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Best Outdoor TV Antenna for Rural Areas in 2020

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It’s a bummer when your family camping trip falls on the same dates as a major sporting event. Most RV antennas don’t get great reception in remote locations, so you’ll need to upgrade to catch the game. Here are some options for the best outdoor TV antenna for rural areas.

Top 5 Outdoor TV Antenna Reviews

1. Best for Rural Hill Areas: Winegard HD8200U

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This antenna is the best for rural hilly areas because it can be extended to nearly 17 feet tall with its boom length and the additional vertical height of the antenna. It will receive HDTV reception from towers up to 65 miles away and that range can be extended with Winegard’s Boost coupler. The antenna itself is made of zinc-plated steel hardware to improve its resistance to rust and corrosion.

To get into a little more detail on the specifications of this antenna, we should mention it receives both low and high VHF signals, as well as UHF signals. It’s ready to receive 4K Ultra High-Definition signals and it’s compatible with any TV, DVR, streaming device with over-the-air integration, and computer with a digital tuner.

Pros

  • Receives UHF and high/low VHF signals
  • Almost 17 feet of vertical height including the boom length
  • 65+ mile range
  • Compatible with many different display devices

Cons

  • You’ll have to adjust the position manually to achieve the best signal. 

2. Best Digital TV Antenna: Vansky Digital Antenna

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With this omni-directional digital antenna, you’ll be able to enjoy signal reception from towers up to 150 miles away. It has a built-in antenna for 360-degree reception and a high-gain, low noise amplifier to increase signal strength and reliability. The antenna itself is compact and comes with 33 feet of durable coaxial cable to make installation easier. The entire antenna housing features a UV-resistant, waterproof design that also improves signal reliability on windy and/or rainy days.

This antenna can provide uncompressed HD video from a variety of networks, including major carriers like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. It includes advanced CleanPeak filter technology that removes cellular and FM signals in order to provide a clearer picture and reduce signal interruption. You won’t need any additional tools to install this antenna, but the recommended pole mount is sold separately and it is recommended to mount it at least 30 feet off the ground.

Pros

  • Multi-directional
  • 150-mile range
  • Waterproof/Snowproof Design
  • Filters out FM signals for a clearer picture and less interference

Cons

  • Weak UHF Connectivity

3. Most Durable: Channel Master CM-5020

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This Channel Master antenna can receive a variety of signals from towers up to 100 miles away. It’s a directional antenna with a six-foot turning radius and 30 pounds of wind resistance (tested at wind speeds of 100 mph). It comes with a U-bolt mounting clamp to make installation easier and is designed to handle extreme weather. It’s made of half-inch aluminum elements with bifurcated rivets for added strength. 

With a 109-inch boom length, you’ll be able to extend the Channel Master nearly 10 feet above the surface you mount it to. It receives low frequencies between 54 and 216 MHz and high frequencies between 470 and 700 MHz. The gain of this antenna is 10 dB for VHF frequencies and 16 dB for UHF frequencies and it has a front-to-back gain ratio of 17 dB. It’s also equipped with an F-type output connector and weighs a total of 11.5 pounds. 

Pros

  • Heavy-duty construction
  • 100-mile range
  • Picks Up UHF, VHF, FM, and HD signals
  • Powder-coated finish for corrosion resistance

Cons

  • Price
  • Time-consuming installation

4. Best HDTV Antenna for Rural Areas: BEFORE Outdoor Amplified Digital HDTV Antenna

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This selection is the best antenna for getting HDTV reception in rural areas. It supports 720p, 1080i, and 1080p and is rated to receive signals from towers up to 150 miles away. The antenna has a UHF working frequency between 470 and 890 MHz and a VHF working frequency between 30 and 400 MHz. It also has a high gain rating of 32 dB and comes with 33-feet of HD antenna coaxial cable.

The BEFORE antenna is made to support two TVs at a time without the need for a splitter that reduces signal strength. It’s rated for VHF frequencies between 40 and 300 MHz and UHF frequencies between 470 and 890 MHz. This antenna also receives FM signals and includes  a built-in super low noise amplifier to provide a clearer signal.

The entire package comes with a wireless remote controller and a built-in 360-degree rotor motor to help you easily reposition it for optimal reception.

Pros

  • HDTV Reception
  • 150-mile range
  • Comes with wireless controller
  • Rotor motor for hands-free repositioning

Cons

  • Receiving multiple signals can open up to more interference

5. Best for Wooded Areas: Antennas Direct 8-Element Bow Tie

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The bowtie configuration of this multi-directional antenna allows you to target signals from towers in different directions by allowing the two distinct panels to pivot independently on their own specially-designed brackets.

The DB8e antenna design is great for areas where heavy foliage can impact the incoming signal and it’s capable of receiving a signal from towers up to 70 miles away. This antenna comes with adjustable mounting hardware but you’ll have to buy a mast and coaxial cable separately.

The Antennas Direct setup is rated for UHF frequencies between 470 and 698 MHz. It has a beam angle of 24.5 degrees at 470 MHz and 16.3 degrees at 698 MHz. It’s ready to receive both UHD 4K and FullHD 1080 video signals where available. It also includes a reflector component that focuses the antenna’s power for added range and provides protection against multi-path interference.

