Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy.

Improve your aerial performance and get set for smart TV

By Rebecca Milligan

If you struggle with intermittent WiFi and poor TV reception, read on for advice on how to upgrade your home with wiring and connections fit for the 21st century
bunch of cables with USB, cat-6 and TV cables

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the network of cables bringing television, internet and other data into the home has to be the central nervous system. Finely tuned with information flowing back and forth at high speed, you don’t want to see this network but you’ll certainly notice if it stops working properly.

Some 96% of UK households now have access to digital TV according to the 2016 Ofcom survey. The way that we use and access media is changing, with older generations more likely to watch live TV and under 25s to use catch-up, streaming or video-on-demand services.

We want to watch what we want, when we want it – but for homes built before the digital revolution, delivering modern media through old-fashioned wiring is a tall order.

Find a Which? Trusted Traders endorsed aerial installer to help with your reception. Read on for expert advice on improving your home’s TV aerial and smart TV set up.

Boost a poor TV signal

Some people find they struggle to get a good signal from their existing TV aerial. If your external TV aerial is in full working order, it may be that you need an amplifier to increase the strength of the signal coming into your home.

An installer will be able to assess whether you need to amplify your signal by looking at the reception you get on your existing TV. Michelle Inder from GMI Aerials told us this is a relatively simple process, which should take around half an hour.

Costs for this service will vary depending on where you live, but GMI Aerials (based in Hertfordshire) charges up to £90 to install an amplifier, depending on the complexity of the installation.

If you need help with your aerial, Which? Trusted Traders have aerial installers available in your area now.

Installing additional external aerial points to your home

Most new buildings have cabling laid down in the walls or under the floors as standard, to easily allow wired internet, TV or audio in each room. But many older homes still have just a single external aerial connection dating back from the days when everyone watched one of the few terrestrial channels in their living room.

If you’re still struggling with a single aerial point in your house, aerial installers can upgrade your existing set-up by providing aerial sockets in different rooms using an amplifier and distribution system.

An amplifier is a box located in the loft or a cupboard that boosts the existing signal. Cables run from the amplifier to separate TV points allow you to potentially view different programmes on each screen. Michelle Inder told us that this is often a popular option for families, when children want TVs in their rooms or in houses where people have built an extension or garden room.

Another option is to run cables externally from the aerial on the roof, to wherever you want a new TV point. At around £60 per extra cable, this is an inexpensive way to call a halt to arguments over the remote control.

If you don’t have multiple TV aerial points, you may well need to use an indoor aerial, although these may not get such good reception. Find out more in the Which? guide to indoor aerials.

If you need different aerial points installing in your home, find a Which Trusted Traders’ endorsed aerial installer in your area.

Wifi worthy of a smart TV

Many people rely on their WiFi to connect their smart TV up to the internet, but if your WiFi signal is intermittent then running a cable from your internet router to the back of your smart TV is a good idea.

GMI Aerials’ Geoff Inder recommends asking an aerial installer to run ‘Cat-6’ cables from your aerial to ensure that your network will cope in future, even if you don’t currently have a smart TV. Cat-6 cables carry internet data, and as more and more TVs are designed to connect to the internet and we stream more video online, this will allow you to get the best signal for whatever device you watch or listen on in the future.

How to find the best aerial installer

Before calling in an aerial installation company, think about:

Your budget

What do you want to spend? While high-spec new-build apartments may make a feature of integrated speakers, retro-fitting a similar audio-visual system in an older property where you have to match furnishings, hide cables and maybe even take up floors or walls is an expensive job, potentially costing thousands.

But don’t feel put off, a straightforward aerial upgrade can cost under £200 and wall-mounting a screen even less, depending on the type of walls your home has.

Timescale

The more complicated the job, the longer it will take. Susanne Spicknell told us that at Cable Guys Ltd they have worked on some bespoke installations where correctly matching the design and colour of the front of electrical plates to panelling took months of research.  On the other hand, a straightforward aerial installation on a domestic property, then then running a cable outside your home to two or three points, will only take a couple of hours.

Jobs such as wall mounting TV screens can be done in half an hour, depending on the wall structure. Installing a full scale audio-visual system with cables that need to be discretely run throughout an entire building could take considerably longer.

However you want to upgrade your audio-visuals, remember home entertainment systems or wall-mounted TVs in every room don’t have to be the preserve of the super-rich. Upgrading your existing set-up could make all the difference to your home.

More on this…

Here are some other articles you might find helpful