Tips for Better TV Reception with Your Indoor Antenna

Mohu Leaf antenna in window

Getting the ideal reception using your indoor digital TV antenna can be a challenging task. In my experience, it can be like playing “whack-a-mole”: when you have the antenna in one position, you get certain channels. Move it to another position and different channels come in and the original ones you had are now gone. Some tinkering is definitely required to get the most channels.

Of course, an outdoor antenna is ideal, but many people are not allowed or able to put an antenna on their roofs.

Here are my hints and tips to help you get the most channels with your indoor antenna.

1. Put it in the Right Location

The best locations to put a flat antenna like the Mohu Leaf are often against windows or outwardly facing walls. Start with these locations and run a baseline channel scan on your TV.  I like to use adhesive tape to temporarily position the antenna during my scans.

To help determine which direction the TV signals are coming from, go to my Station Finder and enter your zip code or address.  When the results appear, click on the stations’ call letters in the left column to see what direction the signals are coming from:

station_finder

So, if there is a particular channel you are having trouble with, move the antenna to the wall of your room that is facing that transmitter tower.

2. Use a Longer Cable To Reach That Window

Technically, extending the antenna cable will slightly reduce the signal level that gets to your TV, but if the longer length allows you to reach window that is facing the transmitter tower, it could be worth it.

Just be sure to use “RG6” coax cable (see below).

If you have a long cable, you can even try moving your antenna outside temporarily, to see if an outdoor antenna would be beneficial. Do not use an unnecessarily long a cable though, as that will reduce your signal level!

3. Face it in the Right Direction

I’ve found that the angle at which your antenna is mounted can make a big difference. Consider this map of Los Angeles:

Los Angeles Stations

All of the transmitter towers for Los Angeles are in one place: Mount Wilson near Pasadena. I had trouble receiving CBS when I placed my antenna against my north-facing wall (my East-facing wall doesn’t face outside).  When I angled my antenna towards the northeast, I could get CBS with no problem.

Check out the Station Finder and click on each station’s call letters to see where to point your antenna.  You want the antenna’s signals to have as much surface area to land on as possible when they reach your antenna (assuming you are using a flat antenna like the Mohu Leaf).

This might require some fancy mounting, but it could allow you to start receiving your favorite channel!

4. Lay Your Antenna Flat Horizontally

I know this sounds crazy, but many so many readers have confirmed this!

One day at my previous apartment (which was at the base of a hill), I had my Mohu Leaf antenna taped to the wall and it fell down to the floor.  To my amazement, it got better reception on the floor than vertically on the wall!  So, try laying your flat antenna horizontally and see if it helps, even if it’s on the floor!

I have a friend (and several readers) who get the best reception with the Leaf antenna taped to their ceiling!  So, try the logical positions first (near windows and outer walls), but also trying laying it flat horizontally, especially if you live near mountains, tall trees, or tall buildings. These obstacles can deflect the TV signal into entering your home in weird, non-obvious, directions.

5. Move it Higher Up – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I get 50% more channels with my Mohu Leaf antenna on the second floor vs. the first floor. Place your antenna as high up as possible, preferably with a line a sight to the transmitters.

6. Put it in a Skylight – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Do you have a skylight? I moved my Mohu Leaf to my skylight and got even more channels!  It’s the closest thing to having an outdoor antenna using an indoor antenna!

Mohu Leaf antenna in skylight
Mohu Leaf antenna in skylight

Since the cable run from my skylight to my TV would be very long, I attached it to a Tablo and watch live TV using  browser or the Tablo app.

7. Use a Better Cable – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Mohu Leaf (and perhaps the antenna you are using) comes with “RG59” cable. It’s printed right on the cable:

Mohu Leaf RG59 cable
The Mohu Leaf comes with RG59 cable.

Many users have reported that they get better reception (more channels) when they swap this cable out for the more beefy “RG6” cable:

RG6 coax cable
RG6 cable is better quality, and can get you more channels! (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

Folks have told me that Mohu customer service even recommends using RG6 cable!  It makes sense, since RG6 has a thicker conductor, better insulation, and better shielding than RG59 and is designed for higher frequencies.

If you care to, read more about RG59 and RG6 cables here.  You’ll see why RG59 is so bad and RG6 is awesome!!

So, if you have a Mohu Leaf or any other antenna with crappy RG59 cable, swap it out with RG6! Here are some examples on Amazon:

DISCLOSURE: This is a professional review site that receives compensation from the retailer or manufacturer when you purchase through the affiliate links such as the ones on this page. I test and/or research each product or service thoroughly before endorsing it. This site is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.

