menuMENU    UK Free TV logo Freeview



Click to see updates

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.

Help with Television sets?
Why are all TVs on sale not digital?1
Do I still have to pay for a TV licence?2
I had perfect channel 5 reception - until I got a digital TV box!3
I Have a Pocket Tv For taking out so I can keep up with news and sport. Will thi4
The pictures from my digital box are all green!5
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

Tuesday, 21 February 2012
1:26 PM

Hi i live in LS21 area of leeds and can only pick up a few freeview channels, i have a yagi type aerial. How can i pick up more channels?

link to this comment
paul's 2 posts GB flag
paul's: mapP's Freeview map terrainP's terrain plot wavesP's frequency data P's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Mike Dimmick

1:53 PM

paul: The most likely transmitter shown for your location is the Wharfedale relay transmitter to your north-west. This only transmits the three PSB multiplexes. See Will there ever be more services on the Freeview Light transmitters? | - independent free digital TV advice for more information on why.

Digital UK predict that, once it switches over, Bilsdale will also provide a three-multiplex service. However, the commercial multiplexes are expected to be too unreliable. It appears to be because the same frequencies are used at the Addingham relay transmitter, which is a bit further west of Wharfedale. They're also used at the Sheffield site.

Digital UK's predictions are based on an aerial model which performs worse, in terms of directional response and cross-polar rejection, than most real aerials, so it might be possible to receive from Bilsdale - but it would likely still be unreliable.

link to this comment
Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag
2:08 PM

Cheers Mike,
So even with a new aerial i probably wont get any extra?

link to this comment
paul's 2 posts GB flag
paul's: mapP's Freeview map terrainP's terrain plot wavesP's frequency data P's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Mike Dimmick

3:15 PM

paul: Probably not. You could ask an installer to check after Bilsdale completes switchover on 26 September. You'd likely need an additional aerial, as Bilsdale carries BBC North East & Cumbria, and ITV1 Tyne Tees, not Yorkshire services.

link to this comment
Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Jez kirk
9:40 PM

What is the best aerial to use in the Netheredge area of Sheffield which is Sheffield 7 ,

link to this comment
Jez kirk's 1 post GB flag
Thursday, 23 February 2012
Dave Lindsay

10:45 AM

Jez Kirk: It's difficult to give an exact answer, and particularly so for somewhere like Sheffield which is hilly and what can and can't be received can change house by house. Therefore what sort of aerial is needed can vary house by house.

If you're DIYing it, then have a look at Aerials & TV for lots of information and products:

They are based at Hillsborough and could perhaps advise you, in particular as they install aerials in the area.

link to this comment
Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Friday, 24 February 2012
Jim Wright
1:08 PM


I live just to the west of Shrewsbury and am using the Wrekin transmitter. The aerial is mounted on the bottom of the gable end of the house and the best reception I can get is with the aerial pointing due east and the elements aligned vertically. In this position I can get most freeview channels but any bbc channels are unwatchable.
Is there anything else I can try or do I need to think about getting the aerial mounted on the chimney?


link to this comment
Jim Wright's 1 post GB flag
Jim's: mapJ's Freeview map terrainJ's terrain plot wavesJ's frequency data J's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Steve P

2:47 PM

... UK digital TV reception predictor

Jim - looks like you are using the weak signal from Llanfylin (confirm from channel numbers) not the much stronger one from the Wrekin. You should point just south of East; horizontal.

link to this comment
Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Saturday, 25 February 2012
peter whiting
10:45 AM

How do I discover whether a transmitter is vertically or horizontally polerised (is that the correct word?)?

There are smaller tramsmitters for problem areas. (I think) are they secondary transmiters and the main ones primary?

Is the horizontal/verticle stuff associated with te primary secondary business and which is which?

link to this comment
peter whiting's 2 posts GB flag
peter's: mapP's Freeview map terrainP's terrain plot wavesP's frequency data P's Freeview Detailed Coverage

10:55 AM

peter whiting: Look on the page for the relevant transmitter, see Hannington, Rowridge, Midhurst .

link to this comment
Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag
Select more comments

Your comment please
Please post a question, answer or commentUK Free TV is here to help people. If you are rude or disrespectful all of your posts will be deleted and you will be banned.

Privacy policy: UK Free Privacy policy.