Look, this is a perfectly reasonable question. Should you put use an indoor over-the-air antenna? Or an outdoor over-the-air antenna? Seems like simple enough, right?
On the one hand, an indoor antenna is easy. The antenna is already inside your house. The coax cable is already inside your house. It's just a matter of figuring out where to put the antenna, and where you need to run the cable.
It's simple: You want your antenna to be outside, and as high as you can reasonably get it.
On the other hand, outdoor antennas are almost always rated higher for range, right? And it's certainly more out of sight and out of mind than sticking a flat antenna on your living room wall would be.
OK, OK. We'll just answer the question: You almost always want to have your antenna outside of your home, and as high as possible.
That's it. Higher is better. Outside-um-er, is better.
The reason, of course, is interference. That's the name of the game when it comes to radio signals of all sorts. (Frequency is another thing for another time.) You want as "clean" a signal coming from the broadcast source to your antenna as possible.
Walls are interference. The pipes within the walls are interference. (Particularly if they're metal pipes.) Electrical wires cause interference. Ever been in a place where your phone all but shut down while you were inside, but once you went outside you had all the bars all over again? Same principle.
Even outdoors, though, interference is still a thing. Topography can be a problem. Live at the bottom of a mountain? A TV signal could have a hard time going through that. Even trees can make a difference. You'll want to avoid them, if possible.
Not everyone can use an outdoor antenna, of course. If you're in an apartment building or are renting from someone who just won't let you attach something to a mast on the side of your house, well, indoors may be the only option. In that case, think about how you can get that antenna as close to the outdoors as possible. Use an exterior wall. Stick it in a window, if possible. And still keep it as high as you can.
And one final tip, and this one maybe is more important than the indoor/outdoor question: Direction can matter a lot. You want your antenna to face your broadcast towers, if at all possible. And you might have to fiddle with it a bit to get the best signal. (Back in the old days we were constantly adjusting the rabbit ears attached to our huge TVs — ask your parents, kids.)
The best over-the-air antennas
Who doesn't like free TV, right? And it turns out that in 2018 there's still plenty to watch — free and legal — if you've got a decent enough over-the-air antenna. For the cost of a decent meal at the Sizzler you can get an antenna that pulls in stations from dozens of miles away, piping free 1080i content straight into your TV.
All you have to do is pick the right one for you.
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