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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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Tuesday, 6 September 2011
David Ralph
12:10 PM

What type of aerial do I need to obtain a good reception from the Mendip transmitter.
I am running 4 televisions at the moment with the aid of a booster. I am told I have a good signal.

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David Ralph's 1 post GB flag
12:56 PM

Emley Moor HD Freeview

There are no reported engineering works or problems for Emley Moor however for the last 4 or 5 days but I have experienced pixelation and signal dropout on all HD channels - this after 2 months of trouble free reception following acquisition of new TV

Last night signal quality was shown at less than 5% and signal strength about 22% for HD channels, whilst standard definition is more or less 100% quality and 90+% strength

any ideas or suggestions gratefully received

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Adrian's 1 post EU flag
Adrian's: mapA's Freeview map terrainA's terrain plot wavesA's frequency data A's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Steve P

4:25 PM

David R - Impossible to comment without knowing where you are and what your aerial is pointing at.

If it is all OK now it should stay OK.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag

9:10 PM

David Ralph: If you could perhaps provide a full postcode it might be possible to suggest which aerial to put on your roof.

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Briantist's 38,907 posts GB flag
Thursday, 8 September 2011
John J

2:20 PM

The Oxford transmitter is changing to digital this month and there's a message to re-tune our boxes on 14th and 28th. I've noticed though that the ITV channels are freezing a lot more than normal this week and wondered if this is likely to be something to do with the change over?

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John J's 29 posts GB flag
Steve P

6:06 PM

Might be the cold weather?

(getting coat)

More seriously, they might be moving equipment, cabling, aerials, etc. though they should be reporting low power if applicable. Have a look at the page of rthe Oxford Tx, which will show any announcements due to Brian's many links!

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag

10:43 PM

John J: There is engineering work listed for Oxford this week.

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Briantist's 38,907 posts GB flag
Friday, 9 September 2011
9:13 AM

please advise what type of loft aerial to install my postcode is TA8 1QR thankyou

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Geoff's 1 post GB flag
Geoff's: mapG's Freeview map terrainG's terrain plot wavesG's frequency data G's Freeview Detailed Coverage

9:16 AM

Geoff: Loft aerials are not suitable for reliable Freeview reception, please mount your aerial on the roof. You need only a standard rooftop aerial.

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Briantist's 38,907 posts GB flag
Steve P

1:52 PM

Geoff - Brian is a bit fundamentalist about the (undoubted) superiority of rooftop aerials; but depending on location and what the roof is made of and direction to transmitter youu MAY be OK with a loft aerial - or even a set top.

What do you use for analogue? Have you tried it for digital?

What do others nearby use?

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
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