We want to cut the cord, but our metal roof is crimping our style
September 17, 2013 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Mr. Darling and I have been fantasizing about ditching cable and relying solely on over the air channels and streaming. We have the streaming, but our metal roof is apparently not compatible with successful antenna reception. We also probably can't mount the antenna on the roof because to receive the local stations, it would need to be mounted on the front of the house, which is unattractive and not what we want. So, how can we still get our local channels without enriching the local cable company? Should we cut back to basic cable? Is there some other way around this?
posted by tafetta, darling! to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is this something that could be achieved with a not terribly ugly antenna perhaps? Or a really unobtrusive indoor one stuck in a front window?

Forgive me if you need something that packs more of a wallop. I live in a city where over air channels are easy to pick up. I just know that when I was looking at all this stuff a year ago, I was very surprised by how non-antennalike antennas had become.
posted by phunniemee at 8:32 AM on September 17, 2013

I have no idea whether this is something that your metal roof would preclude, but my parents live in an area where there is no cable. To get better signal and reception, Dad built a copper array in the attic, which acts like an antenna, and connected it to the TV downstairs. It's invisible to pretty much everyone, but works like a charm. If you are handy in any way, there are DIY copper array instructions for TV reception in a lot of places, including instructables.
posted by LN at 8:33 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You could set the antenna inside a decorative post and then run Coax from it into the house. (or even wire it where the cable currently comes in to hot up your interior cable connections.)

Hide it behind a bush or a tree or something.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:33 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Regular indoor antennas are pretty cheap -- why not get one in advance of cable-cutting and test it out? See the maps at AntennaWeb for antenna placement info.
posted by asperity at 8:40 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot depends on how far away you are from the antenna's and what the signal strength is. I completely overthought this plate of beans, bought the antenna recommended by Wirecutter, went on AntennaWeb to get the exact pointing direction, etc. And then my neighbor went out and bought a random rabbit-ears-looking thing at Best Buy, just plunked it behind the TV, and he's getting the channels too. So take asperity's advice and buy an antenna and try it out to see what works.
posted by Runes at 9:14 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been using Aereo for the last month and am really liking it. It has DVR functionality and you can even watch it on your tv via a Roku box. It's only available in select cities, but you might check to see if you're within its coverage area.
posted by soonertbone at 9:17 AM on September 17, 2013

Best answer: I came to add that you could erect a Bat House/Antenna post. Then you could have BATS!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:17 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Can you connect one end of a cable to your TV and solder the other end to your metal roof? I have no idea if it would actually work, but it would be easy and cheap enough to test. 10 minutes and a stripped cable, and maybe you have a 300 sq foot antenna, and get channels from everywhere. Come on, it's all digital now, you don't have to worry about ghosting, right?
posted by dirtdirt at 9:55 AM on September 17, 2013

Best answer: I have that exact Leaf antenna that phunniemee links to and it works great. Super thin, hardly noticeable, and easy to hide behind a picture if you want. Between streaming and that antenna, we've been happily cable free from two years now. I wouldn't even be thinking about a big, clunky, outdoor antenna.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:19 AM on September 17, 2013

Best answer: We have broadcast channels through cable, as in, we get lousy reception on our antenna, so we pay $15/month to get the channels we would otherwise receive through antenna broadcast: PBS, NBC, CBS, ABC, and a couple of local things.

This is a lesser plan than what is called "Basic Cable."

So we still have to keep cable, but it's hardly enriching them. You have to know to ask for this plan, too, as it's not always commonly advertised or easy to locate. We only succumbed to doing it because all other options failed, so if the antenna doesn't work out for you, you could look into this.
posted by zizzle at 10:38 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also have the Mohu Leaf and live in a flat city about 22 miles from the transmitters and it works terribly. I've put it all over the inside of the house, and it just doesn't work well enough for all the channels. I think the problem in my case are leaves.

On to the question - there are some very good antennas that are not very big. I'd go with a smallish outdoor antenna. I bet no one will even notice.
posted by cnc at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2013

This is a lesser plan than what is called "Basic Cable."

Is it ClearQAM, as discussed in this AskMe?
posted by TedW at 11:56 AM on September 17, 2013

I paid for cable telephone and internet. After the installer left, I put a splitter on the coax, hooked it to the TV and watched QAM channels legally, at no additional charge. I'm pretty sure the cablecos had the law requiring QAM tranmission repealed last year so YMMV.
posted by klarck at 12:42 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

We have an antenna but we don't really use it now that we have Aereo.
posted by LiverOdor at 4:06 PM on September 17, 2013

I get 2 local channels, and the only thing I miss is PBS. I can watch local news, the rest is pretty much online.
posted by theora55 at 4:45 PM on September 17, 2013

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