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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, 4 June 2011
J
Jonny
10:11 AM

So would I need to plug the splitter into the tv with the two aerial leads connected to both the outward plugs?

link to this comment
Jonny's 4 posts GB
J
jb38
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

11:18 AM

Jonny: One of the two leads thats available will be found to work the downstairs TV, that one should be plugged into the splitter input, then use a jumper from one of the splitter outputs into the TV and the other output will be the upstairs feed.

link to this comment
jb38's 7,179 posts GB
S
Steve
sentiment_satisfiedGold

11:21 AM
Wrexham

NO!

Plug the aerial lead into the in side of the splitter; then the lead that was in "RF OUT" into one output and use a new jump lead to connect the other outlet to the TV.

RF="radio frequency" is what comes down from the aerial. Your freeview box is perhaps one of the few that turn the digital signal into an old fashioned one; or it may just relay the aerial input. Ir probably amplified it too, so you MAY need an amplifier/splitter. But try a simple Y shaped one first.

In fact first of all just check the upstairs TV works if you connect the ae in to the wire to upstairs.

link to this comment
Steve's 1,172 posts GB
J
Jonny
11:33 AM

Have been out a bought a splitter and plugged it into the Tv with the two aerial cables plugged into the splitter and now both tv's are working fine.Is this not ok then?

link to this comment
Jonny's 4 posts GB
M
Mr D Wright
12:07 PM
Ilkeston

Hi as the hd singal gone down in my post code area de7 5bg it was ok till 2-4-2011 now no hd all the other channels ok

link to this comment
Mr D Wright's 1 post GB
M
Mike Dimmick
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

3:28 PM

Mr D Wright: There are reports of problems with HD from the Nottingham transmitter over the last couple of days. Check the Nottingham transmitter page for updates, and report the problem to the BBC at BBC - Reception problems (select 'No' for 'Does this answer your question' and click Continue to proceed to the problem report form.)

link to this comment
Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB
S
Steve
sentiment_satisfiedGold

4:06 PM
Wrexham

Johnny - if it works; it's fine! What you got may simply join the wires. Other types cater for things like powering amps and might give problems.

link to this comment
Steve's 1,172 posts GB
M
Mike Dimmick
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

4:21 PM

Russell Wolak: I assume you're asking whether the HD services will break up. Digital UK's predictor reckons the chance of reliable service at present is about the same as for the BBC's SD multiplexes.

link to this comment
Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB
J
Jonny
4:24 PM
Watford

Ok,many thanks for your help JB38 and Steve.

link to this comment
Jonny's 4 posts GB
J
John
sentiment_satisfiedBronze

8:23 PM
Aylesbury

I'm in Aylesbury and receive from the Oxford transmitter. I have a new aerial and new good quality cable and all has worked well for the past couple of months. I am now getting a small amount of picture freezing on some channels, usually, ITV, ITV3, Channel 4, Challenge and maybe a couple of others. The BBC channels are always fine. When I check my signal and quality strength on the freezing channels they usually show 76% strength and 100% Quality. Am I right in assuming the problem is not my end? All my neighbours are on cable so I've nobody local to ask. Thanks for any advice.

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John's 29 posts GB
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