Best RV Antennas: Watch Your Favorite Programs While RVing
These top RV antennas provide clear reception and numerous channels for TV fans
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PUBLISHED ON May 27, 2019
When you're traveling in an RV, you often give up some comforts from home. However, you can still watch TV while you're on the road. The best RV antenna will enable you to enjoy camping and simultaneously tune into your favorite programs. Check out our RV digital antenna reviews to find the best one for your adventure.
- Best OverallWinegard Sensar IV DTV/HD TV AntennaSummarySummaryThis antenna receives all VHF and UHF programming available within a 55-mile radius. It weighs 9 pounds, is powder-coated for long-lasting durability, and is intended for roof-mounted installation.ProsProsIt's easy to install, the reception is great, and most channels have a clear picture. It cranks up easily, has a solid construction, and the connections and cables are excellent.ConsConsIt juts out several inches and may interfere with things such as an air conditioning unit. Also, the antenna is constructed with materials that aren't as high quality as earlier models.
- Best ValueKING Jack Replacement Head HDTV Directional Over-the-Air AntennaSummarySummaryThis antenna's upgraded technology enhances UHF signal reception while still receiving VHF broadcast channels. It has long-range signal acquisition and broad reception coverage to locate the strongest signal and maximize reception.ProsProsIt is a lightweight, low profile, and easy to install. Numerous stations come in clearly, and the signal is solid. There is no need to crank it up and down for the reception.ConsConsIt may not pick up as many channels as some competing brands, particularly the batwing variety. Also, it may cause mounting issues on some RVs.
- Honorable MentionOutdoor Amplified HDTV AntennaSummarySummaryThis antenna receives signals from all directions and doesn't need to be rotated. It features an anti-UV coating, waterproof and snowproof design, and 12-month warranty.ProsProsIt's light and easy to install. It has a great picture and sound reception. It is also amplified, which can be turned on and off with a switch.ConsConsYou may only get a good signal from 30 miles or less, and it may have reception issues in certain weather conditions. Also, the clarity of the picture may be inconsistent.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of RV Antennas
- Watch your favorite TV shows. Are you in the woods and don't want to miss a football game? The best TV antennas for camping will allow you to see your top programs even if you’re far from civilization.
- Use Wi-Fi. With the right RV antenna, you have the ability to connect to the internet. Whether you have work to finish or just want to peruse Facebook, a portable TV antenna for RV can help make it happen.
- Local channels are free. Most people have to pay a cable company in order to watch local TV stations. An RV antenna will allow you to tune in to your favorite TV channels at no extra cost.
- Watch shows in HD. The best RV HDTV antennas can have some really good reception. If you like high-definition programs, you won't be disappointed because many antennas include this feature.
Types of RV Antennas
An outdoor antenna is installed on the outside of your RV or home. This type picks up reception better than others because it has the most exposure to outside signals. Most RV owners choose outdoor antennas for their TV viewing. One problem is that branches and leaves can interrupt the signal; however, you can simply remove the obstructions to take care of the issue. These antennas tend to be bulky but offer a good range.
An indoor antenna tends to be smaller and has less range. However, even though the range is smaller, it's more convenient because you don't have to worry about clearing tree debris from its path. You can keep an indoor antenna on your TV, but it may not provide high-definition programming or as many channels as an outdoor antenna.
Satellite TV Service Antenna
You need to subscribe to a satellite service such as DirecTV or Dish Network to use this type of RV antenna. This is a great option if you already pay for this type of service. Satellite antennas provide excellent reception, allowing you to watch your favorite programs whenever you want. Simply bring a portable receiver with you to access the channels.
UHF/VHF/Digital & HDTV Antenna
Most people use this type of antenna for their RV. The best RV antenna for HDTV reception
allows you to receive several UHF and VHF signals. They can pick up HD channels as well as stations such as FOX and ABC. Simply turn on the TV and scan for channels. The best RV digital TV antenna can pick up both UHF (channels 14 to 51) as well as VHF (channels 2 to 13). Some antennas can pick up one or the other but not both.
