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TV antenna?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

My dad was telling me about buying an antenna for the digital HD TV and putting it in the attic or on the roof to get away from the monthly TV bill. We live in an HOA (medium-high density townhomes) in the hills. Our cell phones do not work well in our house, for comparison, unless we are standing by certain windows/doors. Will a TV antenna work well?

 

Can we drop basic cable and just have our internet through the cable company? We currently have basic cable (+taxes=18.37) and our internet service (41.95) and they are not "bundled". We wouldn't be saving a lot, but we rarely watch TV via regular programming. We mostly watch it after the fact via the internet and shown on the TV (laptop is connected to the LCD HDTV).

 

Our HOA has approved satellite dishes being mounted on a platform on the roof, so we'd theoretically be able to mount the antenna on that platform. I can easily get confirmation (or not) of that from several different sources. (If not, then it can go in the attic.) I am more interested in learning if an antenna works for digital TVs under these conditions (lots of buildings/walls and hills; platform on roof vs. inside attic).

 

As a side note, DH has come a long way in his TV requirements and this is a huge step for him. He is currently unwilling to consider any other options for internet service, but I am. Feel free to mention other options for that, too. winky.gif

post #2 of 9
We have an antenna but live in a different type of area so it's hard to say, but you could try it out before cancelling cable. Get the antenna & connect it but don't install it permanently until you know it works -- you should be able to box it back up & return it if you do it carefully (and check the store's return policy first obviously).

We live in a suburbish/rural area and although our cell phones work OK most of the time, our antenna is more erratic. We can get ABC, NBC, CW, 2 PBS channels and 3 ION channels. Sometimes they unexpectedly don't work (especially if it's rainy) so it's not 100% reliable. Sometimes we can get in CBS or the Spanish channel, and according to DH, there are a few other channels the basement TV gets that the upstairs one doesn't.

We use our antenna indoors rather than mounted outside. We might get slightly better reception if it were outdoors, but with it inside we're able to turn/adjust it a bit depending on reception & what channel we want to watch. I'd imagine there are remote-controlled fancy antennas but we just went with a $5 one... You also need a converter box if your TV isn't digital (we got ours for free when they had the vouchers).

I won't lie, it's a pain -- it's not like old antenna TV where you could still watch a program but it might be a little fuzzy -- instead, you completely lose the signal so it's all or nothing -- often it skips multiple times during a show and it drives me insane!!! But we don't watch a ton of TV and we often just use hulu on the computer instead, so it doesn't make sense for us to pay for cable.

And we do have cable internet, without TV cable or phone service. My company pays for my internet & it's around $45/month...
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much! You covered nearly everything I was curious about. My dad was looking at ~$30 antennas, he says. This thread is my first bit of research on this topic. I have time. I have designated May as my month to research a bunch of home improvement projects. winky.gif

 

I am still interested in hearing other experiences, too, especially different situations (terrain, density, types of antennas, etc). smile.gif

post #4 of 9

We live in a rural area, so no help there.  However, we recently upgraded our old, decrepit antennae for a new one and did a lot of research to find the right one.  We're able to get 19 channels, even though cell reception is spotty and we're about 90 miles away from most of the towers.  This site http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx gives lots of information for choosing the right type of antennae.

post #5 of 9

We ditched the cable for just the antenna. When we lived in a townhome in the burbs we got a couple of channels great and others where we had to move it around (ours was inside too). Now we are in the hills out in a rural area and actually get more channels/better reception whereas our cell coverage is very spotty. You can look it up ahead of time and see what channels you will get via antenna in your zip code but my TV actually picked up a lot more channels than it said. I will say my antenna is HDTV and a lot more expensive then $30.00 but way cheaper than a cable bill.

 

We also watch a lot of things on the Internet by hooking the laptop up to the TV. Dh's a big sports fan and we can get ESPN3 online through our Internet provider for free so that helped him give up the cable.

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonlitemama View Post

We live in a rural area, so no help there.  However, we recently upgraded our old, decrepit antennae for a new one and did a lot of research to find the right one.  We're able to get 19 channels, even though cell reception is spotty and we're about 90 miles away from most of the towers.  This site http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx gives lots of information for choosing the right type of antennae.



Awesome link! Thank you! I entered our data and adjusted the icon on the map a touch. As far as I can tell (I don't watch much TV), the antenna is conservatively expected to pick up the same stations we pay the cable company monthly to receive. According to that site, we are 9-23 miles from all the stations.

 

The effect of terrain (hills & buildings) on a digital antenna are still a mystery to me, but we are up pretty high so I hope that helps. Our exact unit is the low spot for backyard flooding, but I have a clear shot West out of one window and a clear shot South out of another window -- which are the directions the majority of the stations/towers are. We don't have windows facing East, but it is also clear of buildings/obstructions if we were to place an antenna in the attic or on the roof. The only direction blocked by buildings is North, but the website mentioned four stories or taller. All buildings in our immediate area are typically one or two stories. This is earthquake country! winky.gif The buildings to the North, though, are up higher on the hill so the net effect could be 3-4 stories...no higher than 4 stories, though.

 

If the antenna were to be inside our living room, though, we have a lot of walls to contend with as we are an "inside" unit. The only clear path inside the living room is South. How do walls interfere? How many walls cause interference?

post #7 of 9

FWIW in our town home (all building 2-3 stories) we had the best luck in the interior of the unit, basically as far from the outside wall as you could get. So I'm not sure how much walls affect reception. Getting an antenna to try out is the best. We bought one and couldn't pick up much so returned it and tried a different one with better success. Antennas are so finicky its hard to tell without trying one out.

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for educating me! So, where do you buy antennas? What am I looking for? If I need to possibly return it/exchange it, should I focus on physical local stores? Electronic stores, like Best Buy or Fry's Electronics, or general places, like Sears or Costco?

post #9 of 9

I got mine from best buy. A store would be easier for return, you could start there if you're interested and if you don't find any can always move to internet sources.

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