Large outdoor antennas can be installed on a roof or a free-standing pole, and many can be installed in an attic. For the best results, your antenna should have the clearest possible “view” of the transmitter tower. That is achieved with a roof- or pole-mount installation (attic-mount installation is covered below).

People living in neighborhoods with homeowners’ associations may wonder if association covenants can restrict antenna use. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits restrictions that impair the installation or use of antennas to receive video programming. It covers digital satellite dishes, TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas.

Most TV antennas designed for roof- and/or attic-mounting include a mounting mast. Here are some general tips for roof-mount antenna applications:

  • Locate and avoid power lines and other wires in the work area
  • Do not climb on a wet or icy roof
  • Do not attempt high installations on windy days
  • Do not climb onto a roof when there is no one else around
  • Do not install an antenna under large, overhanging tree branches if it can be avoided
  • If possible, avoid chimney-mounting an antenna as smoke and gases from the chimney can impair the antenna’s performance and shorten its life

When you’re aiming the antenna, use a compass to ensure your antenna is accurately and precisely oriented toward the signal source. At this stage, it’s best to have a helper who can check picture quality and relay the information to you. (Most, but not all HDTVs and HDTV tuners include an onscreen signal strength meter.) Be sure to check the picture on all channels you want to receive before securing the antenna in place.

If you plan to use an antenna in addition to a digital satellite TV system, you have a couple of options. One fairly easy solution is to attach a “clip-on” antenna to your satellite dish. Such antennas have built-in “diplexers” that combine the satellite and antenna signals onto a single cable, which can eliminate the need to run new cable. You’ll need to install a diplexer at each satellite receiver to provide separate connections to the “Satellite In” and “Antenna In” jacks. A clip-on antenna usually performs better than an indoor antenna, but not as good as a larger outdoor antenna.