Best Over-The-Air RV TV Antenna (Reviews & Comparisons)

Keeping up with your favorite TV shows poses a unique challenge when you’re traveling in your RV.

Picking up any sort of signal can prove difficult, and you never know when you’ll hit a Wi-Fi spot to fully-utilize a Smart TV.

The solution is to choose the correct over-the-air antenna. In this review and buyer’s guide, we’ll show you how to do just that and provide tips on maximizing reception.

So, which antenna wins the title of “Best Over-the-Air RV TV Antenna”? Let’s find out!

DescriptionAwardPrice
Editor’s Choice King Jack OA8500 HDTV Directional Over-The-Air Antenna King Jack OA8500 HDTV Directional Over-The-Air AntennaBest OverallSEE PRICE »
Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV Antenna Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV AntennaBest ValueSEE PRICE »
King Jack Digital OA8300 Antenna King Jack Digital OA8300 AntennaBest BudgetSEE PRICE »
Winegard AR-360B Air Winegard AR-360B AirHonorable MentionSEE PRICE »

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King Jack OA8500 HDTV Directional Over-The-Air Antenna 

  • Best Overall

King Jack has spent a lot of time researching the latest in antenna technology… And the OA8500 is the perfect example of how the company has put that research to good use.

Small and compact, the unit makes it super easy to zero in on the strongest available signal with its built-in SureLock Signal Meter. Simply turn the knob slowly to turn the antenna (up to a full 360 degrees) until the signal meter has detected the strongest signal, then run your channel scan. The setup makes it simple to find free local channels within range.

When King upgraded its design, they built in better UHF receptors. Now, you can watch TV on either the UHF or VHF bands equally as easy.

Don’t let the small size of the unit fool you. It’s 70% smaller than the average design and far more aerodynamic, but it packs a big punch. The unit’s compact nature means that you don’t have to crank it down or fold it in while you’re traveling.

This antenna comes with shafts of various diameters to ensure the perfect fit for your RV and all the installation equipment you need. To mount and set up the antenna takes a few minutes at most.

Tip: If you’re replacing a previous King model, you should note the dimensions of the base. As part of the upgrade, the company decreased the footprint of the plate as well. King recommends buying the MB8200 to cover the area the previous base did. An alternative is to fill in the old holes and refinish the surface.

Features

  • Long-range signal acquisition
  • Enhanced reception of UHF signal without impacting VHF signal quality
  • SureLock signal finder. making it easy to find the signal
  • Extended range, which maximizes reception and allows you to hone in on the best signal
  • Full 360-degree rotation to minimize dead spots
  • Compact design that is highly aerodynamic and minimizes wind-resistance
  • Compact size: up to 70% smaller than competitor models
  • One-year labor warranty

Specifications

  • Model: OA8500
  • Weighs: 2.6 pounds
  • Measures: 12 x 16 x 8.9 inches
  • Folds: No
  • Package Includes: Antenna, SureLock Signal Meter, Interior Enclosure, Shafts, Wall Mount Power injector
Pros
  • Simplified design
  • More compact footprint
  • Ultra-high gain, high-performance model
  • More free channels than most
Cons
  • Doesn’t have an indicator light
  • Won’t work with a Winnebago Aspect
  • Might require an additional mounting bracket when replacing an older model
King Jack OA8500 HDTV Directional Over-The-Air Antenna

King Jack OA8500 HDTV Directional Over-The-Air Antenna

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Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV Antenna

  • Best Value

Winegard is one of the top antenna manufacturers today. Established in 1953, the firm counts NASA’s Apollo 11 missions as one of its clients. Is the Sensar set for deep-space scans?

Not quite, but its 55-mile range is impressive. It will pick up any broadcast channels in the area and allow you to watch them in high or standard definition as you prefer. It excels at picking up VHF channels that other units miss.

It even picks up channels such as Telemundo for when you need a guilty pleasure.

The Winegard Senar IV works in conjunction with the SensarPro signal meter. The meter gives excellent feedback to allow you to fine-tune the picture and sound quality.

This built-in amplifier really gives the system its kick. As long as mountains do not hem you in on all sides, you should be able to get a clear signal.

You may rotate, raise, or lower the antenna to find the best signal. Raising or lowering is easy, thanks to the hand-crank system on the interior wall-plate. We’re a little disappointed that Winegard used plastic gears for the crank, but they had to make some sacrifices at this price point. 