Pros

  • Multi-directional
  • 70-mile range
  • Easy installation
  • Adjustable mounting hardware

Cons

  • Price
  • Receives only UHF frequencies
  • Mast and coaxial cable sold separately

roughing it by popofatticus, on Flickr

Outdoor TV Antenna Buyer’s Guide

Now let’s look at the most important factors when buying an outdoor TV antenna. 

Channel Availability

Start by learning how many channels are available in your area. There are a number of online tools to help you do this, but we suggest Tablo. It will tell you which channels are available so that you can make sure to choose an antenna that can receive the same frequency those channels are being broadcast over. 

Reception Range

The reason you need one of these antennas is that you probably live a long way from the nearest tower. But knowing exactly how much distance there is between you and the closest tower is good to know before you buy an antenna. The Tablo tool will give you an overhead map view of the nearest broadcast towers in your area. 

You can use the ‘Measure Distance’ feature on Google Maps to determine the distance from the tower to your antenna. This feature is available on most smartphones and gives you a more precise measurement so you can choose an antenna rated for more range than that distance.

It’s important to know that many antenna manufacturers advertise the maximum reception range for their products, rather than an average. As a good rule-of-thumb, it’s a safe practice to cut the advertised range in half if you want to understand an antenna’s more common working reception range. 

Interference

If you live in a wooded area or there are hills between you and the nearest broadcast tower, it’s going to be more difficult to get a reliable signal. Trees actually cause interference because the water inside of them actually breaks up incoming signals. 

This also happens if there are a lot of man-made objects, such as buildings, between you and the nearest broadcast tower. If your area has high potential for signal interference, you’ll need an antenna that is equipped with some form of technology for reducing that interference, such as the multi-directional bowtie configuration from Antennas Direct

That being said, reducing interference usually relies on raising the antenna up higher. Generally speaking, mounting your antenna higher will reduce the number of obstacles between it and the broadcast tower you’re trying to receive signal from. Fewer obstacles equals less interference. 

Frequency Range

Every antenna is rated to receive frequencies in a different range. These frequencies are measured in megahertz. To put it simply, an antenna with a larger frequency range will be able to receive more channels, provided there’s no interference or signal interruptions from competing frequencies. 

As you’re matching the right antenna with the channels you want, find out which frequencies those channels are broadcast over. If your preferred channels are broadcast at very high UHF frequencies or low VHF frequencies that your antenna doesn’t support, your reception is going to be very low-quality. 

Durability

An antenna is only as good as the materials used in its construction. Because these are outdoor antennas, they need to handle wind, rain, snow, ice, and anything else Mother Nature throws at them. The level of weatherproofing you need, however, depends on your environment. 

Be sure to check an antenna’s ratings for snow load, high winds, corrosion resistance, and waterproofing before buying. Consider your environment and whether or not those ratings translate into the antenna being durable enough to handle the elements where you live.  

Installing an Outdoor HD Antenna

Frequently Asked Questions

How high should I mount my antenna?

The higher, the better! Mount it up in a tree or above your roof to increase reception. As a general rule, place it at least 30 feet off the ground for a clearer over-the-air connection. 

Is it okay to split my signal to multiple TVs?

While it’s possible, we don’t recommend it. When you split an incoming signal, you cut the strength in half. If you split a signal to four TVs, for example, each TV would effectively receive 1/4 of the incoming signal strength. 

If you do decide to split, it’s recommended to use a distribution amplifier over a traditional splitter. Additionally, don’t split a weak signal unless you have first installed an antenna preamplifier. 

How do I know which direction to face my antenna?

This will require some testing to get the best reception at your location. But a good start is to know the general cardinal direction in which the nearest broadcast tower lies. 

The tricky part is that rural areas with many hills or trees can cause the signal sent from the tower to bounce around. And there could also be a relay station in place in a different direction than the tower itself. 

That’s why a digital antenna with a built-in rotor motor can be quite useful for finding the best reception quality in your area. It will give you the ability to reposition your antenna using a remote control rather than having to spend hours adjusting (and re-adjusting) it by hand. 

How do I test my antenna’s signal strength?

Start by getting an antenna signal meter and a compass. Disconnect coaxial cables from your TV or tuner. Plug your antenna’s F-connector to the socket marked ‘Antenna’ on your meter. Connect your TV to the socket on your meter marked ‘TV’. 

Turn on your meter and tune to the lowest broadcast channel in your area. Now rotate your antenna 360 degrees and stop at the highest signal strength. Use your compass and mark the direction of the highest antenna signal. Rinse and repeat this process for each channel and record the result carefully. 

If you have a directional antenna, use your readings to create an average direction where you receive the best signal strength. If you have a built-in rotor, you can simply re-position the antenna according to the channel you’re watching. 

Final Thoughts 

If you’re looking for the best of the best, the Winegard HD8200U antenna is our clear winner. Its additional beam length allows you to minimize signal interference and its compatibility with different display devices sets it apart from the competition. 

The best outdoor TV antenna for rural areas should have a minimum reception range of 50 miles, durable construction to handle the elements, and, most importantly, the ability to receive the channels you want to watch. And the Winegard antenna checks all of these boxes, and then some! 

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