When I chose our TV antenna I used the using this channel locator tool from Mohu. Ultimately, I went with the Mohu Sky 60 and my family loves it. However, different situations may require different TV antennas. This article will consider those variables and help you chose the best TV antenna for you or your family. First, you will need to get a signal report to see which channels are available to you.
Get a Signal Report
Signal power is one of the most important factors when choosing a TV antenna. To discover the signal power in your area use this great tool from tvfool.com. Once you enter your address, you should receive a signal report like the one below.
While the report is color coded to see which channels require an indoor vs outdoor antenna, there are a number of factors that this color coding doesn’t address. I’ll go over the details of what this report means in this guide. However, I’ve put together an episode of the Grounded Reason Podcasts that walks you through using TV fool. Read more about Aerials Wigan.
- For the purposes of this guide, you want to note the “Netwk” column. For every “must have” TV network in that column, write down the values below.
- Real TV Channel is in the “Real” column. The channel that you see on your TV is the virtual channel. Stations do this to keep their channel brand while broadcasting on a higher powered virtual channel.
- Noise Margin or NM (dB) is the amount of signal loss or attenuation the TV signal can withstand and still be received. Many things can cause signal loss and I cover that later in the article. The important thing to know is once the noise margin hits 0, the channel will not come in.
- “Dist miles” is the distance in miles your house is from that channels TV tower.
- The true direction of the station or the “True” column is the compass direction the TV tower is located.
These values will help you pick the best TV antenna. Before covering my antenna recommendations there are a few things we should consider like indoor Vs outdoor, UHF\VHF, and the importance of direction and gain.
Indoor Vs Outdoor
An outdoor antenna will always be better at receiving TV channels than an indoor TV antenna. I always recommend going with an outdoor antenna when possible. However, you will usually be able to pick up a TV channel with an indoor antenna as long as the noise margin or NM (dB) column is greater than 40.
That said, there is a reason I advise against blindly trusting the color-coding on TV fool. The biggest is the difference between UHF and VHF channels.
UHF Vs VHF
TV channels are split on to three different bands. Channels 2-6 are on the VHF-Lo band. Channels 7-13 are on the VHF-Hi frequency, and channels 14-69 are on the UHF frequency. The majority of indoor TV antennas are designed to pick up UHF channels. Below is the chart from my TV fool that breaks down the spectrum.