SOUND OFF: Should you mount an antenna in the attic?

Lately, there’s been a bit of controversy about attic mounting antennas. In the past I’ve said it’s ok as long as you are willing to deal with some signal loss. Lately I’ve had some customer interactions that made me question myself.

What happens when you put an outdoor antenna in the attic

There are two big problems with putting an antenna in the attic. The first is that quite simply, you’re going to bump into it. Even if you hang it up in the rafters, it will get beaten up sooner or later. Sooner or later it will get pinched or bent. And since the chances are good that you’re going to put a large antenna up there, that makes things even worse. The old-school yagi-style antennas are going to suffer the most because they’re made of bare aluminum tubes that can be easily bent.

The other problem is harder to nail down. Conventional wisdom says that you lose about half the signal strength when you put an antenna in the attic. This translates out to 3dB of signal strength for those techies out there. But really that’s just the loss from an average roof with composition tile. There are a lot of other materials that can cause even more signal loss.

Moisture/vapor barriers

If your attic is properly insulated with a foil barrier, that barrier can block quite a bit of signal. It can cause you to lose reception completely. The more the attic is insulated, the bigger this problem is.

Spanish tile and other concrete title

If you have a tile roof that’s orange or blue, those tints come from metallic compounds in the tiles. Those metals are going to bounce the signal around and cause all sorts of havoc.

Solar Panels

Solar panels on a roof are designed to capture as much radiation as possible. They’re specifically engineered to capture visible light, but they also do a pretty good job of capturing and blocking broadcast signals. Solar panels on the roof can kill reception completely too.

Low-E glass and coated glass

If you’re thinking the attic window is the saving grace, unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth. The coatings which keep heat and cold from passing through the windows also do a fabulous job of blocking broadcast signals. Your new windows probably block more signals than your walls do.

Is it really worth it to attic mount?

Maybe, it isn’t.

Maybe, it’s only worth it if there is absolutely no way to get up on the roof, or if the HOA won’t let you put a big antenna on the roof. Even then, the signal loss might cancel out any benefit from a big antenna.

So, I’m asking for opinions. Who out there has an attic mounted antenna? Does it work well for you? Does it give you all the channels you want? Tell us about your setup so we can all discuss it. I’d really like to head what all of our wise Solid Signal Blog readers have to say about this one.

Just leave a comment below!

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.