This is a question I get asked often, “How high should you mount a TV Antenna”? In today’s article I’m going to cover the key factors that should be considered when mounting your outdoor TV antenna. So how high should you mount a TV antenna?
The typical answer I give is this, “as high as you possibly can!” Of course, there are lot of variables that come into play when installing an outdoor TV antenna, the most important of which are the following:
- Distance to your broadcast towers
- Obstructions – building, trees, hills, valleys
- Height of your antenna
- Quality and range of your antenna
- Coax cable quality and length of run
- Number of splitters
Of course, while the height of your antenna is an important factor, as you can see it’s not the only one. Continue reading and I’ll cover each of these important aspects and make some recommendations so you can be sure your cord-cutting experience is one that will last a lifetime.
Distance to your broadcast towers
This is perhaps the number one factor that will determine the number and quality of channels your will receive via an HDTV antenna. Ideally, you’ll want to be no further than 65 miles away from your nearest broadcast tower to ensure you receive a good reliable signal.
We’ve recently compile a new page here on the site, that will allow you to find all the OTA TV channels available in your area. Be sure to check out our TV Station Locator Tool page to see which stations are available in your area.
The other key feature of the tool, is it will actually draw on the map where the TV broadcast towers are located in your area. Check out the short video below where I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to use the tool!
I also recommend you check out TVFool.com.
If you are outside of this 65 mile radius, then you’re going to need a long-range antenna that will allow you to reach those fringe areas that extend out to 100 miles or more.
We did a comprehensive article on the Best Long Range Outdoor Antennas, that you can check out after this article if you’re interested.
Provided you live within this 65 mile radius of the broadcast towers, the next important aspect that we are going to look at is obstructions.
Obstructions – buildings, trees, hills, valleys
Man-made and natural obstructions are going to be another factor that will impact your ability to pull-in pristine HDTV television channels with your antenna. These are everything from tall buildings, trees, hills, and valleys.
What you want to do when planning your antenna installation is be mindful of your line-of-sight to the broadcast tower.
Of course, this is where the height of the antenna can play an important role in all of this. In all practical cases locate your antenna where you have the clearest path to the tower or towers as all of these obstructions mentioned will work to diminish your signal quality.
Ideal mounting height for your antenna
Now the million dollar question, how high should you mount a TV antenna? The answer to this is, well quite frankly, there is no good answer. Like I said in the introduction, generally the high you can go the better off you will be.
This is why rooftop mounting is so popular as it gets you above the tree lines in most instances. Of course, it leaves a lot to be desired to look at as well.
What I recommend is you try to mount your antenna 30 – 40 feet above the finished grade of your property. So the question is how do you get your antenna up that high? Here are a few things to contemplate and ask yourself for your installation:
- Is a rooftop mounting an option for you? This needs to be carefully considered as it will require drilling holes through your roof (not ideal), and cosmetically it doesn’t have great “curb appeal”. However, it will likely get you to the highest point on your property with the most ease especially if you have a two story house. For this job I recommend this 3 Foot Tripod Mount with 2-Inch OD Mast.
- Do you have one of those old style antenna towers that run right from the ground up the side of your house that has been unused for years? If so, making use of this old tower is probably your simplest option and will give you the height you need.
- Alternatively, you can purchase one of these antenna tower kits from Amazon and install it yourself. I recommend the ROHN 25SS040 40′ Self-Supporting Tower, however, it does come in higher versions as well.
- Do you have a pergola or shed in your back you that you could easily affix a newer style telescoping antenna mast. I recommend the Channel Master CM-1850 Telescoping Steel Antenna Mast 41 FT.
These are the three basic options you have for getting your outdoor antenna as high as possible at your particular location.
Quality and range of your antenna
This goes without saying, a high quality antenna is a key factor to maximizing the quality of the signal you’ll be able to pull-in.
Not only is it a key factor, it is likely the easiest one to decide on as there are a number of high quality antennas on the market today.
Keeping your cable runs as short as possible
This is another important aspect of you new antenna installation. Whenever possible try to limit the length of your RG6 or coaxial cable run as much as possible.
I did an entire article on the importance of RG6 cabling and how signal loss can impact the quality of the installation. You can check it out here, but here’s what you can expect in terms of signal loss for every 100 feet of cable length:
Channel 2 (approx. 60 MHz) …………… 1.5 dB/100’
Channel 13 (approx. 216 MHz) ………. 3.0 dB/100’
Channel 24 (approx. 536 MHz) ……….. 4.5 dB/100’
Channel 51 (approx. 698 MHz) .…..…. 5.6 dB/100’
The importance of good cabling practice and grounding to attenuate noise often goes under used and are key aspects of your antenna installation.
Check out this article for more information on how to properly ground your antenna.
Minimizing the number of splitters
The last point I want to touch on here is the use of splitters. Splitters are a way to effectively split your antenna signal so that your single antenna can feed many televisions in your household.
I highly recommend you stay away from the use of splitters…there’s no need with today’s technology.
When you insert a splitter you are effectively splitting your antenna signal in half if you are using a 1-2 splitter, in thirds if going 1-3, in fourths if you are inserting a 1-4 and so on…and it’s actually a little worse than this because the splitting isn’t exactly linear as you go up in “splits”.
There are insertion losses to account for to. We recommend you check out our comprehensive article on how to split your antenna signal.
Enter the network tuner…
Instead, opt for a network tuner. Networks tuners have a huge number of advantages over splitters, which is why I am such a huge advocate of them.
What these devices will allow you to do is take your single antenna feed from your antenna and then connect that signal into your home WIFI or wired network.
If you opt for the HDHomeRun Connect 4K (recommended), this box has four built-in tuners, meaning your single antenna feed is now effectively four separate antenna signals.
This means you can stream 4 simultaneous antenna signals to 4 different devices at the same time. Or alternatively be watching and recording on different channels all at the same time.
The other advantage of using one of these network tuner is now you don’t have to worry so much about how long your cable is or how many splits you will need to make to feed all the television devices in your home.
Now you’ll be able to get the tuner box as close to your antenna as possible, then just run an Ethernet cable from your router to the box. Remember Ethernet can run to a maximum distance of 100 meters without any signal degradation.
Installing a network tuner will simply your installation, give you the advantage of a full guide, DVR and the ability to stream your antenna signal to any smart device in your home. It will do all this while maintaining the highest signal quality of your antenna so you don’t lose any quality.
The only downside of using a network tuner is now you will need to ensure that any device that your are connecting to, be it a television, laptop, computer, smartphone, tablet all have to be “smart” devices. Of course, every device listed here is already with the exception of maybe your television.
If you’re television isn’t a “SmartTV” then I recommend you pickup an inexpensive Amazon Fire TV Stick.