When should you use an indoor antenna?

You’ve never had more choices for TV antennas. On the other hand, it’s never been more confusing to choose an antenna! Some of the newer indoor antennas outperform outdoor ones, so it’s hard to know what to pick.

Indoor antennas take less time and effort to set up but aren’t for every situation. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering an antenna purchase:

How far am I from the broadcast towers?

If you are within 25 miles of the broadcast towers you can often save yourself time and effort by putting in an indoor antenna.

Is there a clear line of sight between your home and the towers?

Hills, trees, even other buildings between you and those towers can hurt reception. One good reason to choose an outdoor antenna is the ability to put it on a mast, high up on the roof, where there are fewer obstructions.

Do you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, or in an apartment?

The government’s OTARD rule says that it is possible to put an antenna smaller than 36″ wide on the private area of your home or apartment. The HOA or manager can’t stop you, but he or she can make it hard. The management may demand that you use only non-penetrating straps (no nails or screws) or limit you to where your antenna can go. An indoor antenna may be your only reasonable choice.

Are you healthy enough to climb up on your roof safely? Is your roof strong enough to hold you?

Be honest. Do you really belong on the roof? You may be shocked to realize you’re not 21 anymore. Not everyone is comfortable up on a roof, even if they have a strong back and a good sense of balance. Not only that, the roof may not be comfortable with you! How long has it been since your roof has been replaced? Are you sure walking up there is a good idea? The last thing you need is an expensive roof repair.

When you think of it that way… an indoor antenna can be a great choice if you are within range. We do recommend outdoor antennas for people who are comfortable installing them, especially outside that 25 mile range. There are a lot of smaller ones that are easy to mount even with HOA rules. But… fear not, an indoor antenna might be just what you need.

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.