Does a smart TV need an external antenna for it to work?

With advancements in technology, more people are increasingly switching to smart TVs as their preferred choice of home entertainment, and with good reason. Smart TVs have a built-in computer that allows you to access streaming platforms online as well as install and run various applications. 

However, one thing that is not clear to many first-time Smart TV users is whether a Smart TV can work without an antenna or aerial. Does a smart TV need an antenna?

A Smart TV can work without an antenna when used for streaming channels over the internet, cable TV, Satellite TV, and other types of input except for broadcast TV. Smart TVs need an external antenna for them to receive broadcast TV signals from local over-the-air channels.

The following are some of the ways you can use a Smart TV without an external antenna:

1. Monitor for your PC: Most smart TVs come with an HDMI port that you can use to connect to your computer and use the TV as a computer display. This can be useful for presentations.

2. Playing games: Smart TV Apps with games are becoming more common and can be a great way to pass time or entertain guests 

3. Surfing the web: Most smart TVs come with a built-in browser that can be used to surf the internet just like you would on your smartphone.

4. Video conferencing: Modern Smart TVs have a built-in webcam or support for an external webcam which is useful for video calls.

5. Connect and control other smart devices: You can connect and synchronize devices such as Alexa, Smart Hue lights, and Google Nest so that you can control everything from your TV.

The type of antenna to use with a smart TV

A smart TV needs a High Definition Digital TV antenna for it to receive the local over-the-air broadcast in either Very High Frequency (VHF) or Ultra High Frequency (UHF). When picking an antenna for your Smart TV the most important thing is to ensure it is capable of picking up digital TV transmission frequencies in your area. 

Some Smart antennas are designed to be placed indoors while others are for outdoor use. However, outdoor antennas tend to pick up signals better, especially when they are placed at a high point, such as a rooftop where there are fewer obstacles in the way of the signal. 

With most, if not all, over-the-air signals now being transmitted digitally instead of analog, some digital TV antennas will allow you to point straight to the direction the signal is coming from, amplify the signal, as well as filter out cellular and FM signals. The following video explains in more detail what to consider when picking an antenna for your smart TV:

Where to connect your antenna to a Smart TV

An antenna is connected to a Smart TV by attaching the antenna’s coaxial connector to the TV’s antenna input port which is found at the back or side of the TV and is usually labeled Antenna/Cable IN, or simply ANT IN. Normally, an RG 6 coaxial cable is run from the antenna to the back of the TV and the end is terminated using a threaded coaxial cable connector. 

Once the antenna is connected to the TV, the next step is to go to your TV settings menu and under ‘channel setup’ you should be able to initiate an automatic scan that will ‘pick up’ channels that are available in your area. This process takes roughly 10 minutes.

The cost of a Smart TV antenna

A Smart TV antenna costs anywhere between $20 and $70. The cost is dependent on its range, whether it is an indoor or outdoor antenna, and if it has additional features such as a frequency filter or amplifier. 

Generally, outdoor antennas tend to be more expensive than indoor antennas. Also, their performance is better than that of indoor antennas due to their larger size which makes them more sensitive to signals.

Do I need an antenna if my TV has a built-in digital tuner?

You need an antenna even if your TV has a built-in digital tuner. An antenna is only used for receiving the over-the-air digital signal, but the built-in digital tuner processes or fine-tunes the signal to a specific frequency or TV station that you want to watch.

Are there smart TVs with built-in antennas?

Smart TVs do have built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi antennas. However, these antennas are not for receiving over-the-air digital signal broadcasts. You still need an external antenna to get over-the-air TV channels.

The built-in Bluetooth antenna is to help you pair your TV with other Bluetooth devices such as wireless soundbars while the Wi-Fi antenna gives you access to the internet so that you can stream your favorite TV programs on platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. 

Using a Smart TV Antenna indoors

A Smart TV antenna can work indoors. In fact, there are Smart TV antennas, such as the Mohu Leaf Supreme Pro, that are specifically designed for indoor use. 

However, using an antenna indoors is likely to limit the number of TV channels a TV is able to capture because objects and other electronic equipment are likely to obstruct or interfere with the signal, thus reducing its strength.

Getting local channels on your smart TV without an antenna

You can get local channels on your smart TV without an external antenna by installing apps and streaming services such as Pluto TV, Local Now, and CBC News. However, it is up to the broadcasting channel as to whether their content will be made available on TV apps and streaming services. 


In order to get local channels on your Smart TV, you need an external antenna, preferably one that is placed outside. However, the lack of an antenna in a Smart TV does not make it unusable, you can still use it for other activities such as streaming content over the internet, surfing the web, and playing games.

Eustace G.
Eustace G.
Eustace is a technology enthusiast and avid gamer who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts, solve problems, and make informed decisions.


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