Note that the cable used by the cable company is often RG6, but is not always labeled. Give it a try and see if it helps.

8. Eliminate Electronic Interference

Nearby electric equipment could be interfering with your TV reception.  As a test, unplug all nearby computers, VCRs, DVD players, set-top boxes, stereo equipment, Wi-Fi routers, and anything else electronic or electric.  Fluorescent lights can cause problems. (One reader said that electric hair clippers caused his TV signal to go out!) Unplug all connections to your TV except for power and the antenna.  Then, re-test.  If you see an improvement, turn on the other equipment one at a time to isolate the source of the interference.

This really works! Here’s what one reader told me:

Thank you thank you!!!! I suddenly could only get two out of about 15 stations I had been able to get with an old indoor antenna. But because of your article, I realized that the old VCR I had turned on a few days ago was still on!!! As soon as I turned it off, all my stations came back… thank you again.

How about this one:

We figured it out… The ‘new appliance’ was the new motorized recliner! Unplugged, the channels come in fine. How ’bout that?!?

If you have a lot of electronic equipment near your TV, it might be helpful to use a longer cord for your antenna to move it away and even into a different room to isolate it from the interference from the equipment.  Wi-Fi routers can be especially troublesome.

Sometimes plugging the offending piece of equipment into the same power strip can help. Sometimes plugging it into a different power outlet can help.  If the offending piece of equipment is connected to your TV via HDMI, for example, you can get an HDMI cable with ferrite cores (or add them separately) to try to block the interference.

9. Try Removing the Amplifier (if there is one)

If you’re using an antenna setup with a powered amplifier (also known as a booster), try removing it.

An amplifier can make the situation worse if you have some strong stations. The amp can cause the strong station to swamp out the weak ones and your reception could be worse.  If your antenna came with an amplifier (i.e., if you plug it into the wall for power), then try removing the amplifier and seeing if your reception improves.  Many readers have told me that their antennas actually get more channels without the amp! So, if you have an amp, try removing it and connect your antenna directly to your TV.

10. Add an Amplifier

Conversely, if you live very far from stations (over 20 miles), then an amplifier can indeed help. An amp works best if all of your stations on the Station Finder are yellow or red, or if all of your stations are flaky.  I recommend the Channel Master line of amplifiers.

An amp won’t work well if you have a bunch of strong stations and want to get a few more weak ones. In that case, it might do more harm than good.

11. Use a Reflector

If all of your TV signals come from one direction (as is the case in the Los Angeles area), a reflector behind your antenna might help.  I’ve tried using pie tins and metal baking sheets behind my Mohu Leaf to improve reception and it does help in some situations.  The tricky thing is figuring out how to mount it all in a stable fashion though.

Antenna reflector
I placed this pie ten next to my Mohu Leaf antenna to give better reception for a few pesky channels.

12. Use Two Antennas with a Coupler

This approach can work well if you have strong signals coming from two different directions. It will not help if your signals from all directions are weak.

If you have two different “sweet spots”, you can use a coupler to attach two antennas to your TV and point them in different directions to get both sets of signals. Of course, this requires you to buy another antenna, plus a coupler to combine the signals, plus some more coax cable. I used this technique for a while with my rabbit-ear antenna.

Antenna Coupler

Note that you must use a “coupler”, not a “splitter”. A splitter is used to send the signal from one antenna to several TVs. A coupler is used to combine the signal from multiple antennas to one TV.

The Winegard CC-7870 is a coupler that has good reviews on Amazon:

13. Get a Better Tuner

The part of your TV that receives the TV signal is called a “tuner”.  Some TV’s have good tuners, some not so good.  I’ve heard that LG and Vizio tuners are the best, with Sony and Hitachi very good. Steer clear of no-name brand TVs if you want the best tuner quality.

I don’t recommend going out and getting a new TV just for the tuner, but if you were going to get a new TV for other reasons, consider getting a name-brand to get a good broadcast TV tuner.

If your TV’s tuner is bad, and you want recording capability, then maybe you can kill two birds with one stone by purchasing a DVR+, which has a built-in tuner, or a Tablo TV, which also has a built-in tuner but broadcasts the signal to your Roku.

14. Move it Outside – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

You’ll get the most channels and best reception with a rooftop antenna vs. an indoor antenna. The difference can be amazing. This is pretty much a fact.

