We live in a world of Netflix, Hulu, and extremely expensive cable. As prices for cable rise, more and more homeowners are turning to antennas to get their favorite local stations while supplementing internet-based TV for what they can’t get the old fashion way.
Unfortunately, homeowners who live in suburban to rural areas often struggle to get a strong enough signal on their antennas and feel forced to stick with cable and satellite providers who charge and arm and a leg even for the lowest level programming. What is a rural homeowner to do?
We have put together a great list of some of the best outdoor TV antennas there are for rural areas, along with an all-inclusive guide to purchasing your first antenna and getting out from under those big cable companies. We are here to help you get exactly what you need, so let’s take a deeper dive into these antennas.
Outdoor vs. Indoor Antennas
First and foremost, it’s important for us to talk about why we are focusing on outdoor antennas in this article. To do that, we need to discuss the differences between outdoor and indoor antennas.
Indoor antennas are a great solution for people who live fairly close to the TV broadcast towers for their favorite stations. If you live in the city limits, especially up higher or with minimal distance between you and the towers, these antennas are ideal. They aren’t outside getting ravaged by weather, and they are less expensive.
However, indoor antennas need to reach signals that are outside of your home, so sometimes it’s difficult to place them in a location where those signals can reach, especially if you live in a home with a metal roof or thick stucco walls. Even having computers or other appliances nearby can affect your signal.
Outdoor antennas are designed to avoid all the signal blocking and unpleasant appearances of indoor TV antennas. They attach to the top of your home and will allow for much better reception, not matter how far out you live. You will need to ensure you are not violating any codes when installing them, however.
Outdoor antennas are available in a variety of ranges, including long-range options for those individuals who live in the suburbs or even in rural areas. Although there is no guarantee that you will be able to get every channel in every location with an outdoor antenna, it is far more likely than with the smaller indoor models.
One question we see a lot is whether you can utilize outdoor strength antennas indoors. The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is important as well. Outdoor antennas may be more powerful, but they still have to work around the same problems as indoor antennas when placed inside.
The best use of any antenna is to place it where it’s meant to be placed. If you are really set on using the outdoor versions inside, just make sure it is positioned near a window and preferably on the highest floor of your home.
Signals and Weather
Anyone who has had satellite TV in the past knows that antennas and bad weather don’t always mix. However, that is less and less the case with the digital antennas and televisions that we have today. Some extremely severe weather may still disrupt your signal, but it is far less likely than in the past.
The most likely cause of lost signal during poor weather conditions is the simple moving of trees or other debris into the path of the television signal. When the wind blows hard, trees will sometimes fall or sway in and out of the way, causing lower signal quality or complete loss of signal.
Sometimes the TV tower itself is swaying slightly or has been hit by debris. In those cases, there isn’t much you can do to avoid a signal loss, but in the case of moving trees, you could always ensure your antenna is mounted as high as possible on your home to avoid trees and an interference.
Finally, some people think that stacking antennas on top of one another is a way to boost your signal during bad weather. In reality, two stacked antennas can actually interfere with one another and make your signal worse. Rather than spending that money, it is a better idea to buy an amplifier attachment to boost your signal.
Find Out What Channels You Can Receive
Before you go out and spend the money for any type of antenna, it’s important to do some research on what channels you will be able to receive in your area and how much of a range your antenna will need to receive them.
There is a great website that we found that basically does all of that research for you. It’s called TVFool.com and it’s full of helpful resources on your HDTV experience, including signal strength, reception, and more.
We will warn you, this site has a lot of information and it isn’t always easy for a laymen to understand, but they have a frequently asked questions section that covers most information on how to read their lists and maps, so you won’t be too lost for too long.
We tested the site by typing in a few different addresses various distances from a medium sized metropolitan city, and got great results. If you’d rather just look at a map and not worry about typing your address in, you can do that too. Simply choose your favorite map option on the side bar and wait for the results.
