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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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Friday, 20 February 2015
Dave Lindsay

12:17 AM

John Luke: At switchover the Stroud relay transmitter became co-channel with Sutton Coldfield's PSBs albeit that it's vertically polarised. Therefore I would suggest that this could be the cause of your woes.

Unfortunately it would seem your only other option is Ridge Hill. If you find that the lower-powered COM channels are not good enough then you may be able to combine Sutton Coldfield's COMs with Ridge Hill's PSBs.

As Ridge Hill is all Group A, a wideband yagi isn't the best thing to use:

Rowridge Transmitter

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
John Luke
1:24 PM

Dave Lindsay:
Hi Dave,
Thanks for your help. Unfortunately we get no reception from Ridge Hill even though it is much closer than Sutton Coldfield (SC). There is also nothing from the Stroud relay transmitter which is very close but just like Ridge Hill there is a big hill in direct line of sight. Until very recently we have had perfectly acceptable reception from the old aerial directed at SC. I think we are therefore stuck with SC. My thoughts are to take down the new wideband Wolsey HG10 and replace it by a group B aerial such as the Antiference XG9BK. Any thoughts?

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John Luke's 3 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

7:12 PM

John Luke: I suggest that if it's a yagi aerial then go for Group K. With the Group T "LTE" aerial you have gain on channels 49 through to 60 which isn't necessary. The wider the band of a yagi the more of a compromise it is. I say Group K because SC could use channels in the 20s in future.


TV Aerial Tests

Gain (curves), Again

I write on here as a technical bod rather than an installer, so which it should be, I'm not sure. Or a log and amplifier maybe??

Here's a terrain plot showing two obstructions:

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

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Sunday, 29 March 2015
2:26 PM

This is a great website, thanks for the information, have bookmarked the site for the future.

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allison's 2 posts GB flag
Keith gatrell
7:44 PM

Just brought a two berth caravan and sited on a caravan park in Wales .the TVs reception was poor what's the best tv aerial to buy but not expensive

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Keith gatrell's 1 post GB flag

8:11 PM

I would suggest you look at any designed specifically for caravan use that are either a log-periodic design or possibly a wide band type. The log-periodic would be better as it will suit reception now in in the foreseeable future. Don't fall for the scam of a 'digital' aerial, there is no such thing, any UHF aerial can receive Freeview signals. The only issue you will need to conside is how many elements your aerial will need and that depends on where you are in relation to the transmitters, so a post code would help.

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MikeP's 3,056 posts GB flag
MikeP's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Dave Lindsay

11:20 PM

Keith gatrell: See:

TV Aerials for Boats and Caravans

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
B. Vernon
2:43 PM

I live just outside Chester and the nearest Transmitter is N.Wales. "Auto" Tuning selects this transmitter every time despite altering direction of the aerial. Unfortunately nearly all the most used programmes are Welsh and there is no BBC4 signal - only S4C (in Welsh)! If I retune to Winter Hill I can get all English channels but poorer reception and very "iffy" on some progs in bad weather. Would a different aerial cure these problems. Your suggestions would be most welcome as a new Smart tv is anticipated shortly?

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B. Vernon's 1 post GB flag
Dave Lindsay

3:25 PM

B. Vernon: Knowledge of your location, preferably in form of postcode or that of a nearby property such as a shop or post office, is really required. However, it may be that it's not so much your distance from the transmitter, but that you don't have line-of-sight, this being possible to check for one knowing the location.

What I will say is that if you're hoping to pick up the quasi-national COM7 (and future COM8) multiplexes -- these carry BBC Four HD, BBC News HD, 4seven HD and others -- then you "might" need a different aerial, if indeed you will be able to receive the lower-power signal from Winter Hill.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Thursday, 30 April 2015
Margaret Holland
9:28 AM

I have been losing various Freeview channels after dark. Sometimes it is the BBC multiplex, sometimes other multiplexes. I get my signals from Oxford and I cannot remember this happening so regularly before. I am getting annoyed now. Why is this happening?

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Margaret Holland's 3 posts GB flag
Margaret's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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