But, it also turns out that in general, anywhere outside is usually better than inside.

As a test, put your antenna outside facing the transmitter towers and see if your reception improves. For this test, it can be just outside your front door, an open window, or patio. I get dramatically more channels with my antenna on my patio than I do when it’s indoors.  Maybe you can’t keep it there permanently right now, but it will help you decide whether an outdoor antenna would be worthwhile for you. Even a small outdoor patio antenna can give big improvement.

15. Get a VHF Antenna – The Nuclear Option

About 90% or more of the TV stations out there broadcast on the UHF band.  Therefore, most indoor antennas like the Leaf are optimized for UHF, but will work with VHF/Hi-V if the station is not too far away.  If there is a particular station that you want which is flaky, check the Station Finder to see if it is a VHF or Hi-V station (the last column shows whether it is UHF or VHF).  If it is VHF or Hi-V station, it may be worth getting an antenna better optimized for VHF.  Unfortunately, these are pretty big and expensive, which is why I don’t recommend them for most people.  Here they are:

Yes, these are big, bulky, and expensive, but less than the cost of two months of cable for most people.

What Hasn’t Worked for Me

So far I’ve listed things that have helped me get more channels. However, I want to list a few things that haven’t really helped me, in order to save you some time and money.

As I mentioned above, I only recommend powered (amplified) antennas for those who live really far away from transmitters.  But, if you live in a big city with strong stations, don’t get a powered antenna!  They can perform worse than non-powered antennas when strong signals are present.  If you don’t believe me, read the reviews online.  The people who got no improvement (or worse performance) were probably too close to the transmitters.  Save your money.

Also, please avoid purchasing a whole bunch of different antennas in an attempt to get better reception. In my testing, once you spend $40 on an indoor antenna, the performance doesn’t vary that much. Yes, $10 rabbit-ear antennas are not so good. Personally, I found flat antennas like the Mohu Leaf and HD Frequency Cable Cutter perform better indoors than bulky metal antennas.  Flat antennas can be placed in a wider variety of locations than bulky metal antennas, which gives you more flexibility in positioning, and can result in better reception.  Save your money – no need to try ten different antennas. They will all work similarly as long as they are not cheap rabbit ear antennas.

If none of these tips solve your reception problems, then consider an outdoor antenna.

I hope this article has helped you with your antenna positioning. For me, part of the fun is remembering that you are getting completely FREE TV that other people pay up to a thousand dollars per year or more for. Ain’t that worth a little hassle of positioning an antenna?

Please respond with your antenna positioning tips and tricks below! Thanks, Brian

  • waxkat

    Very good site. My area code is 62075. I am trying to receive channel 49, RF 13 in Springfield Il. only 38 mi away. The other Sprinfield stations come in great. I tried a clearstream 2v with no luck at all, no signal. I have been using a cheap powered antenna with a rotor and it seems to outperform the clearstream, but it won’t get 49. Is that because it is Hi-V? I have been doing tests inside the house. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Waxkat,

      Yes, Hi-V channels are more difficult to receive. The Clearstream 2V is already a good antenna (and your other one works even better, it sounds like), so I don’t have a better one to recommend.

      I don’t have any super great ideas other than to ask other people in your neighborhood if they can get that channel and see what kind of antenna they are using.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Hi Ryan,

    I have not personally tested very many outdoor antennas, so I can’t give a specific suggestion other than to look at the ratings of other buyers when you shop.

    Having said that, I do like the Clearstream antennas because of their good reviews and good VHF performance. See links towards the end of this article: http://disablemycable.com/antennas/

    This antenna is not omnidirectional, but will get stations from multiple directions within a certain angle.

    Best,
    Brian

  • Hi Ryan,

    Outdoor antenna will give you the most channels with greatest reliability.

    An indoor antenna that can take an RG6 cable might help, especially if having a longer cable would let you put the antenna in a window facing the towers. But it’s impossible to say for sure without trying, so if you want to try the Leaf or Cable Cutter, get it from Amazon or somewhere with a good return policy.

    Best,
    Brian

  • victoria

    Hi,

    I bought the Mohu leaf 30, and pretty much all the channels come in very clear and great except for channel 11. The whole reason i bought this antenna is because im having a super bowl party, which will be on channel 11. I’ve tried to play around with it and move it different places but channel 11 isnt nearly as clear strong as 2 or the other channels. My area code is 92663, do i need an amp or what do you recommend i do to get channel 11?

