What are you currently watching? The latest box office movie or reruns of your favorite TV show. Regardless, how you now consume entertainment differs widely from decades past. Subscribing to a monthly pay-TV subscription gives you immediate access to a wide range of viewing content. However, what do you do if pay-TV is no longer an option? You opt for the trusty antenna, of course.
But, how do you know if an antenna will work at your house? The simple answer here is to check. If you are struggling with how to do this, then strap in for a crash course. By the time you finish, you will be back to your regular viewing in no time.
The Reality On the Ground
Before heading to the store(try online shopping, it is easier), here is what you should know.
1. It is all digital
All the audio and video you receive comes to you through a digital signal. Consequently, you need to have devices that can decode it. If you have a flat-screen TV from 2009 and beyond, you are fine. These come with an in-built capability to do so. However, anything prior requires you to invest in a converter box.
2. You will not pay a penny for the rest of your TV days
Wait, what? That is right. All the channels you receive from your antenna are free. No more monthly subscription costs or mid-month reminders for the rest of your life. Most of the premium channels you watch on your pay-TV package own free-to-air affiliates. For example, you will still receive NBC, CBS, and True Crime Network, without paying for a subscription.
3. Your location determines the antenna type
Not all antennas will work in every setting. There are three variations of antennas.
i) Indoor TV antenna
These work best in urban areas. There are plenty of broadcast towers in your location, meaning you get better signal coverage. However, placing it next to a window is not a bad idea if you live on the ground floor.
ii) Attic antennas
You place these in the attic or by your translucent roofing tile. They are larger than indoor antennas and require a direct connection to your house’s cabling infrastructure. Furthermore, you may experience fluctuations in signal strength due to interference from indoor lights and other electrical gadgets in its vicinity. Be mindful of this when installing them.
iii) Outdoor TV antennas
These go on the roof and are suitable for rural and mountainous areas. Their installation can be tricky for a beginner. However, there is a guide to this on our website. Outdoor antennas are ideal for places far away from broadcasting towers. Consequently, they tend to be the bulkiest of the bunch.
4. There is an initial cost
You can try the one in the garage first. Nevertheless, if that does not work, be ready to spend a little on a new digital antenna. Something like two hundred bucks should cover the cost. Most retailers offer you the complete set at around that price.
The antenna check procedure
Now that you know what free-to-air TV entails, here is how to know if your antenna will work at your house.
Getting the kit ready
You will need the following materials for this procedure:
1. A coaxial cable with an RF connector
You see the white cable with a metal attachment entering your TV. That is the one you need for this check. You can use the one that connects your set-top box, considering you will not need it anymore.
2. A digital signal capable TV
You can confirm this simply by checking the service manual or searching for your TV specifications online. Alternatively, a converter box will do the trick.
3. A makeshift antenna
Do you remember the old antenna in the garage from earlier? Now is its time to shine. However, wire hangers or electric cords also work exceptionally well as makeshift antennas. For example, your standing lamp’s power cord will receive the signal.
Time to find out if free TV is for you
- Firstly, plug one end of the coaxial cable to the ‘ANT In’ connection port of your TV. It is the only one of its kind. So, you cannot miss it. Most subscription TV providers use coaxial cables for their decoders. Therefore, you should be fine. However, if you have an HDMI connection for your subscription TV decoder, you can purchase a coaxial cable from your local retailer. A meter or so is sufficient for this exercise.
- Attach the other end of the coaxial cable to your makeshift antenna. Ensure that only the center wire of the cable touches the metal of your DIY antenna. For example, connect the center wire to one of the prongs on the lamp’s power cord.
- Next, switch on your TV and select either the TV or Antenna as your source input. The name may vary, depending on the manufacturer. For example, LG models have it as Live TV, and Samsung refers to it as Broadcast. Alternatively, you can look for it under the Settings Menu for other brands.
- Look for the ‘scan for channels’ option and press OK. As above, the name may vary depending on the TV brand. Some models have it as Channel Scan or Channel Tuning. If any of these pops up, you are in the right place. You will have two choices:
Autoscan/Autotune – Selecting this option prompts the TV to identify and record any channel it receives automatically.
Manual Scan – You will have to confirm every channel that your TV identifies. Despite this method being time-consuming, it is your best chance of finding what channels are available in your area.
- Once the scan is complete, check the channel total and make your way to the electronics store. Share your findings with the attendant to get the best antenna choice.
Despite what you hear, antennas are still in use all over the globe. The infrastructure still exists, and TV broadcasters use over-the-air channels to maintain audience numbers. Therefore, if pay-TV and online streaming are proving difficult to maintain, try the antenna alternative. You will not regret it.
Frequently Asked Questions.
1. Are there alternative methods to know if an antenna will work in your home?
Yes. You can refer to your Communication Authorities website for a list of over-the-air channels available in your area. Enter your home address, and you will receive a color-coded list of channels in your area. For example, the FCC offers three colors to signify the signal strength in your area. Red indicates a weak signal, yellow is just there, and green is for the strongest signal.
2. How can you ensure that you receive the complete package?
Digital TV channels broadcast on either UHF or VHF. Depending on your preference, the antenna you buy should accommodate both bandwidths.