TV Freedom Consumer Technology Association National Association of Broadcasters

Antenna Information

Free Local Channels

An option available to television viewers wanting to "cut the cord" is to install an antenna to receive programming from their local broadcasters.

More channels than ever are now available because digital broadcasting gives television stations the ability to insert multiple channels into their transmission streams. In addition to the channel for its primary network, a station's stream may contain several sub-channels with programming from other networks, music videos, dedicated news and weather broadcasts and more.

To discover how many local channels you could receive with an antenna, go to the Address Entry page.
This video will show you how to connect a digital antenna to your TV and stereo receiver to receive and view free, over-the-air digital and high-definition television programming.
For more instructional videos on connecting your devices, please click here to visit the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) connections guide.

Types of Antennas

AntennaWeb has been designed to take the guesswork out of choosing the correct outdoor antenna. To simplify choosing an outdoor antenna, the Consumer Technology Association has created a color-coded labeling standard classifies antennas by type. Within each type, the features, designs and prices of antennas may vary greatly between models and manufacturers but the labeling standard ensures all models within a given type will have similar reception qualities.

Following is a summary of outdoor antenna types. The summary provides a general description of each type's size and appearance as well as installation guidelines for optimal reception of the desired local channels.

Guide to Antenna Box Labeling

When purchasing an antenna, look for the CTA-certified antenna mark for outdoor antennas (which corresponds to the colors on your stations list). There is also a CTA-certified indoor antenna mark, which does not apply to this mapping system, but certifies that your indoor antenna will work in geographic areas that are appropriate for indoor antennas.

CTA-certified Antenna Mark for Outdoor Antennas

Antenna color codes are broken into six different zones. These zones identify the different types of antennas that are required for a consumer to receive optimal reception. Typically, the closer consumers live to the signal tower, the better reception they will receive. They may also be able to use an indoor antenna versus an outdoor. The farther away a consumer lives, the opposite is true. However, there are many variables that impact exactly which antenna a consumer will need.

Indoor Antennas

Due to multiple variables in determining good reception in a specific location with indoor antennas, these antennas are not included in this mapping system. This mark, however, assures that an indoor antenna meets or exceeds CTA performance specifications for indoor antennas in households that can use indoor antennas.
Antenna Check Mark

Outdoor Antennas

Look for the CTA-certified antenna mark on outdoor antennas, based on the colors of the stations you want to receive:

Outdoor Antennas Types

 Small Multi-directional
DESCRIPTION The smallest of TV antennas, they receive equally well from all directions.
APPEARANCE Good looking designs including novel shaped disk and patch antennas, and antennas that attach to satellite systems.
USE This is where signal strength is highest and away from reflecting structures or low areas.
 Medium Multi-directional
Somewhat larger and slightly more powerful
APPEARANCE These antennas include novel stick, wing shaped or disk antennas with long elements.
USE An amplified antenna is recommended in the green area anytime a long (20 feet or more) cable run from the antenna is required, or when more than one device (TV or VCR) is to be used with an antenna. They work best away from reflecting structures or low areas.
 Large Multi-directional
Bigger in size, these antennas receive more signal power. Better for greater distances from signal source and areas with low signal strength.
APPEARANCE Styles include element antennas. These antennas can be used to reject simple ghost situations.
USE When mounted at rooftop heights (30 feet or higher) outdoors, amplified antennas can be used in light green color code areas away from reflecting structures or low areas
COLOR CODE Light Green
 Small Directional
DESCRIPTION Antennas that act like large multidirectional on channels 2-6 but on higher channels these antennas start to have useful ghost reducing effects. Picture quality is excellent when no signal reflecting structures are around.
APPEARANCE Multi-element rooftop antennas.
USE Suitable for far edge of light green color code areas. Amplified antennas with rooftop mounting can be used in these areas if the area is free of signal reflecting structures and is not in a low area.
COLOR CODE Light Green
 Medium Directional
DESCRIPTION Most popular rooftop antenna because of its modest size and ghost reducing characteristics.
APPEARANCE Multi-element rooftop antennas.
USE If there are ghost producing reflective structures near TV receiver antenna location, this kind of antenna is best for yellow, green, light green and red color code areas. Amplified antennas with rooftop mounting can be used with the blue color code.
Light Green
 Large Directional
DESCRIPTION Large antennas used in weak signal areas for maximum possible TV reception.
APPEARANCE Multi-element rooftop antennas.
USE Can be used in any color code area, but requires an amplifier and roof mounting for blue and violet color codes. Amplifiers are not recommended for yellow color codes.
Light Green
Blue - with amplifier
Violet - with amplifier
Antenna Selector Map
Antenna How-To