TV Aerial Or Satellite Dish? What Should I Choose?
You may be wondering whether it is better to receive your TV signals through a TV aerial or satellite dish. Some people will swear by a TV aerial, others will say that satellite offers a more reliable TV reception and you may just be confused by the whole thing. In which case this blog has been written especially for you. To be honest there is no exact right or wrong answer to this question as it really does depend on your individual circumstances and by the end of this blog you should have all the information you need to make your won decision.
There is still a lot of confusion over what you can get through TV aerials and satellites dishes. For instance I still hear people saying “Do people still use TV aerials?”. This is far from the truth in fact TV aerials have made a comeback in the last few years and I also hear. “I don’t want Sky, so I don’t want a satellite dish”. There are actually other services available over satellite which you do not have to pay a monthly subscription for like Freesat.
I have broken this blog into several sections and I will discuss what I believe to the most appropriate choice.
Services Over TV Aerials & Satellite Dishes
You may have you heart set on a Sky subscription or you may have a great offer on BT Vision, in which case you may just base what method you choose to receive TV on this. Below are some of the packages available in the UK and what you will need to receive their service. Please note that nearly all TV’s services combine a TV aerial or satellite dish with an internet connection for extra channels and services. An example of this is the Now TV box that has a live TV connection. Now TV is a service provided via the internet but some of their set top boxes also have TV aerial connection which gives you the benefit of a Freeview service at the same time.
Services That Use a TV Aerial
Freeview, BT Vision, EETV, TalkTalk TV, Soarview
Services That Use A Satellite Dish
Sky, Freesat, Soarsat, Foreign TV Systems
Cost Difference Between TV Aerials & Satellite Dishes
Let’s just start with how much the thing is going to cost you. If you’re not too fussed about TV and just want the free services then I’m guessing that cost will perhaps be the most important factor regarding your choice between an antenna or sat dish. There is no exact case scenario here as they are situations where a satellite dish installation could cost you more than a TV aerial installation and vice versa. I’m not going to go into great detail here as I have already done so in previous blogs about TV aerial costs and satellite dish costs.
As a satellite dish is typically easier to install and the cost of the materials are approximately the same. A standard satellite dish installation, which would be a mini-dish installed in a south facing wall with a cable up to 15m metres would cost less than an aerial installation that would need to be installed on the roof and may take twice as long. But the important factor here is that with the combined cost of a satellite receiver which will be required to decode the satellite signals this would usually make the satellite TV service more expensive to install. As all TV’s sold in the UK have a TV aerial connection but nearly all the time do not have a satellite dish connection. For example, for Smart Aerials to install you a “standard” aerial or satellite dish installation we would charge the following:
£185-£195 inc VAT – New TV Aerial Installation
£155 inc VAT– New satellite dish installation + Humax Freesat box £99 approx – Total £254
This was a simplistic way of showing you the prices, but they help demonstrate my point. There are exceptions like you may have a Freesat TV that has a satellite tuner inside it which would make the satellite dish option the most economical. Or you may not have a digital TV, so you would need a Freeview set top box to connect to your TV, in which case you would have to include the price of this in your comparisons.
Winner – TV Aerial
Large “Non Standard Properties”
If you live in a large property then installing a TV aerial may just be out of question owing to gaining access as high as you need to be.In situations like this a satellite dish would usually be the most economical option. This is because satellite dishes receive their TV signals from satellites up in space they can actually work on the ground providing that the satellite dish has a clear view of the satellites and there are no obstructions blocking the signal. Because TV aerials receive their transmissions from land-based transmitters more often than not they need to be installed high up on the building to clear nearby obstructions and to get a good signal. In which case installing a satellite dish would be far cheaper than hiring a cherry picker to install a TV aerial. Providing that the building itself that you live in doesn’t block the satellite signal.
Winner - Satellite Dish
If you intend to have TV’s in more rooms than just your lounge, not uncommon to have TV’s in kicthens, bedrooms, conservatories and even bathrooms these-days. This could affect the choice of whether you choose a TV aerial or satellite dish. A TV aerial has a distinct advantage over satellite dishes when running to multiple TV’s as the signal can be split to feed extra TV’s. So if you had 4 TV points around your home you could bring all the cables back to a central point, fit a splitter and your aerial signal cable and that will feed all of your TV points. You may need to add an amplifier to the system to overcome the cable losses associated with splitting of the signals to extra TV points. Here is more information on running TV aerials to multiple TV's.
