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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.


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 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.


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.


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.

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In this section
Loft aerials1
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How to receive Freeview on your PC3
Indoor aerials4
Whole house digital TV5
Connecting it all up6

Sunday, 26 June 2011

12:36 AM

jb38 - she HAS told you her postcode.

Just click on the "Freeview HD" link from her post - top left.

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Steve's 1,173 posts GB

7:58 AM

Steve: Yes, quite correct! I missed this basically because I am inclined to concentrate more on what a person writes rather than the links that appear at the side, assuming (incorrectly) that you had tried out a few test codes.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
8:15 PM

i have freeview built into tv which is sited in a static caravan in the girvan area. regularly we lose the commercial stations and therefore left with bbc channels could this be due to transmitter maintenance.we have to keep trying the first time installation procedure.any help would be very much appreciated.

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james's 1 post GB

9:29 PM

james: Nothing is indicated for the Girvan transmitter as far as maintenance is concerned, although this cannot always be relied upon as being 100% accurate.

You should really try to refrain from carrying out re-scans when stations are known to be lost on a regular basis, as all you do is lose the stations already stored in the TV's memory, and with DTT reception anything lost isn't updated automatically and so requires constant re-scanning to find out if the stations have returned, whereas if nothing had been touched they would have come back on again themselves.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
Mike O'Pray
9:40 PM

I posted several times in April after the digital switchover at Sandy Heath.

To recap I live in Daventry and the reception map shows that I am on the fringe of the yellow area for both Sandy Heath and Sutton Coldfield.

So it would appear that I'll be no better off when Sutton Coldfield switches in August/Sept or will I experience a increase in signal strength after the re-tuning required in Aug/Sept?

My problems are mainly in the ARQB mux channles affecting Film 4, ITV4.

All BBC channels and ITV1, Channels 4 and 5 are fine

If the re-tuning results in better reception in the problem areas in Aug/Sept then I may as well just put up with the problems for just over another 2 months. If on the other hand nothing changes after the re-tuning then I need to think about other solutions which will be what?


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Mike O'Pray's 11 posts GB
Monday, 27 June 2011

12:01 AM

james - you do not say what sort of aerial you use, but in a caravan it is unlikely to be 30ft high and highly directional. Plug in your postocode top right for info.

MO'P as a general rule transfer to full digital comes with a considerable increase in power which will resolve previous marginal situations.

And, incidentally, render a major part of the money previously spent on aerials totally wasted, as the new power would have worked fine through the old aerials.

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Steve's 1,173 posts GB
Mike O'Pray
2:18 PM

Thanks Steve and good to know. I'll wait.

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Mike O'Pray's 11 posts GB
Mike Dimmick

4:10 PM

Mike O'Pray: In your area, Digital UK's predictor says that you won't get anything much on Mux A/SDN and Mux C/ArqA because the channels from Sandy Heath clash with two of the analogue channels from Sutton Coldfield. However, ArqB is expected to be OK - high probability of reliable reception - *if* you have the right aerial and the system is in good condition.

On 31 August, Mux A/SDN moves to a different temporary frequency, C31, after that is released by Waltham. This should then be clear enough to receive reliably.

On 14 September, Mux D/ArqB moves to its final frequency (C48) and power level. Mux C/ArqA then takes over Mux D/ArqB's current frequency. Again, that puts the prediction for all services over 90%.

If Mux A and Mux C are working reliably at the moment, or at least more reliably than Mux D, there is a different problem. Honestly, it's easiest if you call out an installer to check the levels, the connections, the cables, etc.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB
Sunday, 3 July 2011
C Mallow
8:24 PM

Our transmitter is Sandy Heath. We have just bought an aerial whichis suitable for a d sited in the loft,(as the analogue was) and Digi box, but are only able to receive the BBC channels and not any ITV ot anyothers - what's causing this? Help please.

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C Mallow's 1 post GB

8:47 PM

C Mallow: It would be of great assistance to know your location, as if the aerial was installed in the same position as before there is no logical reason for you missing the main ITV station, as this is transmitting on the same power as the BBC.

I would be inclined to re-check the co-ax connections etc, although once your location is known a better assessment can be made.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
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