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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
Do I need to buy a booster?2
How to receive Freeview on your PC3
Indoor aerials4
Whole house digital TV5
Connecting it all up6

Saturday, 21 January 2012
Steve P

4:33 PM

Maz have you tried a different TV and/or tuner box?

Take one with you tomorrow?

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag

5:02 PM

Steve have tried two tvs this job is a pain

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Mazbar's 384 posts GB flag

6:20 PM

Mazbar: That being the case then you will have to double check all you have done, plus the possibility of localised interference originating from within the property, and I am referring more to mains borne interference from devices with faulty chattering thermostat switches, like heaters / hot water tank systems / fridges / freezers, or alternatively other electrical devices with brush type motors, e.g: sewing machines and such likes.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag

6:23 PM

Mazbar: Also meant to add, try the aerial directly into the TV without the splitter being involved or anything else.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag

7:05 PM

Mazbar: Plus a good aid to detecting mains borne interference is by the use of a small portable radio that has medium or long wave bands on it, just switch it on and select LW, or if no LW then MW but tune it towards the 500Khz end of the scale but "not" on a station, then with the volume turned up a bit try sitting the radio near to a socket or any power cables feeding same, because if any device is causing mains borne interference it will show up as a loud purring or banging noise on the radio, don't sit it near to an LCD TV though, as some of these can create loud rippling noises on MW.

Alternatively, you could just try tests sitting it beside one of the devices referred to as possible sources of interference.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Sunday, 22 January 2012

1:56 PM

Sit sep customer called last night to tell me he had a new tv delivered and everything seemed ok i dont think so but i will wait and see. Went to another customer there itv was breaking up changed everything nothing helped put a set top box everything fine i have all the luck

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Mazbar's 384 posts GB flag
Monday, 23 January 2012
10:06 AM

Mazbar: hi maybe it could be a cordless telephone near the tv?

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dave's 1 post GB flag
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
ian ayres
9:25 PM

ive just brought a view quest pdvd7d portable 7" portable dvd tv to use on my fishing trips it says its dvb-t and has built in freeview. it only has a small 4" ariel and i cant get a signal. what can i do to get a signal. theres no power obviously to plug a mains booster in and cant take a huge ariel with me. any ideas????

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ian ayres's 1 post GB flag
Thursday, 26 January 2012

7:50 AM

ian ayres: Freeview reception requires a rooftop aerial. If you were sold such a device being told you could use it in the way you describe, I would take it back and demand a refund.

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Briantist's 38,905 posts GB flag
Steve P

10:53 AM

Ian - fish near TV trnsmitters.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
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