TV Aerial/ Antenna Filters – Which One Do I Need?
If you’re suffering with interference on your TV picture, there is a good chance that a TV aerial filter is what you need to improve your signal issues, you may be asking yourself. What TV filter do I need? Which one should I buy? I get asked these questions all the time in the blog comments of some of my other articles. To answer this question, you need to understand the different types that are on the market that are available to you. In this article I describe some of the most common filters to help you make an informed decision as to which one to buy. Let’s begin.
A bandpass filter allows a frequency range or specific UHF Group through and attenuates everything else beyond this. These can be used to filter out unwanted signals/ interference. But to pick the correct filter you will need to know what frequencies the TV transmitter you use broadcast on.
A Bandstop filter is sort of the opposite of a bandpass filter, in the sense that it passes other frequencies through but attenuates those within a small frequency range to lower levels. These filters can be used to eliminate interference within a certain frequency range while leaving a broad range unaffected.
A notch filter is designed to filter out a very slim frequency range, most notch filters are adjustable in the sense that you can adjust the frequency that these filter out/ attenuate. These are perfect for when you have an interfering signal very near to a signal you wish to keep or an interfering signal in between frequencies that you do not wish to filter out, in these instances a band-stop or band-pass filter will not work. In the digital age it’s common that that digital TV services are broadcast on UHF channels/ frequencies immediately beside one another, whereas you can’t do this with analogue so a notch filter can be used to filter the interference you wish to remove and preserve the signal you wish to keep. Some notch filters will have more than one adjustable “notch” so you can filter out more than one frequency, this is perfect for when you have an interfering transmitter with multiple frequencies that you wish to filter in between signals you wish to keep
The most common filters that I install are grouped filters, in order to understand these you need a bit of knowledge on the UHF Channel groups. You should check the specific frequency ranges of the filters you purchase as they differ from filter to filter, manufacturer to manufacturer. I have included some examples of this in the specific grouped filter descriptions.
Group A Bandpass Filters
Group A group ranges from UHF channels 21-37, frequency range 470-606Mhz. The Group A is usually represented by the colour red. A Group A bandpass filter allows these frequencies through and attenuate the frequencies outside of this, but make sure you check this on your specific filter, examples of this are below.
Antiference (FILTA) - Masthead Group A bandpass filter 21-34
Optima Bandpass Filter (V25-1BPA) – Group A 21-37
Proception (PROOBF1A) – Group A 21-30
Group B Bandpass Filters
The Group B range is UHF Channels 35, frequency range 582-734Mhz and Group B bandpass filters will allow through this frequency range approximately. The Group B group is usually represented by the colour yellow. Examples of filters that allow slightly different frequencies through include.
Antiference (FILTB) - Masthead Group B bandpass filter 39-53
Proception (PROOBF1B) – Group B bandpass filter 39-52
Optima Bandpass Filter (V25-1BPB) – Group B 34-53
Group C/D Bandpass Filter
The Group C/D band doesn’t really exist with regards to TV reception anymore because the frequencies that this covers has gone to 4G and soon 5G, but you should be aware that it exists and you can still purchase these. The Group C/D is represented usually by the colour green. The C/D covers UHF Channels 48-68 and frequency range 686-854Mhz. Examples of C/D filters include.
Antiference (FILTCD/LTE) - Group C/D bandpass filter 48-60
Proception (PROOF1C) – Group C bandpass filter 48-62
Optima (V25-1BPC) – Group C/D bandpass filter 48-68
Group E Bandpass Filter
The Group E band is another band that that all but disappeared as it has dramatically shrunk in size, but unlike the Group C/D band some of the frequency range is still is use. The Group E UHF group is UHF channels 35-68,frequency range 582-854Mhz and is usually represented by the colour brown. Examples of Group E filters include.
Proception (proOBF1E) Group E Bandpass Filter – 39-62
Antiference (FILTE) Group E Bandpass Filter – 36-60
UHF Pass Filter
I have a filter on my van, that I has been on there for 8years now! It’s a UHF pass filter that allows through the terrestrial TV frequencies and attenuates out everything else. The reason this has been on there unused for so long is whenever I install a filter a grouped filter or 4G filter or similar is always more appropriate. If you have a wideband TV transmitter (or Group T now) you may require the use of a UHF pass filter. I have recommended these on occasion when I have been asked for advice on previous blogs. An example of a UHF bandpass filter below.
