Does your RV TV antenna deliver a crisp, clear picture to your RV’s TV screen consistently? If not, keep reading, because we’ve got several solutions to offer to get you some great FREE TV to watch in your rig.
Today we’re looking at RV TV antennas that’ll let you relax with your favorite TV shows. We’ll talk about how they work and what to look for when you’re shopping for one. Then we’ll share three of the top RV TV antennas on the market today, along with a terrific little budget option.
Tune in for details below!
- 1) What Does an RV TV Antenna Do?
- 2) Come On…Is Over-the-Air TV Really Free?
- 3) Are There Different Types of RV TV Antennas?
- 4) What to Look for In an RV TV Antenna
- 5) The Best TV Antennas for Your RV
- 6) BONUS:
- 7) Nostalgia Alert! Can I Watch Old Shows with an RV TV Antenna?
What Does an RV TV Antenna Do?
Your RV’s TV antenna allows the television(s) in your RV to pick up free-to-watch TV stations/signals within range of your location.
This means that you can watch HD TV free (yes, 100% free) from networks you recognize such as ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, The CW (a descendant of Warner Brothers), and many more.
In some areas, there are lots more free channels within range.
If you’ve got a good antenna on your RV, you can bring shows on many networks into your RV to watch for free.
Come On…Is Over-the-Air TV Really Free?
Yes! Local affiliates for the networks broadcast their content for free in exchange for the opportunity for their viewers to be presented with ads/commercials and sponsorships that they hope will bring in revenue. That’s their business model.
So, once you have an antenna that allows you to receive the signals at your location, you can access over-the-air TV 100% free of charge, 24/7.
This means that you can enjoy, from the comfort of your RV, all of your favorite network shows as well as special events like the Olympics, The Oscars, the Super Bowl, and whatever else you enjoy that is aired by the major networks.
The key is that you must have an antenna that successfully brings the signal into your RV.
In some cases, you may need to rescan your TV when you change locations. This ensures that you’re getting all the channels available in your new location.
You can also use this free DTV reception map from the FCC to enter your location (by zip code or city & state) to see what channels are available to you from there. It’ll even show you the distance to the nearest tower and the signal strength you’re likely to pull in.
Or you can use this free signal scanner from Channel Master to see what stations you can access from your current position. (Note that the Channel Master site has some antenna recommendations, but these are more for stationary homes than for RVs on the go.)
Are There Different Types of RV TV Antennas?
Yes, there are different types of antennas some are more effective than others. The type of antenna you choose will be based on a variety of factors.
Let’s take a look at the most common types of RV TV antennas.
An indoor antenna is located inside your RV. These can be hung or placed on a shelf or in a window.
While they may be convenient and safe from the elements, they usually don’t work as well as antennas located outside your RV. This may be due to signal interference from the structure of the RV itself. It’s also likely because an indoor antenna has a shorter range in general.
One upside of an indoor antenna is that it’ll never get caught on a branch or other obstacle.
An outdoor antenna usually has the ability to pull in a stronger signal from its perch high atop an RV.
With that said, you’ll need to remember that it’s up there and drive accordingly. An antenna installed on an RV roof can be damaged by branches or other low-hanging obstacles.
HDTV, UHF and VHF Antenna
These are digital TV antennas that pick up UHF, VHF, and HDTV signals. These signals are the radio frequencies over which stations broadcast audio and video signals.
A satellite antenna requires a subscription to a service and a satellite dish installed on the RV.
This type of system offers long-range signals broadcast by the satellite dish and tends to offer a clearer, crisper picture overall. But a clear view of the sky is also required (usually the Southern sky in the Northern hemisphere).
What to Look for In an RV TV Antenna
The following are things you may want to consider when shopping for an RV antenna:
Check the documentation of the antenna for the range (usually indicated in miles).
If you’re going to generally be near large cities, this may be less of a concern. But for most of us, particularly boondockers, we’ll need significant signal strength.
Note that you can also use an antenna booster to amplify the signal. For example, let’s say you’ve got an antenna with a 30-mile range and you’re parked 40 miles from the local broadcast tower.
An antenna booster can amplify (boost) the level of the signal to give you a clearer picture. In essence, what it does is amplify the incoming signal before it reaches the television.
Note that many of the newer RV TV antennas include amplifiers. However, if you have a digital HDTV antenna without an amplifier, you can buy something like this to boost the signal of that antenna.
- Sold as 1 Each.
- Outdoor TV antenna preamplifier works with any passive outdoor TV antenna and extends the signal range. TwinAmp Technology separately amplifies...
Mobile or Stationary
Do you want your TV antenna to work while you’re driving or only when your rig is stationary?
Some antenna systems have the ability to deliver signals on the go.
How tall is the mast? (How far above the RV will it sit?)
Generally speaking, the higher the mast, the better the reception. However, you also want to be sure you don’t have an issue with a too-tall object on your RV, especially if it’s fixed in place.
Some antennas can be stowed/cranked down prior to driving.
As always, you’ll want gear that’s durable and long-lasting.
Particularly for outdoor-mounted antennas, it’s important to buy one made of high-quality materials designed to withstand the elements, including wind & bouncing from driving. You’ll also want an antenna with UV protection so that constant exposure to the sun doesn’t degrade it.
Here we’re referring not only to the ease of installation for DIYers but also to the location where the antenna will be mounted.
If you want your antenna to be mounted to your rig’s ladder, or to a mast that can be lowered, or to some area other than the RV roof itself, you’ll want to make sure to buy an antenna with those mounting options.
The Best TV Antennas for Your RV
Now let’s take a look at three of the top RV TV antennas for exterior mounting, followed by a bonus suggestion of an interior antenna for those who may be looking for a simple, inexpensive solution for occasional use.
Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV
With the Winegard Sensar IV you can watch channels broadcast from up to 55 miles away, allowing you to access all channels broadcast with VHF, UHF digital, and HD signals within that range.
In addition, it has a built-in amplifier to boost weaker signals, improving your reception.
The antenna itself is powder-coated for durability and UV protection.
The Sensar IV antenna can be raised, lowered, and rotated from inside your RV allowing you to find the angle for best reception.
The height of this antenna is 4″ when stowed and 30″ when in the fully raised position.
The Sensar IV will work with any TV or device that has an ATSC tuner.
Note that TVs manufactured after March 1, 2007 must meet a federal requirement to have an ATSC tuner. If your television’s menu has an option for scanning for digital channels, then your television has an ATSC tuner.
The Sensar IV can connect to more than one television through the power supply/wall plate that comes with the antenna.
The unit weighs 6.5 pounds and is 46.25″ wide x 15.25″ deep.
- Enhanced antenna exceeds at receiving digital TV signals.Fit Type: Universal Fit
- Receives all VHF and UHF programming available within 55 mile radius
KING Jack Directional Over-the-Air Antenna
The KING Jack is a compact over-the-air TV antenna with a small, sleek, unobtrusive design. It weighs only 2.6 pounds with dimensions of 12 x 16 x 8.9 inches.
This unit does not require raising and lowering in order to find the best angle for clear reception. Instead, the antenna rotates 360 °, virtually eliminating dead spots.
The manufacturer states that the KING Jack antenna can consistently access channels broadcast from 70-90 miles away.
This antenna has a built-in “power injector” (booster) that mounts on the wall near the TV and connects to the RG6 cable to boost the signal.
The unit comes with a mount and signal finder.
The signal finder attaches to the antenna shaft that penetrates the roof. This allows you to rotate the antenna to gain the best signal.
- Long-range signal acquisition gets more channels
- Built-in King SureLock signal finder for simple signal acquisition
Winegard RZ-6000 Rayzar z1
This is also a roof-mounted antenna that pulls in UHF, high-band VHF, and digital HD signals and is 4K-ready and ATSC 3.0-ready. It comes with a signal booster.
The Rayzar z1 has an interior rotation handle to turn the unit in the direction of broadcast towers. A channel scan at new locations will scan in any available channels.
This unit has weather-and-UV-resistant housing for durability over time and travel and includes a 5-year parts warranty (1-year labor).
With dimensions of 6.25″(W) x 14.7″(D) x 8.4″(H), the Rayzar z1 weighs only 2.5 pounds.
Winegard notes that this antenna has an optimal range of 50 miles.
- Optimal UHF reception with strong High-Band VHF allows you to catch your favorite broadcast channels wherever you go
- Streamlined design with minimal footprint is not only smaller and shorter (8.4"), but the modern design compliments every RV
Gesobyte Long-Range Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna
This company advertises a 200-250 mile range for this TV antenna, however, we might take that claim with a grain of salt, especially if you’re not near a large city or you’re in the forest!
With that said, about 80% of this unit’s 48,000 Amazon reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Note that many are from homeowners, not RVers. However, we did read several reviews from RVers who are satisfied with the performance of this inexpensive antenna.
This model has a signal booster/amplifier and supports available 4K and 1080p signals as well as Fire TV sticks, Rokus, smart TVs, and older TVs. It comes with 18′ of coax HDTV cable and an AC adapter. Simply plug the antenna’s cable into the “Cable” or “ANT IN” port of your HDTV and place the antenna anywhere inside your RV and scan for your television channels.
Note that this antenna is intended to be an indoor antenna but could be used outside if necessary for a better signal, though not in inclement weather.
This unit weighs only 4.6 ounces and has dimensions of 13.58 x 9.8 x 1.14 inches.
- ✔️FULL HD CHANNELS: With UPGRADED 2022 TV antenna no more need to pay a HUGE bill on TV. Our HD antenna can receive FULL HD Channels like ABC,...
- ✔️FULL HD CRYSTAL-CLEAR TV & HD SOUND QUALITY: Our smart tv antenna adopts upgraded with new type Smart Switch control Powerful 2022 Amplifier...
Nostalgia Alert! Can I Watch Old Shows with an RV TV Antenna?
Sure, you can! In addition to current TV content on the major networks, you can feed your need for nostalgia by accessing some vintage content as well. And of course, you can pick up local PBS stations to watch us on The RVers!
Let’s check out a few examples for those of us who’d like to relax with some good old-fashioned TV viewing from back in the day!
There are various ways to access older content, and you may want to check out the following websites to learn how. But most offer an area where you can enter the zip code (or city & state) of your location to see if the signal is available to you.
What kinds of shows are we talking about? Well…
Does anyone remember The Johnny Carson Show? How about Father Knows Best, I Dream of Jeannie, Designing Women, The Jack Benny Show, Hazel, That Girl, The Jeffersons, The Partridge Family, Welcome Back Kotter, or Dennis the Menace?
You can watch shows like this for free on Antenna TV using your RV TV antenna.
How about some 80’s & 90’s sitcoms? Head on over to Rewind TV to check them out!
Into game shows? You might want to have a look at The Game Show Network to see what you’re missing.
Decades TV lets you choose your favorite TV shows by the decade! No kidding – you can watch The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I Love Lucy, and many other shows from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Petticoat Junction, anyone?
Into true crime and mysteries? You may want to check out ion Television.
You get the idea. Your access may be limited depending on your location, but the opportunity to go back in time to watch some great television is worth the effort!
Geek Out with Us Every Week
Join our newsletter to learn about all things RV-related. Every week we offer free tips, tricks, product reviews, and more to our online community of RVers. So, whether this is your first time on the road or you’re a seasoned expert, we’d love for you to geek out with us!