Looking for better TV reception? Just add height!

Cutting the cord is more popular than ever. If you follow the trends, it’s possible that by 2020, more people will be using TV antennas than ever before. Let that sink in. More people will be using TV antennas than they did in the 1950s, when there was literally no other choice.


Antenna TV gives people options they never knew they had. Most areas have more than 20 different TV stations, and only a handful are on cable or satellite. The picture is pure and pristine, looking better than all but the best streaming or disc images. A lot of people look at antenna TV and assume that it’s already 4K, since they’re used to the pseudo-HD provided by their cable companies.

Of course, with the rise in antenna TV comes a rise in problems. Digital TV is a lot more reliable than the old TV broadcasting system used in the 20th century. However, it’s still broadcasting and sometimes that means there are reception problems.

The number one cause of bad reception.

Well, the number one cause is probably being too far from the towers. If you’re over 70 miles from a major city you are going to have reception problems. There are a lot of factors that make TV reception beyond 100 miles almost impossible. Thing is, even the most dedicated cord cutter is not going to move just to get better TV reception. So, let’s talk about the number one cause of bad reception, that you can actually deal with.

It’s the stuff between you and the towers.

You know, houses, trees, hills, whatever comes between you and good reception. It’s not just the stuff you can see either. Standing on your roof, on a good day you can see maybe ten miles. What about things that are further away? Chances are that TV signal is going through buildings between you and the broadcast site, and unless those buildings or trees or whatever are really really tall, you can deal with it pretty simply.

Put that antenna up high.

That’s right, I said it. Put the antenna at the top of the roof. If that’s not enough, get a fifteen-foot mast up and put it up there nice and securely. If even that isn’t enough, get a tower. I understand, you never really thought of yourself as the kind of person to have a fifty-foot tower on your property. You thought that was reserved for the really hard core people.

Getting an antenna tower is a decent expense, yes. You should definitely try cheaper alternatives first. But consider, if you’re going to get rid of that $100 cable bill, you’ll likely pay for that tower in the first several months. Then it’s all profit, baby.

Knowing what to do

If you’re able to see that trees or homes nearby are the problem, your work is cut out for you. All you need to do is get the antenna up higher than those trees or homes. If you aren’t sure, the best thing to do is put up a tower as high as you can. Generally you can go about 50 feet with no permits or whatever, although you should check local ordinances. If you’re going to go higher than that, you run into permits and obstruction lighting, and all sorts of things. It still may be possible for you to do it, but the cost does begin to add up.

If you’re looking for the best advice on how to get an antenna up as high as you need, here’s some great news. We have experts on towers at Solid Signal, and their free advice is just a phone call away. Just call 888-233-7563 and get the best information in the business!

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.