Should you make your own antenna or buy one?

Look let’s get this out of the way. This blog is operated by and the purpose of that web site is to sell you stuff. So obviously I’m going to want to tell you that a manufactured antenna is going to be better. But that doesn’t automatically make me wrong. In fact, long time readers of this blog will tell you that I try as hard as I can to make sure that I’m fair and honest when I write this stuff.

So yes, let me say right off the bat that there are a lot of cases where a coat hanger, a piece of bare wire, and even a potato will act as a serviceable antenna if you want it to. And if that’s your cup of tea I say go for it. I’m all for hobbyists and DIYers and making stuff out of stuff you already have. And you know what, there’s a lot of cases where you don’t actually need this deep knowledge of physics in order to get a serviceable antenna. Just plain luck will usually serve you if you’re within 15-20 miles of the broadcast towers.

So why, then, would a thinking person actually decide to buy an antenna, and especially why would a thinking person actually decide to buy an antenna from a web site, pay to have it shipped, and wait for it to show up?

I’m about to tell you.

First of all, not everyone is going to get fabulous reception from a potato. If you’re more than 30 miles from the broadcast towers, you’re probably going to need a bit more than a spud and some bare wire to get the signals you want. You could need something that mounts outdoors, or in the attic, or on a fence. Getting reliable reception can take more work than you think. And coathanger antennas look all great and retro, but they won’t pull in all channels.

Second, when you look out there, you’re going to find a lot of choices for antennas. They look wildly different, and they are wildly different. That’s not just all marketing. The truth is that you need different antennas for different situations, and just looking at what your neighbors have isn’t going to help. They probably put up their antennas in the 1950s when TV was a lot different. That’s why Solid Signal has a free antenna request service which will set a team of technicians on your problem and figure out the best antenna for you. It’s not just distance, you have to look at the kinds of stations out there, where they broadcast from, what channels they’re on, and all sorts of things. It’s a lot to ask of an average person to know all this stuff.

Finally, let’s be honest. Not everyone thinks a pile of cut-up coat hangers is modern art. Most of us either think that it’s nice to have things look nice or we live with someone who does. And therein lies the real reason to get a professionally manufactured antenna – it just looks better. Never mind that it’s probably going to be a lot more durable and possibly even work better, just buying an antenna is probably going to help keep peace in the home. That’s just the way of the world.

So don’t be afraid to look… browse the full selection of antennas at Solid Signal. Find one that looks good for your area, and ask questions by email, by posting them here, or just call us. That’s what we’re here for.

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.