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The ultimate guide to RV antennas

AJ Dellinger

Jun 17, 2021 — 5 min read

An RV antenna can help keep you connected while on the road.

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Traveling in an RV is a great way to take in the country. Whether you’re going on a big trip once a year or making the nomadic lifestyle your own, it’s great to stay connected. An RV antenna can ensure you stay connected no matter where you roam.

What is an RV antenna?

Simply put, an RV antenna is a tool that allows you to watch TV or browse the internet in your mobile home, without needing the standard cable hook up required in a building. These simple dishes pick up on signals from satellites and provide your RV with connectivity to watch local channels and, in some cases, access cable and internet.

  • Indoor – Indoor antennas are convenient as they fit right inside your RV. They are small and tidy, but they also have less range and limited capabilities, like struggling to get HD signals.
  • Outdoor – Outdoor antennas are installed on the outside of your RV or mobile home. They are typically larger and capable of picking up better reception, but can face interference from trees and tend to be a bit more bulky.
  • Satellite – If you subscribe to a satellite TV service like DISH or DIRECTV, you’ll need a satellite antenna to get the signal. These are typically outdoor antennas, and you should expect stronger and better reception, with the ability to get cable channels in HD.
  • HDTV/Digital – HDTV/Digital antennas are very common and used to pick up over the air signals from local stations like FOX and ABC. They can also scan for other available channels and may pick up some of those. 

What are the benefits of using an RV antenna?

There are a number of benefits that you can get from an RV antenna. First is staying connected. Having the comfort of home with you anywhere you go is important, and the RV antenna lets you watch your favorite shows even as you travel. Some are capable of providing Wi-Fi as well. But most should give you access to your local news channels so that you can stay informed, and provide HD reception so you can watch shows and sports in crystal clear quality.

How we chose the best RV antenna

In order to pick the best choices for an RV antenna, we took into consideration a number of qualities that you might also think about before making a decision. We considered everything from size to where it is mounted, what features are available and how strong of a reception it gets. To make these determinations, we looked closely at dozens of antennas, considering manufacturer information, customer reviews and experiences. Below are the list of qualities we considered in making our decision:

  • Price and value
  • Features 
  • Reception strength
  • Size
  • If Wi-Fi is an option
  • Mounting location
  • Specific customer reviews
  • What it’s best for: budgets, overall, etc

Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV

When it comes to reliable RV antennas, it’s hard to beat Winegard. And when it comes to reliable antennas, it’s hard to beat the Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV. This powerful outdoor antenna mounts on the top of your RV and provides a wide range of coverage no matter where in the country you are located. It picked up VHF and UHF programming within a 55-mile radius, so if it’s being broadcast, you should be able to pick it up.

This antenna can get over-the-air broadcast channels, which means you will have access to major networks including ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. Those signals are in SD and HD, and this antenna is capable of picking up both. With a powder coat finish, this antenna can withstand the elements — an important feature for travelers.

What we like

  • Wide radius for programming

  • HD capability

  • Reliable and durable

Things to consider

  • No Wi-Fi capability

Best alternative RV antenna: KING OA1000 OmniPro Portable Omnidirectional HDTV

KING OA1000 Portable Omnidirectional HDTV. This is an amplified antenna and is multi-directional, meaning you won’t have to point it in the right direction in order to get a signal. It will search the air for any programming in the vicinity, including VHF, UHF and FM frequencies.

This antenna can be mounted anywhere, and it is weatherproof, UV-protected and rust resistant. That means you’ll be able to withstand the conditions of the outdoors and continue getting HD signals no matter the weather or how long you leave this antenna outside.

What we like

  • Great range

  • Weather resistant

  • HD programming

Things to consider

  • No additional features

Best cheap RV antenna: ANTAN Indoor Window HDTV Antenna

Sometimes simpler is better, and a solution that saves you money can be more important than all the bells and whistles. If staying within your budget is key, the ANTAN Indoor Window HDTV Antenna provides great functionality without having to sacrifice much in terms of quality. This antenna is simple and sleek, so it’ll never get in the way. Plus, the price is right at just $15.

Don’t let that price deceive you, though. This antenna is capable of quite a bit. It can pick up HD and even 4K signals from over-the-air broadcasters, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS. It gets reception for over 40 miles, and is powered by coaxial cable from your TV so you won’t need a separate power source. It has the weakest signal of the bunch and is limited by being indoors, but it’s more than capable of doing the trick for most situations.

What we like

  • HD channels

  • 40-mile radius

  • Affordability

Things to consider

  • Limited range

RV antenna buying tips

  • Consider size – Do you want an antenna inside or outside? Do you have space to spare? This matters when deciding what kind of antenna to buy. Keep in mind that different-sized antennas get different quality signals.
  • HD or standard definition – If you aren’t worried about picture quality, you can likely choose a smaller, cheaper antenna. But if having a high definition connection is a priority for you, keep that in mind when selecting your antenna.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity – Some RV antennas can provide Wi-Fi connectivity, though they are usually more expensive. Do you need the internet or just TV? This will influence your selection.
  • Satellite or over the air Satellite antennas require a subscription, which can cost more, but provide more cable channels and a better connection. Decide if you want to spend the money for this service.

RV antenna FAQs

How do I install an RV antenna?

Depending on your antenna choice, you may need some equipment. However, most antennas are designed for self-installation. Follow the manufacturer’s guide to installing your antenna.

If your antenna stops working or receiving a signal, check your owner’s manual for tips on what might be wrong and how to fix it. If you are still struggling, contact customer support for help fixing your antenna.

It depends on your antenna. Some use a coaxial cable, some a power supply and some a 12-volt power source. Check your antenna model to determine its power source.

AJ Dellinger

Written by:

AJ Dellinger

Contributor

AJ Dellinger is a writer and editor based in Madison, WI. He has spent the last 10 years writing about the internet, gadgets, technology and a variety of other topics. His work has appeared in Wired, Gizmodo, CN… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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