There are definitely pros and cons to installing an outdoor TV antenna on your own.
For one thing, it’s a great DIY project that can teach a few things about how OTA television reception works.
After mounting your antenna, you’ll feel more confident about your television setup and how to make changes when necessary.
As well, if you set up an antenna on your own, you won’t have to pay the labor charges of hiring a contractor since you’ll be putting in your own time.
But hiring a professional to install your antenna and optimize your channel reception also has benefits.
For example, the contractor will probably know the best position for your antenna and how to aim it to get the most programming.
And let’s face it: not everyone is a DIY doyen with a knack for running cables through a house. Why not spend the extra money to get it installed properly once and for all?
In this article I’ll lay out the advantages and disadvantages of having a professional set up your antenna, including potential costs and how to find a good contractor.
Why Use a Professional
Regardless of how experienced you are in home renovation and maintenance, you should weigh the benefits of hiring a pro.
Having a contractor do it can be safer and more convenient than doing it yourself and may result in a better installation.
Below I’ve listed some criteria to help you come to a better decision on whether to hire a professional or not.
Any work outdoors on the façade and especially on your rooftop has safety issues.
Below are a few factors that contribute significantly to risk:
- Working in high places: Whether your antenna will be installed on your roof, chimney, or even on the side of your house with an external wall mounting, most of the work will likely be done high off the ground. This, of course, increases the possibility of an unceremonious fall to earth if you happen to lose your balance.
- The substructure or surface on which you’ll be working: Ladders, roof trusses, roof tiles on a pitched roof – these don’t exactly belong to a list of stable structures on which to work.
- Nearby structures and obstacles: Antennas come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, all of them apparently designed to make installation as awkward as possible. This makes almost anything that happens to be in the vicinity of where you’ll be working a potential safety issue: overhanging trees, skylights, and even gutters can be cause for calamity. Experienced installation professionals are better at identifying and working around these obstacles.
- Cables: Cables of any description present tripping and tangling hazards. When it comes to power cables, however, tripping is the least of your worries. Just brushing against a power cable with any of the large metal objects you’ll be brandishing could result in electrocution.
- Experience: There really is no substitute for experience, and not just in relation to the quality of work, but also how likely you are to make it through the installation unscathed. Experienced installation professionals will be better prepared to deal with any unforeseen complications.
Video: 5 Reasons to Hire a Professional to Install Your TV Antenna
Installing a TV antenna is a time-consuming project, and regardless of how much planning you put in, it can take longer than anticipated – especially if a few unforeseen complications pop up along the way.
Contractors know exactly what they’re getting into and this can save you some hours of preinstallation tasks such as:
- Researching installation guides online: Non-professionals usually have to spend time researching how to set up antennas.
- Sourcing equipment and tools: Outsourcing your antenna installation means you won’t need to concern yourself with finding, buying, or borrowing all the necessary tools, fixings, ladders, and safety gear.
- Researching local regulations: Your local jurisdiction may have specific regulations for electrical work. A reputable installation contractor will be familiar with these.
A Professional TV Antenna Installation
An experienced and competent professional is likelier to do a neater job with the installation.
Even minor mistakes can lead to a host of problems, including damage to your property through leaking roofs, loose mounting, or improper grounding.
With a contractor you can be confident that:
- The antenna will be installed at the best location: A professional will know the best point at which to install your antenna for optimum height and reception in relation to the broadcast towers.
- The antenna and mast will be secured correctly: Antennas are perpetually battered by the elements, and a contractor will know the best way for mounting the antenna.
- The amount of damage to existing structures will be minimal: An experienced person should know how to mount brackets, drill into walls, cut into roof tiles, install roof flashing, seal entry points created for wiring, and many other tasks. This means there’ll be less risk of future complications caused by issues such as leaking roofs.
- You’ll be covered by insurance: If at any point in the future you suffer damage to your home or equipment due to an electrical storm or other cause, you may find your insurance claim rejected if your antenna was improperly installed. Using a professional reduces this risk.
Another perk associated with hiring the right person is that they’ll usually guarantee the quality of the job and materials used, meaning you won’t have the extra cost and hassle of trying to repair a shoddy job.
Finding TV Antenna Installers Near Me
It’s even considered low-voltage electrical work, so hiring a licensed electrician would be feasible but not necessary.
There are many organizations specializing in antenna installations.
Hiring On Your Own or Via a Third Party
There are generally no formal qualifications for hiring antenna installers. Some states regulate licensing for servicing and installing radio and television equipment, but not all states.
This means you might need to look around a little before finding a contractor.
Locating a Contractor
Doing the hiring on your own means you won’t have to pay a service fee to a third party, but it does mean you’ll need to do some due diligence to get the best possible service at a good price.
Here are a few good places to start:
- Classifieds: You can start with old-school classifieds. For these, you can check out your local newspapers, the Yellow Pages, or even online sites like Craigslist.
- Antenna suppliers and manufacturers: You can contact the store or website from which you bought the antenna to find recommended installation specialists in your area.
- Recommendations from other contractors: Contractors for one specialty often have a network of professionals in other areas.
Hiring Via a Third Party
Third-party platforms will vet contractors for you:
- TaskRabbit: Recently acquired by Swedish furniture behemoth IKEA, TaskRabbit is an app that works in a similar way to Uber, except instead of finding the closest ride, it gives you a list of “taskers” who are vetted and offer professional services. You handle every part of the hiring process through the app, from getting a quote to paying for the installation.
- Amazon Home Services: Amazon Home Services is another great option for finding professionals for your antenna installation. Professionals need to meet Amazon’s standards in order to be approved to work through their platform.
- HomeAdvisor: Like Amazon Home Services, HomeAdvisor is a platform that has a list of prescreened service contractors offering their services for a number of different home improvement tasks, including antenna installations. The site is generally easy to use, with a questionnaire to provide exact details on your installation.
How Much Does it Cost to Install TV Antenna?
According to Improvenet, a site for getting estimates for a range of home renovation jobs, the average price to have your TV antenna installed is $308 (with a typical range being $255 – $338).
More specifically, the following factors will affect price:
- Professional’s level of experience
- Where you live
- The complexity of the project
It’s also worth keeping your eyes open for any package deals or seasonal promotions run by retailers in your area, where the installation is included or partially subsidized by the store where you purchased certain antennas and equipment.
Lastly, remember to get a quote before hiring – this will ensure that you get the most competitive price with no surprises.
Installing your own TV antenna comes with significant safety risks and more than a little hassle, so unless you have a fair amount of experience in antenna installations, you might consider getting a more experienced person to do it.
If you’ve already decided to bring in the pros, don’t rush the selection process.
Look for a good balance between value and experience, because a botched installation job could mean a leaky roof, or the difference between receiving all your favorite TV channels or just a few of them.