Do I Need a Separate Antenna For Each TV?

One antenna to multiple TVs

I get a lot of questions from folks who want to get free broadcast TV using an antenna, but who have multiple TVs. There are several ways I know of to get an antenna signal to all of the TVs in your home.  I cover them below.

Method #1: A Separate Antenna for Each TV

The easiest thing to do is to just have a separate indoor antenna (like the Mohu Leaf) for each TV. The problem with this is that some of your TVs might be on the side of the house that is away from the TV stations. Perhaps one of your TVs is in the basement, where reception might be bad. If you have strong signals in your area (enter your zip code into the Station Finder to see), you still might be able to get all of the channels you want everywhere in your home, so maybe it won’t matter. But chances are, some of your TVs will get worse reception than others due to the location in your home.

So, don’t go out and buy a whole bunch of antennas. Just get one, and confirm that it works with all of your TVs before getting an antenna for each TV. I recommend the Mohu Leaf.

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. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Method #2: One Antenna Using Your Home’s Existing Cable TV Wiring

This is the most elegant solution. If you’ve ever had cable or satellite TV, your home has the wiring it needs to distribute free broadcast TV signals from an antenna! If you can find out where it connects to the cable company’s line and disconnect it, you can connect your antenna to this cable and use it to distribute free TV throughout your home!

This will require a little detective work. Look in your garage, basement, and outside of your home to see where the cable company’s cable connects to your home.  There should be a junction box where it connects.  If you had satellite, look where the cable from the satellite dish comes into your home.  Note, you might need special tools to disconnect it, and it might be a violation of the cable / satellite company rules to mess with their equipment, just be aware.

If you are able to disconnect the signal from the cable company, you can now connect your antenna anywhere you see a cable TV outlet in your home.  Probably the best place would be at an upper story, i.e., the highest point in your home.

Also, if you do this, I would recommend adding an amplifier (see below).

Note, you cannot use this method if you are using your coax cabling for Internet access.  The cable has to be completely disconnected from any satellite or cable, whether it is for TV or Internet.

Method #3: One Antenna to Many TVs Using New Cabling

If your home does not already have coax cable running through it, you’ll have to cable it up yourself. If you only have one TV, and your cable run is short (say, 30 feet or less), you can get away with connecting your antenna cable directly to your TV.

If you have multiple TVs, and your cable run is short, you can use a splitter like this one:

coax cable splitter

But, most of the time you’ll want to add an amplifier, and so you’ll want to use a distribution amplifier to split your signal to all of your TVs:

The distribution amplifier should be close to the antenna, so that the signal is amplified as soon as possible:

Antenna with amp

If you have a lot of cabling to run, you might want to invest in a spool of cable and a special kit that enables you to cut custom lengths and attach connectors at each end. Here is my set of tools and supplies for doing this:

Coax cable tools

Starting from the upper left, we have a cable stripper, cable crimper, and spool of cable.  In the second row from the left we have an all-in-one tool that cuts, strips, and attaches the connectors, and finally the splitter.

This might cost less than buying pre-cut cable, and you’ll be able to make the lengths perfectly right instead of having a lot of slack (which is ugly and degrades the signal). Just be sure to get “RG6” cable! Cheaper cable will degrade your TV signal.

If you are going through all of this trouble, you should consider just going with a rooftop or attic antenna, if that is possible in your dwelling. A rooftop or attic antenna will get you the best signal quality and the most channels. An outdoor or attic antenna will be better than an indoor antenna.

Before doing any of this, I recommend buying a single antenna and trying it out at each TV location.

Here are my recommended tools and supplies if you want to run your own cable:

Method #4: One Antenna with Tablo – Wireless!

Since originally writing this article, I’ve discovered another way to use a single antenna with all of your TVs: a product called Tablo.

Basically, you hook up your one antenna to Tablo and it streams the signal to all of the Roku boxes in your home.  Now, this requires that you have a Roku box or stick or each TV, which you may or may not want to do. Check out this video which explains it:

But, the bonus is that Tablo TV offers recording to a hard disk drive that you attach to it. So, if you want recording capability, Tablo may be for you.

To Sum Up

Which solution you choose depends on your situation. The simplest thing to do is to get a separate antenna for each TV. But, each TV may not get equally good reception. If you have existing cable TV cabling in your home, you might be able to use that and just have one antenna. Finally, if you want recording ability, consider Tablo TV with one antenna.

