TV towers aren’t just tall skyscrapers that you admire from a distance. Besides adding to the city skyline, they have a vital role in making sure your favourite soap reaches your TV. They do the grunt work of making sure every home with a TV aerial gets their Freeview channels. With over 18 million households using Freeview, you can see why it takes a whole network of transmitters to reach every neighbourhood. In summary, they’re the reason you’re able to watch Frasier, Line of Duty, and Normal People.
Unfortunately, you might not experience your shows the way you want to because of technical problems. Like all technology, a little bit of know-how can go a long way. Here are a couple of questions to help you understand your TV aerial and TV transmitter a bit better:
Why Can’t I Watch My Shows?
Even with great reception, you can lose channels a little bit over time. It is the reality of the cable cutter experience. If you have problems with your TV channels, first check if they are available in your area. You can do this by visiting the Freeview website and typing in your postcode to see what channels reach your neighbourhood. If the list online and channels on your TV do not match, then there are three possible problems:
- Faulty transmitter
- Faulty aerial
- Signal disruptions (obstructions, heavy rainfall, etc.)
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If you are struggling to get reception, check your local transmitter through BBC’s or Freeview’s site. You can see the active towers near you. You need to enter your postcode and house number to get accurate information. The checker will show you a map of your area and the nearest TV transmitter and its current status, whether it’s good, varied, or faulty.
If a TV transmitter near me is not working, it would be red. I can look around for the nearest TV transmitter to me in the green/good to try to connect to their service. Its coverage should reach me for it to be a proper replacement.
If you have a faulty transmitter, try to look for a new one within the area. These TV towers often overlap in urban areas, so you can quickly remedy the reading by adjusting your aerial. If there are no other towers near you, you may have to wait until it is up and running again.
The next thing you should consider when the TV towers have no problems is your own aerial. Aerials are fickle things. They need to face the right direction and to be in the proper angle before you can enjoy your channels.
On top of that, outdoor aerials have to brave the elements. A torrential downpour of rain could affect your aerial’s position, making it harder to receive any signal. Indoor aerials are no better. While they don’t experience the same wear and tear, they are not that strong. Other types of signal interference could affect your aerial.
Try to test out different positions for your indoor or outdoor aerial. Try to see if the quality of your show becomes clearer or not. If you have no luck making it work with the right angle and direction, it might be time to replace it. Check out
Before you replace your aerial, try to inspect your surroundings. There might be environmental changes that affect your reception. Are there new trees, buildings, or posts? Just because you do not see these changes in your immediate area, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
People who live in valleys and wooded areas are more sensitive to this. A TV transmitter doesn’t cover these areas evenly. Most homes here depend on relay transmitters. If the relay transmitter near you has problems, it could affect your viewing experience as well.
How Can I Improve My Signal?
Improving your signal starts with addressing the previous problems. Even if you do not lose your channels, those steps can help you get better reception. You can upgrade your aerials with models that can handle interference better.
You can switch between transmitters. For example, the nearest TV transmitter to my postcode in Surrey is Freeview’s Reigate transmitter, but Crystal Palace is south enough for my aerial to pick up. I could try Crystal Palace even though it’s farther because it has more channels. The distance is not the only thing that affects your reception, so a transmitter that is farther but offers more channels might be more effective.
Since not every area may have a tower, I could also check maps for TV transmitters near me and not the nearest TV transmitters to me. There is a difference. Instead of looking at your postcode, focus on the miles instead. It will give me more things to try, and from there I can compare the different signals. It can be an excellent benchmark.
You may opt to get a TV signals booster. However, signal boosters have a history of mixed results since they can sometimes get the wrong signals. Read more about signal boosters here.
Where Is My Nearest TV Transmitter?
There are several ways you can look for your nearest TV transmitter. You can check Ofcom’s transmitter location maps on their website for the digital switchover plans. You can get the names of the transmitters and towers and look it up in Google maps.
You can also check the UK Free TV website for news on transmitter repair work and Freeview transmitters across the country. Take note of the direction it is in and adjust your aerial accordingly.
So how do you know if the TV transmitter you found is the right one? There are two ways you can do it. The first is to compare your aerial with your neighbour and the second is to look up your postcode.
Look At Your Neighbour’s Aerial
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If you do not want to check your postcode, you can do the age-old method of following the crowd. Look at your neighbour’s homes and see what direction their outdoor aerials face and follow suit. All aerials try to look towards the TV transmitter.
You can try to check 5 different homes to see if there are other key directions. Pay close attention to the houses who had theirs professionally done. They have the ideal direction and position. You could also ask around if you are close to your neighbours.
Now, this method will not help in areas with relay transmitters. Large outdoor aerials may face the main transmitter while the smaller indoor aerials go towards the relay transmitters. In this situation, trial and error is the best way to figure out which one is best.
Look Up Your Postcode
All transmitter maps require your postcode. To get precise information, you may have to give that along with your house number if your neighbourhood is big. Remember to clear your cookies history if you include your house number as a precaution. Enter these details on the online TV transmitter maps website to see which one is closest to you.
When you input your postcode, take note of the distance between you and the tower. TV aerials do not have a lot of coverage. While they may seem close on the map, the numbers on your antenna may beg to differ.
For people who live in rural areas be wary of aerials that advertise 80 miles and more for their range. The upper end of that should also be an outdoor aerial, not an indoor one. Advertisers tend to stretch their specs, so conservative estimates are more likely to be true.
Which Way Should I Point My TV Aerial?
Always point your TV aerial in the direction of your TV transmitter. You can use a compass, to match the coordinates on the maps. Or use Google maps and rotate to properly orient yourself.
Now, there is an exception to this rule. It is when you have a clear obstruction in that same direction. Massive buildings, posts, trees, and other similar things block the signals for your TV aerial. Try to look for a clear space to install your antenna.
In urban areas, signal interference is also common. The signals from cars, homes, and businesses can affect your reception. Try to avoid those as well.
The same rules apply for your indoor aerial. Stay close to windows and avoid significant obstructions. Keep your aerial away from other devices that might produce signals that conflict with your aerial. Try to keep your aerials as high as possible too.
Where Are TV Transmitters Typically Located?
Ofcom regulates where the TV transmitters are so there will be minimal interference. Besides that, there is little information about the factors that go into their location. Most of them tend to be in populated areas. In the countryside, they stay near the central regions to get the most coverage. Since TV transmitters have minimal coverage in these types of areas, most people opt for satellite dishes instead.
How Can I Check The TV Signal Strength In My Area?
With no extra gadgets, the best way to test for TV signal strength is to have all the channels listed in the TV guide website. They already took into account the loss for your area. If it says you should get 122 channels, but you only get 80, then the signal strength is weak. You can manually try different setups until you find the majority, if not all, of the channels.
You can also buy an aerial signal meter. Detach the coaxial cord from your TV set and input it to your meter and attach your meter cord to your TV. Rotate your aerial while you take note of the signal strengths each time. The more LED lights go green, the stronger the signal. You can do this several times until you narrow it down to the best angle.
Over the counter meters have mixed results, so try to buy the ones your friends and family use. You can also opt to get a professional to do this. They have the gear and equipment to get the best TV signal strength.
No matter how great the tech, TV aerials still have a bit of guesswork. Online TV guides and transmitter maps are excellent references for you to check your reception, but the ever-changing environment prevents this from being a fool-proof plan. Hopefully, with a lot of patience and luck, you can see the difference and return to your regular programs in no time.
If doing all of these steps still doesn’t give you a proper reception, then it may be time for you to call the professionals. We, at Aerialforce, can come to your house on the same day of your distress call so you can continue to watch your favourite shows without any problems.