Why You Need an Antenna Even if You Don’t Cut the Cord

An HDTV antenna will keep you connected to the latest news and weather when more advanced technology fails

A simple $40 investment can keep you connected to the latest news and weather even if your cable, satellite or connection to the Internet is out. Most homes that have a cable or satellite connection don’t have an antenna, but the simple device can connect you when more advanced technology fails.

This year alone, there have been 15 named storms, eight of them hurricanes. Florence and Michael caused devastation on the east coast, leaving behind a lesson that our communications system is fragile in severe weather situations. Over-the-air local broadcasts are an important part of staying informed during an emergency, and an antenna should be part of your essential safety toolkit.

An over-the-air antenna provides a backup to a satellite system

Even if you don’t live in an area ravaged by hurricanes, you’re not immune from natural disasters. Earthquakes, wildfires, thunderstorms, blizzards, and tornadoes affect every state. An antenna is as essential as a flashlight to your home emergency supplies.

Rainstorms of any size can affect the signal reception of a properly wired and aimed satellite system. High winds, snow, and ice accumulation can also affect reception by interfering with the signal or moving the dish out of alignment. An antenna won’t replace your subscription service, but it will allow you to connect to the local broadcast channels to get weather updates and will keep you informed about watches and warnings in your area.

Antennas keep you connected when the Internet is down

Modern technology keeps advancing, and it’s hard to think back to a time when emergency alerts didn’t come directly to your phone, or you didn’t check the weather through an on-demand service like Alexa. But storms like Florence and Michael, two of the largest hurricanes in recorded history to hit the US, can wipe out Internet connections or make it impossible to connect.

In a catastrophe, a simple over-the-air antenna can keep you connected to the latest news and weather alerts. Expect sophisticated upgrades to the emergency broadcast system as our national broadcast network upgrades in 2019 to the ATSC 3.0 standards, also known as Next Gen television. The enhanced emergency alert features will include live video, maps outlining escape routes, and other details so you can respond more quickly to warnings of natural disasters or weather events.

Broadcasters deliver up to the minute, local warnings

Broadcast stations in Florida and up the east coast provided lifeline coverage before, during and after Hurricane Michael landed last month. Reporters delivered news despite downed power grids and severe damage to newsrooms. WMBB reporters delivered news from the parking lot after their newsroom was damaged so severely it wasn’t operable.

When storms of the magnitude of Michael hit, viewers need a way to hear about evacuation orders, boil water instructions, and more. Having an antenna which receives broadcasts even after a power outage or satellite interference could make a difference in how well you fare the storm.

You’ll get the best reception with good placement

Indoor antenna reception is all about mounting antennas in the best location. Reception is clearest when the antenna is located high, preferably in a second-story window or along a wall near the ceiling. It’s possible to place an antenna in an attic or different room than the TV, but it requires running a cable through your home since the antenna needs to connect to the antenna (RF) input on your set.

Once you’ve installed the antenna correctly, you might be surprised to learn that the quality of the broadcast is better than it was through your cable box.

You’ll still need a battery backup or generator

If you’re in an area with frequent power outages, order a small battery backup to power your TV during an outage. You’ll need a system that provides about an hour, which will get you through most severe weather events. A marine battery and inverter are less than $100, which is less expensive than a generator when you need to run A/V for less than 8 hours. They are also considerably quieter than generators and can be recharged easily after use with a battery recharger you can find at any auto parts store or battery outlet.

Make sure you add a 24/7 weather channel into your favorites so you can access it quickly when necessary. Local affiliates of the major networks will also show alerts, warnings, and provide evacuation or other emergency orders.

Make sure you scan the TV for channels occasionally

The FCC is making some changes to the channels over the next two years, so viewers with antenna enabled TV’s will need to rescan channels to stay on top of important news and emergency updates by updating your TV periodically.

If you’re planning to use the antenna primarily as a backup, put a reminder on your storm prep list to re-scan to ensure your TV is receiving all channels. Or, determine if you need to re-scan by checking the FCC dates that affect your viewing area on the National Association of Broadcasters website. Simply enter your zip code to find out which stations will be moving frequencies and when.


Invest $40 in an over the air antenna to stay informed during an emergency where you lose the connection to your cable, satellite, or internet. An HDTV antenna will keep you connected to the latest news and weather when more advanced technology fails.

Our communications system is fragile in severe weather situations, and your local news broadcasts are an important part of staying informed during an emergency. Everyone should add an antenna to their list of essential storm prep items.

Megan Southard


Article Author

Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, "I was the remote for our TV growing up.

Disclaimer: This article may have had additional images, links or data that was added by this site's editor.

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