FROM THE FRONT LINES: Can you install an indoor antenna indoors?

Yes that was a real question. As much as we would like to laugh though, it comes from a position of just not understanding some of the technology behind antennas.

All television antennas pick up radio waves, which are a form of electromagnetic radiation similar to light. Radio waves are invisible, most people agree anyway, but there’s some confusion as to why they can pass through walls when light can’t. Light can pass through solid objects, obviously, because we have windows. Windows can be just as thick as cinder blocks but light can’t pass through cinder blocks even though it passes through windows. That’s because the atoms in glass are set up in just such a way that the light waves can pass through them.

You probably know that atoms arrange themselves in 3-D grids and the gaps between the grids are just the right size and shape so light waves pass. Radio waves are a different size and shape, though. They fit easily through most things that light fits through, but they are also able to fit through lots of things that light waves can’t. So, those radio waves can pass through walls and doors even though light waves can’t.

It is true that a TV signal loses about half its strength by going through a wall or a door. This may make the difference between getting signal and losing it, but for the most part if you’re using an indoor antenna as it was designed, within 10-15 miles of the towers, you’ll have no problem.

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 5,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.