Do Trees Block TV/ Sat Signals? What To Do About It
I’m a big lover of trees, personally I think that we need to be planting a lot more of the things. But living among them can be problematic for a few things. One of which being your TV signal. It’s possible if you’re covered by surrounded by trees you could have a poor TV reception or no TV reception at all. As satellite dishes essentially need line of sight it doesn’t take many trees for you to lose a TV signal altogether. Maybe one day we will be in a position where a wired internet connection will be able to fulfil all of our TV and internet needs but it seems that is still a few years away.
Why Trees Are Bad For TV Signals
Trees can be a nightmare for signals be various reasons. Below I have listed some of the reasons why trees are bad for TV aerial and satellite signals. As well as some of things that can be done about it, usually there is a way around most problems but I have on occasion visited properties where it was not possible to obtain a reliable TV or satellite signal. It important to note that trees will attenuate at different levels on different frequencies. This means that you could some channels that are working fine and some are not or you are missing some TV channels altogether.
Satellite Dishes Need Line of Sight
As satellites beam signals down to earth at very, very high frequencies. Approx 10-13Ghz which has a very small/ directional wavelength and because obstructions are very close to the receiver (satellite dish) in relation to distance from the transmitter (satellite). The satellite dish needs “line of sight” of the satellites in space. This means that nothing can be blocking the signal between the satellite and satellite dish or you will have poor satellite TV reception. The higher frequencies and shorter wavelength means more of the signal is absorbed into the trees and leaves.
All of the geostationary satellites that are used for satellite TV obit around the equator. This means that in the norrhern hemisphere all the satellites will be south and in the southern hemisphere all the satellites will point north. So trees on opposite direction will have no affect on the satellite signal. Also depending of what satellite that you want to receive depends on which way you should align your satellite dish. This means that trees a few degrees east of west of your desired position are also unlikely to cause a problem (unless they grow).
One of the problems with trees is that they grow, some at a really fast rate. I have had to re-site many TV aerials and satellite dishes to help avoid nearby obstructing trees. The more a tree grows the more it can potentially block, absorb and earth a TV signal.
Trees Can Move In Winds/ Gales
The moving of trees in high winds and gales can cause havoc with TV signals. The moving of the trees will cause disruptions in the signal which can cause the TV picture to break up and pixelate, especially digital TV signals. This affect will not be consistent with frequency so you could get all sorts of peculiar signal issues. Higher frequencies are typically more affected however. There is a term in the aerial trade which is called “Treeing”. This is when the signal is viewed on test equipment, the signal bounces around at various strengths causing a very unstable TV reception.
Wet Trees Can Earth Signals
As TV signals for TV/ radio and satellite use radio waves that are electromagnetic, this is why aerials and antennas are constructed from a conductive material. Rainwater which will settle on the leaves and the tree and drip down to earth. As water is conductive this can divert much of the TV signals that you want down to earth which can cause a poor TV reception. Obviously the denser the trees are and the closer they are will have most of the effect on the received signal.
Trees Leave In Summer
As most trees tend to come out in leaf in Spring/ summer and lose their leaves in autumn (fall)/ winter. This means that there is more organic material to pass through in the summer. You may find that your TV signal is fine during the colder months and awful in the summer because of this. Either that or you’re suffering from interference related to high pressure.
Below are some suggestions to resolves signal related issues associated with trees. All of them may or may not apply but it is highly likley that there will be a solution to tree related signal issues in there.
Move Your Satellite Dish
To resolve tree related issues with satellite dishes the solution is to move the thing. Usually this means installing the satellite dish higher up, like on the chimney for example or on a mast and brackets on the side of your building. It’s likely that you’re going to need and independent satellite engineer for this task or a TV aerial company at your own cost as Sky will rarely take on this type of work.
If you’re unlucky, it may be that the trees are still blocking your satellite signal when the dish is installed higher up. In this instance you may need to find another suitable position. You may need to be a little creative here like siting the dish on a pole in the garden. I recommend reading our previous blog on best height for satellite dishes for some inspiration here.
Move Your TV Aerial
If you have an indoor aerial you may want to abandon this and have a new TV aerial installed on your roof. If the aerial is already on your roof you may need to move it. Believe it or not I have had aerials not work on one corner of a chimney stack and work perfectly on the other corner only a half a metre away. Other techniques like installing an aerial onto a crank mast to get it pointing around trees. If this doesn’t work you will need to find a new suitable position. If it helps avoid the trees you may find that you can get a better signal by siting the aerial in the loft, providing that the loft itself isn’t foiled lined as this will deflect the signals entering into the loft. If this fails you could try installing the antenna on a roof penetrating mount and lead flashing, or try a different TV transmitter.
Re-Align Aerial To New Transmitter To Avoid Trees
In any one location often more than one transmitter can be received, by altering the aerial alignment. If you’re having trouble with trees running your TV reception you could try another transmitter. This may be slightly weaker than the transmitter that you’re currently using but less effected by the trees. If this instance you may require a higher gain aerial and or a TV signal amplifier. If you’re aligning your existing aerial from one transmitter to another make sure that you check that the aerial polarisation is correct and that the TV antenna itself is compatible with the new transmitter. You may find that the new transmitter that you want to align your TV aerial to is a Freeview Lite transmitter, in this instance you may need to make the compromise of less TV channels for improved reception, or opt for satellite instead.
Swap TV Aerial For Satellite Dish or Vice Versa
You may find that owing to the amount of trees blocking your TV signal you may need to swap your TV aerial for a satellite dish. If you’recurrently using Freeview, a free alternative to this is Freesat. I have given the swap TV aerial for a satellite dish as this is the most common change that is made owing to trees blocking signal but you could have a similar situation where trees are blocking a satellite signal but a good TV aerial can be received. In this instance you may want to swap your Freesat for Freeview or your Sky subscription for a BT Vision subscription which uses a conventional TV aerial and not a satellite dish. For more info read our older article on TV aerials vs satellite dishes.
Use On Demand Internet Services Only
If you’re not bothered about live TV and only only really watch TV on demand or stream content. You may want to abandon your TV aerial and satellite dish altogether and just use the internet for your TV service.Soon You will be able to subscribe to Sky without a satellite dish.
Prune The Trees/ Cut Them Down
I may just be a case of calling out a tree surgeon to come and prune the trees or cut them down, this is obviously not much of an issue if the trees blocking the TV signal are on your property. If they are not you may need to speak to your neighbour about pruning their trees. You may even be able to come to a compromise and share a dish or TV aerial between your house just please be mindful that shared antennas should be connected to earth for electrical safety. If the trees are on public land you could contact you local authority to ask to have these cut back. You may find that this is not possible or you have to wait some time in some places as many trees have protection orders and/or pruning is not possible in certain months when birds may be nesting for example.
I know that this isn’t so much a solution to your problem but I mention it here as I have actually seen this in the past. If a good TV signal can be received and there is nothing else that can be done. I guess that your last option would be to just move property. You may want to check to be safe in your new property that a good TV signal can be received there as it’snot the sort of thing that you will want to do twice!
Tree Related Signal Issues Questions & Comments
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Until next time,
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