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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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Connecting it all up6

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

12:36 PM

AT-Lancs: What is your postcode? - so a check on reception possibilities can be made.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB flag
Kevin Allen
6:56 PM

I'm in B28 using the Sutton Coldfield transmitter with a Technika 8320HD PVR. Now that analogue's off in my area I was hoping for good HD reception.

According to the 8320HD, all channels have a signal strength around 76%.

SD channels, ITV1 HD and CH4 HD have Quality of 100% and SNR around 32%.

Both BBC HD channels have Quality of 75% and SNR around 24%.

Is there anything that I can do?

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Kevin Allen's 2 posts GB flag

8:11 PM

Kevin Allen: At only 12 miles away from the transmitter HD reception should be excellent, and although that box you are using has a somewhat chequered history of problems, having been withdrawn from sale at one point because of them, you really have to give some info regarding your aerial system, which if too elaborate is liable to cause severe signal overloading problems resulting in poor quality reception.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Thursday, 1 December 2011
Kevin Allen
12:23 PM


My aerial is a High Gain Class 1 on the chimney stack with a 3-way amplifier in the loft.

I'm never sure that the 8320HD is telling me the truth. The figures sometimes change depending whether you're going up or down the list of channels.

This morning it's saying that all SD channels are fine and all HD channels have Quality around 75% and SNR around 24%.

I'll have to be more thorough in my testing. The picture seems OK on HD, maybe the box has trouble recording HD signals.

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Kevin Allen's 2 posts GB flag
8:07 PM
Welwyn Garden City

My post code is AL8 6SH. I have a 2 year old tv with an old rooftop aerial . I have problems receiving channels 3, 4, 5 and 6. Would a more upmarket aerial improve reception?

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DJN's 1 post GB flag
DJN's: mapD's Freeview map terrainD's terrain plot wavesD's frequency data D's Freeview Detailed Coverage

8:20 PM

@DJN - your reception prediction for that mux(grouo of channels) is variable. An aerial will help, but it will solve after DSO anyway.

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Matt's 101 posts GB flag
Matt's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage

9:23 PM

Kevin Allen: Well, now you have mentioned details about your aerial system I would recommend that you try a test by-passing the amplifier, albeit this just as a temporary measure as you obviously feed the signal to other rooms.

I suggest this test as although you are only 12 miles away from the massively powerful S/C transmitter I appreciate that there might be some obstruction between you and the station which could seriously restrict the signal you receive from it, but should this not be the case then you certainly do not want any form of amplification on the aerial or you stand the danger of severely overloading the tuners input circuitry, and which can cause you to experience a variety of problems that are usually only associated with weak signals.

If you find that a test by-passing the amp improves your situation, then the insertion of an attenuator in line with the amplifiers input will give the required results whilst still retaining the three way splitter facility.

My reference to your box was really made along the lines, that as its a bit non standard any signal strength indications seen on it have to be treated with an element of suspicion as to their accuracy, not of course that accuracy really comes into the equation as most TV's / boxes indicate different from each other when tested on the same signal.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
3:40 PM
Downham Market

I have three TVs in the house but only one HD ready, the others have Freeview boxes. The HD TV also has a HD digital recorder plugged in to it. We have good reception on all channels but cannot get HD channels at all on the HD TV. I have auto retuned and manual retuned several times but it does not recognise the HD channels. We have a roof aerial pointing to Tacolneston Norfolk and a booster in the loft. Our neighbours all have Sky or are pointing to Sandy Heath {which gave a poorer signal when aerial was installed by professionals. We have tried to reinstall with the HD TV only (bypassing the recorder) with no luck. If I turn off the booster I get bad reception on everything. Getting desperate here - Bernard, West Norfolk

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Bernard's 1 post GB flag
Bernard's: mapB's Freeview map terrainB's terrain plot wavesB's frequency data B's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Thursday, 8 December 2011

9:34 PM

I have now down tests on a whole range of high gain aerials: see:

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Matt's 101 posts GB flag
Matt's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage

11:19 PM

Bernard: HD ready generally means exactly that, insomuch that the TV is capable of displaying an HD picture, however this is not necessarily from its own tuner but from external sources, i.e: an external HD Freeview or Freesat box.

As you haven't mentioned the model involved I cant check, but go into the TV's user manual / specifications and look whats mentioned about the tuner, if you see DVB-T then it cannot pick up an HD signal as it requires a DVB-T2 spec for that.

The other point being that the tuner will just ignore an HD signal during its scanning process, usually indicating "no signal".

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
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