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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
Whole house digital TV5
Connecting it all up6

Sunday, 2 September 2012
Stephen P

5:42 PM

If you were using FREEVIEW - ie digital TV before s/over you should still be able to, with a vertical aerial pointed at Torosay. But check with others locally as you are a little remote for some of the mapping!

See here re using skybox for free.

Can I stop paying Sky and use my satellite receiver to get Freeview ? | - 10 years of independent, free digital TV advice

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Stephen P's 1,173 posts GB
Saturday, 8 September 2012
Alan Clark

11:27 PM

Out of interest. Before digital (from Heathfield) I had two amplifier's to run 4 televisions of of one aerial, since switchover I have had to remove both amp's and now run all 4 with perfect results of the same aerial.

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Alan Clark's 24 posts GB

11:58 PM

Alan Clark: Thanks for the Heathfield TX report, the transmitter being located @ approx 12.5 miles / 345 degrees from your residence, the only unknown aspects being:(1) is the aerial referred to loft or roof mounted? and (2) are you using a passive (non amplified) splitter to feed the four TV's?

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
Sunday, 9 September 2012
Alan Clark

10:54 PM

jb38: The aerial is a high gain (class 1) outdoor, I fitted it to pick up a weak digital signal before change over. All splitters are passive and one of the sets is driven by an old freeview box which shows max signal strength.

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Alan Clark's 24 posts GB

11:52 PM

Alan Clark: Thanks once again for the update, as positive reports such as yours along with the distance from / degrees to the TX are handy for reference purposes, and as such kept filed away (by me anyway) for possible future use as may prove necessary.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Nick Anderson

2:33 PM

I recently purchased a second TV set for my conservatory and as there is no external aerial connection decided to buy an indoor "one for all" type with an amplified base numbered SV 9360. It also has a twin rod aerial which extends to one metre in height. Positioned close to the window it affords satisfactory reception on all available digital radio and TV channels with only occasional break up of signal on a few channels. I live 15 miles from the Rowridge transmitter. I would recommend this aerial.

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Nick Anderson's 131 posts GB
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Peter McGarry
12:49 PM

Hi everyone,

I live in the Tyne/Tees area and receive my TV transmissions from the Bilsdale transmitter via a standard Yagi type aerial which I have had for a number of years.
About 10 days, or so, ago (i.e. before today's digital changeover here) I began to have problems with the Channel 21 multiplex (ITV1, Channel 4, 5, etc.), with both picture and sound breaking up.
Our main tv is fed by a Topfield 5800 PVR. It shows a strong signal on all channels except 21. Sometimes I get a watchable service on 21 but, more often than not, picture and sound are very broken up.
Our other digital tv (a Samsung with its own Freeview tuner) didn't even pick up Channel 21 when I did a retune this morning (i.e. after the changeover).
I am using a Philex SLx4 distribution amplifier to feed the additional TVs in the house. It acts on UHF frequencies 470 MHz to 862 Mhz. I noted that channel 21 uses 474 MHz. I did wonder if this was maybe too close for comfort, but even if I miss this out and take the aerial cable straight to the PVR, I still get a weak signal on Channel 21 and strong signals on all other channels!
Is it possible that my aerial is no longer picking up Channel 21 effectively? If so, could anyone advise what I should replace it with. Or should I get a TV engineer to investigate?

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Peter McGarry's 2 posts GB
Dave Lindsay

1:31 PM

Peter McGarry: It's possible that some change was made at the transmitter, probably to do with preparation for switchover.

I would suggest that you don't make any changes or do anything that will cost you anything as it may well right itself when switchover completes in two weeks' time.

You could always try bypassing the distribution amplifier as a test by connecting the feed from the aerial directly to one of the room feeds.

The frequency range that the amp says it operates within is simply that which is used by TV so I wouldn't be concerned that it might be not as effective on C21. In any case, in two weeks' time the lowest channel that Bilsdale will use is C23.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB
Peter McGarry
5:42 PM

Dave Lindsay: Many thanks for your comments and advice. I'll hang fire for a couple of weeks, as you suggest, and see how things turn out when they've finished doing the switchover.

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Peter McGarry's 2 posts GB
Sunday, 16 September 2012
antony brown
8:45 PM

do the people who run the freeview service read these comments??i have posted a message asking why did we not get the correct information before i bought the wooburn transmitter is a light device which means you dont get all the channels.will it ever happen?sky has the upper hand.lets hope!!

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antony brown's 7 posts GB
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