You Want to do WHAT With Your TV Antenna?

As the recognized online TV antenna experts, we get a lot of questions about these devices. It comes with the territory. Most of what we get is fairly basic stuff but every once in a while, we get questions that are a bit… creative. (I won’t say “crazy” because my grandma always used to say that there’s no such thing as a bad question.) So yeah, creative questions… we get them every now and again, and we don’t mind answering them. Here are 10 recent examples of these types of questions and our answers to them:

Q: Will a TV antenna work in an attic?

We get this a lot, especially from people with homeowners associations that have limits as to what can be mounted on the roof. Short answer: Yes it will work, but not without its limitations. When you mount an antenna in the attic, you’ll lose at least half of the signal. This is because the metals and other building materials will block or reflect it. If this is your only option, get an antenna that exceeds your distance to the transmitters by at least 20 miles. This might help you get the reception you’re looking for.

Q: Will a TV antenna work in attic with a radiant barrier?

A radiant barrier is highly reflective aluminum that blocks the transfer of heat by reflecting it away from its surface. If you have this in your attic, you can pretty much kiss attic mounting goodbye. Metals and many other building materials – stucco grid, insulated windows, and siding – block TV reception. If you’re going to go the attic antenna route, you should point it through some place without the radiant barrier. The catch is that the gap has to be placed in the same direction as the TV transmitters. What are the odds of that?

Q: Will a TV antenna work in attic if your house has a metal roof?

A: Probably not. Like we said above, metal has a nasty habit of blocking TV signals. If you put a TV antenna inside a box then surround that box with metal, you essentially have a Farraday cage. (That’s any structure designed to block electromagnetic fields.) So, you can mount your antenna in the attic, but your metal roof will block most or all of the TV signals you’re trying to receive. Fortunately, you have other antenna mounting options.

Q: Will a TV antenna work inside a metal building?

A: Again with the metal? Okay, let’s try this again. Metal blocks TV signals. If you have a metal building and try to mount a TV antenna inside of it, you probably won’t get as many channels as you would if you put the antenna on the roof. If you can’t do that, don’t worry. There are other options to get the channels you want.

Q: Will a TV antenna work for cell phone signal?

A: Technically, it can. Back in the day, an NTSC-tuned TV set with an antenna could pick up AMPS cell phone conversations in the 850MHz band. (At least in the US.) Today, digital cellular companies encrypt data for security and privacy reasons. You might be able to decrypt some GSM signals with some software-defined radio (SDR) programs, but that would probably be illegal. If cell phone reception is a problem, it’s a lot easier to get a cell phone booster for your home or vehicle. These devices come with antennas that receive, boost, and send cellular signals.

Q: Will a TV antenna work with a cell booster?

A: Maybe, but first, you have to make sure the antenna’s frequencies match the frequencies used by your provider’s tower. Then you have to figure out a way to decrypt the encoded cellular signal. (It’s still illegal though.) If you manage to do all that, you still have to rewire your TV antenna so it’s compatible with the cell phone booster’s wiring. That seems like a lot of trouble to go through when you can just use the indoor and outdoor antennas that come with your cell phone booster.

Q: Will an older TV antenna work in HD?

A: Yes, it will. That’s because HDTV signals are broadcast on the same frequencies that all antennas can pick up. So, if you have an antenna on your roof that you’ve used since the 1970s, it can pick up HDTV signals. You might still want to get a new antenna though. These devices are built to last, but 50 years is a long time! Why not get a new antenna to give you many more years of TV viewing?

Q: Will a TV antenna pick up Wi-Fi?

A: Technically speaking, a TV antenna can be altered to receive Wi-Fi signal… with more than a few alterations. Wi-Fi transmits at a slightly higher frequency than TV transmission. The things you’ll have to do to turn your TV antenna into a Wi-Fi antenna are very time consuming. There’s really no reason to go through that hassle of rigging your antenna to receive Wi-Fi signal. There are plenty of affordable Wi-Fi antennas that you can use.

Q: Will a TV antenna work for a scanner?

A: Only one person ever asked us this. Apparently, he moved into a new home that had a VHF/UHF antenna on the roof. He wanted to know if he can plug his scanner into that antenna and get reception on VHF, UHF, fire, and police bands. We told him it might work as long as the antenna uses a 75 Ohm cable. If it has 300 Ohm line, you need a 300-to-75 Ohm transformer and there might be some soldering involved. You could go through all of that, but it’s easier to just get a replacement scanner antenna and hook it up.

Q: Will a TV antenna work for AM radio?

A: We get this a lot because TV antennas pick up FM broadcasts in the 88-108 MC range. (It’s between the old VHF channels 6 and 7.) That said, TV antennas just don’t work on AM bands, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. Do you need to enhance your stereo’s AM reception? There are upgrade AM/FM antennas that can do that for you. You can also get a specialty radio that’s known for high-quality reception.

That’s It… For Now

Those were some unique questions about TV antennas, but it won’t be the last of them? Being the online leader in all things TV antennas means we’ll probably get even more creative inquiries. That’s great because it gives us the opportunity to share information with you. So, if you have some burning question about antennas that you’d like to ask, drop it in the comments section. You can also leave your questions on our Support from Solid Signal Facebook page.

Maybe your only question is “Where can I get the best TV antenna for my home?” We can answer that question, too. I did say that Solid Signal is the online leader in TV antenna retailers, right? Well, our antenna experts can calculate how far you live from the local TV transmitters. They’ll use this and other information to give you the best antenna recommendation for your home. To get started, give us a call at 888-233-7563, or fill out the form below and click “submit.”

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.