Antiference (UBF1) Masthead UHF pass filter
Tetra Stands for Terrestrial Trunked Radio as is a communicating system used by governmental agencies. It broadcasts at 395Mhz which is just below the frequency range used by terrestrial TV. If you’re near a Tetra mast you may find that this can interfere with your TV signal in which case a Tetra filter will be required. Fortunately most aerial and satellite distribution equipment has in-built Tetra filtering meaning that separate Tetra filters are rarely required nowadays.
Sat IF Pass Filter
A satellite Intermediate Frequency (IF) pass filter is essentially a band-pass filter for satellite signals that use a universal or Quattro style LNB where you may need to filter out strong signals outside this band which could interfere and cause problems with your satellite TV reception. As it is a filter designed to connect in between a satellite LNB or multi-switch amplifier and a satellite STB/ PVR it is also DC passing which allows the LNB itself to still receive power. Please note that this type of filter which pass through a frequency range usually between 950-2400Mhz is not compatible with a Sky Q style wideband LNB as these operate all the way down to 300Mhz.
4G mobile broadband signals can interfere with TV aerial signals, this is because the 800Mhz frequency range which is used for some 4G signals used to belong to a part of the UHF that terrestrial TV used to broadcast on. This is particularly problematic as a lot of aerials in use are designed to pick up these frequencies and you may also have an amplifier which is designed to boost them. If you are having trouble with 4G interference you will need a 4G filter. Like the grouped filters these vary in the ranges that they filter out. It used to be very important to purchase the correct one as if you were using a TV transmitter like the Whitehawk transmitter in Brighton some would actually filter out some of the higher frequencies and channels that you want to keep! This has changed since the 700Mhz frequency range was cleared for the future 5G coverage layer and the broadcasting frequencies most to lower frequencies, but it’s still good to know. You may see these filters marketed as LTE filters, example 4G filters include.
Proception (LTE2/57F) 4G Filter - Passband up to UHF Channel 57
Televes (405401) External 4G Filter - Passband up to Channel 60
Wolsey (LTE03) 4G Filter - Passband up to Channel 59
Please note that 4G filters may also be advertised as @800 filters or something similar. These cannot be used to filter 5G signals in the 700Mhz range.
At the time of writing this the first filters branded 5G are starting to come out, we don’t have 5G in the 700Mhz range yet but by the time you read this we may do as the 700Mhz clearance has all but been completed and you may need one to remove 5G interference from your TV signal, which can loss poor TV signal and pixelation. 5G filters filter out signals above 700Mhz, some 5G filters may also be marketed as LTE filters which stands for Long Term Evolution, examples of 5G filters include.
Antiference (FILT700) Masthead 5G Filter
Televes (405202) Masthead 5G Filter - Passband up to UHF Channel 48
Labgear (5FGF) Indoor inline 5G Filter
Communal 4G/ 5G LTE Filters
If you have a communal TV system that you are responsible for, you may want to consider installing a 4G/ 5G filter that’s specifically designed for communal TV systems as there is much more cabling and amplifiers usually that the signals need to pass through before the reach the TV sets of each flat/ apartment that is connected to the communal TV system. These are generally much bigger than standard filters and cost a lot more but are offer significantly better performance when compared with normal domestic filters.
Cluster/ Leveller Filter
These are not so common anymore and have largely been replaced with a programmable “headend” for large communal TV systems, but you can still get them and they are out there still on lots of communal MATV or IRS TV systems. These have multiple terrestrial UHF inputs which offer adjustments to very narrow frequency ranges/ UHF channel numbers. This allows you attenuate the single channels/ digital multiplexes that you wish to attenuate to help you balance the TV system if you’re dealing with different signal levels. The downside of these types of filters is the need to be relatively specific to the TV transmitter that you’re using so that you can individually adjust/ filter the signals that you’re actually using, the problem with this is in recent years TV transmitters changing the frequencies they broadcast on has become more common. For example my local TV transmitter in Heathfield used to broadcast analogue services on UHF channels 49, 52, 64 and 67. After the digital switch-over this changed to the broadcasting of digital multiplexes on 41, 42, 44, 47, 49, 52 which freed up space to sell off to 4G in 800Mhz, a further change was made so that the digital services changed to 40, 41, 43, 44, 46, 47 to allow for the 700Mhz clearance. You can see this isn’t ideal if you have a cluster leveller filter installed as this would need to be changed.
