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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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Indoor aerials4
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Monday, 14 February 2011
A Ly
2:11 PM

I live in Ashford, Kent, TN23 can you please advise the best direction to point the aerial.


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A Ly's 1 post GB flag

2:56 PM

A Ly: Please put your full postcode into the box at the top right.

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Briantist's 38,900 posts GB flag
Heather Martinez
4:46 PM

Well thought I would let your know I have found someone that I would highly recommend to anyone that lives in the Crawley,Redhill,Reigate area Mr Mark French from Aerial View, brilliant,honest and nice changed my cable which was letting in water, didn't try and sell me anything else or a "Digital Aerial" he said they don't exist. tele's all working perfectly. and very reasonably priced. Thanks for all you help and advice.

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Heather Martinez's 8 posts GB flag
Heather's: mapH's Freeview map terrainH's terrain plot wavesH's frequency data H's Freeview Detailed Coverage

5:35 PM

Heather Martinez: I'm so pleased to hear that you found someone suitable and you have everything working again.

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Briantist's 38,900 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Roger Apps
8:46 AM

I have a "Yagi" loft aerial and the abergavenny transmitter is in line of sight and about one mile away. I can recieve the freeview channels 42 and 49 with a good signal strength and 100% quality, but channel 45 (the HD one) gives the same signal strength but zero quality. The TV is an HD ready Panasonic TX32LXD with built in freeview receiver. A new aerial required or could it be the coax cable, any idea ?

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Roger Apps's 1 post GB flag
Mark Aberfan Aerials

9:30 AM

Hi Roger,

You will need a external freeview hd box as your tv is hd ready not freeview hd. HD ready
means the tv is ready to display a hd picture from a external source such as freeview hd box or blu ray player.

Mark Aberfan Aerials

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Mark Aberfan Aerials's 1,059 posts GB flag
Friday, 18 February 2011
7:08 PM

i can get most free view channels except yesterday. and film four. do i need to upgrade my ariel.

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ted's 1 post GB flag

7:29 PM

ted: What is your postcode please?

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Briantist's 38,900 posts GB flag
Monday, 21 February 2011
Dave sharp
11:55 AM

I have recently installed a humax pvr and found that many of my channels are highly pixilated, signal is mostly very good through tv and if l put it through my ps3 play tv then it is still far better than pvr.
I live in postcode ky10 2ab
I have high gain aerial in loft (3 stories up) but only standard single shielded coax cable and a booster behind tv.
Would rather not( if possible) have to put aerial on roof as long way up and wind will frequently blow it around.
Can you please advise if l need wideband aerial, if l need masthead amp and where do l put booster and finally would replacing cable with wf100 sat cable would be enough?

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Dave sharp's 3 posts GB flag
Dave's: mapD's Freeview map terrainD's terrain plot wavesD's frequency data D's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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