There are a few ways to assess TV reception at your location before buying an antenna. Three helpful websites include Antennaweb.org, the FCC DTV Reception Maps, and Rabbitears.info. This video shows how to use all three websites.

Antennaweb.org is probably the most user friendly out of the three reception analysis websites. Simply type in your address and it will provide a report of channels you should pick up with an antenna, which type of antenna you need and the direction your antenna should point. However, sometimes the website does not list all channels available or will report “no channels available” when there actually are.

The FCC DTV Reception Maps website is a lot more accurate than Antennaweb.org. It not only provides a list of available channels in your area but has an interactive map that shows the direction of each TV station as you click on it.

Another reception analysis website is rabbitears.info. This is the most accurate out of the three but can be a bit tricky to understand. The best way to run a report is to move the pin on the map to your location and then select “go.” Be sure to set the appropriate height of the antenna and extend the radius to 100 miles.

Here’s an easy way to interpret the reception report. “Good” signals can usually be picked up with an indoor antenna. “Fair” signals will likely need a small- to medium-sized antenna installed in the attic or outside. “Poor” signals usually require a large antenna installed outside for reliable reception. 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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