Programmable Headed/ Equaliser Filter
Following on from the cluster/ leveller filter for large communal TV systems where you wish to clean up a signal as much as possible before sending off to enter your cable distribution system which may have high levels or multiple stages of amplification, you may wish to install a programmable headend which allows for even greater management of signal levels and filtering. These will typically have multiple adjustable filter clusters that can be used to remove interfering signals, 4G , 5G and more all off the same device. As these have built in amplification, they are no longer passive devices so they require power. They are also not cheap to purchase, but it may be worth it consider a large volume of people can be watching TV's connected to the system at any one time and you wish to limit as many come-backs as you can.
External / Masthead Filters
You may come across the term masthead filter or external filter, what this simply means is that the filter is designed to be installed on the exterior of a property. The filter itself is enclosed in a weather-proof housing which can usually be fixed to the wall with a couple of screws or cable tied to a TV aerial mast/ pole. This is what “masthead” means. Masthead filters are good to install when you have one antenna feeding multiple TV positions so all the TV points get the benefit of the filtering out of the unwanted signals. If you already have a masthead amplifier or masthead splitter installed on your aerial mast the filter can be installed before these, in between the aerial itself and the splitter/ amp.
DC Passing/ Power Pass
Some filters you purchase will be advertised as DC passing or power passing, this allows equipment like masthead amplifiers to still be powered with the filter being installed between the power supply unit and the amplifier itself. The same is true for a connection between an RF2 output on a Sky box and a remote eye where a 9V DC connection powers the Sky remote eye. In normal circumstances it’s not a good idea to filter after amplification as the interference you experience could overload the amplifier itself but for various reasons this is always not possible, for instance the masthead amplifier might be installed high up in an inaccessible place or you’re dealing with very weak signals and you want to amplify the signals before any insertion losses associated with the installation of the filter itself take effect.
F or Coax IEC Filters
This is simply referring to the cable termination that is required in the coax cable that connects into your filter. F connectors are a screw in position type of connection typically associated with satellite signals and coax plugs are a push in place connection usually associated with TV aerial plugs. There is also another type of connection, the saddle and clamp connection which doesn’t require a plug to be installed onto the coaxial cable. It is an insert and tighten in position connection, once the cable has been stripped back of course. If you’re going to get filter with a saddle and clamp type of connection make sure it is a screened one. This is where the cable termination is inside a metal enclosure which limits interference ingress onto the cable and limits RF leakage.
TV Filter Installation Best Practices
In order to get your filter performing the best as possible I recommend the following.
1- Install the filter before any amplification or distribution equipment. This may mean having to install the filter on the aerial mast itself. By doing this you will ensure that all the connected TV's get the benefit of the signal filtering and prevent very strong interference overloading the distribution equipment/ amplifier itself.
2- If installing outside, make sure that the TV filter you buy it is suitable for an external installation. This usually means that the the filter itself comes with a weatherproof enclosure.
3- Do your research on your TV transmitter and the frequencies that it uses so you can make an informed decision as to which filter to buy.
4- If you need assistance on how to fit F plugs, or coax plugs so that you can terminate the coaxial cable to connect into your new filter. Please visit the DIY video section of our website for help and advice.
5- Be aware that there is an insertion loss even within the frequency band that you do not wish to filter out when installing a TV aerial filter, but this typically is only up to 2dB.
6-If you have very high signal interference or very high signal levels, a TV signal attenuator may also help.
Best Manufacturers of TV Antenna Filters
Like most things, filters vary in quality. The better filters will have sharper tuning and greater levels of attenuation with lower insertion losses. Below are links to professional TV aerial and satellite manufacturers that have been recommended or mentioned in the blog already.
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