Do Any Indoor TV Antennas Work to Get Local Channels?

by Adrian Grahams

An indoor set-top antenna will receive reliable television pictures only in areas with the strongest digital signals, usually within 5 to 10 miles of a high-power main TV transmitter.

This is because indoor TV antennas have lower "gain," or signal strength, than external, rooftop antennas.


To work properly, digital and high-definition TV sets need stronger signals than the old-style analog receivers. Analog TV channels were easier to receive with smaller, lower-gain antennas. If a digital signal drops below a certain level, you'll get no picture at all on some or all channels. In most cases, even a more expensive, amplified indoor antenna will not improve TV reception if the original signal is too weak.


If you live near a high-power television transmitter, the signal might be strong enough for an indoor antenna to work properly. Those who live further away but on high ground, or toward the top of a tall building with a clear line of sight to the main TV transmitter, may also find a set-top antenna provides a reasonably good picture.


A professionally installed external or rooftop antenna is now usually required to guarantee stable, clear and reliable digital terrestrial television pictures. Quality cabling and skillful siting of the antenna is essential for high-quality TV reception.

About the Author

Adrian Grahams began writing professionally in 1989 after training as a newspaper reporter. His work has been published online and in various newspapers, including "The Cornish Times" and "The Sunday Independent." Grahams specializes in technology and communications. He holds a Bachelor of Science, postgraduate diplomas in journalism and website design and is studying for an MBA.

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