Self Help Topics
 
Technical Solutions Made Easy

Home fitting loft TV aerials

Loft TV Aerial Installation Guide

Solve Poor Reception

Freeview aerial upgrade

High Gain Loft Aerial

SLx 27884D Wideband

  • Easy DIY installation
  • Covers all TV Channels
  • Suitable for Loft or Outdoor use
Best Price £19.67 Buy from Amazon

If you're installing an indoor TV aerial in a loft, this installation guide provides DIY help, tips and advice on how to get the best Freeview reception and reduce interference when mounting TV aerials in any attic or roof space.

In reality, if you live more than about 20 miles from a main UHF TV transmitter, fitting a loft aerial is unlikely to provide perfect Freeview TV reception. Please also note that the type of aerial you'll need will vary depending on where you live in the UK.

In practice, indoor TV aerials may give poor reception even in locations quite close to a television transmitter, depending on your local terrain - Read common causes of poor reception for help.

For example, the presence of nearby obstructions like hills and tall buildings or screening from trees may adversely affect the direct line of sight view of the transmitter, resulting in a weak television signal with multipath effects, resulting in Freeview reception problems and picture break up.

The use of loft aerials will inevitably mean that your digital TV picture is more prone to breaking up with occasional pixilation. Indoor aerials are installed at a lower height and suffer additional signal attenuation due to roof tiles and roofing materials, as well as being more susceptible to interference pickup from house wiring in the attic.

How to Install Loft Aerials

Digital TV Signal Meter

Freeview Digital TV Signal Strength Meter

Freeview Signal Meter

Philex SLx - 27867R

  • For Easy Aerial Installation
  • Clear LED Signal Readout
  • Get Best Freeview Signal
Best Price £9.95 Buy from Amazon

Our loft aerial installation tips assume you don't have access to a TV Signal Strength Meter, which would make alignment much easier and more accurate.

Before you install any indoor aerial, ask your neighbours whether they get good Freeview reception using a loft aerial. If they get a weak TV signal with problematic Freeview reception, then high gain external TV aerial installation is advised. We recommend getting a roof-top aerial fitted by a local CAI installer.

If indoor TV aerials appear viable in your area, you can crudely check digital signal strength and quality in your loft by trying a portable TV and a Set-Top Aerial inside your attic. You will need to borrow or buy a digital set top box or DVB-T Scart Adapter if your TV hasn't got a Freeview tuner built in.

For your own health and safety, please read sensible precautions when installing a loft aerial before you start work.

Check TV Aerial Compass Bearing

Loft Aerial Bracket

Loft Aerial Mounting Kit

Loft Aerial Mounting Kit

Philex 29923R

  • Easy to Fix
  • Screw to Loft Floor or Rafters
  • Aerial Not supplied

Only £13.99

Buy from Amazon

When installing the test set top TV aerial, get the bearing and distance to your TV transmitter by entering your postcode into the Wolfbane Digital TV Coverage Estimator and check Freeview coverage maps for your area. Also find out whether your local TV transmitter uses Horizontal (H) or Vertical (V) polarisation. The required TV aerial polarisation is defined in the Wolfbane 'POL' column.

To get the latest digital channel numbers for your local transmitter visit Digital UK, then enter your UK Postcode and tick the "I am in the aerial installation trade" option. This gives a full list of TV transmitters serving your area, together with the UHF channel allocations of all DVB-T multiplexes.

Then use a compass to find the TV transmitter bearing from your property. Install the temporary loft aerial by moving it around your attic to get the best signal quality on all digital TV channels whilst optimising its bearing to the transmitter. Remember to compare the signal quality on channels from each digital multiplex to ensure consistent Freeview reception. The use of our suggested test channels is recommended.

If the set top TV aerial installation gives good reception when mounted in your loft on all digital TV channels, then a DIY high gain indoor aerial should provide excellent results. If DTT reception is poor or marginal in your attic, install an outdoor roof TV aerial instead.

