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TV Antenna Range.
Posted by Denny Duplessis

Real TV Antenna Range?

How do we define TV antenna range? 

Our definition.  TV antenna range is the distance a TV antenna can receive a TV signal that is stable and reliable day in and day out. Remember, no one goes to court or is sued for lying about TV antenna range. For those of us who sell antennas, we can say just about anything we want to about TV antenna range and unfortunately, not much you can do except educated yourself and recognize a scam when you see one.  

How to tell when you're being lied to about TV antenna range?

What is real? What is exaggeration? Unless you live on a mountain top under perfect reception conditions, or accept a pixelating pictures as good TV reception, the very best antennas will provide a reliable range in the "real world" of 60 to 80 miles. Any TV antenna vendor that claims greater than 60 to 80 range is lying to you. How do I know this? 

The distance a TV signal will travel is governed by the Federal Communications Commission > (FCC). The FCC does this for several reasons. One reasons is to prevent the TV signals from one City from interfering with the TV signals of another City. Available channel frequency space for broadcast TV is limited. Two stations within range of each other can't be on the same channel frequency or the reception of both channels will suffer.  When two channels interfere with each other on the same channel frequency it's called "co-channel interference".  If a local signal is very strong it can interfere with another channel several channel numbers away on the frequency band. This is called "adjacent channel interference". Either of these are bad for reception to remedy this the FCC limits TV signal range.

How does the FCC control TV antenna range?

The FCC limits reception range by limiting the transmitting output power of the TV station and by setting maximum broadcasting tower heights for each station.  Using this combination the distance a TV signal will travel is controlled. If a TV signal isn't reaching a certain location, no TV antenna will receive it. Plain and simple. a TV antenna can't receive a signal that's not present.  We also know, a signal amplifier can't amplify a signal into existence. 

What things affect TV antenna range? 

TV antenna range is affected by the design of the antenna and quality of the reception equipment.  And just as important, the terrain between your location and the TV station transmitting antenna called, the "signal path". The output power and tower height of the transmitting TV station will be a big player when considering signal range.  Fortunately, we now have tools that we can accurately determine the broadcast power of the TV stations, the terrain in the signal path, and the broadcasting antenna and the receiving antenna height above ground. We can factor all of this, together and offer up a very reliable TV antenna recommendation > 

How to determine your chances of good TV reception?

First, I suggest you visit the FCC DTV map page >. Type in the full street address of the proposed antenna location and click "go".  The TV stations that are available at your location will appear on the page along with a map of your location.  The stations that appear are color coded to indicate the estimated signal strength of that channel at your location. 

The weaker a signal is the more signal gain the antenna must offer to receive the signal.

In simple terms, a smaller antenna for strong signals and a larger antenna for weaker signals.

Also note, is the TV channel broadcasting a VHF or UHF signal type.  The antenna designed for the reception of VHF signal is very different than the antenna designed to receive UHF TV signals. Many antenna vendors lie to you. They claim the antenna is for the reception of both VHF and UHF TV signals when it's really not. 

What to look for in TV antenna design

Take a quick look at the HD Stacker antenna here >.  Notice the two main booms of the HD Stacker TV antenna.

The top boom is designed specifically to receive VHF TV  digital signals. If the antenna doesn't have longer protruding elements (arms) and claims to be a VHF TV antenna, it's a fake, it's not a VHF antenna. 

The bottom boom of the Stacker antenna is specifically designed to receive UHF TV signals. UHF TV antenna design does not require the antenna be as wide as a VHF TV antenna design.  However, the longer the UHF TV antenna is, the better it will perform. In recent years most antenna manufactures have all but dropped VHF signal reception design in favor of eye appealing antennas. 

Back to the FCC page, click on the call sign of a TV station and additional information will appear and the signal path from your location to the TV transmitter location will also appear on the map.

RF Channel = the real channel frequency the station is using to broadcast the TV signal. 

RX Strength = The estimated strength the TV signal will have when it reaches your location. The higher this number is the stronger the TV signal is at your location. 


  • Bigger antennas will increase the TV antenna range.
  • The antenna must have longer protruding elements to receive VHF TV signals.
  • Rarely do TV signals travel further than 80 miles. 
  • The more honest a TV antenna vendor is the fewer antennas they will sell. 

More fact based information can be found at Product and knowledge support >