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.

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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.

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

  • Debbie Barbaccia

    Brian, came across your youtube video about indoor antennas. I have three tvs in my house so do I need an amplifier with 1 input port and 4 output ports to attach to my coaxial cable, so I only need one antenna? If so where do I connect it? Are there any that you would recommend? Walmart.com sells this one “ViewTV 4 Port Drop Amplifier/ Signal booster/ splitter for digital TV antenna- cable”. It has 1 input port and 4 output ports. Hook up 4 TVs with only one antenna. Also I had an” RCA multi directional digital flat antenna” given to me so I’ll be trying that one first. If I dont like it I’m going to get a “Mohu Leaf ultimate”.

    • Hi Debbie,

      Yes, you can use one antenna with a splitter/amplifier. The splitter/amplifier that I recommend are the ones made by Channel Master on this page.

      It’s best to connect the amp as close to the antenna as possible, as opposed to close to the TV.

      Best,
      Brain

  • Sherry Lowery

    Brian, I really appreciate your answers and hope you will help me (too). I am not technologically sound and want to ditch cable. I must keep internet because of the burglar alarm. I have been reading and reading about antenna, Roku, Amazon…you name it! I have an older TV in great room, one in the bedroom and one in the sunroom but as I live alone, generally only one TV is on at any time. Ssssoooo…the question:
    I must have Internet (wireless is what I will have); I know I must get an antenna (I did check out the distance and will need at least 50 mile range); I know I must get a Roku – type streaming device; I know I must then get the service (Netflix, Amazon, etc). Is this all correct? Am I missing anything? Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated and I thank you in advance. Sherry

    • Hi Sherry,

      Yes, you basically have it right. If you haven’t already, enter your address into the Station Finder to see how many stations you can get: http://disablemycable.com/station-finder/

      You should be able to get most of the green ones with a good indoor antenna. Outdoor antenna will get you the most channels though. Here are some good antennas that I recommend:
      http://disablemycable.com/antennas/

      The only thing you might be missing is a way to get your antenna signals to all TVs, but that is what this article is about.

      Best,
      Brian

  • J.M. Siebert

    So with one antenna I can tune 3 tvs at the same time to 3 different channels just as if I have a cable box at each tv?

    • Hi J.M.,

      Great question! Yes, you can tune each TV to a different channel even though they share the same antenna.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Cooper

    Got my antenna and amplifier getting me most of the channels I want. The only thing my antenna installer can’t understand is why only 1 of 7 tvs gets CBS. The channel finder maps show it is a strong signal and all of the tvs are about the same age (4 years old). The signal comes from where all the others do and the installer lives only a couple of blocks from me and gets CBS with the same type of cable wire and same antenna. Any ideas?

    • Hi Cooper,

      There are a lot of possible factors:
      – Different brands of TVs have different quality antenna amplifiers.
      – Even a couple of blocks can make a difference in reception due to buildings, trees, etc.
      – Antenna height can make a huge difference in reception
      – Cable length can be a factor in reception. Maybe the TV that can’t get CBS has a longer cable run.
      – Even a few degrees difference in antenna angle can make a big difference.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Diana Trolli

    I still have internet from the cable co. but I bought an antenna. how would I connect?

  • Amanda Buschor

    I just moved into a new house and I’d like to connect my antenna up to get whole house access. It looks like the previous owners had DirectTV. I’ve investigated the connection at the dish and it appears that there are two coax cables that come from the dish and go into my attic. In the attic, the two cables seem to run to a amplifier but there is no output connection. The rest of the coax up there is connected to a bunch of splitters and such. Any pointers of where I should start?

    • HI Amanda,

      Hmmm… it’s hard to say without being there. The cabling you describe doesn’t seem to make sense. At some point there should be an output from the amp to the rest of the house.

      The basic idea is that you want to disconnect the DirectTV antenna and connect your antenna at that point.

      Best,
      Brian

      • Amanda Buschor

        My guess is that they might’ve disconnected when they cancelled service. The amplifier has two satellite inputs and one input for antenna. There are 4 receiver outputs.

        • Ah, ok. Then try connecting an antenna to the antenna input.

          Brian

  • Cooper

    I just had a professional install an outdoor antenna and get great channel selection on the tv that is in the bedroom where the cable comes in(so it isn’t split like the other tvs in the house). He has suggested that I get an amplifer to attach to the antenna to expand the channel selections to the other tvs. Do you have any brand suggestions or any other recommendations to make the other previously wired tvs in the house get more channels?

    • Hi Cooper,

      Channel Master is a good brand for distribution amplifiers. Check out this one:
      http://amzn.to/1TKL45x

      Just be sure to put it closer to the antennas, rather than closer to the TVs.

      Best,
      Brian

      • Cooper

        Thanks!, will try

  • Sean Tucker

    I got basic cable with the box just long enough to watch HBO’S Game of Thrones S-6,i already have ROKU&and an outdoor antenna,i want ball three to work simutaneously —So i : Put outside antenna cable into digital antenna box,i put the cable out of that box,into the uhf/vhf in port on spltter,then,the incoming Comcast cable into cable box,then the out cablebox cable into the remaining in port on the splitter,and then the the single out cable on the splitter into the tv—why it no work?????

