The type of aerial you need to receive the digital signal differs from those that were used to receive the old analogue transmission. Digital aerials are all wideband, meaning that they can receive transmissions across the whole frequency band, rather than just the five frequencies of the old analogue channels.
Choosing the correct aerial
If you are replacing an existing digital aerial, and were previously happy with the reception, it is a good idea to replace like for like. If you want to try to improve your signal, check to see if there is a replacement aerial available which can help with this. If there is currently no aerial in place on your property, always buy the most efficient one you can afford. You can also have a look to see what types of aerials your neighbors use. As there is no longer any analogue signal being transmitted in the UK, all aerials you see in shops should be digital wideband aerials.
Strong Signal – If you have a strong TV signal at your property, a simple 10 element digital aerial should be sufficient. These are generally the cheapest type to buy.
Note: In areas with a very strong signal, it may be possible to have a set-top aerial instead of a wall/roof-mounted one.
Medium Signal – For weak to medium signal areas, a 30 element digital aerial is recommended. This type of aerial usually has a spread of 8 to 12 elements behind the main horizontal boom elements.
Weak or Very Weak Signal – If you live in an area with a very weak signal, you may have to go for a High Gain aerial. Look for a Tri-boom version for best results. You could also try a 48 or 50 element digital aerial, which are cheaper but not quite so powerful.
Fitting an Aerial
For the best possible reception, fitting your aerial outside is advised. If you prefer to fit the aerial in the loft, make sure you buy one with a higher element count than your signal area requires if possible.
Not all aerials are supplied with a full fitting kit, so make sure to check before you buy. Even if the aerial does come with a kit, you may need to buy a different one if you are planning to fit the aerial to a chimney, for example. You can often buy the fitting bracket and mast separately to give you the most flexibility. Make sure you take into account guttering if you are planning on fitting to a wall. If the bracket does not extend far enough out, you can buy a Crank Mast (a mast with a bend in it).
It is perfectly possible to fit an aerial designed go outside in the loft instead. Installing an aerial in the loft has several benefits, including making it much easier to access if you need to.
- If you plan to fit a digital TV aerial in the loft, it is advisable to choose one that is designed for a weak signal area (even if you live in an area with a medium or strong signal) to compensate for the walls or roof tiles that will be getting in the way.
- It is also important to make sure that nothing metal is directly in front of the aerial. An example of this would be a steel cold water storage tank.
Connecting the Aerial
Almost as important as the aerial, the cable run that connects it to the TV needs to be thought about carefully.
- Always buy good quality, screened coaxial cable and ensure that the connections at both ends are clean and fixed firmly.
- Keep the cable length to a minimum whenever possible. Having loops of spare cable in case you want to move the TV in future just means the signal has further to travel.
- Try to avoid any sharp bends in the cable and, if possible, keep the aerial cable away from power cable runs. The electricity could effect the signal in some circumstances.