Once you’ve decided you’re in the range well enough to purchase an antenna, you can move on to the next steps, figuring out which one to buy and installing it all on your own.
How to Choose the Correct Antenna for You
We’ve talked a lot about antennas so far, but how do you know which one is right for you? There are still a few differences that we haven’t discussed, and that are a big deal when choosing the antenna to power your new, free TV.
Every antenna is different, especially when it comes to how long of a range it can gather signal from. If you live out in the boonies, it’s likely that you’re interested in an extra long signal range. You may even need a 200 or 500-mile range antenna to get more than just a station or two.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell how long of a range an antenna truly has until you try it out on your home. If you are in a valley or live where there are trees and even mountains in between you and the nearest TV tower, you may need a much stronger antenna to get the signals to your house, even if the tower is fairly close in miles.
Antenna mile ranges given on boxes are the best-case scenarios. Meaning that these antennas can work that well over flat, open terrain, but rarely will in real life scenarios. Still, some antennas work well in open land and the larger the range; the better the signal will be no matter where you are.
Styles and Types
No, we aren’t talking about the latest and greatest fashion; we are talking about the look of your antenna for utility. I’m sure you’ve seen different styles of antennas throughout your life, but is one better than another in terms of range or signal?
First lets talk about directional vs. omnidirectional antennas. Directional antennas are designed specifically to pick up signals in the direction in which they are pointed, where omnidirectional antennas are designed to get channels and signals from all directions.
Of course the trade off is that you are getting extra power by focusing your antenna in one direction, and slightly less power in all directions by using an omnidirectional antenna.
In addition to directional versus omnidirectional, there is also UHF versus Yagi TV antennas. Essentially the purposes of these two antennas is the same, it is simply the look that is different. Yagi antennas are the most common types that you see in the city, where UHF are seen more often in rural areas due to their power.
Installing Your Outdoor Antenna
There’s a lot that goes into installing a new outdoor antenna, but if you choose to do it yourself, it’s not a terribly difficult process to complete, just time consuming. We’ll show you the basic steps on how to get started, where to place your antenna for the best signal, and how to make adjustments.
The first step is to get an idea of where you’d like your antenna to be located. The roof of your home will almost always be the best place, but which side should the antenna go on, and which way should it face for the best signal? To find that out you can head back to TVFool.com or to Antennaweb.org.
Both of the websites mentioned above will help to give you an idea about where the antenna should be located on your home to get the best signal, and if you don’t have a multidirectional antenna, these sites will also give you an idea of which way to face your device.
Once you’ve chosen your new antenna’s location, it’s time to start the installation process. The first step here is to install the mounting bracket for your antenna. You’ll want to carefully follow the instructions that came with your device to mount it securely.
Pro tip: You’ll want to apply caulk around the bracket to seal screws against water penetration.
After the mounting bracket is installed, it’s time to assemble the antenna. Sometimes antennas come in a solid piece, but often there will be some minor assembly required. If you follow the directions carefully and cautiously you will have it together in no time.
Next you’ll want to attach the antenna pole to the antenna. Make sure that the pole is attached tightly with the included screws and is all the way into its assigned area before being tightened down. After the pole is attached to both the antenna and the mounting bracket, you’ll want to run the cable line per the instructions.
Once your cable line is attached to the antenna and the TV, there may be a process you need to complete to get your TV and antenna in sync. If this is the case, it will say so in your instruction manual, if not, go ahead and tune into one of the stations you found on TVFool.com and see if you get a signal.
You may need to adjust the tilt, position, and even location of your antenna a time or two before you are ready to secure everything down. Once you are ready, tighten the antenna down on the pole using the sleeve bolts, disconnect your temporary cable and run the real coaxial cable and grounding wire across your roof.
The cable and grounding wire should be stapled down and secured as you run them across your roof to maintain the best signal and not allow for weather to affect them. Once this is done, you can ground your installation.
If you already had cable or satellite services at your home, you won’t need to worry about drilling a new hole for the cables to enter, you can simply use the holes created by the previous companies or owners. To finish the grounding process you will need to run the grounding wire to a pole outdoors or a cold water pipe indoors.