Checking DVB-T Signal Quality

The following digital TV channels are transmitted on different Freeview multiplexes and are broadcast from all main (high power) TV tansmitters, so checking that their signal quality is reasonably consistent during the loft aerial installation process will ensure you can receive all available Freeview channels. Refer to your particular set top box user manual to find out how to check signal quality.

Note that UK Relay Transmitters do not transmit a full complement of Freeview channels.

Recommended test channels for aligning a loft aerial for best Freeview reception:

  • BBC One
  • ITV1
  • ITV3
  • BBC Parliament
  • Sky News
  • Film 4
 

UK TV Transmitter Coverage Predictions - useful links

Indoor Aerial Pros and Cons

Humax DTR-T1000

Humax DTR-T1000 YouView Digital TV Recorder

Humax DTR-T1000

YouView Digital TV Recorder

  • Pause and Rewind Live TV
  • Record two channels at once
  • Freeview HD compatible
  • Receives BBC One HD, BBC Two HD, ITV1 HD & Ch4 HD
  • Supports catch-up TV
  • 50+ standard definition Ch's
  • Connects to your TV aerial
  • Satellite dish not required
  • Massive 500GB Disk
  • Up to 300Hrs of recording
  • Full HD 1080p upscaling HDMI Interface
Best Price £225.00 Buy from Amazon

Fitting indoor loft TV aerials generally results in less than half the signal strength of an external roof mounted aerial due to the attenuation of roof tiles and roofing materials. There is also a reduction in received signal strength resulting from the lower height when installing indoor aerials compared to roof top aerials.

However, to DIY install a indoor aerial in a loft does have some advantages. For example, it suffers no weather damage, rain ingression or plastic UV degradation from the sun - so there some benefits in installing indoor aerials over the 10 year life expectancy of a roof-top aerial in the UK.

Loft aerials also provide aesthetic advantages and where restrictive covenants exist in the deeds of a property forbidding external installation, fitting a high gain wideband loft aerial for TV reception may be the only viable option.

Since you can expect a 6dB to 10dB signal loss by fitting TV aerials in your loft, you should always try to install a high gain aerial wherever possible to help counteract losses through the tiles and roof. That said, when embarking on any loft aerial installation consider the space you have available! Always avoid using very large aerials in your attic, like 100 Element Arrays as they can be hard to install and position, especially if your loft is small.

Above all, always install a quality aerial, rather than a cheap aerial with a signal booster.

It is just as important to buy quality double screened CT100 or Satellite Grade Coaxial Cable to feed your indoor loft aerial as large signal losses can result from older supposedly "Low loss" single screened TV cables.

Where Freeview services are transmitted on a narrow group of UHF channels, a TV aerial optimised for those channels will outperform a high gain wideband aerial.

I often get asked whether a 'One For All' or similar set top TV aerial with signal booster will work when fitted in the loft. The answer depends on signal strength and proximity to a TV transmitter. In general, only areas very close to a high power TV transmitter in the primary service area with clear line of sight will get good Freeview reception with any set top aerial.

Read our One for All Aerial Review for more information on the vagaries and limitations of One for All TV aerials.

Poor Indoor Aerial Reception Scenarios

Where the direction to the TV transmitter means that an indoor aerial needs pointing through solid walls rather than tiles in your loft, UHF signal attenuation can be much higher.

If you are in a row of houses and the aerial has to point through multiple party walls and roof-spaces, then you can expect very poor reception and weak TV signal levels from your attic aerial, even quite close to the transmitter.

A masthead aerial amplifier will help a little in these circumstances, especially if you're using a long cable run from the aerial. For better results, consider installing a High Gain Freeview TV Aerial - roof mounted (if permitted).