Hope this helps! – Brian

  • NAN

    Brian…I’ve been reading your comment responses…you are really an awesome guy…you explain everything with great patience,,,I’m building up the courage to make the ”big cut”…may have to pick ur brain then :)

    Till then…stay cool :)

    Nan

    • HI Nan,

      Thank you for your kind words, and let me know if I can answer any questions.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Ellen A Cliffer

    You have said I cannot use my cable setup for the antenna if I want to continue to use the cable company for internet. But I’m wondering if this will work: Disconnect the cable coax coming in the house from the big splitter box and replace it with the antenna coax. Then take the disconnected cable coax and connect it directly to my modem/router setup. Will this enable me to connect the tvs to the existing cable outlets in each room for tv viewing and use my computer and wifi for internet?

    • Hi Ellen,

      Very good, yes that should work as long as you’ve done the disconnections in the right places. Clearly mark the cables with tape before you disconnect in case you need to get it back to the original state.

      Best,
      Brian

      • Ellen A Cliffer

        Thank you! One more thing…if the existing coax is too short to make it where it needs to go, must I rewire or can I connect 2 pieces of coax together somehow (with a splitter? or another connection device?)

        • You can connect two coax cables together using a cable extension coupler:
          http://amzn.to/2wn5zOU

          If you’re driving a lot of cable (like through your whole house), you might need to add an amplifier near your antenna. But try it without first.

          Best,
          Brian

  • gaynelle swann

    I just relocated to a 10th floor condo in Manchester, NH (zip 03104) and would like to officially cut the cable cord, but not sure of my best options. One search shows 6 strong signals, another shows 2. Multiple compass directions, so I’m guessing a multi-directional antenna is needed, right? I have up to 3 smart tvs I’d like to be able to connect, and exploring different streaming devices for the living room. Older building, so how to test or trace the coax connections in each room? And, no connection points on balcony. I have Comcast internet, but the only live connection is in the office, have to use wireless elsewhere. The article is informative, but a little advice and a bit more guidance is totally appreciated!

    • Hi Gaynelle,

      The TV reception in your area is not terrible, but it’s not that great either.

      Experimentation is the key. If you are not able to use a rooftop antenna, my advice would be to get a good indoor antenna like the Mohu Leaf, along with a good RG6 coax cable that is able to reach a window, and start playing with positions on ONE TV. Once that is working well, you can expand to your other TVs using a Tablo, or coax cable. Don’t worry about the coax running through your building yet. First test your reception to see if all of the work and expense is worth it.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Darren Rawlings

    For method #2, can you expand on your statement, “Note, you cannot use this method if you are using your coax cabling for Internet access. The cable has to be completely disconnected from any satellite or cable, whether it is for TV or Internet.”

    If my cable company has three individual lines coming into the house, with one being internet, can’t I use the remaining two to push an OTA signal? The cable company manages to push the two without interfering with each other, why can’t I?

    • Hi Darren,

      You could use the other two only if they are not connected to any cable company electronic equipment. Otherwise, that will overwhelm any antenna signal that you try to put on that cable.

      If the cable is completely separate from cable company equipment, you can use it for your antenna.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Aman Deep

    Thank you for sharing the useful blog. Click this link topuptv.co.uk for more detail related Antenna TV reviews.

  • Judy

    I was given an outside 150 range antenna. I have cable and internet and 3 tv’s. I keep looking online on how to hook it up and I read to use the cable that goes to the modem with a splitter..but it doesn’t say anything about what gets hooked to the outside cable wire coming from the antenna.

    • Hi Judy,

      The broadcast TV antenna doesn’t get hooked into the cable box at all. Just plug the coax cable from the antenna directly into your TV’s antenna/cable input. For multiple TV’s, read the article above for your options.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Chris Trainor

    Jon, I just found your website and I am in the process of “cutting the cable” !! I have 1 HD TV and several SD sets still (2 small Flat screens and 2 Tube sets) I was wondering what the best antenna would be for this set up? (Zip 19008)

    • Hi Chris,

      The reception in your area is pretty good. You are also fortunate because most of the signals come from the same direction.

      An attic or roof antenna will always get you the most channels most reliably.

      If you are not able to put an antenna in your roof, then I like the Mohu Leaf.

      If you’re going to drive 3 TVs, I would suggest adding an amplifier, placed near the antenna.

      Best,
      Brian

  • JKM N MD

    Can Tablo also work with Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV?

