What Cord Cutters Need to Know About Distance Ratings for OTA TV Antennas





Antenna Couple

Todays post is a guest post from the great team over at TabloTV.com. Laura Slater is one of the cord cutting experts at TabloTV.com and has been blissfully cable-free since 2010. She enjoys sharing the money saving tips and tricks she’s learned to help others join the cord cutting revolution.

If you’ve ever shopped for an Over-the-Air TV antenna, you’ve likely noticed that most are marketed with a ‘range’ or ‘distance rating’ in miles.

These ratings are intended as a guideline for how far away from your local broadcast towers you can place the TV antenna before it becomes ineffective.

(Head over to TVFool.com to find out how far away you live from your local TV broadcast towers.)

However, it’s critical for cord cutters to understand that these TV antenna ratings or ranges are approximate. They don’t consider variables which can impact your Over-the-Air TV reception, including antenna placement, obstructions and interference, and more.

For that reason, it’s important to understand how Over-the-Air broadcast TV works, and that cord cutters may need to try a few different antennas and placement locations to find the optimal combination for their home and their location in relation to their TV broadcast towers.

TV Antenna Ranges & Styles
Commercial Over-the-Air TV antennas are marketed with distance ratings between 20 to 60 miles (for most indoor models) and up to 150+ miles (for ‘extreme’ outdoor models).

But, in real-world conditions the idea reception areas for antenna TV are within about 35 miles of local broadcast towers.

Those living further afield may get TV signals up to about 70 miles away, at which point the curvature of the earth begins to impact OTA reception.

That’s why cord cutters should be wary of TV antennas with ‘extreme’ mileage ratings, because despite their claims they’re unlikely to deliver an acceptable signal quality at 100+ miles without ideal conditions, professional installation help, and a bit of luck.

How to Choose the Right TV Antenna Range
Choosing the right Over-the-Air TV antenna may require a bit of trial and error.  Just because your brother-in-law in another city swears that his TV antenna is ‘the best’, it may not be the best for you.

Begin by doing your own research. Find out exactly how far away you live from your local broadcast towers.

Then head out to a local store with a good return policy and pick up at least two TV antenna options whose mileage rating is a bit higher than your actual distance. For example, if you live 25 miles away, try a TV antenna rated for 30 or 40 miles.

But don’t go too crazy! If you can throw a rock at your local broadcast TV towers and buy a 70-mile range antenna, you could send TOO strong a signal to your TV, tuner device, or OTA DVR which is called ‘overdriving’ the tuner.

Other TV Antenna Considerations
As mentioned, factors like the height of your antenna’s location, obstructions and interference, and the power and frequency of the signals coming from your local towers can all impact your ability to get OTA TV signals.

Even if you pick a TV antenna with the correct mileage rating for your needs, it still must be placed in an optimal location with the minimum amount of obstructions, and (if needed) be capable of picking up both VHF and UHF signals.

So don’t just take the antenna out of the box, stick it next to your TV and call it a day. Try a few different placement options (in a window facing local towers is best), remembering to run a new channel scan on your TV, tuner device, or OTA DVR in between each antenna switcheroo.

As you can see, choosing the right Over-the-Air TV antenna requires a bit of up-front research and effort. But once you’ve got it installed you’ll have a never-ending supply local broadcast TV, and the best part is that it’s absolutely FREE. Enjoy!

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