Common Causes of Poor TV Reception from an Indoor Aerial

Installing indoor TV aerials in your loft may give a poor signal if:-

  • Foil or Lead Roofing Materials - Metal foil roof materials have been used in the loft of your property.
  • Signal Attenuation Due to Walls - An indoor aerial pointed through brick wall/s will usually receive less signal than through tiles alone. In the worse cases a TV aerial may point through your roof space and the roofs of your neighbours in the direction of the transmitter. In these cases try to re-position your aerial in the attic to minimise these obstructions for a clear unobstructed view of the transmitter. Where this simply is not possible and weak signal problems exist, fit a roof TV aerial.
  • Hills and tall buildings - The line of sight path to the TV transmitter is partially or totally obstructed by nearby hills or tall building/s.
  • Trees - The path to the TV transmitter is directly through nearby tall trees. In this case, TV reception problems may only become apparent during high winds and stormy weather when the trees move around more. At the authors location large TV signal fluctuations due to trees is a serious problem and a good quality external aerial has improved the problem, but not fully eliminated it, even though the Hannington TV transmitter is only 7 miles away!
  • Junk in the Attic - Your loft aerial installation points through a neighbour's roof space and they have a junk filled attic or your loft has lots of metallic items close to the aerial installation position, which can de-tune the aerial.
  • Water Tanks - The aerial has to be installed behind water tanks or close to pipes which will de-tune it.
  • High UHF Channels - The TV transmitter serving your area transmits on high number UHF channels (channel numbers above 40) which suffer much greater signal loss through roof tiles and walls. TV channels or DVB-T multiplexes on high UHF frequencies (Ch50 - 68) can suffer higher levels of signal attenuation if you install a loft aerial, often leading to picture break up (blocky images).
  • Impulse Noise Interference - Loft aerials often suffer problems from impulse noise problems leading to breakup of the Freeview digital TV picture. This is often seen as an occasional, momentary freezing of the picture. A Log Periodic TV Aerial can really help to reduce this kind of interference due to its inherent design and improved polar diagram - rejecting interference from the side and back of the antenna.

    Above all, always ensure you are using satellite grade double screened coaxial cable for all downleads to reduce interference pickup and minimise signal loss.

CAI Aerial Benchmarking Standards

The Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) undertake aerial benchmarking (which involves the formal testing and evaluation of TV aerials from all manufacturers). The CAI then apply benchmark standards of   1 - 4 to aerials which meet their strict quality guidelines.

In general, Standard 1 CAI Benchmarked Aerials will work best in weak Freeview reception areas whilst Standard 2 CAI Benchmark Aerials like the Triax Unix52 are smaller, suffer less wind load and represent a good choice for both average and fringe signal areas. A cheaper (non CAI approved) alternative is the SLx 27884D 48 Element Wideband TV Aerial.

The installation of a CAI benchmarked TV aerial of standard 1 or 2 will improve Freeview reception over standards 3 and 4 types. For a definitive list of CAI approved and benchmarked aerials by manufacturer, please refer to the aerial benchmarking section of the DTG Website.

Fitting the Best Loft Aerial

Digital Coaxial Cable

10m WF100 Satellite Coax

WF100 Coaxial Cable

Suits Freeview Installation

  • Sold in 10m lengths
  • Latest specification digital cable
  • Double screened
  • Low loss foam insulator
Best Price £5.49 Buy from Amazon

Choosing and installing the best indoor TV aerial in your loft depends entirely on where you live in the UK and available space.

The UHF channel allocations of many UK television transmitters require wideband TV aerial installation, especially for good Freeview reception (DTV), whilst other regions allow the use of aerials optimised for a narrow band of UHF frequencies, even for Freeview. To find out the type of digital compatible TV aerial required in your particular region of the UK, try the 'transmitters page' on the DTG Website.

If in doubt, fit a wideband aerial which will receive all UHF TV channels and work in all areas. For small loft spaces a log periodic aerial is a good choice for DIY installation, as it will be easier to manoeuvre. If you have a larger attic and more space, we recommend a Triax Unix52 or the BLAKE DMX10WB, both of which are high gain wideband TV aerials suitable for indoor use in all UK regions. These aerials are a good choice for fringe area reception and weak signal areas for boosting Freeview reception.

Interference Problems

Electrical interference (impulse noise) can cause serious TV reception problems especially with a loft aerial installation. This type of interference emanates from electrical appliances around your home such as the central heating thermostat, light switches and fridge freezers. It results in Freeview picture break-up problems, often resulting in the picture freezing.

