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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.

Help with Television sets?
Why are all TVs on sale not digital?1
Do I still have to pay for a TV licence?2
I had perfect channel 5 reception - until I got a digital TV box!3
I Have a Pocket Tv For taking out so I can keep up with news and sport. Will thi4
The pictures from my digital box are all green!5
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

Thursday, 17 May 2012
Stephen P

6:02 AM

jb38 - wolfbane says 37m not 27 and only 47dBuV/m - but agree worth checking

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Stephen P's 1,173 posts GB

7:37 AM

Stephen P: If you are referring to Nigel these are the two indications I get, and the reason for my extra comment is because that a large section of the signal path between the transmitter and Nigel's location is over water, and a signal passing over water can in many cases appear stronger because of the skipping effect than if over the same distance on land, this having the effect as though the person receiving the signal is closer than they are in reality.

That said though, and as mentioned in my additional posting, I very much doubt if the signal is too strong, as although this can totally upset the accuracy of indications given on a TV or boxes check screen it cant on the Labgear checker that Nigel used.

UK digital TV reception predictor

Postcode Checker - Trade View

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB

8:19 AM

Mike O'Pray: Well, certain areas of Northampton are (and have always been) known for iffy reception and the fact of others having made similar complaints to yourself has to be taken into consideration, although when a person has previously received a signal which magically disappears when its transmitter changes frequency and moves to high power then some other factor applies.

Now you have mentioned the fact of the other aerial facing a different direction and being diplexed onto your Eastern facing aerial used for Sandy then this could be the other factor that's causing the problem, that is "if" the other aerial is picking up a really strong reflection of Ch51 from a distance away, as diplexers don't kill a signal they just reduce it as well as having the effect of slightly reducing the signal that's actually required to under what it would be if the diplexer wasn't in circuit, and so to cut a long story short I suggest that the diplexer is by-passed so that your signal is purely from the aerial facing Sandy without another being tagged on to it.

Is the diplexer installed on the aerials supporting pole?

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB

9:13 AM

Mike O'Pray: Also meant to add, that although the diplexing of two aerials facing different stations was maybe OK back in the analogue days its not necessarily the case now, and in your own situation is totally useless and is even detrimental to your reception.

The reason being, that Waltham's analogue transmissions covered a channel span of from Ch54 - 64 but with Ch35 (Ch5) being added later, and in the case of Sandy it spanned Ch21 - 31 with Ch39 having been added for Ch5, so excluding the blip that Ch5 caused you can see that diplexing both stations was perfectly OK.

However the reason that the diplexer on your aerial is of no use nowadays is because that Freeview from Waltham spans Ch29 - 61 and from Sandy its Ch21 - 52, and you cannot diplex these two without reducing the strength of channels that you require as the majority of the channels are intertwined.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
Dave Lindsay

11:00 AM

jb38 / Mike O'Pray: Surely if the aerial on Sandy is a wideband one, then it will work on its own (i.e. remove the diplexer and connect only the Sandy aerial).

However, if it is Group A (see the link I provided at 12:04AM), then it won't be suitable for receiving the COMs from Sandy on 48, 51 and 52. In which case, perhaps the solution is to swing the Waltham aerial around to Sandy (so that they are both facing the same way).

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB

2:59 PM

Dave Lindsay / Mike O'Pray: By-passing the diplexer and using only the aerial that faces towards Sandy is exactly what I said in the latter part of my posting made this morning @ 08.19am, the removal of the diplexer being particularly important as you don't want anything of a signal filtering nature incorporated into the aerial system.

And with regards to the aerial used for Sandy, if it is an original group A aerial installed that pre-dated the start of Ch5 let alone Freeview, and with it never having been updated at any time, and if this is the case then obviously as you drift upwards from the end of the frequency range covered by a band A group aerial (Ch34) then signal levels received will not be quite as high as they would be with a wideband aerial, however irrespective of the aerial group fitted Mike has only complained about the reception on ITV3 on Ch51 and not anything else, so if by any chance the aerial is still a group A and programmes on mux Ch52 such as EPG11 - Pick TV or EPG19 - Dave cant be received either then the aerial will require to be changed to a wideband type.

Mike O'Pray: Regarding the programmes I mentioned, can you receive those two channels? and have you had the aerial changed since analogue days when Freeview had first started?

