Top Tip 1
How much should a new roof aerial cost?
Most aerials should work after digital switchover, but a few may require an upgrade or new cable connections if you decide to get Freeview. If you receive a good analogue signal now, it is likely that you will receive a good picture after the switchover, as long as you have converted your equipment in order to receive digital. However, if you get a very snowy analogue picture now, it is likely that you will get a bad digital TV picture.
If you do need a new aerial, based on industry guidance, installation is likely to cost around £60-£180, and an additional socket costs around £45.
If you need to upgrade your aerial, look for an installer belonging to the Registered Digital Installer Scheme (RDI), identified by the ‘digital tick’ logo. Registered Digital Installers are security checked and aerial experts. To find one in your local area visit the RDI website..
If there isn’t a Registered Digital Installer near you, then you can look in the Yellow Pages for an installer with CAI+ trade association qualification. Alternatively ask at your local electrical retailer. If you are visited by an installer who isn’t from the RDI scheme, we recommend you check to see that they are qualified.
Top Tip 2
Beware of the shark!
If you do replace your aerial the installer might point to a neighbour’s roof and show you a large aerial with a lot of funny shaped prongs, and say, “That’s what you need. That’s a digital aerial!” He might show you such an aerial in a catalogue. However, as you should know by now, there is no such thing as a digital aerial!
If most of the other aerials on the street are small ones then it’s very likely that all you need is a small one. The installer could be trying to sell you an expensive aerial that you don’t need. There have already been countless examples of people being sold massive aerials for digital (costing perhaps £350) when a normal one is all that’s needed.
Top Tip 3
Widescreen televisions have now become commonplace in the UK, but just because you have a wide screen TV it does not necessarily mean that you are watching proper widescreen pictures. By default, Freeview and Sky boxes are usually set to provide a correct picture on a standard (4:3) television. If this picture fills a TV with a widescreen all that happens is that the picture is stretched until everyone looks short and fat. This is not what widescreen is about.
The set-top box needs to know that you have a wide screen and then it will provide the extra areas of picture so that you do not need to stretch it to fill the screen.
Top Tip 4
Experiencing problems with your digital TV you can possibly diagnose the fault yourself before you call a engineer out who could recommend a lot of work which is not necessary. Before you do anything, try to analyse when these picture and sound break-ups happen. Can they possibly be related to things happening near or actually inside your house…? Does the picture or sound break-up when
- lights in the house are turned on or off
- the central heating boiler or pump starts or stops
- the fridge or freezer starts or stops
- when cars drive past
- after damp/rainy weather?
If you can relate the problem to anything like this then the cable between your aerial and receiver almost certainly needs replacing.
Top Tip 5
Next, let’s look behind your tv and see what’s going on… does the aerial cable go straight to the back of the receiver with no plugs, sockets or joins? If not, here’s the next thing to try: a new aerial fly-lead. The fly-lead is the cable – usually short and white – which connects your receiver to the aerial socket on the wall. Digital equipment generates a fair amount of electrical disturbance and if you have a cheap, poorly screened aerial fly-lead it can pick up interference. Put simply, you could be letting your receiver interfere with itself. (Or should I rephrase that? No, let’s move on quickly…) This type of problem wasn’t really an issue with analogue, but with digital it is.
Try a new fly-lead, and don’t shop around or buy a cheap one from that man with a market stall, get a good one from a reputable dealer. On the other hand there is no need to go for anything fancy, gold-plated or expensive. (Somewhere around £3 – £5 would be about right.) Ideally you should ask a small trader (a local shop or aerial firm) to make you a flylead using metal bodied plugs and £double screened” cable (also known as “satellite cable”).
Top Tip 6
If you need to call a engineer out for a problem, make some simple checks before you book with the company like –
Is the engineer qualified and not just claim they are qualified but are able to proof and happy to display there qualifications after all you probably would not let a electrician work on your property if they were not qualified. Does the engineer have a proven track record which they are happy to display via testimonials.
The amount of time served experience is also a consideration as experience in the trade counts for a lot, ask the engineer who trained them and for how long.
Is the engineer insured and able and happy to display the information first hand for customers peace of mind.