 

Solving Indoor Aerial Interference Problems

  • Impulse interference is much more likely to be a problem where TV signal is weak or where amplifiers (boosters) are needed. The use of a Log Periodic TV Aerial can reduce interference from domestic wiring and appliances.
  • Always use satellite grade double screened coaxial cable between your aerial and TV as this is much less susceptible to interference pick up and has much lower signal loss than older single screened cables. Also try to avoid running the TV downlead close to mains wiring. If a masthead amplifier is fitted to your aerial, also use WF100 double screened cable on all amplifier connections.
  • Mounting your indoor aerial as high as possible in the attic and well away from house wiring will also help reduce picture break up (blocking) due to impulse interference.

Best Aerials to Reduce Multipath Reception

If multipath reception cuased by tall nearby buildings or obstructions is a known problem and TV signal strength is strong in your area, we recommend a Log Periodic Aerial. These are ideal for small loft spaces and offer the best multi-path signal rejection. Log Periodic aerials also provide consistent performance over the entire UHF TV band, with reasonable gain.

Improve TV Reception

PF100 Digital Coaxial Cable 25m

Low Loss Digital Coaxial Cable (25 metres)

Suits Freeview Installation

  • Convenient 25 Metre Reel
  • High Spec Digital Cable
  • Double Screened
  • Low Loss Foam Insulator
  • Suits Satellite or Freeview
Best Price £14.73 Buy from Amazon

London Freeview Reception

In London and areas served by the Crystal Palace transmitter, a Group A High Gain TV Aerial is the best choice for all Freeview DTT and analogue TV channels and will give better reception than installing an equivalent wideband aerial for Crystal Palace.

Masthead Aerial Amplifiers

When considering loft aerials in a fringe TV reception area for Freeview, installing a high gain masthead TV amplifier at the aerial may significantly improve Freeview reception especially if a long coaxial cable aerial down lead is required. For regions with a poor TV signal, install a fully screened masthead amplifier with around a 16dB gain (maximum) in the loft about one metre down the coaxial cable from the aerial.

Choose a masthead amplifier that gets its power up the coaxial cable. If interference problems occur, install a TVI filter between the TV aerial and the masthead amplifier. Read our TV Interference page for more information. Read our Guide to Fitting F-type Plugs if your chosen masthead TV amplifier uses F-type connectors and you need help fitting them.

Tips for Fitting Indoor TV Aerials

Positioning indoor aerials in any loft is surprisingly critical in order to get the best Freeview signal quality and interference rejection.

 

Top TV Aerial Installation Tip:

If your received TV signal is strong, try fitting a 12dB TV Signal Attenuator to help lower the signal so that the optimum position for the aerial in the loft can be found. Install a portable TV temporarily in the loft to find a "sweet spot" giving the best digital reception on all TV channels with the highest Freeview signal quality from your indoor aerial.

 

Below are some more useful DIY installation tips on how to install an effective indoor TV aerial in your loft for Freeview and analogue TV reception:-

Loft Aerial Installation Checklist

  • Loft Signal Test - Install a portable TV in the attic to accurately align the loft aerial for the best digital signal quality on all channels. Use a Freeview set top box if your TV has no in-built DVB-T tuner. Feed the aerial with a temporary piece of double screened CT100 coaxial cable.

    Concentrate on improving the signal quality on the weakest digital channel first whilst ensuring that all digital multiplexes have reasonably consistent signal quality. Our list of test channels should be used when installing loft aerials to get the best reception on all Freeview channels.

    When aerial alignment is complete, disconnect the portable TV and temporary cable and remove it from the loft. Connect the loft aerial to your main TV using the shortest possible length of Double Screened Satellite Coaxial Cable.
  • Aerial Alignment Tips - In strong signal areas, buy a 12dB Signal Attenuator from Maplin.co.uk (order code: BW60Q) and use it to assist in aligning the indoor aerial for least picture noise and ghosting on analogue TV channels. The attenuator will make the TV picture noisy, making it easier to find the best install position for the TV aerial in the attic.