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
Mike O'Pray
9:19 PM

Thanks all for the replies. Much of what you said went over my head. I had never even heard of a diplexer until your replies. What does it look like and how do I tell if it is on the aerials' supporting pole? If it is how do I by-pass it? If it isn't on the supporting pole where might it be? In the loft?

With the Goodman's "source" button on the remote on DTV I cannot get any channels between 0014 More 4 and 0028 E4. In fact the range of channels is quite limited. No Film 4 for instance or Pick TV or Yesterday. It doesn't say no signal it just jumps from 9 BBC Four to 13 Channel 4+1 then 14 More 4 then 28 E4

However when I switch to receiving the signal via the Panasonic HDD by switching to SCART I get a much bigger range of channels including 10 ITV3 but no signal, 11 Pick TV, 12 Yesterday, 13,14 15 but not 16 and 17, 18,19, 20-22, So most of the channels from 15-28 which the DTV doesn't even register

ITV3 shows no signal but at least shows as ITV3. Pick TV shows as 11 and Yesterday as 12 and Film 4 as channel 15.

All these channels via the HDD get good signals. Why the big difference between DTV in the Goodmans's set and the much enhance range of channels via the HDD except for ITV 3 which is know to the HDD set up but records as "No Signal"

Sorry I do not know how to relate what I have said about the numbers for Pick TV and Yesterday to the channels in the 50s range that have been mentioned

No the aerial has not been changed since I was analogue. The currently two YAGIs( I only know about YAGI because of the opening section on this site shows a YAGI aerial) were installed sometime in the late 1990s if my memory serves me correctly.

Frankly I need replies to take me through what I need to do in easy steps.

I am capable of being educated but you need to assume little or no knowledge on my part.

So more help needed as you can see



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Mike O'Pray's 17 posts GB

9:58 PM

Mike O'Pray: If you see ITV3 mentioned on the EPG list whilst on the Panasonic recorder then go into its signal strength check screen and have a look at the level being indicated, as a signal must have been picked up or EPG10 would be missing from the list, so a signal is likely there but just under the level that can resolve a picture.

The diplexer (or combiner) is usually in a red (but can be grey or black) plastic box strapped to the mast pole, and you should see the coax lead from each of your two aerials going into it and one coming out downwards towards the roof or wherever.

The two programmes I mentioned are (or should) be seen on the EPG number channel listing, 11 being Pick TV and 19 being Dave, but if these numbers are not seen then you might not be picking up mux Ch52 either, that is as well as Ch51.

As its not known if your aerial is wideband or not, "if" though you can see the end of the long square horizontal bar that supports the elements check if you can see a red square plastic blanking plug on the end that faces Sandy, and if you can then that's an original aerial and will require changing to a wideband type such as a log 40 or similar, if though the end piece is a black plug then its a wideband aerial.

What you require to do as far as improving your situation is concerned is removing the diplexer and having the cable from the Sandy facing aerial coming straight down into your house, and the Sandy aerial being changed to a wideband version if its not already that.

By the way the manual tuning instructions are on page 71 of the Panasonics user manual.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB

10:05 PM

Mike O'Pray: This is a link to the Log 40 that I referred to as I forgot to attach it to the bottom of my reply, should you want anything mentioned clarified a bit further do not hesitate to ask.

Online TV FM DAB Aerial sales

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
Friday, 18 May 2012
Mike O'Pray
12:05 AM

I think you are saying that despite getting good reception for ITV 3 Film 4 etc before the final retuning on 9th May, those days are gone and I have lost these channels permanently unless I take action. I cannot expect that the problems experienced by others in the Npton area will result in any change to circumstances ie. no-one is going from the digital authorities is going to help me. In other words nothing will change to improve things short of action on my part.

That action needs to consist of:

Checking whether I have an appropriate aerial on the roof and if not obtaining a Log 40 aerial. On the other hand if I have the correct aerial but both aerial wires lead into the diplex box then do I simply disconnect the E Mids wire from the diplex box so effectively the diplex box is just a join in the Sandy Heath wire?

Have I understood what needs to be done correctly and how easy is it? Is there any source of info to refer to?

If on the other hand the aerial isn't the right one then I have no choice except to call in an aerial installer who presumably can install the new Log 40 aerial and remove the E Mids Yagi aerial and lead a brand new wire into the house.

Incidentally why is it that connection via the HDD box and the SCART option give me all those extra channels except of course the illusive ITV3?



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Mike O'Pray's 17 posts GB
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