Still, as long as you take a little more care when cranking it up and down, it will last for years.

The unit is also useful when traveling. Fully-extended, you’ll need 16 inches of clearance all around. When retracted, it only sticks out of the roof about four inches. The compact design makes traveling far simpler.

An additional benefit is that you can connect several TVs and devices that use an ATSC tuner. You are then able to watch the channels on a TV, laptop, or PC.

If you have an analog TV, you’ll need a set-top box to convert the digital signal into a playable format, but that’s a minor inconvenience.

The overall construction is sturdy. The unit weighs nine pounds, which is a little more than our other units, but the additional mass adds stability.

To prevent corrosion, Winegard powder-coated the exterior. Overall, it’s a highly durable model that performs admirably well. You’ll battle to find anything better at this price point.

Winegard rounded things off with a two-year warranty. Clients may also phone or email for technical support.

Features

  • A long-range digital signal detector
  • Reception for channels such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and many local stations
  • Sturdy construction
  • Powder-coated surface to prevent corrosion
  • Two-year warranty

Specifications

  • Model: RVW-395
  • Weighs: 9 pounds
  • Folds: No
  • Package Includes: Antenna, Cover
Pros
  • Has a range of up to 55 miles
  • Picks up HD, UHF, and VHF signals
  • Retracts for better aerodynamics while traveling
Cons
  • Plastic gears
  • Not a universal antenna
  • Heavy weight
Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV Antenna

Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV Antenna

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KING Jack Digital OA8300 Antenna

  • Best Budget

The King jack OA8300 looks almost identical to the King Jack OA8500. The primary difference, however, is that the OA8500 has the Sure-Lock signal meter built into it and is designed to replace your existing, old batwing antenna. Not including this technology in the OA8300 means that you’ll need to put a little more effort into finding the best signal.

It’s a small inconvenience that becomes a lot easier to deal with when you see the price difference between the two. For those on a tight budget, the lower cost more than compensates for the little bit of extra work in finding the best signal.

Performance-wise, the two models are pretty similar. The OA8300 is a high-gain antenna that picks up over 80% of the over-the-air channels available. It detects signals in both the UHF and VHF bands and will allow you to watch in SD or HD.

Its ability to detect long-range signals gives you a broader range of options with placement. King provides the brackets that you need to mount it to the roof of your RV. You may alternately mount it to a stationary pole outside your home.

This antenna comes with a built-in signal booster that amplifies external signals admirably well. You’re not going to miss many programs with this setup.

At just 1.5 pounds and 12″ by 16″, this model’s compact dimensions make it a winner. It’s a sleek, snazzy addition to your RV that replaces the tiresome, old-fashioned antennae. You’ll love the new look and the increased range that it affords.

For such a small package, it packs an enormous punch, especially considering the low price.

Installation is straightforward and takes no more than a few minutes.

Features

  • Comes with a replacement head
  • Is easy to fit to a batwing antenna
  • Receives VHF, UHF, and HD channels
  • Makes it easy to find the strongest signal
  • Can detect long-range signals
  • Is a high-gain model
  • Can be used in home or RV-mounted
  • Comes with a one-year parts warranty

Specifications

  • Model: OA8300
  • Weighs: 1.5 pounds
  • Measures: 12 x 16 x 2 inches
  • Folds: No
  • Package Includes: Antenna, brackets for home or RV, power supply and injector, requisite installation hardware
Pros
  • Upgrades standard batwing antenna to allow you to receive digital signals
  • Comes with power supply for use with standard mains
  • Highly compact and aerodynamic, it’s a great budget buy
Cons
  • Cannot be installed on a pole on the RV
  • Not suitable for a highly-sloped RV roof
King jack Digital OA8300 Antenna

King jack Digital OA8300 Antenna

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Winegard AR-360B Air

  • Honorable Mention

The Winegard Air 360 provides robust signal reception in a neat package. There’s no need to point and shoot with this model; it’s a full 360° directional antenna. The wide signal-detection capabilities enable it to automatically lock onto the clearest transmissions without needing to move it. 

It will pick up signals on UHF, VHF, and FM bands from up to 55 miles away and allow you to watch in SD, HDTV, and 4K, providing crystal-clear reception. Put in the extra money for the Winegard Gateway, and you’ll have full access to the internet as well. 

