Today’s the day your family decided to get a new aerial system for your television. Before giving a call, you realise that you have no idea which aerial is best for your place and which one best fits your budget. To make better-informed decisions, you need to do your research. Here are some tips that can help you make the right purchase:
- Know your aerials
Your digital terrestrial television will need an aerial, whether it is a Freeview or a Sky box system. An aerial is responsible for gathering and collecting signals that will be converted into sound and images for your television. The models and types vary with every platform and can be built-in, indoor or external. There are three factors to consider when choosing an aerial for your home:
- Polarity: While the term can be a little daunting, polarity refers to the direction currents flow, whether positive or negative. In simpler terms, this is determining if your television service is broadcasted horizontally or vertically. Your aerial should be mounted flat on the transmitter if the frequencies are horizontal or standing if vertical so that the rods match their direction.
- Aerial Group: Aerials are grouped according to the ranges of frequencies they can capture. These determine what services or programmes you can access on your television. After the introduction of 4G and 5G services, more television services are fit into fewer channels to keep people interested. As the frequencies are changing, some old antennae are no longer suitable for the frequencies we have today. As a result, wideband aerials are introduced to the market, as they cover all frequency ranges.
Between a group aerial or wideband, we recommend choosing the latter not only as an investment but also as a more practical choice.
- Location: No matter what type of aerial you may have, they all work best when placed ten metres (or more) above the ground and outside your house, without anything blocking it from the transmitter. However, installing an outdoor aerial takes the most work. Take note of safety rules or community guidelines (if you have) in your area. Before your aerial is fully attached, check if you have a clear picture already–you wouldn’t want to redo your hard work only to find your television without any signal.
If your home is located on a higher altitude or is known to have good coverage, you may opt for a loft or indoor aerials. Loft TV aerials are usually placed inside attics, just underneath your roof’s covering. This is easier to install than external ones and is not exposed to outside elements. However, as the roof stands between it and the sky, the signal tends to be weaker and will not work if you have a metal roof.
Indoor aerials are the easiest to install, only needing to be plugged and placed near the television. When this doesn’t work, you can set it at the nearest window. This ensures that no metal is not barring the aerial from receiving a signal. While indoor aerials tend to be more convenient, new properties today have foil insulation in their roofs and walls, causing the signal strength to get weaker. This type of aerial is not guaranteed to perform well if the location you’re in has weak signals.
When choosing between indoor aerials, we recommend the mini replicas of external ones. The other option, looped wire aerials, are not effective when catching signals, resulting in scratchy graphics and audio.
- Signal Strength: As mentioned previously, your location will determine how secure your signal is. If your aerial will be feeding more than one television, knowing the signal strength of your area will help you decide between a splitter or an amplifier. A splitter is used to divide the signal between two or more televisions. If the signal is weak, you will need an amplifier or signal booster to strengthen it before it travels to different TVs.
- Know your transmitter
You can find out which transmitter you have to choose via an online postcode checker. You may input your postcode and the house number, and it will give the transmitter that is most used or recommended in your area, the number of services available and the TV packages you may avail of. However, we recommend taking this with a grain of salt. All of this will still depend on the previous factors that also affect your transmitter: signal strength, location, obstructions and polarity.
- Know the process
Fortunately, aerial installation services are quite easy to arrange. Simply call a trusted service provider, set a date and time for them to install your new system, and make sure they are well-compensated.
First, they will set up your TV aerial and align it using a meter. They need to measure the signal strength, signal quality, and flat multiplexes. As the two previous have already been discussed, let’s define flat multiplexes. As these three work together to better your TV reception, having a sloped one on your meter means your aerial needs to be realigned. You will want your multiplexes to be as flat as possible to have a better image.
Once your aerial is all aligned, your technician will go to your television and set it up for tuning. Tuning refers to the moment your television scans all available signals and places your channels in the right order. This should be repeated if your TV aerial has moved.