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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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Sunday, 21 August 2022
Paul williams
1:07 PM

I have a fixed caravan which has never had a tv..
I'm looking around the site and there seems to be lots of aerials on other caravans
I've now fitted a aerial but can't seem to get a signal .. looking at the box the aerial came in it says group k
The caravan is in PL8 1HE I was wondering if the local transmitter is in a different group
Can anyone help
Thank u

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Paul williams's 1 post US flag
Paul's: mapP's Freeview map terrainP's terrain plot wavesP's frequency data P's Freeview Detailed Coverage

6:35 PM

Paul williams :

A group K aerial is fine, it is in fact the "new" wideband, as no transmitter in the UK broadcasts above UHF C48 now that COM7 has closed. It may have better gain than similar traditional "wideband" aerials.

How many rods (or squashed Xs) has it got? What model does it say on the box?
The site might be a bit tricky if there any local obstructions nearby on the line of sight, ideally the aerial should be above roof height.

There are two transmitters you might get, the first thing to do is look which way everybody's is pointing, that gives you a clue as to what MAY be best.

The Main transmitter at Caradon Hill is predicted to give the most likely best reception for the PSB multiplexes, but the the COM multiplexes could be very variable.
The Local(ish) Relay at Kingsbridge is predicted to potentially have variable reception of the PSBs (no COMs)
A nearby Relay at Newton Ferrers is predicted to give very poor to no reception, as is one further away at Slapton..

So for Caradon Hill, it should be pointing at compass bearing 309 degrees, that's very slightly west of NW, with its rods/squahed Xs horizontal.
If you want to try the relay at Kingsbridge, it should be pointing at bearing 102 degrees, that's 12 degrees S of due E, with its rods Vertical.

If auto-tuning doesn't find the channels (it can miss weaker signals) then do a manual tune.
For Caradon Hill UHF channels are C28, C25 and C22 (if you have HD) for the PSBs, and C21, C24, C27 for the COMs.
For Kingsbridge C39, C43, and C48 if you have HD.

See Channel listings for Industry Professionals | Freeview for which channels are carried on which multiplex.

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Chris.SE's 3,683 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 3 May 2023
Jim Hill-Jones
7:22 PM

Good Evening,
I am located in Paignton on clennon hill and receive tv signals from Beacon hill in Devon, my exsisting aerial has 16 equally spaced elements over a length of 1.5 metres.
I would very much appreciate the dimensions between elements so that I can reposition them to suit the signal from Beacon Hill. As the aerial was previously used in Swansea South Wales.
Your reply will be very much appreciated.
Regards Jim

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Jim Hill-Jones's 1 post GB flag
Thursday, 4 May 2023

3:51 AM

Jim Hill-Jones:

I'm afraid it's not a simple as that. Apart from element spacing element length is also important, particularly the dipole (often folded so isn't readily changed!).

Let's just get some basics out of the way.
Firstly, does it have a coloured plastic bung in either end? What colour, or is it Black or Grey? How old is it roughly.
Secondly, have you already been using it and has reception been OK? But now you are finding reception problems, you should note that Beacon Hill is on Planned Engineering work this week , so there could be disruption to reception!
(There's also some weather related interference issues present which might affect some).

Beacon Hill requires a Group B aerial (although Group K or T or Wideband would work). The disadvantage of T & Wideband is the potential vulnerability to Mobile Interference should a new/updated mast operating at 700MHz start up near you.

In Swansea, previous location may be critical (full postcode) to try and identify the aerial, and was it mounted with the rods vertical or horizontal?
If vertical then it'll have been Kilvey Hill which is Group A (again K, T or Wideband would work).

If horizontal which direction was it pointing? Approx.ESE would have been Wenvoe, if approx. NNW it could have been Carmel.

Wenvoe is now essentially a Group B (but K may be slightly better for its Local mux on C37) but if the aerial was originally used to receive COMs 7&8 when they were on air, it could be T or Wideband (age or coloured bungs may help determine)..

Carmel was originally Group C/D but changed to Group K with the 700MHz Clearance in 2019 but a C/D might have continued to give adequate reception from Carmel in a good location.

So we might be able to establish if the aerial you have might be adequate for reception from Beacon Hill and whilst it's likely that you should get good signals from Beacon Hill, we need a full postcode to check predicted reception due to changes in local terrain.

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Chris.SE's 3,683 posts GB flag
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