    • Hi Sean,

      What kind of splitter are you using? (give model number or link).

      Brian

      • Sean Tucker

        i tried using a Holland Electrronics DPD2 5-2150MHz i have another similar one that says 950-2150 MHz?

        • Ah, I’m thinking that those splitters are only good to split antenna signals, not the decoded signals. Can you come out of your converter box and cable box by HDMI and use an HDMI splitter?

          Brian

          • Sean Tucker

            hmmm ok,lemee try that

  • Kristin

    I am in OK. I have ATT U-verse phone/internet + DirecTV. Need to know if I can use the existing cables around my satellite dish for an antenna. Let me know what I am missing…..I have 4 TVs to hook up. Use an amplifier? Sounds simple, is it? Ready to cut the cord

    • Hi Kristin,

      Yes, you should be able to use your existing cabling as long as you completely disconnect it from all satellite TV equipment.

      Is it simple? Depends on how comfortable you are getting on the roof, installing things, etc. If you’re not comfortable with those things, it might be best to hire a professional.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Laura Gabriela Rodriguez

    So ready to cut the cord. Couple of things I still don’t get. Can you explain in detail how is it possible to make a connection with the existing cable wiring and get channels if the service is disconnected. How can this be illegal if the service is discontinued? I have another question but I forgot.

    • Hi Laura,

      There is no guaranteed way to still get cable after it is disconnected. That happens only through an oversight by the cable company.

      Instead, I advocate using a TV antenna to get free and legal broadcast TV.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Glenn

    Hi Brian, I’ve been researching many websites on cutting the cord and just came across this one of yours. Great article!. You replies to the comments are also very helpful. After reading reviews on many antennas I decided on the Sky 60 with Mohu’s Jolt 4 way amplified splitter and it is on the way. I have DirecTv now and will use the existing cables and mount the antenna in my attic. I will have 3 TV’s and possibly 5 in the future on the Sky and I did have some questions though. 1. Can I watch different channels on each TV with one antenna and the splitter or does very TV have to watch the same station? 2. Is there any way to get a TV guide type list on the TV with just an antenna? 3. What are your thoughts on the HDHomeRun extend box? I considered and am still considering a HDHomeRun box but I believe it only allows you to watch a different station on only 2 TV’s am I correct? what I do like about that box is Apple TV 4 has an app (Channels) that organizes the stations into a TV guide. 4. What is the best DVR to get for an HD antenna set up?

    • Hi Glenn,

      Great question. If you use an antenna with splitter, each TV can indeed watch a different channel.

      Yes, you can get an online TV guide here:
      http://www.titantv.com/

      I’ve never tried the HD Home Run box myself. Yes, most of their models only have two tuners, but it looks like there might be versions with 3 and 4 tuners.

      For multiple TVs, my favorite DVR is Tablo.

      Best,
      Brian

      • Glenn

        Thanks for the reply Brian. I am continuing to research what’s best and it does seem Tablo is the best DVR option as of now. Right now I am going to get the antenna installed and see how it goes with just that and no DVR. thanks for the Titantv tip for TV guide. Hoping the Tablo Apple TV 4 app comes out soon too.

  • Thadd Teague

    How close does the distribution amp need to be to the antenna? I want to put the antenna in my attic but i dont have easy access to an outlet. Where I would like to put the amp is about 50ft away. Will that work?

    • Hi Thadd,

      Hard to say if it will work or not. It is clearly not ideal. 50 feet is a lot of cable to drive for a weak antenna signal. I would get an extension cord so you can have your amp right next to your antenna.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Jeremiah Scanlan

    My friend gave me an HDTV antenna amazonbasics, not sure of the range. But I was able to get it to work. I need to purchase another for a tv in another room, seems this is the easiest way since the existing cabling in my home is used for my internet service. The antenna I recently set up uses a power source, does this provide a benefit? Or should I go with a non-powered one?

    • Hi Jeremiah,

      You can remove the amplifier on your antenna to see if it works better when powered or unpowered. I suggest doing that before buying another one.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Joyce Lemasters

    I have an indoor antenna, but can only get 4 stations. The cable company I had left their hookup cable. Can I use this with my iindoor antenna to get more channels?

    • Hi Joyce,

      If that cable will enable you to place your indoor antenna higher up, on a balcony, or against a window facing the TV stations, it could be worth using.

      Thanks,
      Brian

      • Joyce Lemasters

        How do I connect the cable to my TV? As you can tell, I’m not into anything technical.

  • Russ Komarnicki

    what antenna do you recommend in method #2?

  • Sharon C

    Don’t know if I missed the answer to this in your article. Is there a way to attach an antenna to the disconnected cable service that will work on all my tv’s and still be able to receive my paid internet service?

    • HI Sharon,

      Sorry, you can’t use your home’s coax cabling for both an antenna and for Internet.