This antenna picks up twice as many channels as your standard batwing models and includes a low-noise amplifier to ensure the best reception.

It looks nothing like a standard antenna. Instead, it resembles a small bowl. The shape makes it a discreet addition to your RV and improves the aerodynamics.

Installation is relatively simple. All you need to do is to remove the old antenna and place the AR-360B. You may connect it up to the existing cable. Wiring it may prove a little tricky as the connections are a bit shorter than we’d like, but it’s nothing the average RV-enthusiast can’t handle.

Features

  • Readiness to receive signals out of the box
  • Full 360° angle scan to ensure the optimal signal acquisition
  • No required repositioning or aiming
  • 55-mile range
  • Low profile so it won’t snag on low-lying branches
  • Sturdy dome to protect delicate internal electronics
  • Design that’s modern and aesthetically pleasing

Specifications

  • Model: AR-360B
  • Weighs: 6.73 pounds
  • Measures: 20 x 20 x 10 inches
  • Folds: No
  • Package Includes: Antenna, 12V power supply, 20-foot coax cable, 12V rocker switch, access cap
Pros
  • 360° reception makes it easy to place
  • Good range
  • Discreet profile
Cons
  • Short leads make installation tricky
  • You’ll need to pay for return postage if requesting a refund
Winegard AR-360B Air

Winegard AR-360B Air

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What Is an RV Over-the-Air Antenna?

The requirements for home and RV antennas are quite different. Both must be durable and able to withstand the elements. An RV model, however, also needs to be able to withstand the rigors of travel.

With the RV moving most of the time, the antenna must either have a 360° reception range or be able to swivel. With a home unit, once you set the mast, you’re done.

A specialized RV unit allows you to pick up nearby broadcast channels. It reads the digital signal and pumps it through to your TV, laptop, or PC. You’ll be able to watch a range of local channels without a monthly bill.

How Does it Work?

An antenna is a reasonably simple metal receiver. TV and radio stations broadcast their signals in the form of radio waves across multiple frequencies. The antenna receives the radio waves and converts them into an electronic format that your device can play back.

Many factors influence how strong the signal is:

  • Physical obstructions like mountain ranges, buildings, and walls slow the waves as they pass through them. As the energy dissipates, the signal becomes weaker.
  • Atmospheric conditions may interfere with the signal transmission. The clearer the weather, the better the reception usually is.
  • The distance from the transmitting tower influences the strength of the radio waves.
  • Electromagnetic interference from other devices may influence the reception as well. Refrigerators, microwaves, and heaters may all cause EM waves that can distort a weak signal.
  • Multipath interference refers to the impact that different surfaces have. The waves, for example, react to icy surfaces differently than the way they react to rock.
  • Cellphone tower interference is less of a problem as you move into more remote areas. If you’re battling to get a clear signal, however, check the location of the nearest node. It might be a source of interference.
  • Streaming devices also emit a signal that might compete with the over-the-air signal if the device is not far enough away from the antenna cable.
  • A low-quality coaxial cable won’t provide adequate shielding from electromagnetic interference. If you have a consistent problem with static, it may be time to find a better connection.

Do Different Types Exist?

You’ll find two main categories of antennas – indoor and outdoor.

Indoor Antenna

Typically smaller and more compact, these models aren’t as powerful as their outdoor counterparts. In other words, you won’t typically pick up as many channels with indoor models. The advantages are that you don’t need to mount them permanently, and they’re impervious to the elements.

They take up a small amount of space inside the RV but don’t require any special handling when you’re on the move.

Outdoor Antenna

These models are bigger and bulkier, and you must install them on the outside of the RV. If a storm hits, or you accidentally scrape under a low-hanging branch, they may get damaged. The advantages of this type are that, first, they only require a one-time setup (unless you opt to install it on a portable stand and not ON your RV), and second, they’re more powerful than indoor versions.

If you prefer the maximum range of channels, you should look for an outdoor model.

The Type of Signal Also Makes a Difference

Indoor and outdoor models are further divided into subcategories depending on the range of signals they can detect. It’s crucial to ensure that your model can read the correct bandwidth for your needs.

Satellite

Your paid TV services generally work through a satellite service. The advantage of this type is that you can watch transmissions virtually anywhere. Satellite broadcasts are more powerful than radio waves from your local TV station.

