TV aerials have a limited lifespan depending on where and how you use them, but that isn’t a reason to abandon installing a TV aerial. TV aerials, or TV antennas, are designed for use with television receivers. They allow users to receive over-the-air broadcast signals from various television stations. Where you place and how you install your TV aerial dramatically affects how well the antenna works and how long it lives.
Rooftop aerials arguably take the most beating of all other placements. Aerials you place on your roof are subject to outside elements like rain, snow, hail, and intense heat from the sun. If you want a rooftop aerial, make sure it is professionally installed. With proper installation, you can expect a rooftop aerial to last between 10 and 20 years. However, some aerials are known to last longer than that. It’s possible to have a 30-years-old rooftop aerial that has no service problems.
TV aerials that are improperly installed last less time because they suffer from issues that affect their lifespans.
If you’re not pleased with the lifespan of your rooftop aerial, you can try a loft aerial instead. As mentioned above, rooftop antennae suffer the worst of other placements because of their exposure to outdoor elements like rain, snow, and wind. You lose some height with a loft aerial, which can affect your signal, but they typically last longer because they have heightened protections.
Broadcast signals have to reach through walls and roofs to find loft aerials but keeping your antenna inside instead of on your roof means that your aerial will last a long time, even if you go for a slightly less expensive model.
The most significant downside to loft aerials is that they can have interference from other electronics in your home. A TV connected to a loft antenna might flicker when you turn on other devices that take significant energy to turn on or use.
What can affect the lifespan of a rooftop TV aerial?
Purchasing a Low-End Aerial
If you buy an inexpensive or low-end aerial, you might save money in the short term, but you are likely spending more money in the long term. Cheap aerials require more maintenance and have shorter lives overall. Some people do DIY installations that are also done inexpensively and cause major repairs or replacements in the future.
DIY and low-end aerials likely won’t last 10 or 20 years. You absolutely can find cheap antennas outside of professional channels or those that are marked sold “as is,” but you usually don’t want to buy those aerials because of the lack of quality. These types of aerials can fall apart easily and are usually better suited for lofts than rooftops.
It’s tempting to save money on parts and do everything yourself or go with the cheapest installer you can find, but you’re not doing yourself any favours. Low-end rooftop aerials can buckle under the outdoor elements like high winds, inches of heavy snow, and even too much rain.
When you pick out your new TV aerial, choose quality over cost and avoid aerials with Bacofoil-like parts that bend easily.
Even if you buy a higher-end aerial made of quality materials, it can still have a short lifespan if it is not installed correctly. Common installation problems include installing the aerial too high and putting the pieces together incorrectly.
If the aerial is installed too high on a too-large aerial mast, you’ll avoid trees, but your mast might fail. Make sure you are installing the brackets onto the aerial mast correctly. Most professionals recommend spacing brackets at least 1/6th of the total mast height.
In some instances, you may need to install a larger aerial than normal. For large, high-gain antennae, space your brackets at 1/4th of the total mast height. Another option is using a thicker diameter mast when you need a larger mast overall. Thicker, larger masts can protect your TV aerial from outside forces better, and there is less chance of losing your TV aerial to high winds and other weather elements.
Another issue with installation is over-tightening the top U-bolt. Many installers have this issue, and over-tightening the U-bolt causes the mast to bend and become warped. The aerial and mast will weaken, making the entire set up more likely to break or fail and shortening the lifespan.
To avoid over tightening the U-bolt, don’t use a ratchet spinner.
Electrical storms and lightning bolts are detrimental to rooftop aerials and can cause significant damage to the antenna and your house. An ill-timed or un-grounded lightning strike can damage your aerial beyond repair, leaving you with nothing but a useless antenna and a lot of frustration.
Lightning strikes and electrical storms can destroy all of the parts in an aerial, which means you have no choice but to replace the entire antenna. If your home or TV aerial experience a direct lightning strike, it’s likely that all of the electronics in your house will be damaged, not just the aerial. In this case, the TV aerial is probably the least of your worries, but you’ll still have to replace it when you’re ready to watch TV again.
There is little you can do to protect your home or TV aerial from a direct lightning strike. One of the only options is to professionally install a lightning rod on the top of your house. The cost and process of installing a lightning rod vary by the type of rod you choose and who you hire to install the rod or rods.
Lightning rods are either made from copper or aluminium, with copper rods costing more money. There are also less expensive and smaller rods that are widely used, but because of their size, you usually need several for one roof. How many rods you need depends on the size of your roof and the length of the rods you choose.
A lightning rod creates a direct path for a lightning strike to hit the ground instead of affecting your entire house and your TV aerial. The systems are the direct point for a lightning strike, directing the energy away from your home.
TV broadcast stations periodically change the way they send out channel signals, affecting your already installed technology. If your TV aerial becomes outdated, whether because you’ve had the aerial for a long time, or because your local broadcast stations have changed their tech qualifications, you will need to upgrade your aerial.
Frequency changes can also affect your rooftop aerial’s lifespan, as well as large buildings built near your house. You might need to upgrade to a high-gain aerial if this is the case. Another option is to switch over to a satellite dish.
If you’re worried about investing in a new antenna and what its lifespan will be, you can usually expect a one- or two-year warranty on a new aerial and installation. To prevent problems after the warranty is up, make sure you purchase a quality aerial and that you watch the installation process to make sure it is done correctly.
Once the warranty is finished, check on your aerial regularly for signs of deterioration or distress. You might also consider installing a lightning rod on your roof for increased protection against the elements.