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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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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
9:11 AM

Can you please recommend which sort of aerial I would need for the Billericay area CM11 2DJ. Can you please advise on both indoor and outdoor options.

Thank you kindly for your help

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B's 1 post GB flag
B's: mapB's Freeview map terrainB's terrain plot wavesB's frequency data B's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Monday, 5 November 2012
8:29 PM

I have just disconnected virgin media, I was hoping to watch digital TV that is installed on my tv but get a message come up saying no signal. Does this mean I need a new aerial, if so does it have to be a special aerial?

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Sam's 1 post GB flag

11:56 PM

Sam: Virgin Media can mean various combinations of equipment, and when you connected the ex Virgin coax to your TV did it have a normal coax plug in the end or was it an "F" (screw type) connector?

However as far as "no signal" is concerned, you really do require to provide a post code or one from nearby, as only then can your reception possibilities be checked on as well as the transmitter involved.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Stephen P

11:47 PM

Sam didn't you ask this elsewhere?

If it is Freeview on your TV you need a TV aerial.

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Stephen P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
11:15 AM

I have moved into a house with tv cables everywhere. There is a sky dish & an aerial on the roof. I don't want sky but I can't get my free view tv to work with the aerial cables either.

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kate's 1 post GB flag
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
9:54 AM

My aerial has been taking in water, and now my aerial does not work right.
Iv been told the best bet is to buy a new aerial as the old one is all rusted through.
There are so many on the market so I am confused by it.
Is 20db stronger than 13db I know it is probably a silly question but thought I would check before spending money.
Thanks to anyone who can help.

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gab's 3 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

9:58 AM

gab: Please let us know your location, preferably in the form of postcode or nearby postcode (e.g. a shop) for the purposes of prediction of signal in your area.

Lots of information on aerials at

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
10:05 AM

Hi dave thanks for your reply
my postcode is NW2 7RP

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gab's 3 posts GB flag
gab's: mapG's Freeview map terrainG's terrain plot wavesG's frequency data G's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Dave Lindsay

11:28 AM

gab: I get the impression that you are in a very good signal area, in which case a log periodic (DM Log) should work fine (follow the link to ATV below).

The terrain plot suggests a good view of the transmitter at 12 miles:

Terrain between ( m a.g.l.) and (antenna m a.g.l.) - Optimising UK DTT Freeview and Radio aerial location

Obviously this does not take into account any obstructions such as trees or buildings which may adversely affect the signal.

A cursory look on Streetview shows most aerials to be regular size which tends to suggest that a log will be sufficient. (Obviously just because someone has a large high-gain aerial fitted doesn't necessarily mean that it is required.)


Crystal Palace Transmitter

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
2:05 PM

Thank you Dave for the information it has been helpful.

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gab's 3 posts GB flag
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