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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?
What connections are used from set top box to TV (such as SCART) ?1
If you have several TVs at home do you need separate decoders for each set or is2
Can I use a Freeview box if there is no SCART connector on my TV?3
My TV is NICAM, does that mean I have digital TV?4
Why has my widescreen TV just made everyone look fat?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

Comments
Friday, 24 February 2017
A
Alan
7:13 PM Ipswich

StevensOnln1: Thanks for your help, I'm relieved to know that it's the TV tuner rather than a problem with the aerial. And I guess when I do replace my TV I'll be very careful to make sure a new one has a DVB-T2 tuner. Not in any immediate rush to do that yet though as the Humax Box has all the smart capability that I need at the moment anyway.

Thanks again.


link to this
Alan's 3 posts GB
Alan's: Freeview map terrain plot frequency data R&TI Service digitaluk trade DAB coverage
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
M
Martyn
4:50 PM

Hi

I'm on Rowridge and am receiving conflicting information. The aerial installer is saying VP is by far the best giving the strongest signal I am 38 km from the transmitter it radiates both HP and VP. UK digital say you should use HP to get all the channels then why should whoever invest in a new transmitter radiating VP. Your columnists suggest the VP has been powered down from 200,000 kw to 50,000 kw All I know is my picture and reception of certain stations is poor HD is difficult at best. I expect to have problems in the summer with leaves on the trees but no leaves at the moment. Oh for VHF
Thanks for any help VP or HP

link to this
Martyn's 2 posts GB
S
StevensOnln1
6:43 PM

Martyn: Digital UK are still reporting that COM4/5/6 are broadcasting at 200kW on Rowridge VP, there hasn't been any reduction in broadcast power on Rowridge or any other transmitter (just an error in the date on this website). The only multiplexes not available on Rowridge VP are COM7/8 and the local mux, all of which are intended to operate at a much lower cost than PSB1-3 and COM4-6 which is why they are only broadcast on Rowridge HP. As per my reply to your other post earlier, it would be best to turn your aerial to HP if that previously gave you a good signal.

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StevensOnln1's 810 posts Gold Gold GB
Friday, 23 June 2017
P
Paul
6:58 PM

Hi, I live in Corfe Mullen Dorset. I live just off the a31, we are in a bit of a dip and surrounded by trees. My problem seems to be that I am on the boundry for west country, and southern. I pick up both, but just recently I cant pick up either. I have an aerial with 13 rows of 4 pronged elements?. and I run it through an amplifier as well, (I live in a caravan).
Any thoughts??

link to this
Paul's 2 posts GB
M
MikeB
9:32 PM Peterborough

Paul: Firstly, you didn't give a postcode, so I had to vaguely find out Corfe Mullen's (I grew up in Poole, but couldn't remember it) and then put into Digital UK's site (which is why we want a postcode!). So your either Mendip or Rowridge http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/coveragechecker/main/trade/BH21+3HU/NA/0/m18thtm2seaabcu81mc34pg9i6

With the first looking a bit better.
If you were getting a signal before, and now you are not, then that suggests a problem with your aerial system. Check signal strength, and if you've an amp, try bypassing it, because it might be the problem. If not, the most likely reason is a lose connection, etc.

link to this
MikeB's 2,198 posts Platinum Platinum GB
MikeB's: Freeview map terrain plot frequency data R&TI Service digitaluk trade DAB coverage
Saturday, 24 June 2017
P
Paul
8:21 AM

Morning. Sorry I forgot to put poctcode, its BH213EF. (outskirt of Womborne, candy lane)
I have looked at connections and I have put a digital meter on, but it only just weakly flickered on 50dbuv.
I have now moved the aerial, away from trees, but still no difference. I am using 20 metres of cable. with 2 joints, so I am going to buy cable long enough without having to put joint in, and see what happens, and new amplifier.
Will say that this all happened since we had the really bad rain, so do wander if the black box on aerial got damaged, it is a sealed unit though.

link to this
Paul's 2 posts GB
Sunday, 30 July 2017
T
Terry
11:08 AM

hi my postcode is so0211tg with a red tipped 16 element yagi type aerial with the elements vertical, aimed at rowridge. The signal profile from http://www.macfh.co.uk suggests "60% Fresnel Zone - Obstructions into this probably WILL significantly affect the signal". Would I do better with a High gain aerial?

link to this
Terry's 4 posts GB
Monday, 31 July 2017
MikeP
10:48 AM Winchester

Terry:

It rather depends on what your signal strengths are at present. Ideally you need strengths between 50% and 85% for SD channels and between 60% and 85% for HD channels to get reliable reception. Too much and too little will cause loss of signals. Your TV User Manual will tell you how to check that.

Normally we would get a set of link boxes underneath your posting, but I noticed that your post code is not in the correct format, I suspect there is an extra digit.

The usual advice, if an aerial needs to be changed, is to fit a log-periodic that will cover all current and future planned transmissions as far as is known at present. I suspect that at your approximate location a Log36 would be sufficient with the rod vertical and aimed carefully towards the transmitter. I'm not sure whether there are any obstructions between you and the Rowridge transmitter.

By putting SO21 1TG into the page at https://ukfree.tv/prediction shows your are well served from Rowridge and should not have any significant reception problems. That predicition does not show the terrain between you and Rowridge though. If you put the correct full post code into your posting it should show the terrain mapping.



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MikeP's 1,530 posts Gold Gold GB
MikeP's: Freeview map terrain plot frequency data R&TI Service digitaluk trade DAB coverage
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