    Thank you!

  • Janice

    I installed an RCA amplified indoor flat HDTV antenna. I cannot able to get NBC although the DTV reception maps says strong signal. I am in 85020. Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you

    • Hi Janice,

      NBC in your area is VHF, which is more difficult to receive than other channels, which are UHF.

      First of all, try your antenna without the amplifier, then try the rest of these tips. If none work, you might want to try out the Cable Cutter Aerowave antenna:
      http://disablemycable.com/antennas/

      But, make sure you get it from Amazon or somewhere where you can return it in case it doesn’t do the trick.

      Best,
      Brian

  • I bought a Mohu Leaf 50 and mounted in a window facing the broadcast towers. I was disappointed with the number of channels and the inconsistent reception. I then replaced the original cable with a 25 ft. RG-6 cable and experimented with different mounting locations. I found a spot on the wall, near the ceiling which allowed me to receive all of the channels in my area and maintain a strong signal from all channels. I am now extremely satisfied and highly recommend using RG-6 cable if you don’t get good results from the standard RG-59 cable. I live at least 50 miles from any towers, so the Mohu Leaf 50 is capable of good long range reception. It just depends on the location of the towers and where you mount the antenna.

    • Thank you for sharing! Glad the RG6 trick worked for you!

      Best,
      Brian

  • Author DrDhillon

    Good info. I have RCA antenna and getting 33 channels in Mountain House CA 95391 on Samsung smart TV. But strangely 4 PBS stations on Channel 6 working well for 2 weeks have suddenly stop working. These very stations were not working earlier either. Anyone else with similar problem. Thanks.

    • Hi DrDhillon,

      Channel 6 in your area is a VHF station, which is harder to receive than UHF stations. VHF stations can be flakey. Make sure they are still transmitting. Then, try some of the recommendations in this article.

      Brian

  • Cleo Farrell

    Thank you for this informative site—I refer to it again and again. It is filled with helpful information!

    • Hi Cleo,

      Thank you for your comments! I’m so glad my site was useful to you!

      Best,
      Brian

  • Lynda

    Hi, I have a mohu leaf Metro in my bedroom and a Mohu ultimate 50 in the living room. I switched out the cable on the Metro to rg6 the reception was much better and I picked up a few more channels. However when I switched out the cable on the ultimate 50 reception got much worse and I lost a few channels without moving the leaf on the wall. I switch back to the old 59 cable and now I get 60 plus channels, after removing the ones I don’t want I ended up with 42 really good Channel including ABC CBS NBC and two stations. I’m happy with a 42 so I’m not going to mess with success. Thanks for all the help on your website.

    • Hi Lynda,

      Thank you for sharing. Getting good reception is like magic sometimes, and it defies logic. Sometimes even the cable routing affects reception. In any case, I’m glad you’re happy with the results!!

      Best,
      Brian

      • Thunda t

        I have a GE bar antenna sitting flat on a table by itself only 15 channels when I lay an insulated handle Cresent wrench from Harbor freight and touch the back center I get 36 channels good networks and a lot of garbage shows.

        • Hi Thunda,

          Haha, great story. Yeah, there are all kinds of strange behavior like that when it comes to antennas..

          Brian

  • graduate280

    Thank you thank you!!!! I suddenly could only get two out of about 15 stations I had been able to get with an old indoor antenna. But because of your article, I realized that the old VCR I had turned on a few days ago (to see if I could throw out some old tapes), was still on!!! As soon as I turned it off, all my stations came back. You might want to have a heading for a paragraph called “suddenly getting less or no channels with my antenna.” And then reminding people as you do in other parts of the article, to check to see if they have recently plugged in some new electronic equipment on or near the TV. thank you again.

    • Hi Graduate280,

      Thanks for writing! I’m so glad this trick worked for you. Yes, electronic equipment can generate lots of interference!

      Best,
      Brian

  • rick spalding

    I”m not sure how reliable that site is, says i should get 13 channels, and fox should be my strongest, yet ion is my strongest, and i get like 3 other channels. I’ll work on it but your right about placing it flat,

    • Hi Rick,

      Yeah, usually a lot of tweaking and experimentation is needed to get all of the channels listed on the Station Finder.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Candace

    Hi. I live in zip code 72029 and I have a Lava HD 2605 and I can get PBS, NBC, FOX, CW, and whatever channel 42 is here. They come in good 24/7 but my issue is I only get CBS every once in a while and I get ABC at night and in the morning up until about 10 or 11 am and it stays out until around 5 or 6 in the evenings. And of course ABC and CBS are the channels I want the most. Can you recommend anything for me to try? The other day when it was raining ABC stayed on all day! I have the antenna up pretty high. Is there a brand of RG6 cable that is better or maybe I need an amplifier? Thanks in advance!

