenna into specific sections. We’ve included brief antenna reviews to help you learn more about each product before making your selection. If you’re looking for the best antenna for the money, this is the guide for you!
Quick Picks for the Best HD Antenna
- Indoor — Mohu Leaf 30
- Outdoor — Winegard Elite 7550
- Rooftop — RCA ANT751E
- Rural Areas — ClearStream 4
- Cities — Mohu Leaf Metro
Below, find our selections for the best antenna options of 2018. You’ll find specific categories for indoor TV antennas, outdoor TV antennas and more.
Signal Range: Up to 40 miles
The Mohu Leaf 30 is one of the most popular HD antennas on the market – and also likely the best indoor antenna available. It’s a best-seller in the antenna category at most online retailers, including Amazon. It features a range of up to 40 miles, and is capable of picking up both HD and UHD (4k) streams.
A big benefit of the Leaf 30 is the slim design. The paper-thin antenna is very easy to disguise. You can even paint it, so you could potentially hang it above your TV and paint it the same color as your wall. This is one reason we picked it as the best indoor TV antenna. A common complaint among antenna users is the unsightly look of an antenna over the TV – but the Mohu Leaf makes it easy to hide your antenna in plain sight!
Signal Range: Up to 70+ miles
The Winegard Elite 7550 is the best outdoor TV antenna for the money. It features a durable, sleek design that can be placed almost anywhere. It can connect to multiple TVs without issue, and it’s got an impressive range of 70+ miles.
The Winegard is packed with features, as well. First off, it comes standard with a digital amplifier, which helps to improve signal quality. Plus, it’s optimized for dual-band VHF/UHF for versatility. It’s also a relatively small and unobtrusive antenna, particularly for its range class.
Signal Range: Up to 70 miles
The RCA ANT751E is a compact yet powerful rooftop HD antenna that offers a 70-mile range. It comes with a mostly pre-assembled design, so it’s very easy to setup and install. Although it’s quite affordable, it offers the features of many higher-end antennas, like 1080i HDTV signal, 70+ mile range, and more.
RCA is one of the most trusted companies in the antenna industry. If you look at antenna reviews for this model, you’ll see that customers have rated its performance quite well.
Signal Range: Up to 70+ miles
The ClearStream 4 HDTV Antenna is a good option for more rural areas. It has a wide signal range, and the multi-directional design means you could potentially pick up broadcasts from multiple different towers in your area.
Another nice feature of this antenna is that it can be used inside or outside. It comes with a heavy-duty, all-weather mount and hardware, but it’s also designed to work well inside in attics and other spaces. Typically you’ll get better signal if you place it outside, but this is a good option to have, particularly for areas with harsh weather.
Signal Range: Up to 25+ miles
The Mohu Leaf Metro is an affordable HD antenna that’s specifically designed for city dwellers. It features an ultra-compact, multi-directional design that’s easy to hide, even in tiny city apartments. It’s also portable, so it can be a good option for traveling, RVing, etc.
The Leaf Metro has a range of 25 miles, which should be more than enough for city-slickers. The multi-directional design means you don’t need to point it in any particular direction, and you should pick up a signal from multiple towers in the area.
Things to Know About HD Antennas
Before you purchase an antenna, there are some things to be aware of:
Signal Range – the advertised signal range on HD antennas is the maximum under ideal circumstances. That means flat ground, with few to no geographical interference. Basically, this means that you’ll be hard-pressed to actually pick up signals from the maximum listed signal range, and should plan accordingly.
Signal Strength – various factors can influence the signal strength offered by your antenna. The big ones are geographical interference (i.e. hills, buildings, etc. between your antenna and the broadcasting tower), interference from other electronics, etc. You may have to play around and experiment to find the best situation to maximize signal strength. This is also why you’ll see a lot of complaints about specific antennas in antenna reviews – there’s just so many factors that go into getting the best signal strength, that you have to to take reviews with a grain of salt.
Antenna Location – beyond choosing the best antenna, another main factor is where you place the antenna. Generally speaking, you want to minimize interference and geographical features between the antenna and the tower. And ideally, you want to point the antenna towards the nearest tower – even if it’s a multi-directional antenna. It may take some experimenting to find the best location for your antenna.
VHF vs UHF – there are basically two bands for over-the-air TV broadcasts: VHF and UHF. Generally speaking, the lower channels (1-13 or so) broadcast on VHF, while channels 14 to 69 broadcast on UHF. Learn more about the differences here. Many antennas will be able to pick up both bands, but some are specialized to only pick up one or the other.
Indoor vs Outdoor – generally speaking, outdoor antennas offer better signal strength, simply because there are less obstructions between the antenna and the towers. If you live far away from the closest towers, you’ll probably want to go with an outdoor option. With that said, indoor TV antennas are certainly easier to install, and you don’t have to worry about harsh weather damaging them.
Resources – there are some helpful resources you can use to check what OTA channels are available in your area. The FCC DTV Reception Maps are a great place to start. You can plug in your address and zip code to gauge what channels you may be able to pick up over the air.
Hopefully this guide has helped you find the best HD antenna for your needs and budget. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments!