Best TV Antenna for RVs: Watch Your Favorite Shows on the Road
Watching TV while on the road has never been easier
If you love camping in your recreational vehicle but still crave the creature comforts of a fully functioning TV, you need the best TV antenna you can get. This buying guide will help you find out everything you need to know to select the best RV TV antenna for your needs.
Benefits of RV TV Antennas
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- Watching TV. The top benefit of having a great RV TV antenna definitely is the ability to watch TV wherever you go. That means road trips in the mountains and camp-outs by the lake can be made even better with a fully functioning TV set.
- Affordable. Satellite antennas are a really affordable option for travelers. They offer up quality entertainment for those on the road at a cost-effective price, so you can keep in touch with the world while out and about.
- Easy to use. RV antennas are among the easiest to install and store RV accessories. Most antennas come in a very compact package, making them easy to hide away in those smaller RV cabinets and storage spaces.
- Entertainment variety. A great RV TV antenna will ensure that you can receive a wide range of channels, allowing you to watch everything from the news to late-night talk shows.
Types of RV TV Antennas
Among the more expensive antenna options is the satellite antenna. This type is geared towards receiving digital channels, which means you’ll likely need a TV subscription of some kind to power it. Likewise, they’re a bit bulkier and harder to install, thanks to their higher-tech nature.
Compared to satellite antennas, HDTV antennas are cheaper and easier to install. The downside is that you can only receive local channels and some bigger national channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, and PBS.
An option that combines the features of satellite and HDTV antennas together, making this a cost-effective and powerful unit. The benefit here is that you can receive both the digital TV channels and the local options, giving you the widest possible range.
Based in Bloomington, Minn., KING is a business dedicated to all kinds of antennas, ensuring that you always get the best possible quality. Their directional over-the-air antennas are some of the best out there, making them the go-to of many RV enthusiasts. One of their top sellers is the OmniGo Portable HDTV antenna.
An oldie but a goodie, Winegard has been making antennas for decades. This Burlington, Iowa-based company puts excellence in their engineering at the forefront of their antenna design and manufacture, cranking out one top product after the other. A best seller is the Pathway X2 antenna.
Founded in 1949, Channel Master has a long history of producing quality antennas for both indoor and outdoor use. From their Chandler, Ariz. headquarters, they continue to innovate and improve. One of their most popular products is the Omni+ Outdoor Antenna.
RV TV Antenna Pricing
- Under $100: At this price point, you’ll find a number of cheaper TV antennas, many of which vary drastically in their quality. You’ll find mostly cheaper plastic models that feature only minimal metal, giving them overall worse TV reception.
- $100-$200: In the mid-range, you’ll see a variety of suitable options, from HDTV to satellite and hybrid antennas. Many will be much better in their quality than anything in the budget class, which makes it worth investing a little bit more for an antenna that will last you a while.
- Over $200: The prices of antennas can go quite high, especially when you look at top brands and hybrid models. That being said, spending more doesn’t always guarantee you a better outcome, so make sure to check the specs before splurging.
Keep in mind that antennas are designed for different purposes. You’ll want to look for one that is made for RV use, and be sure to pick one that is suitable for outdoor use (a lot of antennas are indoor use only, so be sure to double-check). Also, keep in mind that there’s a difference between the HDTV antennas and the digital satellite ones.
Most antennas are constructed of varying amounts of plastic and aluminum. Aluminum itself is a great material that receives TV signals well, whereas plastic tends to be a placeholder. The higher quality antennas feature more metal than plastic, and these are also the ones that will give you the best signal strength.
Likewise, the quality of the reception depends on a few factors, the material being one of the most important ones. Other than that, you’ll want to ensure that the antenna is made by a reputable company, that it has adequate size, and that it is suited to high definition use.
- Price. Antennas come at very different prices. It’s important to keep in mind that the most expensive ones are not always the best ones, so be sure to look at the features, materials, and overall quality when making a decision. Don’t rely on just the price to guide you.
- Size. The smaller antennas are easier to install and store, while the larger ones tend to pick up the better signal reception. That means you’ll want something in between to suit your exact needs.Aesthetics. The look of the antenna can make or break the look of your overall RV. If you want it to look sleek, make sure you also choose an antenna that matches that aesthetic. Otherwise, you’ll end up with two very contrasting pieces.
Best TV Antenna for RV Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Best OverallWinegard PA-6002 Satellite Antenna
One of the easiest to use antennas on the market, this Winegard model is 100% automatic and self installs faster than most other antennas. To make use of a satellite antenna, keep in mind that you’ll need a receiver and a subscription to watch digital TV. A great perk about this antenna is that it requires no complicated wiring and no power cables—it’s powered by just one coax cable from the satellite receiver.
This Pathway antenna has another unique feature that deserves to be mentioned—it can point to either the Western or Eastern arc satellite orbitals, which gives you the most programming available. Thanks to the antenna’s power, this is the ideal pick if you tend to camp out far away from civilization (aka the nearest TV tower).
What we didn’t like about this particular model, aside from the higher price point that comes standard with satellite antennas, was that it has a tendency to frequently need updates. That itself isn’t such a bothersome quirk. However, we noticed that the receiver tended to lose channels, needing to rescan every so often. You might find that to be an annoyance, so consider that before shelling out for this particular model.