The downside is that you’ll pay a monthly fee for the privilege.

UHF

Ultra High-Frequency waves operate between 300 megahertz and three gigahertz. These frequencies depend upon a line-of-sight transmission and cannot travel beyond the horizon. They can travel through walls and foliage but not through mountains.

VHF

The Very High-Frequency range operates between 30 and 300 megahertz. These are long-range signals able to travel past the horizon.

The Top Brands

Competition is rife within the antenna industry. In choosing our favorite brands, we look at companies with well-established track records. They’re not the only innovators in the industry, but they provide consistently high-quality products and then back them up with excellent service.

Winegard Company

The Winegard Company started in 1953. Winegard’s founder, John Winegard, invented the first multi-channel antenna. Since then, the American-based company has created over 1,000 models. The firm produces reliable, high-quality equipment.

We’ve listed two of the most popular models here, with the best value being the Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV Antenna.

Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV Antenna

Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV Antenna

Price:
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King

Established in 1985, this Minnesota-based firm is younger than Winegard. The firm began as a manufacturer of electronic vehicle systems. Today, we consider it one of the top providers of over-the-air antennas, WI-Fi, and satellite systems.

King Jack OA8500 HDTV Directional Over-The-Air Antenna

King Jack OA8500 HDTV Directional Over-The-Air Antenna

Price:
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Antop

Established in 1980, this Canadian-based company is another industry leader. While it makes a range of antennas for recreational vehicles, it’s best known for its marine models. Antop didn’t make it to the top of our list today, but you’d see it among our top ten favorites if our list were longer.

Top Considerations

What do you search for when choosing the perfect model for your RV? Let’s have a look.

Reception Strength

Having access to 71 channels and only getting a clear picture on 15 of them is pointless. It’s worth spending a little extra for a model with a better range and signal strength.

The reception quality determines how clear your picture will be. When the signal strength is low, you may have to endure static and frequent interruptions.  

It’s better to consider your typical use scenario before choosing your new unit. Where are you most likely to go camping?

If it’s near an urban area, a short-range antenna should be sufficient. If you’re heading out into the wilderness far away from transmission stations, you’ll need a high-gain model.

The terrain around your campsite is also worth considering.

If mountains hem in your site, the chances that you’ll get any kind of free signal are low. In this case, you may want to hook up satellite TV in your RV.

Functionality

Paying for features you won’t use isn’t going to do you much good. Consider how much TV you plan on watching. If all you want to do is catch the news and weather occasionally, you can get away with a shorter-range model that gets only a few channels.

If, however, you’re a stickler for HDTV and want consistent, high-quality entertainment, you’ll need a high-gain model with an amplifier. Look for a model capable of receiving UHF and VHF bands.

If you travel a lot, it’s worth considering making this an investment. You never know when bad weather will strike and you’ll become confined to your RV for a long stretch, so it’s better to have a model that’s slightly better than what you need than to sit for a few days without entertainment.

Size

Check the height and dimensions of the units to ensure that they’ll work for your RV. Longer masts typically mean better reception but may also become a driving hazard unless you can crank them down.

The bigger the unit, the more it will interfere with the aerodynamics and vehicle balance while you’re driving.

Wi-Fi Capacity

If you’d like to binge on Netflix while you’re on the road, you’ll need a good Wi-Fi service, too. Not all antennas are capable of receiving a Wi-Fi signal. Check whether your chosen model does or whether you need to buy additional equipment.

Weight

On our list, we stuck to reasonably lightweight models because they’re least likely to interfere with fuel consumption or the balance of your RV.

When considering your choices here, it’s also essential to consider the weather of the area you’re most likely to visit. If gusting winds or frequent violent storms punctuate the climate, look for a heavier, more durable model. The heavier the conditions you’ll travel under, the more you need to take this into consideration.

Alternatively, look for a model like the Winegard AR-360B Air that is durable and compact without many surfaces for the wind to get up under. The dome-like shape of this model makes it ideal for buffeting off the wind.

Winegard AR-360B Air

Winegard AR-360B Air

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Installation

You’ll typically install the antenna on the roof so that the RV doesn’t interfere with the reception. It’s not a hard and fast rule, however. You may also install it temporarily on the bumper, mirror bars, or on a stand next to your RV if the design allows for that.

What’s more important is how easy it is to install. How will you run the cable to connect it to your TV? Will installation require more than just drilling a few holes and screws?