Of course we could get into more detail here, but it would take up a lot more time, we just wanted to give you the basics of how to install these systems so that you could see if can be done on a DIY basis!
Best Outdoor TV Antenna for Rural Use
Now that we’ve introduced you to all that you need to know about outdoor TV antennas, installation, ranges and more, it’s time to see which antennas are truly the best of the best. We have categorized out favorites into sections, so you can easily find the one that will best fit your needs.
1. Best Overall TV Antenna for Rural Areas
About: The antenna we like the best overall is the Antennas Direct HDTV Antenna Clearstream Convertible Indoor/Outdoor Multi-directional Antenna. This unit has a forty-mile range, good for rural areas just outside of major cities or where signals may be coming from other nearby small towns.
This antenna is capable of being installed indoors or out to make it extra versatile, although we still stand by our hope that you utilize it outside for best signal strength, the fact that it’s made for both means it carries an ultra strong boost for signals to make it through walls.
2. Best Budget Outdoor TV Antenna
About: Our pick for a more budget friendly antenna option is the GE 33685 Pro Outdoor Yagi TV Antenna. This inexpensive antenna can reach signals up to seventy miles away and is built to withstand the toughest outdoor conditions.
It is 4K and 1080p ready, so you won’t have to sacrifice signal for savings.
This antenna gets great reviews across the board and is widely available at retailers and online, so it’s simple to get. GE, a company that many Americans have trusted for years to give them equipment that works and works well, manufactures it. Overall, we can’t say enough good things about this antenna.
3. Best Outdoor TV Antenna for Mountain Areas
For those of you in mountain areas where signals are hard to come by, we recommend the Lava Omnipro HD-8008 Omni-Directional HDTV Antenna. This little guy packs a serious punch when it comes to getting you signal no matter where you are.
This antenna has around a one hundred and sixty-mile range even in hilly areas.
One of the coolest parts about this antenna is that it doesn’t look like the other antennas we’ve talked about for outdoor use. It has the look of an indoor antenna, but the power of an outdoor model. It is UV protected and built to withstand high winds and storms, so it’s a great addition to a home in almost any area.
4. Best Outdoor TV Antenna for Wooded Areas
If you’re in a heavily wooded area and need an antenna that will cut through the trees, you may want to try the Winegard Platinum Series HD7694P Long Range TV Antenna.
This one was an easy choice for us because of its 4K Ultra HD capabilities and it’s high VHF and UHF signal range.
Anytime woods are involved, it’s a good idea to mount your antenna outside of your home. If you choose to mount it in your attic instead, you may be giving up on precious signal strength. Also note that this antenna is not multi-directional, so you will want to do extra research to ensure that you are aiming it in the correct direction.
5. Best Omni-directional Outdoor TV Antenna for Rural Areas
About: Omni-directional antennas are not hard to come by these days, so picking the best one was tough, but we ultimately decided on the HDTV Outdoor
Amplified Antenna36dB Rotor Remote 360-degree UHG/VHF/FM antenna because of its excellent 150-mile range.
This antenna stands out from the pack in look, toughness, and capability. It’s Omni-directional nature makes it easy to pickup stations from all around you, and it’s excellent signal strength in all signal types means no more worrying about which channels you may or may not receive.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Antenna for Rural Areas
We have seen a lot of great antennas today that will work well in rural areas from mountains to valleys to heavily wooded terrain. These outdoor antennas have incredible signal strength and come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes, so it’s difficult for even us to choose just one as the best of the best.
After much debate we decided that our overall favorite is the Antennas Direct HDTV Antenna Clearstream Antenna for its long range and versatility. Its ability to work indoors and out really sets it apart.
We love that this antenna has the capability to reach 40 miles away, and can still be boosted after that for additional signal strength. It truly is our favorite of all of the antennas we have seen and reviewed and we hope you like it too!