10 Ways to Improve Your TV Reception

By Greg Martinez / October 9, 2022
10 ways to improve your TV reception

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Your TV antenna is receiving a few channels in crisp HD or 4K quality but you feel you could be getting more. How is it your neighbors are pulling in several more channels with their antenna than you are?

You can do a couple of things to get better TV reception: you can change your antenna’s position and orientation, secure it better against the elements, and protect it against sources of interference.

Below I list 10 different ways to get more live TV channels, or improve the ones you’re already receiving.

Before trying any of these methods, first get a station list for your local area from RabbitEars.info (or similar tool) to check whether additional channels are indeed available.

It’s also a good idea to run a channel scan on your TV after trying one of these methods to verify results.

Increase the Elevation of Your TV Antenna

For reception to work best, your antenna should have a clear line of sight to nearby transmission towers.

Anything standing in the way, like buildings, trees, or hills, is liable to disrupt your signal. For instance, it can cause a signal to split and reflect off of surfaces, possibly arriving out of phase at your antenna and interfering with reception.

If your antenna is mounted outdoors, it’s relatively straightforward to increase its elevation. At the very least, you could mount it atop a taller pole. And even if it’s installed in your attic and you don’t have a huge amount of leeway to change its position, each extra amount of height added will probably amount to slightly stronger signal.

In general it’s best practice to mount outdoor antennas at least 10-20 feet off the ground.

For an indoor antenna, increasing elevation may be easier said than done. You may want to experiment with changing its position, like placing it at a window rather than near the TV.

Ensure Your Antenna is Properly Aimed

TV antennas can do their job well but they must be correctly aimed at broadcast towers.

To confirm your antenna is pointing in the right direction, check the magnetic azimuth heading of your local stations listed in RabbitEars.info. If aiming towards a group of towers, you may have to experiment a bit with aiming somewhere between them.

You can use a compass or compass app on your smartphone to align the antenna with the magnetic azimuth, keeping in mind that north is 0°, east is 90°, south is 180°, and west is 270°.

An important part of aiming your antenna is knowing where the front of the unit is, which sometimes isn’t obvious:

  • Unidirectional antennas like this one feature a long axis with protruding dipoles, and the front is the end that’s farthest from the mast
  • Then you’ve got multidirectional antennas, whose front is the side with the plastic Xs
  • Omnidirectional antennas, like your typical flat-panel indoor TV antenna, aren’t supposed to have a “front” (as they’re omnidirectional), but you’ll get good results if you face the flat panel towards broadcast towers

Level Your TV Antenna

If you’ve mounted a TV antenna outdoors, you should ensure the antenna’s mast is vertically level, as any deviation from perfectly vertical may cause reception issues.

For the task you can use either a carpenter’s level tool (aligning it with the antenna mast), or you can download a Bubble Level tool app on your smartphone.

Reset Your TV Tuner

A television tuner is an electronic component inside your TV (or connected device like a set-top or converter box) that converts signals from your antenna into digital format for display on your television screen. The tuner also stores channel information that allows you to switch channels.

Resetting your tuner goes beyond a mere channel rescan to clear the tuner’s memory cache in order to refresh channel information.

One reason for resetting the tuner is that broadcasters occasionally change their channel’s metadata, like many did during the FCC spectrum repack from September 2018 to July 2020.

Normally you wouldn’t need to reset the tuner to get new channel information (just do a channel rescan for this) but if you’re having a hard time getting certain channels, it may be a trick worth trying.

Some hardware manufacturers offer a one-step tuner reset option, which you’ll need to research in the manufacturer’s instructions.

A manual way to reset your tuner to clear existing memory and recompile the channel list is to do the following:

  1. Disconnect the antenna coaxial cable from your TV or connected external device (replace “TV” below with whatever device, like a set-top box, that you’re using)
  2. Run a channel scan on your TV (with the antenna disconnected)
  3. Turn off and unplug your TV and wait for several minutes
  4. Reconnect the antenna to the TV
  5. Plug your TV in and turn it on
  6. Do one more channel scan

Secure Your Antenna and Components Against the Elements

Rain, wind, and even the hot sun can eventually wear down and erode outdoor hardware.

An antenna may have a sturdy and waterproof frame but if individual parts such as screws and connectors are of cheap quality, they won’t last.

It may be worthwhile to have a quick look at your antenna once a year or so to check for signs of corrosion or aging, and as well verify its connected cable and other attached outdoor devices (like amps).

Weatherproof Cable Connections

You’ll want to especially check the connections between coaxial cables and equipment, and waterproof these if necessary.

First, unplug the coaxial cable from its connection and clean and dry it.

