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How to estimate my TV reception before buying an antenna
How to estimate my TV reception before buying an antenna

What to know before purchasing an antenna.

Written by Free TV Project Staff
Updated over a week ago

It’s very important to run a reception report online to get an idea of how well an antenna may work in your area and what type of antenna might be needed. A few good websites to refer to include the Federal Communications Commission's digital television (DTV) reception maps and It’s important to check and compare the reports from both websites as sometimes the FCC's DTV reception maps won’t list all channels. This video provides detailed instructions on how to use each website.

In general, an indoor antenna can usually pick up strong signals. Fair signals will likely need an attic or small outdoor antenna. Weak signals will likely need a large antenna installed outside. You can find a list of recommended antennas here.

Getting started

Watching free, over-the-air TV with an antenna is simpler than you may think. In many cases, you can take an antenna out of the box, connect the cable to your TV, run a channel scan and voila! You have dozens of local channels to surf.

The number of channels you can access and how clearly they come in is based on a number of factors, including your distance from the point of broadcast towers, the type of antenna you have and where it’s located in your home.

Not sure what kind of antenna you need? Take our simple quiz to help narrow down the options. You can also find a general list of recommended antennas here.

Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR device to record your favorite shows

Did you know you can use an antenna similarly to how you watch cable? Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:

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