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Freeview reception - all about aerials

Your ability to receive all the Freeview transmissions depends on the suitability of aerial: the design style, "group" and its physical location.

Your ability to receive all the Freeview transmissions depends
published on UK Free TV

Updated 8th January 2014.

Your ability of receive all the Freeview transmissions depends on the suitability of aerial

  • the design style,
  • the "group", and
  • its physical location.

Standard type - Yagi aerial



The standard type of TV aerial is known as the Yagi aerial. It is mounted on a pole, and consists of a rod with a reflector (shown green) at the back and many spiky elements (in grey) at the front. The connecting cable connects to the element nearest the reflector, known as the driver (shown in blue).

These Yagi aerials are directional and so pick up signals best from a transmitter that the rod points towards. The more elements the aerial has, the better it picks up a signal and becomes more directional.

A standard-type aerial is all that is required for digital TV reception in most places. These antennae have between 10 and 18 elements and a single reflector. These are recommended for new installations for good digital television reception, but will more often than not function perfectly in good reception areas.

Typically these aerials are designed to receive only some transmission frequencies - see "groups" below.

High Gain aerials



These aerials are designed for poor digital reception areas, and have two reflectors. For maximum signal strength, some digital high gain aerials have up to 100 elements. Since the switchover to digital-only transmissions back in October 2012, most UK households now have good quality digital TV signals.

A more expensive aerial is only required where the signal strength is low, but can often provide the whole Freeview reception where it might otherwise be impossible.

The CAI (that represents aerial installers) has four standards for digital TV aerials. The highest standard "1" is for homes on the fringes of coverage areas, intermediate standard "2" is suitable for use within the coverage area; minimum standard "3" is for good coverage conditions.

These aerials can be either wideband, or receive only selected frequencies - see "groups" below.

Grid



You may haved used a 'Grid aerial' for analogue reception, but as they are generally unsuitable for Freeview reception, they have now generally been replaced by the Yagi type. However in some places a Grid aerial installation may work for Freeview: otherwise replace with a standard Yagi aerial.

Indoor

Indoor aerials are generally not suitable for Freeview reception. In areas of good signal strength it is often possible to receive some transmissions. Even where an aerial works, people often find that may get interruptions to their viewing (or recording).

Loft mounted

Loft mounted arrivals are not generally recommended for Freeview reception, as the roof tiles and plumbing will degrade the signal. Some compensation for this loss of signal can be made by using satellite-grade cable to connect the set top box to the aerial.

Positioning

The best position for a TV aerial is mounted outdoors, as high from the ground as possible, pointing directly at the transmitter. The signal can be blocked by hills and tall buildings. It should be positioned away from any other aerials.

Horizontal or vertical?

The transmitter will either use vertical mode which requires the elements of your aerial to be up-down, or horizontal mode which requires them to be level with the ground.

Groups

Both analogue and digital television is transmitted the same group of transmission frequencies (known as channel 21 through to 60). A coloured marking on the aerial shows the group.



To create the best possible analogue picture, TV transmissions from adjacent transmitters have been designated to several different groups of frequencies. By using an aerial that receives only the channels in the correct group, the analogue picture can be kept free from interference.

To receive Freeview transmissions from the same transmitter it has been sometimes necessary to use frequencies that are not part of the transmitter's normal group. When this has occurred, the aerial will need to be replaced with a "wideband" aerial (also known as group W) - one that covers every group.

As Ofcom is planning to move the TV frequencies again - perhaps as soon as 2018 - it may be wise to use a wideband aerial if you can to ensure you can keep viewing Freeview for many years to come.

Help with Television sets?
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In this section
Loft aerials1
Do I need to buy a booster?2
How to receive Freeview on your PC3
Indoor aerials4
Whole house digital TV5
Connecting it all up6

Comments
Saturday, 23 April 2011
S
Steve
sentiment_satisfiedGold

5:09 PM
Wrexham

Sounds bust to me! Is it second hand?

Presume you've tried depowering it?

What other channel selection options? Can you get any to work?

Have you tried just progressing through the channels one by one to see if anthing works?

link to this comment
Steve's 1,172 posts GB
Sunday, 24 April 2011
J
Jonny
4:29 PM

Many thanks Braintist! ;0)

link to this comment
Jonny's 3 posts GB
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
E
Ewan
7:08 PM

I live just outside Bathgate, West Lothian and in the last 2 days a number of channels on my tv have got very poor signals? I have not changed anything regarding the tv or arial, and the weather has been good. Does anyone know if there is a reason for this, and how to fix?
Thanks,
Ewan

link to this comment
Ewan's 1 post GB
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
S
Steve
sentiment_satisfiedGold

5:14 PM
Wrexham

Ewan - what you perceive as good weather may not be for TV reception!

First thing to find out is if others locally have the same experience.

link to this comment
Steve's 1,172 posts GB
Thursday, 28 April 2011
J
John
sentiment_satisfiedBronze

6:37 AM
Aylesbury

My arial has a 10 foot aluminium pole which I brought at Wickes recently. I've noticed that it moves in the wind a lot more than my neighbours and occasionally the picture will freeze and jump when very windy. Will a steel pole make any difference or maybe a better grade aluminium one? Or any other suggestions? Thanks

link to this comment
John's 29 posts GB
M
Mike Dimmick
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

11:34 AM

John: The diameter of the tube is more likely to make a difference than the material. See Aerial and Satellite Pole Tests for some tests.

Another major factor will be the wind loading of the aerial itself. Generally speaking the X-types and tri-booms have a higher wind-loading than plain-rod Yagi aerials, and the more elements, the worse affected. Looking at the prediction for your location, you shouldn't actually need a particularly large aerial - unless you're feeding more than one TV from the same aerial, I would start with a small log-periodic type. Anything much bigger and you're likely to have to add an attenuator to reduce the signal levels after switchover.

You can see a list of estimated wind-loadings for some aerials at ATV`s Choice Of Aerials for digital TV .

link to this comment
Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB
K
KMJ,Derby
sentiment_satisfiedGold

12:17 PM

John: If the aerial is mounted on the chimney using two cradle brackets should restrict any movement of the pole when windy, or if wall mounted use T and K brackets for secure fixing. Are you sure the changes to signal level are due to aerial movement? Trees blowing about in the signal path (or movement of a construction crane) can cause considerable variation to both strength and quality.

link to this comment
KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB
J
John
sentiment_satisfiedBronze

12:21 PM
Aylesbury

Mike Dimmick. Thanks a lot for the quick reply. I think I've solved the problem by lowering the pole in it's brackets by 18inches. It's now about 6 foot above the roof and I'm getting a solid 80% signal strength even in the wind.
My aerial looks like a SLX 27985K and is feeding 3 TV's.
I'll remember your advice when our switchover date comes to see if I need an attenuator but hopefully not. Thanks again

link to this comment
John's 29 posts GB
J
John
sentiment_satisfiedBronze

12:34 PM
Aylesbury

KMJ. Thanks for the tip. I think it was too much movement on my aerial causing the problem. It is mounted on T & K brackets on a side wall and I had it at it's full height which was not really needed. Since lowering it the problem has gone. The aerial still moves a little bit more than all my neighbours but that maybe due to mine being a different design aerial to theirs which catches the wind more. If the problem comes back I'll buy new one. Thanks again

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John's 29 posts GB
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