      Best wishes,
      Brian

  • Cindy Alger Damon

    Hi Brian…we got rid of our direct TV and attached an antenna on the roof using the cables from the old satellite. The problem is…we get some channels in one room and not the same in another room…..I don’t understand where we are using one antenna…what would be your best guess?

    Thanks Cindy

    • Hi Cindy,

      There are a couple of things that might be causing that.

      First is cable length. If the length of the cable to the TVs is different, they could have different signal levels and get different channels.

      Second is the quality of the TV tuners. They are not all the same. Some manufacturers have better tuners than others.

      Not sure if you’re using an amplifier, but placing one near your antenna might help.

      Best wishes,
      Brian

  • Mjal

    Brian I would like to cancel cable but keep my internet. In my basement the incoming coax feed from the cable company goes first into a three way splitter (model PCT-ngnII-3T). From there it is split three ways. Output 1 is labeled “Internet” and goes directly to my internet cable modem (no jack – wire goes right through floor). Output 2 is labeled “cable tv” and goes right to my cable TV set top box. Again, no jack – right through the floor. Output 3 is labeled “house jacks”. This output goes to an amplifier (model # ARA1-15) and the amplifier output seems to feed pre installed coaxial wall jacks through the house. I’d like to disconnect the “house jacks” line from the cable tv connection and instead connect an antenna that would feed the jacks. I get good reception from an indoor antenna so could I hook up the indoor antenna to a house jack to feed the other house jacks or run a cable into the basement and into the amp? I don’t think there would be interference with my cable internet since it appears they are on separate lines – as long as I disconnect the house jack connection from the three way splitter. Thanks!

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  • Hello – I have been a disable my cable fan for a very long time. This article is excellent and describes my setup to a “T”. I do have a question about the placement of the amplifier. I have the Moho Sky and 3 tv ‘s. I run a single RG6 from the antenna to the existing cable box. This single line connects to a 3-way splitter. I also have the amp connected at the cable box. I was hoping you could suggest the best amplifier I can get to give me the best signal. One problem I have is with CBS. This tower is about 80-90 miles away and CBS always is breaking up and loosing the signal Do I need a longer range antenna or is there some way to use what I have and customize my system for better reception? Thank you for your help and this wonderful web site. This has been one of the best moves of my life to be rid of paying cable bills. Sincerely- Paul Hill / paulbhill@att.net. /. Wilmington, NC.

    • Hi Paul,

      Thank you for your comments and for reading my site! While I cannot suggest a particular outdoor antenna (I have not tried enough of them personally to know), I will offer a few ideas.

      First is to point the antenna in the direction of the CBS transmitter (check the Station Finder to find out what direction it is coming from). http://disablemycable.com/station_finder.php

      If this messes up your other stations, they sell motors that turn the antenna for you depending on the station you want to watch.

      Also, check the Station Finder to see if CBS is VHF (Hi-V). Often VHF channels are more troublesome. If so, you might want to look into an antenna that is optimized for VHF as well as UHF.

      Next is to make sure you are using good quality RG6 cable. This can make a huge difference. The cable should have “RG6” printed on it.

      The amplifier should be placed close to the antenna, before the splitter.

      Let me know what happens!

      Thanks,
      Brian

      • Lynda Verhoek

        Hi Brian
        I am about to switch from Charter Cable to a Mohu SKY 60. I live in Nevada and that is the best for a signal. I plan on mounting it where the old dish is located, it is centered on the back of my house facing in the direction of the signal (as told to me by the Mohu rep) My question is this….the box with all the old cables is on the SW corner under the eave. The dish is about 18′ away mounted on the roof close to the eave. There are 2 TVs I want connected to the SKY antenna. One in the living room about 15′ East of the DISH and the other one about 6′ West of the DISH. The cable company has run their cables under the eave and I hopefully will be using their cables. BUT…here is my concern. The Mohu SKY 60 instructions say to connect the splitter below their amplifier…which is supposed to hang directly below their antenna. This antenna is going to go where the DISH is located now. I am confused about the splitter as I was told I should connect the cables to the old DISH cables (in the box under the eave at the far SW corner of my house) and those cables are 18′ away from where the SKY antenna will be. I can not find on line a diagram on how to do this using the old cables. I prefer to use the old cables because those lines are already connected to my TVs and it seems all I have to do is drill a hole into the wall closest to the living room TV to bring in their USB cable to connect to either the wall electricity or the back of the TV whichever one gives the best reception. Do you know of a picture of how I should do this? Or am I misunderstanding all the information on line I am reading about multiple TVs and how to take down the old DISH and attach the SKY antenna to their pole. Thanks, Lynda

        • Hi Lynda,

          Attach the amplifier between your antenna and the existing Dish cables.

          Thanks,
          Brian

          • Lynda Verhoek

            thank you will be trying this as soon as the SKY 60 arrives

          • Glenn

            Hi Lynda,
            I hope you don’t mind me asking but I wanted to see of you were able to get everything working with the Sky 60. Mine is on it’s way and I am hoping it works as well as they say it does.