  • John Moricone

    Hi Brian, so I’m slowly making the transition to cable / satellite free life. Been reading and recommending your site to others. I’d like to do option #2 (will need to ensure internet is on a separate line). What amplified outdoor / attic antenna do you recommended that gets the greatest distance / most channels / best reception? Thanks… (Zip 27614)

    • Hi John,

      Thank you for reading and recommending my site!

      The main thing I notice about your reception is that the signals are coming from almost every direction. So, you definitely don’t want an antenna with a reflector (which blocks signals from the opposite direction).

      I’d recommend the Mohu Sky Antenna:
      http://amzn.to/2lkVjUA

      Be sure to put the amp near the antenna, not near a TV.

      Best,
      Brian

      • John Moricone

        Hello Brian

        Thanks for the info, suggestions and quick reply. What do you think of these antennas with built in amplifiers?
        1) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017JEF126?psc=1
        2) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N4J5YGB?psc=1

        What is your opinion on built in amplifiers versus stand alone?

        Thanks.

        • Hi John,

          There are so many outdoor antennas it’s impossible to try all of them. I have not tried these but they have pretty good reviews. Worth trying but be prepared to return them if they don’t bring in the channels you want.

          I have not tested these built-in amplifiers so I can’t offer an opinion either way, sorry.

          Best,
          Brian

  • Ginger

    Brian – if I go with the Tablo – what antenna would you recommend? I am buying today :) Thank you. Hubby says we have an HD antenna.

  • Barb

    Hi: I located an old TWC connection which is already cut. When I had new TWC, it was necessary to get a new cable from the outdoor cable box. Evidently, the installer cut the old cable when he installed the new one. Can I leave it just hang there? Also, how do you connect the antenna to the cable jack. The antenna has a plug that goes into the wall jack. My highest point does not have a jack, but had a spliter and the end of the cable would plug right into the tv. Is there any way, I could use this.

    • Barb

      Tried attaching the antenna to the old in-house wiring–wouldn’t work. The only high jack I have is a splitter and I can’t see any way to attach the antenna. I assume you need to attach the the in-wall cable to the tv in order to get the signal. If I do this, then how do I get the antenna in the system. Totally confused… Barb

      • Hi Barb,

        It’s hard to debug this over email. Basically, you need to make sure the cabling is completely disconnected from any cable TV equipment, then pick one end to attach the antenna to and another to attach your TVs. There are many adapters available if the connectors are not right.

        Best,
        Brian

  • anonymous

    Hi, for years we have had Directv satellite for cable and Comcast for our internet. We just recently cancelled Directv, but still have Comcast for our internet. And we have bought an attic antenna, that I would like to be able to use for all TVs, by using the existing cable jacks in all the rooms (ie. the same jacks that Directv used to hook into the satellite boxes). I know above it says “you cannot use this method if you are using your coax cabling for Internet access. The cable has to be completely disconnected from any satellite or cable, whether it is for TV or Internet.” But is there no way to use the existing cable jacks to bring in antenna signal, while not affecting our Comcast internet? I don’t understand how Directv was able to get their signal into our house without affecting our Comcast internet. Thanks for any help!

    • anonymous

      Quite possibly the DTV satellite cord is going into our house some other way, and not through the outside cable junction box. I guess we need to follow the coax cord from our DTV satellite on the roof and find out where it enters the house.

      • Yes, you should trace the cables and see where they go/come from.

        If your Directv and Comcast were distributed throughout your house using separate cables, you might be in luck!

        Brian

        • anonymous

          It worked!! I traced the satellite coax cord from the roof, down the side of the house, down to the lower level where it went inside the house (and another cord went in at the same point, which had to be Comcast cable). On the other side of the wall, inside our basement, was some kind of cable box with TONS of cords. I could see both cords going to different splitters. I unhooked one coax cable from one splitter…and promptly lost internet in the house (and got it back as soon as I reattached that cord). So next I unhooked the other cable from the other splitter and hooked up the coax from our HD antenna which I positioned just outside the basement sliding glass doors and pointed it to the best signal. Then took a short coax cable and used it to connect our TV to the cable jack in the wall, scanned for channels, and it WORKED! I am so glad we don’t have to run a bunch of ugly cables throughout our house!! I think I’ll return this attic antenna and get an outdoor antenna to mount on the roof, right beside the DTV satellite, and just plug the satellite coax into the HD antenna. We’ll get the best signal there anyway. Thanks for letting me talk myself through all this, haha :) I can’t wait to tell my husband when he gets home!

          • You are awesome!!!! Congratulations and thank you for sharing your story!!!!

