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Get Free HDTV with an Indoor HDTV Antenna

Updated on September 1, 2013
drpennypincher profile image

Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.

Get free HDTV with an indoor HDTV antenna

I am amazed that more people do not take advantage of the free HDTV broadcasts that are available in most areas. Why pay $100 per month for cable TV or satellite TV service when you can get HDTV broadcasts over the air for free? Networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and PBS broadcast free high definition (HD) television signals. All you need to get free HDTV is an indoor HDTV antenna. Unlike cable or satellite TV service, you don’t need to make monthly payments to receive the free HDTV signals after you buy an HDTV antenna. You can get a high quality indoor HDTV antenna for under $50 and set it up in about 15 minutes.

Indoor HDTV antenna- get free HDTV!
Indoor HDTV antenna- get free HDTV! | Source

Types of HDTV antennas

There are two types of HDTV antennas available: active and passive. Active HDTV antennas use a powered amplifier to increase ability to receive weak signals. Active antennas must be plugged in to a power outlet to power the amplifier. Active antennas cost more than passive antennas, but are able to receive TV signals from broadcast stations that are further away. You can use some active antennas as passive antennas if you do not connect power to the amplifier.

Passive HDTV antennas are less expensive than active antennas and do not need to be plugged in to a power outlet. A passive antenna may work well if you are near TV stations where TV signals are strong and do not require amplification.

Inexpensive passive indoor HDTV antenna

Amplifier for active indoor HDTV antenna
Amplifier for active indoor HDTV antenna | Source

It is difficult to know which type of antenna you will need at your location. I tried using a low cost passive antenna, but was only able to receive a couple of PBS stations in my area. I next tried an active flat panel antenna and am able to receive ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and several PBS stations. In my location, using an active HDTV antenna was much more effective.

How much do HDTV antennas cost?

The cheapest passive HDTV antennas cost about $15. You can get a nice looking active flat panel antenna for under $50.

How many channels can you get with an indoor HDTV antenna?

The channels you can get with and HDTV antenna depends on your location. If you are far from TV stations, you may not be able to get any HDTV signals over the air. If you are near cities with TV stations, you may be able to get many channels. Some broadcast stations transmit more than one channel. For example, our ABC station transmits 3 channels: the ABC network on one digital channel, local programming and sports on another digital channel, and 24 hour weather on another digital channel. At my location with an active HDTV antenna, I receive about 20 channels of programming.

Surprisingly, I get the best reception by laying my antenna flat
Surprisingly, I get the best reception by laying my antenna flat | Source

At my location, I need to move my antenna a bit to receive some stations. Also, there are many channels that you cannot get free over the air using an HDTV antenna. For example, I do not get CNN, ESPN, and many others. Using an HDTV antenna is not always as convenient as cable or satellite TV, but it’s free!

How good is the picture quality with an indoor HDTV antenna?

Over the air HDTV looks great- the video is uncompressed and at full HD quality from most TV stations. If a station has a weak signal, it may have pixilation at times and the audio can be choppy. Signals that have good reception look and sound great with and HDTV antenna.

Do I need to mount an indoor HDTV antenna?

You do not need to mount an indoor HDTV antenna. These antennas are designed to be placed on a flat surface near your TV. Some flat panel antenna s can be hung on a wall like a picture if you wish. The position and direction of the antenna makes a difference on your reception. I found that placing my antenna flat worked better than standing it up.

How do you install an HDTV antenna and connect it to a TV?

The HDTV antenna comes with cables to connect the antenna to your TV. This connection will be a coax connector on the back of your TV set. If you have an active antenna, you will need to plug a power supply into an outlet and plug the power supply into your antenna.

After connecting your HDTV antenna, you can have your TV search for channels. This process takes a few minutes. Your TV will check each channel to see if there is a signal present or not. After searching for channels, you will be able to use your remote control to move up and down through available channels.

Can I try an HDTV antenna and return it if I don’t get enough channels?

Most stores and on-line retailers will allow you to return an HDTV antenna- just keep the packaging and all of the pieces in good condition.

© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher


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    • drpennypincher profile image

      Dr Penny Pincher 4 years ago from Iowa, USA

      It is incredible how fast the old tube TV sets have disappeared. You can't even find them for sale in stores anymore. Once you watch HD, it is hard to go back to standard definition TV... Even at $23/month, if you cut cable the savings would pay for an antenna in a couple months. You probably won't get as many channels as basic cable, though.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I have thought about getting one of these. I have basic cable for $23/month, so I don't watch a lot of channels anyway. Of course, I'd have to first shell out the money for an HDTV! Yes, my old tube TV still works, so it's hard to get rid of. Eventually, with the antenna, a new one would pay for itself, though. Something to think about.