The Complete TV Aerial Installation Guide

Whether you have freeview or satellite television, you’ll discover that installing a new aerial TV will bring improvements to both the sound and picture, and will ensure that you can receive all of the available channels.

When looking for TV antenna installation, there are many things to consider, from what type of aerial you need, to the location of the aerial and the cost. We all love to watch television, and there’s a wider choice of stations available than ever, but if you have an old, damaged, or badly positioned aerial or TV satellite dish, you might notice that some channels become unwatchable.

How much does TV aerial installation cost?

The cost of television aerial installation will vary depending upon which part of the United Kingdom you live in and which kind of aerial you require installing. The cost increases if you require longer poles, new boosters, splitters, extra cables and sockets. You may have to pay less if you simply look to replace an aerial  TV on an existing pole while keeping the same cables. Another factor that affects the cost of the installation is how easy is the access to the chimney.

London, of course, is the most expensive area to have a TV antenna installed. You should expect to pay anywhere between £200 and £300 depending on the contractor and the required labour. If you live in northern England, Scotland or Wales, the TV antenna installation cost is considerably cheaper. The typical cost of aerial installation in these areas is between £170 – £260. 

What is the digital switchover?

The digital switchover means that the UK’s analogue TV signal is being switched off and replaced with a digital one. To receive digital TV, you’ll need a digital box (from Freeview, for instance), a new TV with a built-in digital box, or a cable or satellite service like Sky.

After switchover, you’ll receive more channels and features such as on-screen listings, interactivity and audio and subtitling for those that require it. On top of all those benefits, going digital will also free up broadcast space, making room for other services like wireless broadband, local TV and high definition TV.

How do I know if I need a new TV aerial installed?

Before rushing out to get a new TV aerial installed for the digital switchover, carry out a quick test first; this could show that your current TV aerial will suffice. A test pattern is broadcast on Teletext page 284 on BBC, BBC2, ITV1 and Channel 4. Make sure you try the test on each channel, preferably at different times of the day and during different types of weather. Who will give you a more comprehensive overview of whether or not you need to get a new TV aerial installed?

If more than four squares are missing in the test signal, randomly (not in a completely straight line), then chances are you will probably need to get your TV aerial checked and replaced. However, if the screen shows a full grid of white boxes, your aerial should be sufficient for the digital switchover.

Why hire a TV aerial installer?

If grainy pictures, crackling noises and jumping images are an everyday occurrence on your television screen, but you want to avoid upgrading to digital TV for just a little while longer, then it’s probably about time you have a new aerial installed. Some homeowners don’t mind facing this as a simple DIY job. Still, if you lack the experience or aren’t that confident up a ladder, then you are better off hiring a professional, qualified engineer who can:

  • Securely mount and install a new indoor or outdoor TV aerial, whether it is in your loft, on your roof or elsewhere on the exterior of your property.
  • Position the aerial using their in-depth knowledge of the most local signal transmitters to make sure you and your family get the best reception possible
  • Use all the necessary materials, including a mast, screws, bolts, ground rods and sealant, to successfully fit together with your aerial with the down lead (or co-axial cable) and TV set.
  • Fit new internal TV points or replace older, damaged ones in your home. They can even move a point across a room if you fancy repositioning the television set.

Where can I find a quality local aerial installer?

Here are some tips you might consider before selecting a TV aerial installer. You’ll want an installer with a good reputation, offers great value for money and provides a good after-sales service. It may be that your aerial will need adjusting after installation, so it’s good to have an installer that will include this as part of their standard service.

Your local newspaper may have adverts for television aerial installers, but the internet is a great place to find local tradespeople. Aerial installation is a specialist skill, so before you decide, ask the installer how much experience they have and what qualifications they have. It would help if you always asked for references or testimonials. A reputable trader will be happy to provide you with this information.

Why is it important to hire a licensed aerial installer?

You must use a local, licensed installer as they are skilled and qualified to make digital TV installations. Digital TV reception requires higher skill levels to both install and identify reception problems. A registered installer will have all of the skills required to carry out the job, and they will have been assessed to make sure they are competent.

The other advantages of using a licensed installer are that they have been certified to work at heights, carry a minimum of two million pounds public liability insurance, and have also undergone a criminal record check.

How long will my new TV aerial last?

Modern TV aerials are built to last, and you can expect a good quality antenna to last between ten to twenty years. One thing to bear in mind, however, is the increasingly unpredictable weather that the UK experiences. Bad weather conditions (as strong winds or rainfall) might damage TV aerials; if so, it is advisable to call professional experts, not repairing on your own. Your TV aerial installer can also provide TV aerial repairs, antenna re-alignment and much more.

Where should my TV aerial be located?

Your TV aerial must be situated where it can receive the strongest digital signal. Rooftops are the most commonplace to locate them, but the ideal position can be greatly affected by the area’s geography. Finding the perfect location or alignment (strong and clear signal) for your satellite dish might take some time before installation.  Ensure your aerial has some bad weather protection, and it will make water ingress less likely.

Digital TV aerial installation tips

digital aerial tv tips
Just as with an analogue aerial installation, you will need to carefully consider the following points when purchasing and fitting a digital TV aerial:

Hire an experienced aerial installer

For best results, hire an aerial installer who has been on the job for around four to five years or more and who is fully qualified with an association like the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI). Experienced contractors have a good understanding of all the necessary materials you need to get the work done properly (including the mast, co-axial cable and internal TV point). They can usually work faster too – saving you a bit of extra money.

Hire locally

Local contractors will generally have a good understanding of all the signal transmitters in the surrounding area. They will be able to position your new digital aerial or satellite dish to provide the best picture possible.

Make sure your new aerial is digital-compatible

That might sound like a silly thing to point out, but plenty of people purchase a new aerial without checking it is compatible with their new Freeview, Freesat or Sky or Virgin top-box. If you are also purchasing a new TV, you could always buy one with Integrated Digital Freeview instead – that way; you don’t have to worry about an aerial at all!

Check for a guarantee.

When purchasing a new aerial, you should always make sure you get a guarantee or selected warranty. That way, you can rest knowing that will definitely refund you for a shoddy job, and if any problems occur in the next couple of years, you won’t have to pay out all over again.

Compare quotes

If you want the best deal possible, always compare at least three different quotes from local professionals. Check with family and friends and see if they can suggest anybody who has done a good job fitting an aerial for them before – you might be able to get the aerial fitted quickly. At a surprisingly low price, if you tell the contractor, they came recommended. The final cost of digital aerial installation will differ from home to home, but generally, you should look to pay around £150 to £300 (including parts and an hour’s labour).