Do Attic Antennas Work?

With all the talk of cutting cords and moving away from cable or other paid service providers, over-the-air solutions are becoming more and more popular. If you grew up in the 80s as I did, you are well aware of using antennas to capture your TV entertainment. However, back then, it was probably with large outdoor antennas on poles or rabbit ears that sat on top of your TV.

A popular approach to over-the-air channels these days is to install an antenna in your attic. This will help to keep your antenna out of sight and mind but do they work?

Yes, attic antennas can work very well if using a good quality antenna that is properly installed and positioned. The success of it will depend on many factors including your location, distance from broadcasting towers, elevation, weather, and obstructions that might block signals.

Antenna mounted in the attic rafters

If you have an attic large enough to accommodate an antenna, you can add your local channels without creating an ugly mess outside your home. Outdoor antennas like this are often not permitted in neighborhoods as they create an eyesore for passersby and lessen the overall curb appeal.

However, when installed inside the attic, the same antenna or other types can be used to provide the same reception depending on your location in respect to the broadcasting stations.

I have been using multiple attic antennas for many years and they have always served me well. There are numerous HD stations that come in crystal-clear and no one knows I even have an antenna.

Choosing an attic antenna is a great way to receive TV signals without it being visible to others or even yourself. You’ll have the benefit of watching distant TV stations while your antenna is hiding away neatly in your attic.

Antenna in Attic vs Roof

Old antenna on house roof

While an antenna installed in your attic will work and allow you to pick up local channels, there are some differences between these types and roof-type antennas. Many times an outdoor antenna can also be used inside an attic. However, some outdoor antennas are just too large for residential attics and some indoor antennas aren’t designed to withstand various weather conditions for placement on a roof or anywhere outdoors.

An attic antenna is usually marketed as such but may also be known as an indoor/outdoor antenna.

A roof antenna is designed for the elements and can withstand rain, snow, wind, and most any other type of weather conditions.

A roof antenna will likely result in better reception if you live in an area where it is acceptable. If you live in a subdivision that has an HOA or other strict rules, you probably won’t be able to have a huge antenna mounted to your roof.

The problem with an antenna being installed in an attic is that the structure of your house will create a barrier that the signal may have a difficult time penetrating. This will result in less of a TV signal or one that comes and goes depending on other factors such as the weather.

Whether or not you choose an antenna for your attic or an antenna on your roof comes down to where you live and the distance you are from the stations that you want to receive signals from. For those who live in rural areas, a roof antenna or some type of outdoor antenna may be the only option you have in order to receive great signals.

For those who live in the city or not far from broadcasting stations, a roof antenna may not be needed and one or multiple antennas in your attic may provide you with lots of free TV channels. This has been the case for me as I live on the outskirts of a city and all of the stations are within a range that allows me to receive signals from more channels than I care to watch.

My location is also unobstructed from mountains and other structures that may make the passing of airwaves less ideal. These are all things to consider if you are on the fence about whether or not an antenna in your attic or on your roof is necessary.

Attic Antenna vs Indoor Antenna

Indoor antenna on white background

Since an attic antenna may not pick up quite as many signals as an outdoor roof antenna, one has to wonder if an attic antenna is better than an indoor antenna. An indoor antenna is usually a small antenna that is located near your TV and is generally amplified by an electric amplifier that allows greater reception from weak signals.

There are numerous options on the market for indoor antennas with each of them providing different results. Some are better and more powerful than others so it stands to reason that these will probably be better. However, when compared to an antenna mounted in your attic, it may be inferior to the signal you will receive since the attic antenna will be higher up in elevation with the potential to capture stronger signals. An attic antenna can also be amplified in case the signal in your attic is weak.

I use an amplifier on my attic antennas and it gives a nice boost, allowing me to get crystal clear reception on distant stations that wouldn’t otherwise come in.

Either option may give you results but it will depend on your location. Not everyone will experience the same results between these two options so you will have to experiment. I am not able to pick up as many signals with an indoor antenna as I do with my attic antennas. With my attic antenna setup, I can receive 54 digital channels that allow me to watch TV, some of them being HD, for free.

Some people may not be able to use an attic antenna due to the inability to run a cable to the attic so an indoor antenna may be the only option. These stay close to your TV so don’t require drilling through walls or fishing wires into the attic.

Best Position for an Antenna in the Attic

TV antenna mounted in attic

Once you have determined where the stations are that you will want to capture signals from, your antenna will work best when pointed in these directions in the highest location possible.

To determine where the stations are that you want to receive signals from, you can visit this website and determine exactly which channels you want to receive.

If there are numerous stations that you want to receive signals from but they are in opposite directions, you can receive signals from all of them by combining multiple antennas in your attic.

This is easy to do with a combiner and will allow you to pull in signals from stations that are opposite locations from each other.

Here are a few tips for placing your antenna in the attic:

  1. Install your antenna as high as you can in your attic. Height will allow you to receive maximum signal strength.
  2. Install your antenna in a clear, open area that is not surrounded by other items such as ductwork, HVAC units, metal pipes, etc.
  3. Avoid areas that have reflective radiant barriers. While there are different thoughts on whether this affects signals, I have seen signal strength decrease when radiant barriers are surrounding the antenna. It’s best to avoid them.
  4. Install your antenna in an area where you won’t accidentally run into it. Even small movements of the antenna can cause you to lose signal so make sure it’s in an area where you won’t bump your head on it every time you go into your attic.


An antenna in your attic can be a great way to pick up numerous TV stations for free. There are lots of good stations available over the air that provide lots of entertainment without the high price of cable services or other online streaming services.

If you are someone like me who doesn’t watch a lot of TV, it’s great to be able to get a variety of channels without the costs associated with traditional TV service contracts. You will be able to stay updated on local news and also have access to popular network TV shows and lots of other channels depending on where you are located and what your market provides.

An attic antenna works great in most situations but will take some experimentation to decide on whether it’s the best option for you. You may find that an indoor antenna works just as well or it may be necessary to have a roof/outdoor antenna for your location. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution so you will need to try it out and see what type of results you get.