Set Top, Indoor and Outdoor HD Antennas
For many people, this step is the largest hurdle to freedom of cable. It’s not overly complex, but it’s just a pain in the backside to setup. It takes an afternoon’s worth of work at Home Depot, which for some people, is not the most fun thing to do over a weekend. And the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow is free HD local channels. Do a little leg work, and half of what you watch on TV is yours, in glorious HD, in every room in your house.
Never will you pay a cent for access to ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX again.
So let’s go through the basics. There are two main goals for this step:
- Buying a HD Antenna – if your renting a one room flat or own a 3 bedroom bachelor pad, you probably need some type of basic HD antenna. Depending on your situation, you might want a basic set top antenna or a full blown wall mount exterior antenna. But either way, you can’t skip this step.
- Installing a HD Antenna – the complexity of this step is solely based on #1 above. This step could be as simple as plugging in a single cable or as complex as wiring your entire house. But don’t be overwhelming by this step, as outsourcing to a professional is a simple and affordable solution.
Check out our comprehensive HD antenna guide. We’ve provided extensive reviews on several different HD antennas. I would research the pros/cons of all our antenna options, prior to pulling the trigger on your purchase.
Buying a HD Antenna
There are three general types of HD antennas on the market today.
- Set Top HD Antennas
- Indoor HD Antennas
- Outdoor HD Antennas
A simple way to understand this is a set top HD antenna is normally just for one TV, while an indoor or outdoor HD antenna is normally used for multiple TVs.
Set Top HD Antennas
One-time Cost: $15 – $60
Effectiveness: Low to medium
This is a solution for one specific TV. If you have 4-5 televisions you want to get local TV for, you can leverage this option but its definitely not the most cost-effective solution.
Remember back in the day when you had that bunny ears antenna on top of your TV? I’m talking pre-cable days? Well that’s pretty much what this option is. It’s a local HD antenna that you put over your TV that can give you some decent quality HD for your local TV stations.
This can depend how far you live from the local TV stations, so do your due diligence first on a website like http://www.antennaweb.org/, to determine what is in your local market and the distance to major broadcast antennas
Check out our guide for the Top 3 Set Top HD Antennas for more details on different set top HD antenna options.
Indoor HD Antennas
One-time Cost: $50 – $150
Effectiveness: Medium to high
This is the plan we followed. We needed access to local channels for three TVs. We could have purchased three individual set top antennas, but that was expensive and set top antennas have their limits. So we purchased a HD antenna to put in our attic, and then we just connected it into our existing coaxial cable wiring (what used to connect cable across our house).
One three pound antenna, two screws and one cable that ran from our attic to the cable junction box on the exterior of our house. And miraculously, we had free HD local TV piped to every old cable access point in our house!
Check out our guide for the Top 3 Indoor HD Antennas for more details on different indoor HD antenna options.
Outdoor HD Antennas
One-time Cost: $25-$150
Some people just need to go all to the max on things, and if this is you then you definitely want to get an exterior antenna that mounts to the side of your house. While this is normally the most expensive option, and you need to find a place on your house to mount it, you can get local TV signals for 50, 75 and even 100 miles.
These babies pack a powerful punch and will ensure you have the power to see free HD local TV to every television in our house. Similar to the indoor antenna, you just wire it to the cable junction box on your house and your wired and ready to go!
Check out our guide for the Top 3 Outdoor HD Antennas for more details on different outdoor HD antenna options.
Installing an HD Antenna
My biggest concern when purchasing a HD antenna, was figuring out how to install the thing! If you purchase a set top antenna then this probably isn’t an issue, but if you go with a indoor or outdoor antenna this is definitely a concern. Everyone’s specific situation will be different, but I’ve provided some general observations about the process:
- If you go with a set top option, I’m 100% confident that you can set this one up on your own!
- If you have accessible attic space, an indoor antenna may be your best bet. If you already have a satellite dish you can plug your indoor antenna directly into your satellite wiring for easy access to local channels
- Outdoor antennas are the most complex installation. While not impossible for the DIY in you, if you chose this option you may want to have a handyman help you out on the install.