If you've moved into a new home recently, or just want add another television point to an existing bedroom, then you're gonna need to install a television aerial.
Unlike a satellite dish installing a TV aerial is well within the capability of the average DIYer, especially if it's being installed in the loft/attic.
A television aerial on average, will cost you between £15-£45. A pack of coax plugs, coaxial cable, cable clips and a mount (if needed) will set you back another £20-£45. Not a lot really, and it's considerably cheaper than a "professional" who will charge you at least £90-£150.
In most cases it's quite easy to figure out where your local TV transmitter is as you only have to look at your neighbours homes and take note of the direction the aerial is pointing to.
However, if you have moved into a new build property or you live out in the country things are trickier. The vast majority of new build properties will have the aerial/aerials installed in the loft rather than the outside of the building or chimney. If you live out in the country, then neighbours may be few and far between.
Even if you can see your neighbours TV aerial on the outside of their home, it may not be pointing to the optimal transmitter since things have changed considerably since the introduction of digital and HD transmissions, meaning not all transmitters carry the same amount of channels, or deliver local news and programs to your region.
How to Find the Best Transmitter?
For this tutorial method I'll be using using a website called ukfree.tv, which will recommend the best TV transmitter based on your postcode and Google Earth, which will give you a good idea where you should point your television aerial.
First thing you need to do is go to ukfree.tv and click on the small gear icon in the top right-hand corner.
Once a new page open it will probably ask you if it can automatically detect your location depending on your web browser. It's best to decline this as this isn't always accurate.
Instead, enter your postcode in the "Freeview prediction postcode" box and click on "predict".
Once the new page opens scroll down a little bit and you should see a map which indicates the best transmitter with a Freeview icon. For example, your home will be highlighted with a yellow icon with a green footprint indicating you can receive a good signal from this transmitter. Other transmitters will also be displayed, plus a 4G mass, if one is available in your area.
In my case, I live in Newport in south-east Wales, and it's recommending that I point my TV aerial to the Mendip transmitter in the south of England. Other transmitters in Pontypool, and Machen are available. However, the Pontypool transmitter has a very small footprint, and the Mynydd Machen transmitter is known as a Freeview Light transmitter and only carries small amount of channels rather than the full list, meaning it's a last option for those who live in a poor reception area.
To get a more detailed overview of each transmitter and which one suits your property the best, you need to double-click on the transmitter/Freeview icon. Once you click on your chosen transmitter, it will give you a more detailed footprint and how far it reaches and whether you're in the green, yellow or black zone. Green indicates the strongest signal while black indicates the weakest.
Don't be alarmed if your property isn't showing up within the green, yellow or black footprint as this doesn't necessarily mean you won't get a signal.
If your property isn't in the green area, but in the yellow or black, then it's best to invest in a high gain (13dBi-16.5dBi) TV aerial. These are usually twice the size of a normal aerial and will help to pick up a weaker signal.
Which Way Should I Mount My TV Aerial?
Once you double-click on a transmitter icon, it will display on the left-hand side a list of multiplexes. Next to each multiplex will be a (h) or (v) in brackets. A (h) means you have to mount your aerial horizontally, and a (v) means you have to do mount your aerial vertically.
The reason for this is that it helps prevents interference from other nearby transmitters.
Using Google Earth to Get an Accurate Direction
If you can't get a general idea, which way you should point your TV aerial using the map on ukfree.tv, then you can use Google Earth to get a better idea. As mentioned above, when you double-click on a transmitter it gives you further information.
Right at the top the page there are options that include, Google Street view, Google maps, Bing maps, Google Earth, plus its coordinates and postcode et cetera.
If you've installed Google Earth, then all you have to do is click on the "Google Earth" icon and Google Earth should load with the exact location of the transmitter. You'll have to save a small file and open it to load Google Earth via your chosen web browser. Google Earth will not always be 100% accurate and sometimes it can be half a mile or more out, meaning you have to do a little bit of manual searching yourself to find the transmitter.
Now the location of the transmitter has been located via Google Earth, you can type in your postcode in the search box in the top left-hand corner. This will then take you to your street where you can manually search for your house.
Now that the location of the transmitter and your home has been located via Google Earth, you can draw a line using the ruler option on the top toolbar. Simply click on the ruler icon and select "line" and draw a straight line from your home to the transmitter. Try and be as accurate as possible with this. Once complete, save it.
You can now zoom in on the location of your home and see the direction of the line. This will give you a very accurate guide to align your aerial correctly.
That's it. Happy viewing.