With the digital switchover, the way we watch television is changing! You may want to take advantage of these changes by switching to one of the free TV options. Or you may have watched free TV all along and still be confused about whether or not you will need an aerial to keep watching television for free.

family watching tv freeviewThis article will help you know what you need so you don't miss out on your favourite programmes!

The Knowhow

If you subscribe to a cable TV or a satellite TV service, or have a dish for Freesat, you won't need an aerial. However If you want to keep or switch to Freeview, you will still need some kind of aerial. The type you need depends on where you live and the transmitter that serves your area.

If you're new to Freeview, it's important first to make sure that you are in an area where you can pick up Freeview coverage. You can check the channels you can watch on Freeview by inserting your postcode here: http://www.freeview.co.uk/

Why is an aerial still needed?

Television signal strength can vary in different parts of the country from city to rural depending on where transmitters are located as well as physical surroundings that might obstruct a signal.

Out of the 50 total Freeview channels, around 15 of these are ones that we pay a TV licence fee for. The rest are commercial channels that may or may not have invested to extend their reach past local relay transmitters.

If you live in an area that doesn't get all of the Freeview channels, you may also need a stronger type of aerial.

If you have not accessed Freeview before, you will need to purchase Freeview equipment or a television that comes with Freeview integrated to decode the signals. Set top boxes are the least expensive way to go digital as you don't have to buy a new TV or pay for a subscription.

If you've already been watching analogue TV with an aerial that works well, you probably won't need to buy a new aerial to watch free TV on Freeview as long as your equipment has been converted to receive digital.

If you're still unsure about whether or not you need to upgrade your aerial, you can check the Digital UK website for more detailed information here: Digital UK Aerial Checker

What kind of aerials are there?

Integrated Tuners:

New digital TVs often have tuner for Freeview built in. If you're looking to buy a new digital TV, it's well worth looking in to those with an integrated tuner to avoid the need for an additional set-top box.  If you live very close to the source of the digital signal you may be able to use a set-top or integrated aerial.

TV antenna plug in

Set top box aerials:

These indoor aerials sit on top of or beside your television where signals are strong enough to overcome antenna shortcomings. Cost is not necessarily an indicator of quality and some models come with built in amplifiers to boost available signals.

Sometimes these amplifiers can also amplify unwanted interferance or noise as well as the signal so if you've put up with a snowy picture at times due to your location, now might be a good time to consider another kind of aerial.

TV aerial on roof

Outdoor aerials:

These metal aerials are installed on the outside on a building to pick up the best signal. Generally, the higher the antenna is placed and the more metal it has the better it will pick up the weaker signals. Sometimes higher buildings, hills, poor weather conditions or thick trees might weaken the signal but in most cases a usable service will still be available.

For aesthetic reasons, antennas designed for rooftop use can sometimes be installed in your loft, although this can decrease reception.

Using a rooftop aerial is often more reliable for Freeview TVs and boxes. If your current aerial is working well, it's unlikely that you will need a new one unless your current one is getting rusty with age, has become damaged, or is still not getting all the new channels.

If you think you might need to replace your rooftop aerial, find a Registered Digital Installer (RDI) who has been trained and security checked rather than installing it yourself. The Knowhow team will install, set up and tune your Freeview set top box and aerial. Just click here to find out how: KNOWHOW Aerial Installation

The good thing is, thanks to the digital switchover, many more homes have now been added Freeview's coverage. But no matter where you live, the days of having to put up with just a few channels of fuzzy TV are definitely a thing of the past!

For more info on Freeview click on the following links:

Troubleshoot lost Freeview Channels

Can I use a portable set top aerial for freeview?

What to consider when your new TV doesn't pick up all the Freeview channels

Updated On:

Oct 04, 2012

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