How to Buy a TV Aerial on eBay

How to Buy a TV Aerial on eBay

To get the best possible reception for their television, many people switch to cable or satellite. However, the best possible reception for local stations actually comes over the airwaves, rather than through cable or from satellites. High definition television requires a lot of bandwidth, whether it is transmitted over the air or through a cable. Signals transmitted by cable are often compressed, reducing the signal quality, whereas those transmitted over the airwaves are not.

Fortunately, all television broadcast is now digital. That simplifies the selection process a little, when compared to the time period where television stations were broadcasting in both digital and analogue. HDTVs are all digital as well, making them fully compatible with the broadcast system. Older televisions are analogue, requiring a digital to analogue converter in order to decode the transmissions and convert them to a signal that these older television sets can use.

There is another great advantage of television reception over the airwaves, and that is price. While there are certainly some start-up costs of buying and installing an aerial, once that is paid for, there is no monthly fee to be paid to the cable provider. Signals broadcast over the airwaves are free to everyone who has the right equipment to receive them. By buying the aerial on eBay, one can be sure of finding the best possible price and a broad selection to choose from. There is no one best aerial, which provides perfect reception for everyone, and buyers should be aware that each situation is different and very dependent upon the home's location in relation to the transmitting towers. Distance, direction, and frequency all play a part in determining the right aerial to buy, and buyers should consider these factors before purchasing a TV aerial.

Step 1: Determine the Location of the Transmitters

The first step in selecting a TV aerial is to determine where the television stations are transmitting from. In some locales, all of the TV stations broadcast from near the same area, making it easier to set up an aerial. People who live in rural areas also have this advantage as they are receiving signals from the closest city. For those living in the city, television towers may be all around them.

Unidirectional vs. Omnidirectional Aerials

One of the determining factors in selecting a TV aerial is whether a unidirectional aerial is best or if an omnidirectional one is needed. If all the broadcast towers are in the same direction within a 20 degree arc of each other, a unidirectional aerial is the best choice. If they are scattered all around the compass, then an omnidirectional aerial is needed.

Omnidirectional aerials are not as effective as unidirectional ones are. They capture less of the signal, providing a lower signal level. So, if the transmitters are a long distance from the television, they may not work as well. A third alternative exists, that of using a unidirectional aerial and mounting it with a power rotator, which can be used to point it at whichever channel is being watched at the moment.

Distance to the Transmitter

The second factor in the transmitter's location is the distance from the television to the transmitters. Television signals are line-of-sight, which is why they are usually mounted on tall towers, allowing the signal to cover the broadest possible area. Signal strength lessens with distance as well, requiring a larger aerial to capture enough of the signal to provide a good picture.

If there are tall buildings, mountains, or other obstacles that block the line-of-sight from the broadcast antenna to the receiving aerial, there may not be enough signal to provide a clear picture on the TV. Aerials designed for roofs are rated by their maximum distance from the transmission antenna. These same aerials can be used for loft mounting. When used in this manner, one can expect a 15 per cent reduction in their effectiveness. Therefore, one with a slightly larger range should be purchased.

Location of the Aerial

Just as the higher broadcast antenna affects the ability to capture a clean signal so does the height of the TV aerial. The higher it is able to be mounted, the less chance there is of having it blocked. Most people prefer to use an aerial sitting on their television, for ease and convenience. However, a loft mounted aerial provides a better signal, especially if the tower is more than a few kilometres from the home. For distances greater than 20 km, a rooftop mounted aerial is needed.

Step 2: Determine the Transmission Frequency

Digital TV signals are broadcast over three different frequency ranges. Knowing which one the local channels are broadcast over is necessary for determining which aerial is needed.

Range Identification


Frequency Range

Low-band VHF

2 - 6

51 - 180 MHz

High-band VHF

7 - 13

184 - 215 Mhz


21 - 51

470 - 865 MHz

In the United Kingdom, almost all television transmissions are in the UHF range, simplifying the purchase of an aerial. Unless the television is located in an area where there are still VHF transmissions, only a UHF aerial needs to be purchased. Moreover, the length of the "elements" or bars in the aerial need to match the frequency range that they are intended to receive. That is why some aerials have elements of different lengths, allowing them to capture the signals from a wide variety of frequencies.

Step 3: Determine the Mounting

We have already discussed the importance of mounting the aerial as high as possible for the best possible reception. This need increases as the distance from the transmitting tower to the television increased. An aerial that sits on top of the TV needs no additional mounting hardware or cables. Aerials that are mounted in the loft need almost no mounting hardware. They can be hung by string or mounted on a pole as if they are roof mounted.

The complicated mounting comes when installing an aerial on the roof. Depending upon the construction of the house, there are several ways to do this, including attaching it to the chimney, attaching it to the gable end, using a tripod mount, or mounting it to the roof with guy wires to hold it. Furthermore, all cables used to convey the signal from the aerial to the television should be 75 ohm coaxial cables. They can be spliced if necessary. To splice these cables, use a double female barrel splice, which the connectors on the end of the cable can attach to.

Video Amplifiers

Some people try to use RF (radio frequency) amplifiers in situations where there is not enough of a signal, or where too small an aerial is being used. This does not necessarily solve the problem. A video amplifier can only amplify the signal that it has available. So, if there is not enough signal, it can only amplify the signal it gets and also amplify the nothing that it has. Some set top aerials have built-in amplifiers. These are only effective where the signal strength is low but still adequate. They cannot effectively make up for a situation where the home is too far from the transmitter.

Video amplifiers are useful when the same roof or loft mounted aerial is being connected to several televisions. When used in this manner, it can take the signal that it receives and provide an equal quality signal to each television set. Without an amplifier, the signal is divided between the various TVs that are connected, reducing the signal strength and quality.

Finding the Right TV Aerial on eBay

The three factors discussed above must all be kept in mind when looking at television aerials: transmitter location, transmitter frequency, and mounting location. Armed with this information, one only needs to find an aerial which meets the necessary requirements. Buying too large an aerial is not a problem as it can help maintain good reception during bad weather and sunspots. On the other hand, buying too small an aerial does cause problems as it does not provide enough signal for a high-quality high-definition image.

To find the right aerial, use the search box located at the top of all eBay pages. Typing in TV Aerial provides a listing of all aerials that are currently listed on eBay. There is no problem with buying a used aerial, as there is not much that can go wrong with them, especially the roof or loft mounted ones. eBay also has specialty TV aerials listed for use in campers, caravans, cars, and boats. Filters are provided to eliminate aerials that are not desired and narrow in on the type of necessary aerial.


Television reception can be greatly improved by purchasing and installing a quality TV aerial. The built-in aerial in a TV is generally quite small and unable to be removed to a more appropriate location. The best reception comes from mounting the aerial as high as possible so that obstacles do not block the broadcast signal. Before shopping for an aerial, there are some basic questions that need to be researched in order to purchase the right sort of aerial.

The distance and direction to the transmitting antennas is of utmost importance, as that affects the signal strength and the direction in which the aerial should be pointed. In addition, one must know the channels expected to be received so that an aerial that receives those frequencies can be purchased. Set top aerials are limited in their capability. While they can pick up television signals, they work best when they are within a short distance of the transmitter. For longer distances, a loft or roof mounted aerial is needed. Larger roof mounted aerials can pick up signals from much farther away. When buyers consider the aforementioned factors, they can easily find the right TV aerial on eBay.

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