After plugging it back in, carefully wrap moisture-proof tape such as Parts Express Coax Seal Moisture Proof Sealing Tape around the connection.

Alternatively, you can weatherproof cable connections with hardware using STUF Dielectric Waterproofing Grease.

You apply the grease directly to both the cable’s core and its connector, before plugging it back in (don’t worry it won’t interfere with signal flow – check out this page for more information).

Some antennas come with a weather or rubber “boot” that covers sensitive parts like transformers or baluns (you can find a balun for example on some antennas like the Winegard Platinum Series HD7694P).

Fasten Down Your Antenna

If you’re watching TV and suddenly the screen pixelates during strong wind gusts, make sure the outdoor antenna is tied down or mounted securely.

The antenna should be fixed rigidly to its spot since swaying can cause signal dropouts.
If feasible, consider using steel guy wires made of galvanized steel to secure the antenna pole.

Check for Nearby Items That Cause Interference

Reflective surfaces around your antenna (like a metal roof or a radiant barrier), or appliances in your home or sources outside of it, can distort and weaken incoming radio frequency signals.

Get a Power Conditioner

If you observe TV channels dropping out due to the activation of an appliance (e.g., hair dryer or LED light switching on), your home’s wiring may be inadequately shielded from electromagnetic interference, allowing radio frequency noise to seep into the AC power system.

You can test for interference effects on TV reception by unplugging various appliances in your home and isolating the cause.

If interference is acute, you may consider plugging your TV and nearby devices into a power conditioner, which provides both electromagnetic noise filtering and power surge protection.

Install an LTE Filter

If there’s a cellular phone tower in your vicinity, LTE signals might be interfering with your TV.

Since 2009, the upper range of UHF frequencies has been re-allocated to cellular carriers due to growing demand for 4G and 5G, which sometimes puts LTE signals next to frequencies used by television stations.

Consider attaching an LTE filter to your antenna coaxial cable to filter out such interference.

Protect Against Power Surges

It’s well known that power surges caused by thunderstorms may damage household appliances.

Even the buildup of static electric charge on your antenna during storms may affect any connected devices, including amplifiers, converter boxes, or your TV.

Grounding your outdoor antenna and its coax cable can go a long way towards warding off the chance of a damaged TV.

As an alternative to the complexity of grounding their antenna, some choose to simply install a surge protector on the antenna coaxial cable.

Keep in mind however, that surge protectors generally cover only one part of the equation — the grounding of the coaxial cable — and don’t provide grounding of the antenna mast itself.

Use an Antenna Rotator

If you use a unidirectional outdoor antenna (like an RCA Yagi style antenna) and the transmission towers in your area are more than 90 degrees apart from each other in relation to you on the map, you may consider installing an antenna rotator.

This enables you to reorient your antenna towards the other towers as needed – without getting up on the roof to turn the antenna yourself.

Below is an example of a rotator, the RCA VH226F; note the control unit on the left (showing both memory and antenna position in degrees), the rotator box itself in the middle, and the remote control on the right.


Amp Up Your Reception

If you feel you’re not getting enough live TV channels from your antenna, you may benefit from installing either a preamplifier (at or near the antenna) or a distribution amplifier (further down the coaxial line).

An amplifier applies electric voltage to the coax in order to boost its signal to noise ratio and thus strengthen those channels that were perhaps coming in too faintly to pick up.

To determine whether you should install an amplifier, check first whether your antenna already comes with a preamplifier. Antennas normally don’t need to be plugged in, so if it comes with a component that requires power then it probably already has an amp.

If you’re less than 10 miles away from the nearest TV broadcast tower, then installing an amplifier will probably be counterproductive as the signal is already too strong.

Mount a Second (Directional Antenna)

In situations where your antenna is working fine but is unable to pick up one or more towers in a different direction, installing a second antenna (also referred to as “stacking”) may make sense.

Having a second antenna may also be sensible if your first is either UHF or VHF, and you want to get a channel or two in the other frequency band.

My article on stacking antennas goes into how to set them up and how to minimize interference between them.

Can I Use Aluminum Foil to Improve Antenna Reception?

A once-popular trick from the old days of rabbit ear antennas was to add tinfoil to your TV antenna in order to expand its conductive surface area, allowing it to better pick up signals and improve reception.

If you got lucky and the aluminum foil happened to mirror incoming radio frequency waves or blocked unwanted noise then your reception got better. On the other hand, it might have worsened your reception.

Wrapping your antenna in tinfoil is no guarantee of better reception.

If you’re determined to try it, this trick will work better with indoor antennas than outdoor ones, since wind and rain tend to wear away carefully placed tinfoil on the antenna.

Final Thoughts

These tips are a collection of strategies I’ve used over the years to improve reception, and I hope you find them useful.

