New aerial installations
'Aerials range in sizes dependent on signal levels; the poorer the signal levels the bigger the aerial that will be required,' explains Phil Cooke from aerial and satellite installation firm TV-SAS Herts & Essex Ltd.
'When signal levels are weak, the chance of improving the quality of the signal is improved by a taller aerial mast. In some circumstances, installation of a signal amplifier may also help but, of course, these additional elements add cost.'
Generally it will take 2-4 hours to install a new aerial. Making sure that areas are cleared for the aerial and satellite engineer to work will reduce the time required for an installation. This can reduce the cost.
How can I make my aerial installation cheaper?
If there’s an existing aerial distribution system in the property, sometimes it’s possible to connect a new aerial into that system without having to replace it. A simple check of the existing system would confirm this. Good aerial installers don’t replace things unnecessarily. 'If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!' recommends Phil.
Unlike terrestrial aerials, satellite dishes do not need to be mounted on the roof. They can be mounted on a pole in the garden or on a shed, provided there is a clear line of sight for the signal.
New satellite installation for Sky, Freesat or European satellite TV
A satellite dish requires a clear line of sight. 'Anything blocking the line of sight, such as trees or buildings, will block the signal,' Phil said. 'To overcome a blocked signal, additional bracketry might be needed, which adds cost and time to the job.'
Spending some time finding a suitable route for the cable from the dish to the satellite receiver box yourself would prevent the aerial installation company from doing the same and billing for it. 'It’s important to use the appropriate cable,' says Phil. 'Ensure it doesn’t get kinked.
If you are having your cables chased into the wall, make sure you put in a cable for every input on your TV. This avoids having to trail a cable up to the TV when you buy a different device later. As an alternative to hide wires, I recommend decorative hinged surface-mounted plastic trunking which can be painted.'
TV wall mounting
There are three types of TV wall bracket. Extra features add cost. 'The cheapest is the mount fixed bracket,' Phil told us. 'This one mounts your TV like a picture, flat on the wall. Mount tilt brackets are more expensive but allow you to tilt the TV from the top or bottom. Swing brackets are the most expensive. These ones allow you to pull the TV away from the wall, move the whole TV left and right and tilt the screen too.'
He advises planning ahead for your TV wall mounting. 'Some wall brackets can be mounted to any wall,' says Phil. 'Swing brackets, however, can only be mounted safely onto solid construction walls.'
Think about the cables you’ll need in advance. 'You’ll need a TV power cable and perhaps aerial cable SCART leads or HDMI cables,' Phil explained. Consider how you want to connect and conceal these cables and ask your aerial installer to help rather than calling out another trader at extra expense.