Antennas are lighter now than they were, and that’s not a bad thing.

Friends, I get a lot of antennas to test. A LOT. It’s one of the best things about my job. Occasionally I get an antenna that surprises me.

I hadn’t taken a look at our HD8200XL in a long time, not since we first rolled it out. So I recently pulled one off the shelf to test. The one thing that really surprised me was how light it was. I compared it to an antenna I have on the roof for my own use, which is a late 1960s model similar to Channel Master’s CM-2016. That antenna’s quite a bit heavier than today’s HD8200XL, despite being about six feet shorter and having a lot less metal.

They don’t make them like they used to and that’s ok

Today’s antennas are more likely to have thinner aluminum, more plastic, and to be overall lighter than their 1950s and 1960s counterparts. This is going to lead some folks to say “they don’t make them like they used to.” No, they don’t. They make them better.

Companies like Televes and Winegard have made huge strides in the last 20 years in manufacturing using aluminum. They’ve been able to use a higher grade of aluminum to build antennas that are just as effective as older ones but cost a lot less to ship. They know you won’t buy an antenna if it costs $100 to ship it to you. And let’s be honest, a lot of those old antennas fell into a category like that. There was a time when close to 50% of the cost of an antenna was in shipping. You don’t want to go back there.

Think of it this way

When you think of cars from the 1950s, you think of them as solid. They look solid. They feel solid. They are made from heavy gauge steel and everything is thick and blocky and they look like they’ll hold up to any kind of punishment. Now, if you have some time look at the crash tests that compare 1950s cars to cars today. Cars today crumple in predictable ways. They have safety cages that support occupants. In every way that really matters, they’re stronger. Why? Because manufacturing has gotten better.

The same is true of antennas. We’ve learned how to make antennas that are light and do their jobs. And we’ve also learned how to make antennas people can afford. That’s a big part of it as well.

How long do you want your antenna to last?

That’s a big question and the good news is you have a choice. If you buy an Xtreme Signal brand antenna, you can expect it to last longer than you’ll probably be in the house it’s on. (The average person stays in a home 5-7 years.) That may be enough for you. If you’re looking for lifetime durability you can choose a Televes antenna which is made to higher standards. Visit Televes’ home city in Spain and you’ll find antennas that are 20-30 years old and holding up perfectly. Anyone who wants a lifetime antenna can get one, it’s just a matter of price.

Choose the antenna that’s right for you

In the 1950s, you had antennas that were built out of thick steel and aluminum. You paid through the nose for them — the equivalent of about $500 today. You can get antennas that are just as good today for about one tenth the price. I don’t know if they’ll last 70 years, but the world’s a funny place. I don’t know if anything will last 70 years. I do know that with the right antenna from Solid Signal, you’ll enjoy years of free TV. What else do you need to know?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.