Based in Burlington, Iowa, Winegard Company has been manufacturing antenna products for the home, RV, trucking, tailgate, marine, and enterprise markets since 1954. It has more than 1,000 different antenna models. Two popular products are the Winegard Company DISH Playmaker Satellite TV Antenna and the Winegard TRAV'LER RV Satellite TV Antenna.
KING, based in Bloomington, Minn., was founded in 1985 as a maker of electronic vehicle systems. The company is currently one of the top manufacturers of Wi-Fi, satellite, and over-the-air TV antennas. Two top products are the KING Tailgater Portable/Roof Mountable Satellite TV Antenna and the KING Jack HDTV Directional Over-the-Air Antenna.
Antop, based in Ontario, Canada, was established in 1980 and provides over-the-air TV signal reception solutions for consumer home, recreational vehicle, and marine antenna use. One recommended product is its Outdoor Amplified HDTV Antenna.
RV Antenna Pricing
- Around $50: There are a few RV antennas that cost around $50 that are very capable of receiving clear signals from multiple TV stations. These antennas may be less durable and have fewer options than more expensive models.
- $50-$150: Some of the most popular TV antennas for RVs fall in this price range. Their designs, mounting abilities, and added features may vary, so it's important you choose one that suits your needs.
- $300-$1,500: Satellite-capable antennas are the most expensive. They require a subscription to a satellite provider to function but give you access to the same channel lineup you enjoy at home.
Reception quality is key. It’s important because you don’t want static or programs cutting in and out. An antenna with good range and gain is essential if you are located in an area that's far away from a transmission center. Most antennas have an average range of 25 miles, but some have a range of 55 miles or more.
- Functionality: A portable TV antenna for RV will have various functions, and you’ll need to select one that works for your specific purpose. For example, some work better indoors while others are more suited to the outdoors. Some antennas work best while your RV is parked, while others can work just as well when the RV is moving.
- Size: Since the antenna is usually placed on the roof, you have to ensure that it's the right size for space. A smaller antenna may suit your needs better than a larger one. You may not want a big, glaring antenna protruding from your RV, or you may not mind something larger if it's better quality.
- Installation: It's important that you select an antenna that isn't too difficult to install and that comes with all the necessary hardware. It can be very frustrating to purchase equipment that is hard to set up, time-consuming, and doesn't include the correct mounting parts.
- Durability: Travel trailer TV antennas are made of different materials, including plastic and aluminum. One that is intended for the outdoors should be made of more heavy-duty material so that it is durable and can withstand the elements. You’ll also want to ensure that it doesn’t rust if it rains. Plastic ones are more suited for indoors.
- WiFi Ability: Most modern RV antennas have the ability to transmit a Wi-Fi signal. This can be very helpful if you're camping or are in a remote location and you want to connect to the internet. Some antennas have stronger WiFi capacities than others, so make sure you get one that works for you.
- Weight: Bulkier can be better when it comes to outdoor antennas. If you choose an antenna that is too lightweight, it may blow over or break during windy conditions or if it comes into contact with tree branches or other obstructions. A heavy-duty antenna can better withstand Mother Nature and other issues.
- Mounting Location: The best RV over the air antenna can be mounted in several locations, such as the roof, bumper, mirror bars, and hood. Once you have decided where you want to place an antenna, then you can choose one that properly fits. It's also important that you place it in a spot where you can easily maneuver it to get the best reception.
Best RV Antenna Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Winegard Sensar IV DTV/HD TV Antenna
This antenna receives all VHF and UHF programming available within a 55-mile radius. It receives SD and HD local over-the-air television broadcast channels such as ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and many other subchannels not offered by satellite. It weighs 9 pounds, is powder-coated for long-lasting durability, and is intended for roof mount installation.
This antenna is very easy to install, the reception is great, and most channels have a clear picture. It cranks up and rotates easily by hand, and the gears work very smoothly for raising and lowering the device. It also comes as a complete kit with a powered switcher, coaxial, and other parts. The antenna is metal and plastic and has a good, solid feel to it, and the connections and cables are excellent quality.
One issue is the side of the antenna juts out several inches and may interfere with things such as an air conditioning unit. Some report that the antenna is constructed with inferior materials compared to prior models. For example, this one features plastic gears that, if you're not careful, can strip.