Our budget pick is this KING HDTV antenna that puts the competition in the dust. It’s compact and portable, making it the perfect antenna to take along on camping trips. A unique feature of this device is its omnidirectional head, which allows you to receive HD TV channels from all directions, without having to adjust the antenna.
It also self-scans, so it does all the heavy lifting for you once powered. Another great feature is the mobile design. The package itself comes with everything you need to take the device along wherever you go. A collapsible mini tripod mount, a magnetic vehicle mount, a flexible power supply, and a carry bag are included in the set.
As with many tech devices, you do get what you paid for. In this case, the antenna’s power is a little less when compared with more expensive models. That gives you less range when you’re out and about, so if you need something that will work in the middle of nowhere, this might not be the pick for you.
Premium PickKING VQ4100 Satellite TV Antenna
Specially designed to be used while tailgating, this portable satellite TV antenna is the ideal pick for outdoor enthusiasts and RV owners. It’s an automatic-aiming antenna that is easy to set up and works right out of the box. Since it’s a satellite dish, you do have to pay for the subscription to get service, which is set up as a pay-as-you-go plan from DISH or DIRECTV with this particular model.
In terms of mounting, you’ve got a couple different options: you can mount it permanently to the roof of your coach (but keep in mind that the antenna only works when you’re parked) or you can do temporary mounting, giving you more freedom and mobility. It receives its power from the coax cable and it can be used anywhere outside with a clear view of the sky.
The one downside we discovered with this model is that it has some trouble picking up HD channels in some areas. If you’re really far away from civilization, in obstructed areas with lots of trees or other interference, then you might not receive all the channels. Other than that, we have nothing bad to say about this model.
Best UpgradeWinegard Sensar IV DTV/HD TV Antenna
The Winegard Sensar IV DTV/HD TV Antenna is permanently mounted on the roof of your RV so you can watch your favorite TV shows for free. It receives SD and HD signals for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and more. The antenna can also receive local news, weather, and other programs available within a 55-mile radius and based on your RV's location and distance from the broadcast tower.
The Sensar IV is powder coated for durability and has a built-in amplifier to boost the TV reception. It picks up both UHF and VHF digital channels and can be raised, lowered, and rotated inside your RV, allowing you to find the best reception possible. The antenna weighs 6.5 pounds and is 30 inches when raised and 4 inches high when lowered. Users report that it's easy to install, and is easy to crank up and rotate by hand. Overall reception is also very good.
One downside is that you need to lower it in strong winds and before driving. There have also been some complaints that it's larger, bulkier, and takes up more space on the roof than some other options.
Honorable MentionLuxtronic HDTV Antenna
The Luxtronic HDTV Antenna is omnidirectional with 360-degree reception. It's a portable HDTV antenna that works at home as well as in an RV or tractor trailer. Simply connect the 10-foot coaxial cable, and you're good to go. You can attach the antenna directly to a television using its magnetic base.
This antenna is compatible with 1080P 4K smart TVs as well as older TVs. The antenna can receive signals in HD and SD from TV towers up to 50 miles away, and no Wi-Fi is needed. Plus, it’s very affordable.
However, it's not a good idea to drive with this antenna mounted to the roof, as it only relies on a magnetic base. And while the coax cord length is alright you may need an extension cable to mount it in the best location.
- If you can’t get a clear long-range signal, try rotating the antenna in lots of different directions, and make sure that you’re away from possible interference-causing objects.
- When replacing your old antenna, make sure that the wiring is still in good shape. You don’t want your new investment failing because of old wiring.
- The higher up you move your antenna, the better the signal will be, so make sure that you mount it on the motorhome’s roof, and not on the sides.
- If you know where the nearest TV transmitter tower is, point your antenna in that direction to get strong signal.
- Use a signal booster if you tend to be out in the country a lot. That’ll help catch the signal from the nearest TV tower.
Q: Where does the antenna need to be pointed?
A: The important thing to know is that antennas don’t need to be pointed in any particular direction to work well. Simply set up your antenna and start searching for channels, rotating and moving the antenna until you find the direction that gives you the best signal.
Q: How do I use an RV TV antenna?
A: After installing the antenna according to the accompanying instructions, you should start scanning for channels. In general, the installation of the antenna itself isn’t too difficult and requires only minimal tools to do.
Q: How do I get the best reception on my antenna?
A: The first step in getting great reception is to have a quality antenna. The cheaper options tend to be worse at finding channels and giving a quality picture. Sometimes, however, even the best antenna can’t give you the best reception, so you can install an antenna booster to gain access to all the channels.
Q: What does VHF and UHF mean?
A: You’ve likely come across these terms in relation to channels. UHF stands for “ultra-high frequency” and UHF signals are used for both analog and digital television broadcasts, where most are given higher channel numbers. VHF (“very high frequency”) frequencies have lower channel numbers and are reserved for certain networks. Most antennas can pick up both with good reception, making for a great TV viewing experience.
Q: I already have an RV TV antenna. Can I just replace it?
A: If you’re not satisfied with the performance of your current RV TV antenna, you can definitely replace it with a new model. In most cases, all you have to do is dismount the old one and install the new one to get a better reception to watch your favorite TV shows.
Our top pick is the Winegard PA-6002 Satellite Antenna. We loved the easy setup, the mobility, and the excellent reception it offers.
If you’re looking to spend a little less coin, check out the KING OA1501 Portable Omnidirectional HDTV Antenna. It offers good service at a great price.