How to Know if You Have an HD-Ready Antenna

by Mark Applegate

In June of 2009, television as we know it changed from analog to digital, ushering in the HDTV age. All televisions from this date forward require either an integrated HDTV tuner or an external converter box to receive antenna signals from local broadcasters. While several antenna companies used marketing gimmicks to coerce buyers to purchase an "HD-ready" antenna, any antenna capable of receiving UHF and VHF signals will suffice, provided it can find the signal. Choose your antenna wisely to maximize your signal strength and get the most out of your high-definition television.

Visit the antennaweb.org website, which is sponsored by two major industry trade groups. Insert your zip code to choose which antenna matches your needs based on proximity from the broadcasting towers. The site explains the color codes assigned to each antenna to simplify the process of choosing equipment.

Inspect your existing antenna's box, looking for a color code to see if your antenna will work with your location. If you cannot find a color code, look up the brand and model on the antenna manufacturer's website to see if it lists it.

Install your antenna. If an outside antenna, hook it to the highest point available with a clear view in the direction of the largest town or broadcast tower. Be certain it is well grounded and is stable, as constant shifting in the wind can hurt television reception.

Hook the coaxial cable from the antenna into your television or converter box. Use shielded RG6 coaxial cable for best results.

Set your television to receive antenna signals as opposed to cable or satellite by changing this setting in your menu. This may be labeled "setup" or "source" in the basic menu functions.

Scan for channels. This function is located in the same area of your menu as the signal type. You will get a result with a number of channels available to view.

Position your antenna differently if you receive too few channels. This may involve merely rotating your indoor or outdoor unit or moving it to a new location. Scan again for channels.

Consider the height if you still have insufficient channels. Purchase a longer pole and secure it with guy wires to prevent swaying. Ground the antenna carefully using a ground wire at the point of installation.

Tips

  • Position your indoor antenna in a high location such as on a bookshelf, away from items that can interfere with it such as a microwave or water heater.
  • Purchase an antenna booster at your local electronics store for increased signal strength.
  • Local channels are typically available for a fee through your cable or satellite provider if you still cannot receive channels with your antenna.

Warning

  • When installing an outdoor antenna, stay away from power lines to prevent electrocution.

Items you will need

  • HD or HD-ready television
  • Digital converter box if not integrated into your TV
  • RG6 coaxial cable
  • Pole and guy wires

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images