The King Jack antenna features universal mounting brackets for RV and home use. Its upgraded technology enhances UHF signal reception while still receiving VHF broadcast channels. A quick and simple retrofit upgrades the antenna to digital HD. It has long-range signal acquisition and broad reception coverage to quickly locate the strongest signal and maximize reception.
It is very lightweight, low profile, and easy to install. Numerous stations come in clearly, and the signal is solid and doesn't drop or freeze the picture. There is no need to crank it up and down, so you don't have to worry about leaving it up and driving out of the RV park. It also has a sleek and modern look. It's a solid and affordable replacement for stock RV TV antennas.
One downside is the design requires that it be mounted 90 degrees so it can be lowered all the way down, which may be problematic for some RVs. Also, you cannot place it on your RV roof if the pitch is greater than 3 degrees. There have also been some complaints that it doesn't pick up as many channels as some competing brands, particularly the batwing variety.
Honorable Mention: Outdoor Amplified HDTV Antenna
This antenna receives signals from all directions, so there's no need to rotate it or change direction for better reception. Its compact size reduces wind load, providing better signal reliability. It features an anti-UV coating and waterproof/snowproof design to minimize interference.
Its high-gain reception technology is shielded for minimum interference, and it comes with a 12-month warranty. This antenna is super light and easy to install. It does a great job of pulling in the picture and sound. If there are stations in range, it will receive them. In addition, it has a built-in filter that prevents signals from cell phones interfering with the reception.
A good signal seems to be around 30 miles or less, which is shorter than some higher-end options available. It may also have problems with reception and pixelation in rainy and other bad weather. Also, the clarity of the picture can be inconsistent.
- If you want to get your antenna working at maximum capacity, you may need to purchase an antenna booster. An RV TV antenna signal booster will not only give you more channels, but it can also provide high-definition programming.
- Amplified antennas boost signal strength to access local broadcast towers. They are recommended if you're 30 or more miles away from a tower. Non-amplified antennas work best if you located near a tower.
- If the reception is poor, turn the antenna a quarter turn and scan the channels. Repeat the process until you find the best reception. There isn't one specific area to point the antenna for the best reception. Also, park on high ground for maximum signal strength.
- TV reception can be weakened by weather conditions, buildings, trees, and other signals. To access local stations, make sure you're in fairly close proximity to a broadcasting tower.
- A satellite RV antenna works best if it's placed in an area outside your recreational vehicle with an unobstructed view of the sky. The best RV over-the-air antenna can be placed inside.
- The best portable device is a half-dome satellite antenna. Some of them come with a tripod for mounting purposes. They’re advantageous because you can use them in places besides just your RV.
- To minimize signal loss, use a high-quality coaxial cable. An RG-6 coaxial is the best option. If you have an old cable, make sure it's in good condition and isn't frayed or ripped because that can affect the signal.
- Televisions and antennas can use a lot of energy, so you may want to consider investing in a good generator for your RV. That will ensure that you have enough power to watch your favorite shows.
Q: How do I install an RV antenna?
A: Follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Most antennas are simple to set up and usually do not require professional installation. After it's installed, the device will start scanning for channels. You can adjust the antenna position to find the best reception.
Q: How do I repair an RV antenna?
A: It can be challenging and may require professional assistance. First, check your owner's manual for some troubleshooting tips and then call customer service.
Q: What other hardware do I need with my RV antenna?
A: To watch HD programs, you will need an HD television. If you use a VHF/UHF antenna, your TV will need a built-in tuner for scanning channels. A satellite antenna will require a receiver. Cables are usually included for one TV, so you may need more if you want to connect the antenna to multiple TVs.
Q: What type of power source do I need for an RV antenna?
A: It depends on what type of antenna you are using. Some require a 12-volt power source and power inserter. Others use a coaxial cable or a power supply interface box.
Our pick for the best RV antenna is the Winegard Sensar IV DTV/HD TV Antenna. It receives both VHF and UHF programming, is easy to install, has great reception, and is made of quality materials. It also cranks up and down very easily.
For a less expensive option, consider the KING Jack Replacement Head HDTV Directional Over-the-Air Antenna.