Indoor or Outdoor Antenna?

2 Steps to Buying the Right Type of Antenna for your Household
OTA TV Broadcast Tower

If you’re just getting started as a cord cutter, or you’re thinking about becoming one, you are probably wondering about the type of equipment you need. For the most part, picking out a streaming box is a relatively simple task; but deciding which antenna to buy is a bit more difficult. The one question I hear most from my readers is: “Should I buy an indoor or outdoor antenna?”

It’s a difficult question for some, and for many more it stops them dead in their tracks. But with a little foreknowledge, picking out the right OTA antenna can be a lot easier than you may think; and today I’ll show you how.

Let’s get started!

First we’re going to briefly examine the differences between indoor and outdoor antennas.


Indoor antennas are typically smaller and less powerful than their outdoor cousins; with a range of about 30-50 miles. Companies like Mohu and Channel Master have been able to transform the design of the old rabbit ears of yesteryear, into sleek and inexpensive devices that resemble paper thin pieces of plastic more than a traditional antenna.

Typically an indoor antenna costs somewhere between $30 and $60. To see a list of some of the more popular indoor antennas, read “ANTENNAS, SPLITTERS, AMPLIFIERS & DVRs“. As for placement, many people hang these antennas on their walls or put them in a windowsill. 


On the flip side, Outdoor Antennas are usually placed on top of roofs or garages, and are much larger and more powerful than the indoor antennas. They also cost more; usually priced somewhere north of $100. Outdoor antennas typically have a range between 60 and 100 miles; depending on the surrounding area. 

At this point, you’re probably wondering why anyone would not just go with an outdoor antenna, since it’s the most powerful right(?) Well, the problem is that for many, their home is not best suited for an outdoor antenna or it is simply not needed due to close proximity to a local TV tower. 

Deciding on an Indoor or Outdoor Antenna

  1. The first thing you need to do is evaluate your living situation. If you’re in an apartment building or have a Home Owners Association with strict rules, then odds are an indoor antenna is your only option. 
  2. The next thing you need to do is figure out how close you live to a broadcast tower. and AntennaWeb both offer a free TV Signal Analysis where you can enter your address and see what direction your OTA signals are coming from, and how far away they are. If you’re less than 30 miles away from a broadcast tower, then an indoor antenna could be all you need.
    • Now if you live out in rural area, or you’re just too far from an OTA broadcast tower (30+ miles), then an outdoor antenna is your best bet.When looking up your address you may notice that that you’re getting signals from multiple directions; and if this is the case you should consider buying an omni-directional antenna

*** Like with Indoor Antennas, we have a page dedicated to the more popular Outdoor Antenna models with brief descriptions of each. Click here to learn more. 

Buying an OTA Antenna

Deciding on an OTA Antenna is easy, as long as you know what to look for. Just make sure you are aware of your living restrictions, and your proximity to a broadcast station. If you keep those two things in mind, picking the right antenna will be a breeze.

Are you having trouble picking out an OTA antenna? Sound off in the comments below, send me a tweet or e-mail and I’ll be able to help you out!

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