Published March 28th 2019
Written By: Joseph Geizen (Electrician)
When you live in a rural area, TV reception can be tricky. There are even situations where local cable service providers won’t offer their services where you live, making it difficult for you to watch TV. This is where an outdoor TV antenna comes in, and that’s what will enable you to watch TV, without even paying for subscription services.
But before you get an outdoor TV antenna, you’ll want to take a look at your options. Do you get an outdoor one, or an indoor one? What are the important considerations that you should keep in mind? To help, we’ve got a list of some of the best outdoor TV antenna for rural areas options on the market today. We’ll also talk about a few specifications and considerations that will make your buying decision easier.
Low on time? Heres a quick roundup of our top 3 picks and why you need them!
#1. Tree New Bee Amplified
Best overall antenna for rural areas with 360 degree rotaton
#2. Channel master cm-4228hd
*Simplest to set up
A good alternative to our top pick with a simple installation
Excellent when you're surrounded by towers
The Best Overall Outdoor TV Antenna
The Tree New Bee amplified antenna is great for just about everyone.
This antenna by Tree New Bee is an interesting proposition. To begin with, it works with both UHF and VHF signals, and it also receives FM radio ones, too. The reception range is an excellent 150 miles, and it has high sensitivity.
The interesting thing about it is that even though it is a directional antenna and comes with all the benefits of one, it has a motor that allows the entire antenna to rotate 360 degrees. This way, you also get all the benefits of an omnidirectional antenna, without the downsides. The rotation is controlled with a remote, making things as simple as possible.
The antenna supports 720p, 1080i and 1080p signals, which is great. You can connect two TV sets to it, and there’s a built-in amplifier with super low noise. An excellent choice for the best outdoor TV antenna for rural areas.
The best multidirectional option
The CM-4228HD is a great pick if you've got a few towers in a similar direction
Our runner-up comes from Channel Master, and is another great pick for people who have a broadcast tower nearby. It performs great, and has also been proven to last a good while as well.
This is a multidirectional antenna which receives signals from up to 180 degrees. There’s a 12dB gain on the antenna which results in up to 80 miles of range. It’s not as good as our top pick’s 150 miles, but if you have a broadcast tower nearby, that won’t be an issue.
Installation is simple, as it comes almost completely preassembled. This is another antenna that works with both VHF and UHF signals, and you’ll receive channels in uncompressed HD.
The most versatile option
The 1byone is simply perfect if you have multiple towers in your vicinity
Even though an omnidirectional antenna isn’t the best choice in all rural areas, it actually works really well if you have a few towers nearby but in different directions. This is a very compact design, one which isn’t impacted as much by things such as rain or thunderstorms. There’s also the anti-UV coating which adds some shielding and reduces interference.
Install it outdoors, and you’re getting 60 miles of range. That’s not really impressive, but as we said, if you’re surrounded by towers, it’s great. You’ll be able to get UHF and VHF channels, as well as FM radio ones, and reception is possible with up to full HD video quality.
A timeless design that works great, but only with UHF channels
The 8 Element Bowtie is one of the most popular outdoor TV antennas nowadays. If you come across a guide on making your own antenna, chances are this is the inspiration for the guide. It comes with a 70 mile range and really easy installation.
Even though the antenna works great and can receive full HD, 1080p signal, it only works with UHF channels. For some, this may actually be enough, but we would’ve liked to see VHF, and potentially FM radio support.
In terms of construction and durability, the Bowtie is a champ. It’s made to last, and the lifetime warranty on parts only confirms that. If you’re after the best outdoor TV antenna for rural areas and want one made by a reputable manufacturer, this is a great option.
A very popular model with a great reputation
Another extremely popular option is RCA’s Yagi outdoor antenna. It’s a directional antenna that boasts over 70 miles of range, and has a really great reputation anywhere you look.
The antenna supports 1080i HDTV signals, and it has support for both UHF and VHF channels. The multi-element, cross-phase design gives you better reception, so you can have a better viewing experience.
In terms of build quality, the Yagi is excellent. It comes almost fully pre-assembled, and there’s a fold-out UHF reflector which easy-locks, as well as other elements that all snap-lock into place. Add to that the included mast, all the mounting hardware, and the transformer, and you’ll have the Yagi up and running in no time.
An attractive option with a signal that isn't impacted by the weather
Xtreme Signal’s HDB91X is a similar design to the RCA Yagi, making it a great alternative. The high-gain design allows the antenna to receive signals from over 70 miles away if you’re dealing with UHF signals, as well as from over 25 miles away if you have high band VHF signals.
It’s a completely weatherproof design which won’t be impacted as much from rain and thunderstorms, and you’ll still get the full range. It also has a 60 degree beam width, and you’re getting all the mounting hardware in the box.
An expensive antenna which performs excellent
Last but not least, we have a truly premium option by Winegard. It’s their HD8220U antenna from their Platinum series, a long range antenna which is 4K UHD ready. The range is over 65 miles, and you can receive both UHF and VHF signals. It’s also capable of ATSC 3.0, which will eventually add higher frame rates and 3D.
Make no mistake, this is a large antenna. However, it performs admirably, and is one of the best options if you want the best outdoor TV antenna for rural areas that can receive a 4K signal – none of the other competitors on our list can do that.
Even though the price may be a bit too high for some, make no mistake that you’re getting a very durable and high quality product. If you can afford it, it is more than worth it.