            Brian

          • AppalachianMomma

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a0cbfd5ac57ef9e4f7bf682667a72f7a34691655e5eb24aae48910f58bfcc0db.jpg
            FYI this is what the panel box in the basement looks like. It was spaghetti cords, and it turned out that the splitter with tons of cords coming off of it was used by DirecTV (the splitter with a single cable was our Comcast internet).
            I didn’t know how to post a picture with my previous update.
            Anyway, we were in luck given that DirecTV had already done the hard part to wire in the satellite cord to this box, which routes to all of our cable wall jacks. Others that have Dish or DirecTV, separate from their cable internet, should also be in luck and be able to use the existing hookups. But if you’re using a cable company for both internet and cable TV, and you want to “cut the cable cord”, you’ll have to figure out another way to eloquently get the antenna coaxial cables to your TVs.

  • Robert Mccall

    I have 4 TVs in my home so I decided to try an amplified antenna in the attic using the existing cable runs and distribution box after cancelling my cable. I purchased an RCA amplified antenna on sale from Walmart and a Mohu Metro Leaf. I connected the RCA to an existing cable in the attic for the antenna and the other end to my interior box, my splitter and then to each TV. Not good, I lost a lot of local stations that should not be a problem.I removed the RCA and I connected the Mohu Leaf to the long cable in the attic, put it in the same place the amplified antenna was located. All of the stations appeared, good reception and no problem, even with the extra long cable from the attic to the interior box. The RCA will go back to Walmart and I will keep the leaf. Just an FYI, Walmart has the Mohu Metro Leaf for $ 19.00 and easy return if it does not work.
    The info in this site is priceless when trying to figure out how to get the best reception and no cable……..

    • Hi Robert,

      So glad it worked well for you! Thank you for sharing!

      Best,
      Brian

  • Chaney

    Brian,
    So I found where the former cable came into my home (a box in the closet underneath my stairs-so on first floor)–looks like there is already an amp/splitter there as well. My question is that I want to use the idea of one antenna to the whole house system (which would be two t.v.s on the first floor as well)…but are you saying that I actually need to hook the actual antenna to that box which is located underneath my stairs?? I just can’t see that that would get the best signal…and, if not, what is my next option? Right now I have tried hooking the antenna cable into the amp/splitter and have one antenna hooked into one of the former cable outlets by one of the t.v.s and then have both t.v.s connected via coax cables to the “former” cable outlets. I get pretty nice pictures but inconsistent channel viewing (particularly with the ABC/CBS channels)…so not sure what I’m missing–if I should try to put an antenna in the attic space? But then that is so far from the antenna/cable hook up located underneath the stairs, etc. etc. etc….thoughts??

    • Hi Chaney,

      Yes, you’ll get best results by putting an antenna on the roof or attic.

      Don’t use the cable hookup in your basement for anything. It’s of little use now. Unplug the amp there.

      Just like you did, run your antenna into an unused cable outlet as close to the antenna as possible. If you want to use an amp, you’ll have to move it up to the attic or wherever your antenna is.

      Best,
      Brian

      • Chaney

        Brian,
        Just to clarify—the cable hookup—box underneath the stairs–is the stairs going up to the second floor–so the main cable box into the house is located on the first floor–just in a closet underneath the second floor stairs on the very interior side of the house….Same floor/first floor where the 2 t.v.s that I am wanting to use. Obviously I am tech-challenged, so bear with me:) I can see where the box is outside of my garage area where comcast comes into the house (a public area)—should I assume that there is “something” in the attic as far as being able to put an antenna up there and having something for it to power and coax/cable plug into? and then, from your answer, If I do get an antenna in the attic, will it still be as effective if I then attach coax cables/antennas into my tvs from unused cable outlets that are two floors down (on the main floor)? Sorry for all of the questions but I really appreciate your help!

        • HI Chaney,

          No, there is nothing in the attic unless you put it there. You’ll have to route power and whatever cables you need up there for the antenna, plus some way to mount the antenna.

          Long cables do degrade the TV signal, but having the antenna high up is more important. If you have an amp attached to the cable right near the antenna, then the long cable run won’t be a problem.

          Best,
          Brian

  • Debbie

    Brian, I got the RCA antenna hooked up and with the help of your video on scanning for channels i get about 35.I’m only about 20 minutes from Philadelphia and think I should get more channels. I think I’ll get a spliter/ amplifier do you think that will help me get more channels, or should I get that plus the Mohu Leaf antenna ?