Todd Rebisz - September 3, 2019

Is lightning rod a great add on when installing on the roof?

    Greg Martinez - September 3, 2019

    Hi Todd, I would say a lightning rod is probably irrelevant as your outdoor antenna, once installed, will act as a perfect one. Just make sure that it’s also grounded for safety and the preservation of connected equipment like your TV.

Faylinn - October 21, 2019

It was really amazing to read that one way to improve your TV reception could be by buying a rotator for it, and verifying that it is the right size. The other day my husband mentioned that he would like to have an actual TV service for our home. We will need to look for options that can satisfy his needs.

Renee Wustmann - November 13, 2019

You’re awesome. Thank you for sharing your valuable experience and knowledge. Didn’t know that reflective surfaces around the antenna or electromagnetic appliances at home can distort and weaken TV signals. or even a hairdryer or LED lights too!

Steven Marlowe - April 24, 2020

i have outside antenna closest tv get perfect reception -have long 75ft to next tv have pix and break up -put new rg6 cable-inline filter-tried cheap booster. done most everything except change tv. tv is older plasma that is 720p but still works fine got any ideas wife is driving me crazy as she has to watch local tv in bedroom which is only 25-30 ft lead in and it never has a problem

    Greg Martinez - April 26, 2020

    Hi Steven, it sounds like you’re getting interference from that long cable run, and improving things might involve some upgrades. You’ve got 2 TVs right? I’d swap them first to first establish if a better OTA tuner would make a difference (there can be performance differences with newer TVs). Then rescan on both TVs. If the 720p TV (previously farther away) is getting more channels, then it’s the signal. Otherwise the problem might lie with the tuner, in which case you might want to upgrade your old TV, or for a cheaper alternative get a converter box.


Thank you so much for taking the time to write this article. I have been using OTA TV for about a year but I am getting far fewer channels than I did when I started.
I raised the height of the antenna and will try some of your other recommendations.
One idea I had- the antenna I am using has aluminum blades. Is there a chance I could improve signal by somehow connecting the fins to the gutter on my house (also aluminum)? Maybe with some wire…

    Greg Martinez - May 7, 2020

    Sorry to hear of your OTA TV woes. An unfortunate fact about OTA TV is that you’re beholden to interference factors which may exist at your location. If these factors exist outside your control (like a thick forest or hills between you and the transmitter), there won’t be much to be done about it. I don’t believe that turning your aluminum gutter into a giant antenna will work. If you’re getting weak signals due to distance between you and the towers, or if you’ve hooked up multiple TVs to the antenna, a preamplifier might help.

      ALEXANDER F MAGNUSON - May 10, 2020

      Ok, thank you for the reply!

Joshua Sims - May 20, 2020

But even if you do all the things right to improve your signal some days are going to have bad reception but that’s just what antennas do malfuction sometimes.

    Greg Martinez - May 20, 2020

    Absolutely – although it’s probably not the antenna itself malfunctioning (it’s a simple passive receptor after all) but rather due to other factors that OTA TV is susceptible to. There are only so many factors we mortals can control.

Jennifer - August 2, 2020

Thank you for all the great suggestions. My problem is that over the past couple months I’ve started having trouble getting just one cluster of channels from a CBS affiliate. I’ve contacted the station and exchanged several emails with its OTA guru. He can’t understand why the channels from his station break up frequently, while PBS channels that are essentially on the same tower, and have significantly less power, come in perfectly fine. I’d appreciate any thoughts that you might have.

    Greg Martinez - August 2, 2020

    I take it you’re using the same antenna to get both CBS and PBS, but is PBS for instance on VHF while CBS is on UHF? On the one hand, I can’t think of any adjustments you’d need to make but on the other, there might be an issue with your antenna. The other thing is, has the station made any recent changes, either via tower maintenance or moving the CBS channel to another RF (physical) channel? Many stations/affiliates across the US have moved to a different channel over the last year and a half (and many of those have changed frequency type from UHF down to VHF). I’d confirm whether the latter has or hasn’t been the case.

Josh - July 21, 2021

Very insightful By the way tin foil works but is messy.
The signal amp may not work at all. If it comes with then it will.
Aiming into the sky and putting it in the same place is all you need to do. I was wondering if a pvr would increase my 11 channels. ???

David Powell - December 2, 2021

Despite doing considerable research and hearing that omnidirectional antennas are not truly omnidirectional, I bought a built-in-amplified one anyway and mounted it on a corner of the upper story with a clear line of sight to the east and mounted on the east side. This is because I was having difficulty getting the ABC stations channels and the transmitter was a little over 90 degrees east. Once re-scanning for channels, I found to my dismay that the NBC station’s channels were no longer coming in. Looking at the transmitter maps again, I simply moved the antenna of the south side of the same corner and now all of the stations come in nicely. And, in truth, I do get more of the other channels than before. Though the move was only a few inches, it suggests to me that these omnidirectional antennas have issues. And it would have likely been easier if the plastic flying saucer-like housing could be rotated 90 degrees left and right.