    • HI Candace,

      The signals in your are are pretty weak. Make sure your antenna is pointing towards the West.

      I read one review on Amazon which said the cable was poor quality, so it might be worth switching to an RG6 cable. I don’t have a particular brand that I recommend.

      Also, try it without the amplifier, if that is possible. I don’t think it’s worth buying a different amplifier.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Dawn Wills

    Hi, I am hoping to get some help with my antenna placement. I recently moved and now I can’t get any uhf channels with my new mohu leaf antenna no matter where I point it (even in the window from the 10th floor of my building). I have also had no luck with my GE model 24804 antenna. To be specific, I can’t get CBS, NBC, FOX, My 9. I get ABC and WPIX very clearly not nothing else. My TV fool info is at: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3ddfafe52b345593. I appreciate any suggestions!

    • Hi Dawn,

      All of my best tips are in this article. Go through and try as many of these tips as you can. Try to have your antenna in a window that faces the stations that you want to get.

      Best,
      Brian

      • dawnwills

        Hi Brian,

        I did try all your tips. I placed the antenna against a window, outside of the window even. Nothing. I placed it all over my apartment and I still can’t get cbs, nbc, fox, etc. I guess I won’t have TV in my living room. :-(

        Thanks,

        Dawn

  • ZelmanM

    What a great site! Can’t thank you enough–grabbed a Mohu antenna at Fry’s and it seems to be working great with my Samsung UHD flat screen (I’m in L.A.). One question–think I’ll upgrade the cable but was wondering if there is an advantage with a Quad Shield RG-6 over the regular ol’ RG-6 you recommend?

    • Hi Zelman,

      Glad it’s working for you! I’m in Santa Monica now and get a bunch of channels too.

      It’s very difficult to say whether the shielding will make a difference or not. I would guess that the extra shielding won’t make a big difference.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Dan

    I found

  • Dan

    I found, that with all my remote stuff, I ha

    • Dan

      continued, I had to run my outside antenna cable, OUTSIDE the house, down the roof till it was near tv, then into the house, dont know why, but it worked!

  • Chuck

    Good morning,
    Living in the Boston Area, I’ve had the local cbs station and their affiliates since I went to a digital antenna with no problem. But this morning with no change of the position of the antenna, they are now gone. I rescanned and repositioned several times and still nothing as if they never existed!
    Any clues?
    Thanks,
    Chuck

  • Stephanie

    Thank you!!!! Your article was a big help.

    • HI Stephanie,

      Great, so glad to hear that! Thanks for letting me know!

      Brian

  • Gary Pedraza

    what helped me was getting 2 antenna’s and bringing it to a coupler (splitter) I can move one antenna, then the other. Also, i was able to download an app, dtv helper, which shows me where the signal is coming from, it was free.

    • Hi Gary,

      Cool, thanks for sharing!

      Brian

    • Kevsh

      That is a very good option but 3.5db of of loss of signal will occur. A pre-amplifier can be added on those antennas placed outside in an obscure location, and distributed to the whole house. Most of the window antennas are not weather proof but could be placed inside small Styrofoam coolers like the one food comes shipped in. Nothing beats an outside antenna
      with line of site.

  • Robin

    Hey Brian, I have a dumb question.. When you /my instruction manual on my new antenna (Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified Indoor HDTV ) says to run a scan of channels, what does that mean? Is there something on my Toshiba remote that will let me automatically scan channels, or do I just go up and down the channels manually? According to your station finder info I should be able to get several strong stations. I am in a townhome and my TV is on an inside wall so maybe that’s part of the problem, but I am getting nothing at all. I did add the amplifier after trying it without it at first, but neither way gives me any reception. I am not far (20 miles) from the Charlotte stations. Is that too close to use the amplifier?

    Appreciate your feedback.

    Robin

    • Hi Robin,

      After you plug in your antenna to your TV, you’ll need to go into your TV’s menu system and select “antenna” (instead of cable) as the input. There should also be a menu option to scan for TV channels there.

      Best,
      Brian

      • Robin Williams

        Thank you.. I’ll check it when I’m home tonight.