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TV Antenna Installation

Contents -- Antenna & Mast Installation | Grounding System | Tools & Parts List Guide to Antenna Installation video

Outdoor antennas must be grounded for best reception and protection against lightning strikes. Indoor and attic antennas do not need to be grounded. However, when an indoor antenna cable is longer than 30 feet, some people ground the antenna/mast because it might help reduce static electricity build up which reduces reception.

Antenna Restrictions Prohibited 12 foot Roof Line
Federal law prohibits restrictions (by governments, community and homeowners' associations, and other entities) that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming. Masts higher than 12 feet above the roofline may be subject to local restrictions. The FCC's webpage OTA Reception Devices Rule has more details, also see the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations webpage Title 47, Subchapter A, Part 1, Subpart S.

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Antenna Placement
Signal Strength The antenna should be mounted as high as possible and have a clear line-of-sight (no hills, structures, trees, etc.) to the broadcast towers.

Mast Mounting
Roof and Side Mounts Mast are typically 18-gauge galvanized steel tubes that are 5 or 6 feet long with a 1.25 inch outer diameter. Some mast are designed to connect for extended length. A single section is strongest, two sections (10 or 12 feet) is acceptable in many locations.

Avoid installing near overhead utility lines, especially power lines. The power line electromagnetic fields can cause interference or signal reduction, and the lines are dangerous to work around.

Angle Bearings

Antenna Pointing Angle

Point the antenna in the towers direction, commonly measured in degrees off of True North, several degrees different from Magnetic North for most locations. Magnetic north varies with location, and slowly changes over time. When using a compass to point an antenna, account for the difference between True and Magnetic north. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website has detailed information and a calculator for Magnetic Declination. Note that local conditions could effect a magnetic compass reading. If possible use landmarks to confirm or establish true north.

Install Coax

Antenna Cable

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Install Hardware

Mast Ground Wire

Coax Ground Block

Coax Ground Block

Earth Ground
The earth ground can be a ground rod (Figure 1 below), or the electrical service electrode ground system (Figure 2 below). The National Electrical Code (NEC Section 810) connects to the service ground. The service ground can be accessed by clamping the ground wire to the metal pipe running straight into the ground from the power meter or fuze / breaker panel. The ground wire can also be connected to the fuze / breaker panel ground bar instead of the pipe.

Check local codes, if any.
Figure 1 - Common Installation
Figure 2 - NEC compliant Installation
Figure 3 - Optional Ground Rod System

Some installations (Figure 3 above) use an additional (optional but not required) ground rod close to the ground block, when the block is not close to the service ground. The NEC calls for a ground rod depth of 8 feet. A cold water metal pipe running into the ground makes a good ground (rod). Make sure the underground pipe is not plastic (PVC). The NEC specifies the ground connection be within 5 feet of the point the pipe enters the ground. The ground rod and service ground should then be connected with AWG 6 copper wire.

  • Antenna Grounding;
    • Must ground all outdoor antennas.
    • Should ground indoor antennas with > 30 ft of cable.
  • Coax Ground Block;
    • mounted close to conduit.
    • mounted inside or outside.
  • Ground Wires;
    • can run inside or outside
    • run as straight as practical
    • can be insulated or uninsulated
    • #10 solid copper (Cu),
      and #6 solid Cu if ground rod used.

An antenna mast or cable within 5 feet of a swimming
pool must be bonded to the pool bounding grid (ground).

Wire gauges are minimum, heavier gauge is acceptable.
AWG - American Wire Gauge
Copper (Cu) Wire
AWG Diameter Resistance
ohms/1000 ft
inches millimeters
10 0.1019 2.58826 0.9989
9 0.1144 2.90576 0.7921
8 0.1285 3.26390 0.6282
7 0.1443 3.66522 0.4982
6 0.1620 4.11480 0.3951
5 0.1819 4.62026 0.3133

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Basic tools needed include a ladder and assorted screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, and maybe a hammer etc. You will also need a wood and/or concrete drill, and appropriate drill bits and screws, for mast mounting.

Typical Parts List
Quantity Description Function
1 Antenna VHF-Lo / Hi, UHF
1 Mast
- 18 gauge galvanized steel,
- 1.25 inch outer diameter.
mount antenna
set(s) Mast Mounting Hardward
(brackets, braces, U-bolts, etc)
mount mast
in feet RG-6 Coax Cable RF Signals
as Needed Signal Splitters For Multiple TV's / Antennas
as Needed Connectors Connect Cables / Wall Jacks
if Needed Baluns/Adapters (75/300 ohm) Coax to Twin-lead
mulitple tie wraps / zip ties secure cables
Hardware for Outside Antennas
1 Coax Ground Block grounding system
in feet AWG 10 Copper (Cu) wire,
and AWG 6 if ground rod used.
ground wire
2 Ground Clamps mast & service ground
1 or more rubber weather boots
or electrical tape
outside coax connections
mulitple Insulated cable straps mount cables
multiple Mounting screws ground block / cable straps
Optional Ground Rod optional
Optional Preamplifer for weak signals
Optional Booster or Distribution Amp overcome cable loss

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TV Antenna Installation
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