How to Locate the Best Place for a Digital Antenna

by David Lipscomb

There's no questioning the quality of high-definition broadcasts received over a terrestrial digital antenna. However, you can't simply plug the antenna into the television and watch the magic happen. Choosing the proper installation location and alignment for the unit is what results in the crisp images and digital sound you expect from HDTV. The Web can help you find broadcast antennas so you'll know where to point the antenna, but fine-tuning the reception often requires a bit of trial and error on your part.

Navigate to TV Fool ( Click "Click Here" under "Check your address for free TV." Enter a name for the report, your address and optionally the antenna height. Click "Find Local Antennas" to plot the locations of local broadcast towers relative to your location. Alternatively, you can use AntennaWeb ( to perform a similar function. Print the Web page so you can take the chart with you.

Place an outdoor antenna as high as possible on a roof or in an attic. Use the compass to find north and then use the guide to find how many degrees off north the tower is, going clockwise. This is under the True column under Azimuth. Stand behind the antenna and rotate it from north toward the local broadcast towers, keeping the compass pointed in the same direction as a guide until it aligns approximately with the angle stated on the chart. Make small 5-degree incremental changes with each adjustment, using the markings on your compass as a guide. Perform a channel scan on your tuner or television after each adjustment to gauge reception.

Place an indoor antenna close to or in front of a window facing the broadcast antennas if possible. This prevents signal blockage from brick, plaster and other structural components. Place the antenna close to an AC outlet if the device is a powered or amplified model.


  • Have an assistant perform a channel scan after each adjustment to avoid repeated trips to the roof or attic.
  • Choose a directional digital antenna if your local broadcasters position their antennas within a 20-degree radius to your location, as depicted on the online map. Select an omni-directional antenna if you're surrounded by broadcasters and wish to receive them all.


  • Never mount or work on an antenna within 10 feet of high-voltage lines. Serious injury or death could occur if you, the antenna or a ladder makes contact with the wires.

Items you will need

  • Compass with degree markings

About the Author

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

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