Look at the manufacturer’s recommendations for any units you’re considering. Does the company provide the brackets or mounting plates you need? Buying screws at the hardware store is simple enough, but you don’t want to have to look for more specialized equipment.

Do you have to crank the mast up and down? How many moving parts are there? Consider how much effort you want to put into the install, and you’ll save yourself much frustration.

If it’s a replacement for an older model, will the mounting plates fit? Will they cover the holes made by the previous unit? If not, be ready to clean up the surface and spackle up the gaps. If you don’t, water can potentially leak in and ruin the interior.

Material And Durability

An outdoor model must be sturdy. Aluminum units won’t rust, but take care that they’re well-made. A flimsy model might break or bend easily.

Powder-coating improves durability by providing an additional strengthening layer. The outer surface is also often UV-resistant, improving durability even more.

Warranty

Paying a premium is no guarantee of quality. Check for a manufacturer’s warranty as well. The industry standard is one to two years.

While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to read the guarantee’s terms and conditions. It’s boring to do so, but essential. Some companies will refund you as long as you pay return shipping for the item or pay an administration fee.

In some cases, the cost of getting your refund may render it a pointless exercise.

Tips To Get the Most Out Of Your OTA Antenna

  • Wait for a clear, dry day to install your new equipment
  • Make sure that the antenna sits firmly on a solid surface of the RV
  • Ensure that you seal up any gaps with an all-weather sealant after you’ve mounted the antenna
  • The antenna is the first part of the equation; pair it with a good coaxial cable for best results
  • Ensure your TV is installed in your RV correctly (and properly mounted to the RV wall or firmly secure for safety reasons)
  • If your TV doesn’t have a coaxial cable port, you will need an ATSC Tuner. Simply plug the coaxial cable into the tuner, and then run an HDMI cord from the tuner to the TV
  • Never paint the surface of the antenna
  • You may require an amplifier in conjunction with the setup if you’re heading into remote terrain
  • Before cranking the mast up, ensure that there’s sufficient clearance for it
  • Before cranking it down, clear off any debris like leaves or twigs
  • Considering buying a signal strength meter to assist in setting up if your model doesn’t include one.

FAQs

How Can I Install My New RV Antenna?

The instruction manual might not be the most scintillating read. You can probably figure out the installation without it, but check it out anyway. You’re drilling holes into the roof of your RV, so it’s a good idea to get it right the first time.

The instructions will give you all the details regarding optimal placement and connection. Make sure that you have everything that you need before you start.

After you’ve installed your antenna, check out our guide on how to hook up your TV to an RV antenna.

Can I Repair a Broken Antenna?

That will depend on what’s wrong with it. If it’s just an arm that’s a little bent out of shape, you may try gently bending it back into position. If it’s a technical issue, try checking the manual for troubleshooting tips or phoning customer service.

If it’s still under warranty, don’t fiddle with any of the electronics. Instead, ask about how to return it for repairs.

What Other Gadgets Do I Need to Buy?

Technically, all you’ll need is a TV with a built-in tuner. Whether you’ll need additional equipment will depend on the signal type. If you have an older analog TV, you’ll need an analog-to-digital converter as well. If your TV doesn’t have a coaxial cable port, you will need an ATSC Tuner.

How Do I Position My Antenna When I’m on the Road?

There’s no one correct answer for that. If you have a rough idea of where the nearest town with a TV station is, start by pointing the antenna in that direction. You might use a signal meter to narrow down where the best reception is.

From there, it’s a matter of fine-tuning the picture and sound.

Is There an Optimal Location for My RV for Reception?

Again, that’s a tough one to answer. It’s best to park in an area with some clearance and, where possible, with as clear a line of sight to the nearest tower as you can get. Any obstructions between you and the station will weaken the signal.

Does Aluminum Foil Boost Antenna Signal?

Actually, yes, wrapping your antenna in aluminum foil can boost the signal and improve reception. Though we’d only recommend doing that as a last resort if you are really having trouble picking up a signal.

Do RV Antennas Work With Digital TV?

Yes, all of the RV antenna’s featured above will work with a digital TV.

Can I Watch TV While Driving?

You know the answer to this one – check the manual. Some models must be stationary to work correctly. Reception on the road might be a little patchy as directional changes make you lose the signal.

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