    In some very strong signal areas close to a transmitter, a 6dB attenuator and 12dB attenuator may be needed in series (making 18dB of attenuation) to get noise to appear on the picture. Always disconnect the attenuator when loft aerial alignment is completed.

    If you don't want to buy attenuators, one crude but effective way of lowering the received signal to assist in optimising the aerial is by partly removing the TV plug from the television aerial socket until the picture goes noisy. Then make sure the plug can't move or completely fall out or move whilst you find the best location for the aerial in the attic with the best signal quality reading.
  • Freeview Signal Quality - If you have an existing Freeview installation, temporarily place your Freeview receiver in the loft feeding the portable TV and align indoor aerials for the best Freeview signal quality indication on the weakest digital multiplex.

    Check the DTT signal quality of all channels is above 50% and if necessary re-align or move the aerial slightly to get all digital TV multiplexes at acceptable signal quality (over 40 - 50%). If one or more digital multiplexes is not receivable try changing your aerial for one with a higher gain and Standard 1 CAI Aerial Benchmark. Remove the Freeview receiver when aerial installation is complete.
  • Finding Reception Hot Spots - When carrying out any indoor TV aerial installation, try all areas of the loft as "reception hot spots" can often be found inside a roof which give significantly better reception, just moving the aerial a few feet from side to side or up and down can make a huge difference to TV reception.
  • Check for Ghosting - When fitting the indoor aerial in your loft, always check for ghosting on all analogue TV channels, if analogue TV is still available in your location. If your area is known for multi-path TV ghosting problems, then try a log periodic aerial which offer the best front to back ratio with miminal side lobes and mount it as high as possible in the attic.
  • Check Reception of all Channels - Since the average loft has lots of reflected signals, it is common for a loft aerial to work well on some channels, but not all. It's important to check Freeview reception on all Digital Multiplexes for your Local TV Transmitter as well as all analogue channels. If any channel has a poor signal, carefully re-position the aerial to get the best reception of all channels, accepting a compromise location if necessary.
  • Installing an Indoor TV Aerial  - Installation of any loft aerial should be well away from pipes. In addition, never point loft TV aerials directly through attic water tanks or a very poor signal will result.
  • Signal Attenuation Through Brick Walls - Avoid pointing indoor TV aerials through brick walls at all costs. For example, if one area of your attic has tiles in the direction of the transmitter and another area has a brick wall in that direction, undertake TV aerial installation in the part of your loft where it points solely through tiles with the least number of other obstructions from (for example) multiple party walls or the roofs of other houses.
  • Aerial Height - Try to install the TV aerial as high as possible in the loft, well away from any 240V power cables and lighting circuits. This is particularly important for Freeview reception, where electrical noise pickup from household appliances and light switches can momentarily freeze the picture.
  • Effect of Loft Materials - Keep the rods (elements) of the indoor aerial clear of wooden rafters and attic metalwork. If necessary, use nylon string to anchor the aerial in between wooden rafters, pointing it precisely in the correct direction. Nylon garden twine is suitable, but make sure the aerial mounting is secure and cannot move.
  • Mounting a Loft Aerial - Alternatively, for more secure TV aerial installation fit a Loft Aerial Bracket. These are suitable for indoor use only.
  • Aligning the TV Aerial - Always adjust loft aerials on the weakest TV channel first. This could be Channel 5 where it is transmitted on lower power, or the TV station on the highest UHF channel number. Bear in mind that the highest UHF channel number suffers the greatest signal loss through the loft roof tiles and brickwork as it is the highest UHF frequency.
  • Aerial Elevation - When mounted in its final position in the attic, the end of the aerial (furthest from the coaxial cable feed point) should be tilted up slightly by about 1 degrees from horizontal for best results.
  • Sourcing a High Gain Indoor Aerial - You can buy a wideband high gain TV aerial from Amazon.co.uk. They supply the best Freeview digital TV compatible aerials plus indoor aerial accessories (including loft mounting brackets) for DIY installation.

Help Us Improve

If you found this indoor TV aerial installation guide useful, please link to us from your own web site or blog! To suggest improvements to this page, please complete our contact form.

Written by

Technical support