To do this over a satellite dish on the other hand to install extra TV’s, cables would need to run direct back to the satellite dish and connected direct to the LNB. This is easily enough done with a Quad LNB that can feed up to 4 TV’s. If extra TV points are required then the Quad LNB can be removed and an Octo LNB be installed in it’s place that allows 8 cables to be installed and up to 8 satellite TV points. It’s important to add to this that with satellite, if you wanted a recording facilities at any point that 2 cables will need to be installed back to the satellite dish and to the satellite PVR, like a Freesat+ box or Sky+ box. This means that your Octo LNB would only be capable of serving up to 4 PVR’s, or a combination of each. This is another advantage that terrestrial TV aerials have over satellite dishes when running multiple TV’s. If you wanted to install satellite points beyond the 8 capable from an Octo LNB, a new approach can be taken where a Quattro LNB is installed onto the satellite dish with four cables connecting back a multi-switch amplifier which can be extended to provide as many satellite points that you require. This however would cost a lot more than doing it through a TV aerial.More information of how many TV points can be installed from aerials and how many can be installed from satellite dishes can be found on our other blogs. Here is more information on using satellite dish to feed multiple TV's.
There of course the fact that all new digital TV’s in the UK and Ireland come with a digital TV tuner for a TV aerial to be connected direct. If you do not have a digital TV then all that’s required is an inexpensive Freeview box. The vast majority of TV’s do not have satellite tuners, although some of the newer higher end models do. This means that you will also need to install a satellite receiver at each of your TV points. This could be a Sky or Freesat box. If you wanted Freesat but didn’t want pay out for a monthly subscription or a Freesat box a old or second hand Sky box could be used to receive the free satellite services.
Winner - TV Aerial
Coverage – Reception Levels
The area you’re in could be the deciding factor on whether you should install a satellite dish or TV aerial at your property. For instance, if you had some 50’ trees immediately behind your south side of your property. It wouldn’t make much sense installing a satellite dish or paying for a subscription satellite TV service. On the flip side in the live in a dip or at the bottom of the valleys in Wales the terrestrial TV service is likely to be very poor.
Averaging the two of these scenarios out satellite does in fact have a wider coverage area than TV services such as Freeview where the signals are received through a TV aerial. This is because the service is not as affected by the geographic landscape. A land based broadcast from a TV transmitter, although usually installed in high positions can be blocked by the landscape, tall buildings and trees. This results in poor signal areas and no signal areas. Satellite TV on the other hand because the satellites are beamed down from the Sky at an angle are naturally much less affected by this. There have been occasions where I have attended a property to install a TV aerial only to install a satellite dish instead as I couldn’t guarantee a good reception on the Freeview service.
Another thing that is likely to be an important deciding factor on your TV antenna choice is the amount of services which can be received in Freeview as not all areas broadcast the same amount of TV channels. If you live in London and are receiving your Freeview signals from the Crytsal Palace transmitter you can get more services than if you installed a TV aerial in our part of East Sussex. This is because some transmitters broadcast more services and channels than others. I go into this more in my blog ‘Why Am I Missing TV Channels & Services’.
The extreme end of this would be if you’re in an area in which you can only receive Freeview Light. This is a very limited amount of channels available in some areas, usually broadcast from a relay transmitter and if you wanted a good TV selection I would advise satellite in these areas. You could live right next to the transmitter, have a lovely strong signal but if it only broadcasts Freeview Lite that’s all you will get. I wouldn’t completely despair however. The Southcliff Tower transmitter which has been a Freeview Light transmitter since it upgraded to digital signals in 2012 has recently extended it’s TV channels offering from Freeview Light to a full range of services in the area as part of the engineering works to make way for 5G. I honestly never thought that this would happen and it’s likely that many Freeview Lite only transmitters will start broadcasting more TV channels.I advise giving your TV a re-tune if you’re only receiving a limited amount of TV services.
Winner – Satellite
TV Services & Content
If you have your heart set on certain TV channels and packages, this would be as good a reason as any to decide what TV medium you will choose. The are now a wide range of channels and services via both a TV aerial or a satellite dish. In the past, before the digital switch over you had the option of 4 or 5 TV channels. Often with a poor TV picture or you could go to satellite. This also meant paying for a subscription. If you wanted Sports, you went to satellite, if you wanted the latest movies you went to satellite. If you wanted free TV, you stuck it out with your aerial. However with a hundred or so TV channels now available through a TV aerial and Sports available through things like BT Vision, which also utilises a TV aerial, satellite TV no longer has the monopoly on premium TV.
If you want the latest Sports,it’s probably more complicated than ever to choose the correct TV platform. It used to be easy, sign up to Sky Sports. But with things like BT Vision & BT Sports and even some terrestrial channels snapping up the rights to certain events it can be difficult to choose. For instance, if you wanted Football you would choose one, if you wanted F1 Motor Racing you would choose another. I’m not going to go into great detail here about every individual circumstance as this changed quite a lot and the information will quickly become out of date.But judging it from an overall perspective Sky Sports is still the best place to go for Sports TV.
