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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?
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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

Monday, 8 October 2012
Alan Brown
11:54 PM

Alan Brown: JB38-Whilst I am pretty sure we have checked aerial signal bypassing the amplifier as you have described I will recheck as you have stated just need to check what connectors I have on boat. One point that I hadn't mentioned was that the tv's source of 240 volt power is a 3kw Sterling Inverter. Could this have any effect on reception?

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Alan Brown's 4 posts GB flag
Alan's: mapA's Freeview map terrainA's terrain plot wavesA's frequency data A's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Tuesday, 9 October 2012

8:06 AM

Alan Brown: Well although some types of electronic equipment can be sensitive to being used on mains supplies from these less costly and more commonly used modified sine wave inverters, these Sterling devices are not in that category by being pure sine wave, and so provided your aerial or lead from is not positioned anywhere near the inverters casing I don't really feel that the inverter is connected in any way with your problem.

The problem with digital reception is that stability of signal levels is far more important than it was with analogue signals and many TV's / boxes will start to operate in an erratic fashion (picture freezing / pixilation etc) when the signal being received is slightly over the top strength wise, of course in a fixed situation that is easily cured by the addition of a simple attenuator in line with the aerial socket, but in mobile situations where the signal might be poor at some locations and excessive at others, especially if an amplified aerial is involved, the standard fixed type of attenuator is not suitable and so one of the variable variety (about £5.00 or so) is more appropriate, and I feel that this would be a good addition to your kit.

The point being, that when you connect moving the aerial with curing the problem its simply because that the action of moving the aerial is varying the signal strength of the signal being received thereby allowing the tuner to unlock, this why I suggest that if you are in a location where you experience this type of problem bypass the aerials amplifier and I am reasonably sure that the problem will vanish, unless that is your TV has a defective tuner.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Saturday, 20 October 2012
6:05 PM

Want to buy a smallish telly, flatscreen for room at the back of the house. Already got newish built-in freeview telly at the front. Do I need a second aerial? Is there some sort of gizmo that will use the original aerial?

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helen's 1 post GB flag

8:40 PM

Helen, I'm not an expert but I think it depends where you live. I am in Hampden Park Eastbourne, and signal is so good I'm running 4 tv's from one aerial using passive splitters no amplifiers. In the past, before the change over, I had to use to amplifiers.

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Alan's 24 posts GB flag
Alan's: mapA's Freeview map terrainA's terrain plot wavesA's frequency data A's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Sunday, 21 October 2012
Stephen P

6:04 PM


agree with Alan. Mostly if you have no probs with one TV it will be OK with a single unpowered split.

Do you have an aerial wire to the place you want to use other TV?

Post your postcode if you want your signal strenght checking.

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Stephen P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Friday, 26 October 2012
Stephen P

9:30 AM

Mostly will still need roof mounted directional aerials but some may not where signals strongest.

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Stephen P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Saturday, 27 October 2012
11:32 AM

I have just bought a secondhand Technika 19" model x19/14b as a spare tv.(believe couple years old)
After going through the factory retune process I could not get any Analog channels (that is 1 to 9).It was all snowy while seeking. I used the aerial from my main TV (which all works fine on main TV).
Do I need an updated aerial or signal booster, or is there something wrong with this particular TV.

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Derek's 4 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

12:13 PM

Derek: You won't find any analogue channels because there aren't any!

You haven't said where you are, but the last analogue signals were turned off in the UK on Wednesday in Northern Ireland.

You need to do a tune on the digital/Freeview part.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
2:46 PM

Hi Dave, thanks, Have you any idea why I can't get any channels from 1 to 9 when Ive done auto set up (that is BBC1&2 ITV 1/4 etc)

When I go to the bbc channels on free view it comes up "no signal"

any ideas

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Derek's 4 posts GB flag
2:53 PM

Dave PS.
I have done digi set up, My main telly works ok on existing aerial and I get all channels. but this TV will not give me the first 9.
I am in Bedfordshire and get a good signal from Sandy transmitter.

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Derek's 4 posts GB flag
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