    Greg Martinez - December 3, 2021

    Interesting experiment; yes I agree omnidirectional antennas aren’t truly omnidirectional and tend to get better reception from certain directions. As with all antennas, you likely need to move them around somewhat to improve reception, which takes time and effort.

Miki E. - December 26, 2021

Here are some things to look out for, if your reception is not very good with local channels…..

1) Is your antenna correct for your channels? For example, to get Channels 2-7 (VHF), you need the poles to be longer, while they can be shorter for 7-13. Most people do not realize this. Also, you cannot get VHF channels with a UHF antenna and vice versa. Channel 13’s dipole length is 2.3 feet, while channel 2 is 9.1 foot. UHF antennae need to be loops or “bowties,” not poles.

2) Antennae need to be at least 10 feet away from power lines, not pointed at them. This can hinder watching some channels, even with digital HDTV. Same for trees.

3) There is no such thing as an “HD Antenna.” This is only a marketing gimmick.

4) More than likely, you need to plug into a wall and your TV, if an indoor antenna is used. This is especially true if you are over 20 miles from tower or antenna farm. Hint: the “Mini antenna” sold on TV for $19.99 that supposedly works “in the Gulf of Mexico,” will not work. it is only dipole, which will work for VHF…. However, it is too small to get anything. See #1 above, as the 6″ dipoles are way too short and do not plug into a wall.

5) Check all electrical sources in your home. Yes LED lights interfere with VHF signal easier, but can interfere with all DTV signals. Old VCR’s also can, just as your radio or stereo can, if tuned to some stations. For example of this… take FM 2 radios and tune them in. Take one of those radios/stereos and slowly tune it around the FM dial… You will lose the other radio’s FM station eventually. Same can happen with TV. As discussed above, a microwave can too. Blender, mixer, electric carving knife, vacuum cleaner, computer, etc. can all interfere. Many of you never think about this at all.

6) Outside sources like nearby airports and hospitals can interfere as well. Other radio and TV towers will also block signal, if you are close to them. Let’s not forget sodium and LED street lights too. Also, look out for 5G transmitting stations near your home. Neighbor’s metal siding, roofs metal barns, factories and solos also hurt signal if you are near them.

Now you have something to think about, when not getting your local TV stations in correctly, even though you are not too far from the towers.

The one thing that did work for me, as discussed within this article…. foil. I taped foil to me Leaf 50 antnnae (2 or them). I got my 2 VHF signals in… 11 and 13. Without the foil, I barely got 13. I am 15 miles from WTVG’s tower, about 16 miles from WTOL’s. I do not get channel 5 (WLMB) or 6 (WMDY) with the Leaf 50, but don’t watch either.

Kelley - January 21, 2022

LOL! Still, here’s what works around here. From indoor/outdoor antenna on shelf beside TV goes new coaxial cable. New coaxial cable leads to amplifier. Amplifier leads to TV via coaxial cable that came with it. Now for the fun part: 100% wire coat hanger, wrapped with foil (shiny side toward desired tower) is attached to one arm of indoor/outdoor antenna via twist ties, and binder clipped for tension to allow me to adjust it. The foil is paper clipped to the hanger. Onto the knob where the coaxial cable is connected to the amplifier, between the antenna and the amplifier, I connected a salvaged old-fashioned rabbit ear antenna by binder clipping the c-shaped tips to a paper clip that is in turn wrapped around the bare part of said knob. That allows the signal from the salvaged antenna to go to the amplifier. I also straightened the hook on another 100% wire hanger, wrapped that with foil in a manner similar to the other hanger, and binder clipped it to a metal knob on the black box that’s between the indoor/outdoor antenna and the amplifier. I tried to make it all as neat and even as sculptural as I can, but I do laugh when moving those hangers or the salvaged antenna makes a difference in the signal quality! Paper clips are my connector of choice for the foil because I read somewhere on the internet that you might get a signal by putting the straightened end of a paper clip into the coaxial cable jack itself. That’s not something that would work here but they make a difference. I also binder clipped 2 of them to each arm of the salvaged antenna, which also improved reception. Binder clips help because they are also metal. There are only 2 PBS stations I can’t pull in, but I get everything else that’s available here. I thought something here might help some reader improve their reception.

    Greg Martinez - January 22, 2022

    That sounds Rube Goldberg-esque but hey whatever works!

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