How Long Do TV Aerials Last?
If you were interested in having a TV aerial installed, or have a TV aerial installed recently and wanted to know what is the average lifespan and how long should a TV aerial installation last? Naturally, like most questions there are a lot of things that could change the answer to this question. In this article I discuss many things that could affect the lifespan of your TV aerial.
How Long Should A Rooftop Aerial Last?
Assuming that the aerial has been professionally installed, I would say 10-20 years. This isn’t to say that they can’t last any longer than that. I still see people using 30 year old aerials with no problem. If the TV aerial hasn’t been professionally installed there are a lot of things that could reduce the lifespan of your antenna. A lot of the time also, it's the fixings & cable that fail before the actual aerial itself.
Cheap Aerial/ Antenna
If your aerial installer has installed a cheap aerial or your have done your own DIY installation using a cheap antenna or parts of insufficient quality. There is a good chance that the aerial will not last very long, certainly not anywhere near 10-20 years. Some aerials that are sold not to the professional market, really are not fit for purpose, some of them fall apart so easily that they can only really be used in lofts. I remember doing an aerial installation quote, which ultimately wasn’t accepted. I drove past the property and saw a fresh new aerial installation that had already fallen down and broken. This was only after a month! I wouldn't try and cut costs with aerial installations as you could end up paying double. Read this blog for advice on typical antenna installation costs.
It really isn’t worth trying to save money on parts. The equipment that is installed on outside will need to be able to survive high winds and gales. Obviously in very, very high wind capable of ripping the roof off your property you can’t expect the aerials to last this, however. When choosing a TV aerial, I recommend avoiding antennas with Bacofoil like elements,these bend really easily and are not fit for purpose in my opinion. Read our blog on recommended TV aerials to help you choose the right one for you. In the UK I recommend manufacturers – Vision, Antiference and Wolsey.
Aerial/ Antenna Not Been Fitted Correctly
You could buy the best aerial for your installation, with high quality parts and the installation still not last as long as it should reducing the lifespan of the installation. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with an installation, some of these are:
Aerial Installed Too High
If you’re going to install your aerial onto a large aerial mast, this might be to help avoid trees. You need to make sure that the brackets can support the mast height. A good rule of thumb is that the bracket spacing should be at least 1/6th of the overall mast height. An example would be a bracket with at least a 1’ spacing to support a 6’ pole. If you are installing a large high-gain aerial, or radio aerials which can be very large too I avoid erring on the side of caution and going for at least a bracket spacing of one quarter of the overall mast height. Also you consider using a thicker diameter mast with a thicker mast-wall thickness, 2” diameter poles for large mast height are a good idea and should ensure that your TV aerial lasts as long as it can.
Top U Bolt Over-Tightened
I mention this one because it’s very common. If when the installer was securing the aerial in place that he inadvertently over-tightened the top ‘U’ bolt (or ‘V’ Bolt) that caused the mast to bend in and mis-shape. This will weaken the mast at that point making it far more likely to fail at that point. When tightening U bolts make sure you take extra care with the top bolt. I recommend not using a ratchet spanner for this task as it can be very easy to over-tighten it, I have done this myself!
Electrical Storm/ Lightening Strike
On rare occasions, with nearly electrical storms there is a chance that this can ruin your aerial and cause it not to work. One a very high voltage has passed through your aerial it can completely destroy all the parts/components meaning the only solution is to install a completely new antenna, usually a new coax cable too. If your aerial has had a direct lightning strike, I’m sure that the aerial itself will be the least of your worries as they can blow a lot of your electrical items too. In either of these instances there is nothing that the installer can do to stop this and you should not consider this to be covered by a guarantee, even if the antenna has only recently been installed.
There are loads of other installation related practices that could reduce how long a TV aerial lasts, too many to name them all but these include: aerials installed upside down, waterlogged aerials cables, lashing wiring snapping (usually with age), chimney failing, loose bricks on house and so on.
Things Change - Time Move On
It could be that technology has changed and the times have moved on rendering your aerial obsolete. This has happened a few times in the past like the move from VHF to UHF and with the digital switch-over. Contrary to popular belief there is no such thing as a "digital aerial" so your old one may have been fine if you replaced yours in anticipation of the digital switch-hover. There may be some frequency changes or you may have a new large building installed near you meaning that you need to have a new high-gain TV aerial installation or move over to a satellite dish instead. There is a chance in the not too distant future that all of our TV needs are delivered through the internet. I think this is still a few years away yet with services such as Freeview, BT Vision & TalkTalk TV all using a TV aerial for their live TV services, plus the broadband infrastructure has a way to come yet. It may be sooner than I think however with providers such as Sky offering a dish-less Sky TV service soon.
Loft Aerials Typically Last Longer
I do not advise installing the aerial in the loft if you can, for many reasons. The loft is typically lower that chimneys/ gable end/ Fascia fixings meaning you will lose a bit of height which may be important to get a good signal. The signal will also need to pass through walls/ roof tiles etc, to reach your TV aerial which will attenuate the signal or mean that no signal can be received at all. Also and a point not often considered, by not having your TV aerial installed high outside your aerial will be closer to the numerous sources of interference in your home. You may find with a loft aerial installed that the TV picture pixelates when you put the hoover on or flick the spark on your cooker. This isn’t to say that installing your antenna outside will completely get you away from this problem, it’s just far less likely.
As loft aerials are protected against high winds and weathering, very little deterioration happens over time. This means that are capable of lasting much longer than aerials installed outside.
Warranty Length on Aerial Installations
Most companies will offer 1-2 years guarantee on aerial installations. Personally, I offer a one-year warranty as standard but if our customer leaves us a review online, we give them an extra year free of charge. This isn't to say that we are confident that our installations will last considerably longer, it's just we do not get much longer than that on the warranties on the parts themselves from the manufactures/ suppliers. Some other aerial and satellite companies offer extended warranties of 3-5 years at an extra cost but all that being said, if the equipment has been installed correctly it should last much longer than that.
Questions – In The Blog Comments Section Only Please
I hoped that you liked this blog, if you did you want to also consider reading our other blog on the lifespan of a satellite dish. If you have any comments/ questions please feel free to POST THEM IN THE BLOG COMMENTS SECTION DIRECTLY BELOW. By doing this as opposed to calling/ e-mailing you will:
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Until next time,
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