You took a look at what the best antennas are, but you still don’t know which one you should pick for your needs. Some of them have a longer range, some of them don’t. Some have extra features, others cover just the basics. What should you buy?
Many people may make the argument that an indoor TV antenna will do the job just fine. And that would only be true for one or two situations, but generally, an outdoor TV antenna is a much better choice.
To begin with, you have the interference issue. An indoor antenna needs the signal to pass through your walls. That does interfere with the signal, and may impact your viewing experience quite a bit. Then you have interference from other wireless devices – your router, for example, may interfere with the reception. Even though you may think that this won’t have that much of an impact, if the broadcasting tower is far from you, that little bit of interference may mean the difference between watching TV and not getting any signal. An outdoor antenna, on the other hand, is placed further away from other wireless devices, and doesn’t need to go through walls in order to get a signal.
Then, there’s the signal strength thing. With an indoor antenna, you’re often limited with size, and a smaller antenna can’t have the same strength as a larger one. Larger antennas aren’t limited, because they’re often out in the open. This means that you’ll have a much more powerful antenna, especially if it’s amplified. You’ll be able to get signal from much further away, which gives you more options in terms of which broadcasting tower you’re getting your signal from.
To conclude, an outdoor antenna will work much better. The only downside is the installation, which is trickier outside, but that’s a one time thing, and you can always hire a professional to do this for you.
This greatly depends on your specific location and use case scenario. A directional antenna should be pointed in the direction of the broadcast tower you’ll be relying on for your TV signal. You’ll be limited to that tower only, as well as maybe another tower or two that are in the same line of sight, provided they’re in range. However, a directional outdoor TV antenna generally has a better range, which may make a significand difference.
On the other hand, you have omnidirectional antennas. They have a 360 degree coverage, meaning that they’ll receive signals regardless of which side the broadcast tower is located on. Even though this makes them much more versatile, they’re often limited in terms of range.
At the end of the day, it’s no secret that omnidirectional antennas are much better suited for densely populated areas, such as cities, where you’ll be surrounded by broadcast towers. If you’re looking for the best outdoor TV antenna for rural areas, though, you’re usually much better off with a directional antenna.
While we’re discussing this, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll want your directional antenna to point towards the right direction. For this, something like Antennas Direct’s transmitter locator service will show you where your nearest broadcast tower is, depending on your location. Just install the directional antenna so it points this way, and you should be good to go.
UHF and VHF are two terms that you’ll find with just about any antenna. These are used to explain the frequency of the antenna. VHF, or Very High Frequency, means the channel is transmitted on channels two to 13. UHF, or Ultra High Frequency, means that the channels are transmitted at channels 14 to 83.
Generally, today’s TV transmission is done in the UHF channel range. VHF is generally used for FM radio and similar applications. However, if you want to be sure, you’ll want to inquire about your specific local situation, so you’re sure you’re getting the right antenna.
One thing to note, however. Oftentimes, an antenna will advertise that it works with both UHF and VHF signals. This is certainly possible, and many antennas do this fairly well, but the optimal design for both types of frequencies is different.
VHF wavelengths are relatively long, and therefore a VHF antenna will require longer elements to work well. However, VHF frequencies are generally more efficient in inducing current, so they require fewer elements.
As a comparison, UHF wavelengths are usually much shorter, so the elements are shorter as well. On the other hand, they do require a lot more elements in order to provide a sufficient amount of signal amplification.
To sum things up, yes, an antenna that works with both types of signals is certainly something you can get. However, judging by the design, you can easily see which type will work better with it.
Arguably the most important parameter when it comes to buying an outdoor TV antenna is the gain, which somewhat directly translates into the range. Gain is basically the sensitivity of an antenna in a particular direction. An antenna with higher gain has a better ability to pick up weak signals.
Also, increasing an antenna’s gain makes the antenna more directive, and it requires that it is more accurately directed towards the broadcasting tower you’d be picking up the signal from. As a benefit, a higher gain will mean that less interference can affect the signal from other directions.
Obviously, this affects the antenna’s range. If you’re in a rural area, you’ll want to get an antenna that can pick signals up from the broadcast tower that you want to use, and that’s not always very near. Therefore, a longer range is usually beneficial.
Now, when it comes to range, you should know that you won’t always get the advertised range. It’s not just a case of manufacturers advertising a longer range than an antenna realistically has, but even something that has the slightest impact on the signal can generally reduce the range by quite a bit. Then there’s the case of weather – bad weather such as rain and thunderstorms can have a significant impact on the range of an antenna. Fortunately, there are manufacturers lately that have found ways to combat this, so many antennas actually work just as well even in bad weather.
If you know what an amplifier is, this should be clear. An amplifier will basically boost the strength of the antenna, impacting both the range at which it can receive signals, as well as the strength and quality of the signals it will receive. If you live in a rural area, It may be a good choice to get an antenna with an amplifier – they usually have a longer range and work much better. This is something you’ll definitely appreciate if you aren’t completely surrounded by broadcast towers.
With all that out of the way, we hope to have given you a few options as to what is the best outdoor TV antenna for rural areas. There truly are a lot of options, but we made sure to only include the best on our list – whichever one you get from the list, you can’t go wrong.
Also, our buying guide should answer any questions you may have about antennas and their specifications, and you should be well informed as to where your money should be spent.