RV TV Antenna: How to Get Free TV on the Road

A majority of RV’ers satellite for their TV needs but the cost conscious tend to use a RV TV antenna mounted inside or outside their RV to get free TV wherever they are. For a low upfront cost any RV’er can ensure that in most parts of the US they will be able to enjoy quality programming from the major networks(ABC, CBS, NBC, etc).

If your wondering how it is possible to get free TV in your RV without a ongoing monthly cost. The answer is simple. Purchase a specialized antenna designed to pick up over the air broadcasting from the local HDTV stations in your area.

Much like the old “bunny ears” antennas of years passed these RV TV antennas are able to pick up TV signals from potentially a dozen or more broadcasting stations. It will vary widely based on your location. In some cases if you are in remote locations you may not get even one station.

The parts necessary to get free RV TV from your local stations are quite simple:

  1. An Indoor our Outdoor RV TV Antenna - Indoor RV TV antenna will work for many, but for the best possible results an outdoor RV TV antenna is recommended.
  2. A TV with a digital tuner (If you bought a new TV after March 1, 2007, chances are that you don’t need to buy a digital tuner converter. The FCC specified that, as of March 1, 2007, all TV’s must include one). If your TV is older you will need a Digital Converter Box.

Installation is equally simple:

  1. Mount antenna with minimal obstruction to the outside (window or near one is best. Preferably facing the broadcasting towers(more on how to do this later)).
  2. Plug the RV TV antenna cable into the back of the TV or Video Switcher.
  3. Turn on your TV and use the settings menu to scan for channels (use your TV’s manual for directions)

What antenna should I buy for receiving FREE DTV or HDTV?

RV TV Antenna Pic1There are many aspects that go into the answer of this questions. Distance from the broadcast TV transmitter, the direction your RV TV antenna is facing, the power of the RV TV antenna you purchase, where you place it, the terrain around you, all team up to make it difficult to recommend any RV TV antenna.

If you can figure the distance and location of the TV broadcast signals you can then position your RV TV antenna accordingly. The other variable is to make sure you have the right type of antenna for the signals you what to receive. This can be initially complicated. A guide below to tell you what the colors and terms on the boxes mean. The great news is most RV TV Antennas are setup to receive ALL signals making the this  somewhat irrelevant

Luckily there are online tools that make this very simple. Two in particular I find easy to use:

1.  Antenna Web

  • This is a service sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Consumer Electronics Association to help people like you and I get better TV signals for FREE! 
  • Below you can see an example of the output map after I entered my address. It shows where each of the broadcasting towers are from your location so you can position your RV TV antenna.  The colors correspond to the type of signal they use (Picture of color legend below as well). As mentioned above this is not a concern as most antennas receive all signal types.
  • This tool takes into account if you have your antenna mounted 30+feet in the air or less and gives you results accordingly.

RV TV Antenna Web

2. DTV.gov

  • This service is run by the Federal Communications Commission to assist people like us to find the local TV broadcasts. 
  • This service is easier to follow but does not distinguish the results based on height of your RV TV antenna. It assumes you have it mounted 30+ feet in the air.
  • Below you can see an output map after I have inputted my address. It shows on the left which channels your likely to get based on your address.

RV-TV-Antenna-DTVorg

Using these tools you should be able to come up with an idea of which free TV stations you can get in your RV. If you check a few areas you will notice that it can vary widely. As long as your not picky about the stations it can be a great way to get free TV anytime and anywhere.

Most Popular TV Antennas Available:

Indoor RV TV Antenna

1. Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Indoor Antenna – Best Seller and Highly Rated

2. RCA Flat Digital Amplified Indoor TV Antenna

3. Leaf Plus Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna

 

Outdoor RV TV Antenna

1. RCA ANT751R Outdoor Antenna

2. Winegard FreeVision Antenna

 

Add / Replacement to existing TV Antenna

If you already have the RV TV equipment installed but are unhappy with your signal strength, these units comes highly recommended from many RV TV enthusiasts.

3. Winegard RV-WING Wingman UHF Booster TV Antenna - Typically added on to an existing Winegard antenna which was previously installed on the RV.

4. JACK Digital TV Antenna - Can also be purchased with full kit for a new installation.

We have used both outdoor and interior Antennas and can say on average its difficult to say which is best. There are considerations to make for each such as portability, maintenance, and installation. We have all seen the big antennas mounted on roofs of RV’s and some seem to keep a lower profile. Depending on your preference either could operate to your needs. Choose wisely and enjoy the free television from your RV TV antenna!

Comments

  1. Norman Teal says

    OTA is the only way to go for tv. What I don’t understand is why we are charged for satellite or cable tv. Advertisers pay for every program produced on network OTA or satellite/cable so why are we charged? Don’t tell me it’s for admin costs because that’s just bull. I’ll keep my OTA thank you.

  2. says

    Nice site! Just found you through RVTravel. I threw away my pay to view service a few years ago and NEVER regret my decision. What started out as $19.95 grew, over time, to over $60. a month. I decided there was a better way to spend my money. Now I use an antenna (whole setup less than $60.), get lots of channels and when I am serious about a movie, I rent at Redbox. I have saved a LOT and very proud of the decision.

    • says

      Hi John!

      We are glad you found us. The folks at RVTravel are great!
      I appreciate your comment as I feel the same. We got rid of cable at our house 5 years ago and we operate the same as you described in the motorhome after getting fed up with the costs. When the costs are added up, it’s ridiculous the expense television adds to the RV budget (or house budget for that matter). I respect that some people really enjoy the programming but I don’t find it that valuable.

      We think you have a great reason to be proud of your decision and throw you a “high five” for fighting the good fight!

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