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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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How to receive Freeview on your PC3
Indoor aerials4
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Connecting it all up6

Wednesday, 8 February 2012
steve obrien
2:13 PM

We have 6 TV's in our house, all are freeview <4 yrs old. We have a single roof arial that looks like a yagi (as above) and a booster in the loft. 5 work perfectly ok but having replaced an old analogue TV in the kitchen with one from another room (which picked up dtv ok)it only works on analogue - the dtv picture being pixelated/frozen. I tried a signal booster but this made no difference. I can rule out the TV or cable as both work ok elsewhere, the arial works for the other TV's which only appears to leave the arial cable which travels outside of the house onto/through the roof (I cant follow it all the way). Any ideas?

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steve obrien's 1 post GB flag

2:16 PM

David Yates: I am glad to hear that you have the services working again.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Steve P

2:46 PM

sob - your analysis seems spot on!

Have you tried other TVs in the kitchen? Some need stronger signal than others.

Can you get to your booster/splitter? Try switching the leads round and see if the problem is with the downlead or the output port.

You may have individually variable gains adjustable with a knob or screw.

IIUC there is a socket in the kitchen? Remmove it and check for dirt/damp/bad connections.

If all that fails looks like n ew cable needed

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
John Turley
3:17 PM

John Turley: My wife pulled all the plugs and left the tv overnight. Next day fitted all the plugs then retuned, everything o.k. Shall I get her a jop as a tv repair person??

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John Turley's 3 posts GB flag
John's: mapJ's Freeview map terrainJ's terrain plot wavesJ's frequency data J's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Steve P

4:41 PM

John Turley: Why are you talking to yourself?

Powercycling is of course a major computer repair technique.

And time a great healer of transmitter and propagation issues.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
walt austin
4:41 PM

Hi we live in a village in derbyshire, our nearest transmitter is about3 miles away it is a relay transmitter, we can get some freeview channels but not a lot, some channels disappear depending on air pressure we have been told we are picking them up by fluke from the main transmitter, Ithink winter hill which is in the opposite direction to the relay transmitter in chinley any advice much appreciated

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walt austin's 1 post GB flag

4:45 PM

walt austin: It's a bit hard to advise without a full postcode.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag

4:50 PM

John Turley: All electronic devices have a "power on self-test" (POST) as part of their start up sequence. For this reason, turning the power off and on again, usually with a few seconds pause, will ask any device to test itself.

Most devices just assume that if everything is working OK when it was turned on, then they will continue to be that way.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Thursday, 9 February 2012
Gus Blanchard
12:25 PM

Can I connect a (Sky) satellite dish to a Freeview tuner? Will I get Freeview or Freesat?

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Gus Blanchard's 1 post GB flag
John Titley
2:31 PM

Even if I use the best Wide Band Aerial will I still be limited to the limited amount of channels availabe from the St.Dogmaels transmitter?
I know Preseli sends out all channels; according to your advice off the net we are unable to receive a signal from Preseli. We are SA43 3AY.

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John Titley's 2 posts GB flag
John's: mapJ's Freeview map terrainJ's terrain plot wavesJ's frequency data J's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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