Winner – Satellite
If you are after the latest movies and movie premieres. Sky Movies is still the place to go. That being said there are some free TV movie and film channels available through both a TV aerial and a satellite dish, like Movies For Men, True Movies etc. I will just add to this, if Movies are your prime motivating force between choosing between a TV aerial or satellite dish you may want to subscribe to a service like Netflix& Amazon Prime which delivers it content via an internet connection. As these will cost you substantial less than a Sky subscription and you could always use a free TV service like Free TV service like Freeview or Freesat instead.
Winner – Satellite
If you want the most reliable TV service that is unlikely to fail, it’s important to note that there are numerous reasons why a TV picture might fail and many are not even to do with the TV aerial or the satellite dish itself. If I was going to broadly describe the two I would say that satellite is more reliable than a terrestrial TV service. This is because there are more things, that typically cause a Freeview or Soarview picture to fail. Including the TV aerial not being installed correctly in the first place! So, the TV aerial get’s the blame and the not the poor installation itself. But there is so much more to it than this. I will not go into this now. I recommend when you’re done here to read my blog on 'Why Does My TV Picture Break Up & Pixelate' for more information.
Poor Weather – Heavy Rain/ Snow & Electrical Storms
Adverse weather conditions can affect your TV picture. As satellite dishes receive their signals from satellites in space. The signal has to pass through a wide variety of weather conditions.The weather most likely to cause the TV picture to fail is heavy rain, light rain shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re having problems in light rain, it’s likely your satellite dish is quite aligned correctly or the coaxial cables are not weatherproofed properly. TV Aerials although not completely immune to poor weather are much less likely to fail as they have much less rain etc to pass through before the reach the TV transmitter. TV Aerials also use a far lower frequency than satellite dishes which are also far less susceptible to the adverse weather conditions.
Winner - TV Aerials
There are far more sources of interference that can cause a poor TV signal that effect TV aerials than satellite dishes. Some of these interfering sources include, 4G, 5G, Tetra, Co-channel,RF and EMI interference as well as many more. Although satellite is completely immune to this. It is far less effected by them in practice.
Winner – Satellite
Faulty Viewing Equipment
Your viewing equipment can become faulty and it may be neither your satellite dish or TV Aerial that is actually faulty and causing poor TV reception. I will just here that because you’re far more likely to have a separate satellite set top box, like a Sky box when using satellite so I will give TV aerials the slight advantage here as these are more likely to just plug direct into your TV.
Winner – TV Aerials
I’m not going any further into here, as I have already mentioned things like coverage areas which would give satellite dishes an advantage and large buildings which may make your antenna choice for you. I’m going to make a controversial decision here and declare this a draw. I know so many people consider satellite more reliable but in my opinion this is because many TV aerials out there have not been installed properly.
Winner – Draw
Many people are not really fussed with TV. They just want to switch it on every now and then. I had a customer recently who moved their TV from room to room as they barely watched it and it didn’t warrant the cost of purchasing a new TV. This isn’t the same as all TV’s as many new TV’s come with Freesat tuners, but I’m going to go with a TV aerial as all new TV’s in the UK come with a TV aerial Freeview tuner integrated. This means that you are far more likely to just be able to have the one remote.
Winner – TV Aerials
Winner - Satellite Dish (Just)
I have given the winner to the satellite dish on the slimmest or slim margins. Hopefully at this point you have realised that it’s not as simple as just picking the winner as there are so many things that may affect your decision. The final scores were:
Satellite – 5
TV Aerials – 4
Draw – 1
See the way I have built up the drama here! I could have easily had awarded one category one way or the other or added more categories to change the result, so the winner should be taken with a pinch of salt. I think it’s also relevant to mention that I have 5 TV’s in my home all served from a TV Aerial. We do not even have a satellite dish! Even though I have installed thousands of them. This is because I’m not really fussed about having Sky and we have a Netflix subscription which allows us to watch our fair share of TV programmes and Films.
I hoped that you liked this blog and it has helped you make the right decision on whether to install a satellite dish or TV Aerial at your property. If there are any more sections that you feel should be in here or if you have any questions, please, please, please do not call our telephone lines. These are intended for in Sussex & Kent only. We do have the ability to answer your questions and I’m not personally available to speak on the phone as I am busy with installations.
Please instead LEAVE A COMMENT in the blog comments section below and I will get back to you in the soonest. This is so everyone can get the benefit of the question asked and the answer given.
Until next time.
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