If you’ve recently had a TV aerial installed or are considering getting one soon, you might be curious to know just how long you can expect that aerial to last. Of course, as with most questions related to a product’s lifespan, there’s no simple answer. However, we can discuss the average number of years you can expect your aerial to last, as well as a number of factors that will affect its total lifespan.
The Easy Answer
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Speaking in broad terms, my experience indicates that you should expect a professionally-installed TV aerial to last between 10 and 20 years. While that’s hardly a satisfying answer, I can’t narrow the average done much more than that. After all, I’ve seen people using aerials that are 30 years old with no problem, and seen some people that have had to replace their unit after just a few years – or even months.
NOTE: While your aerial might last decades, the cable and fixings are likely to fail well before that. Moreover, technology might intervene in such a way as to make your aerial obsolete.
The Problem with Inexpensive Aerials
If you’ve done a DIY installation or allowed your installer to put in a cheaply-made aerial, there’s a good chance it’s not going to last very long. With inferior parts, poor craftsmanship, and poor design, most budget aerials will start falling apart before you even get them out into the elements.
Aerials should be able to survive high winds, rain, snow, birds, and other potential problems. While it might hurt your pocketbook in the short term, investing in a quality product is always a smart move. If your installer gives you a choice or you’re shopping on your own, I recommend you avoid anything that features tinfoil-like parts, which bend easily. In general, I stick to Wosley, Antiference, and Vision brands.
Problems Related to Poor Installation and Fit
Even a top of the line aerial won’t do you any good if it isn’t installed properly. In fact, it will likely frustrate you much more to see that expensive antenna lying on the ground just a few months or years after you purchased it. Ultimately, a lot of things can go wrong with an aerial installation. Below, I’ve listed some of the most common problems.
Installing the Aerial Too High
Many people opt to have their aerial installed on a mast in order to avoid trees. However, you need to make sure you have brackets that can support that extended height. As a rule of thumb, the bracket spacing should be about 1/6th the height of the mast. Also, if you’re installing a large radio or high-gain aerial, you’ll want to take extra precautions and shoot for a bracket spacing of 1/4th the height of the pole. Lastly, you might also want to consider a mast with a thicker design.
Overtightening the U-Bolt
This is one that I, unfortunately, see a lot. If your installer accidentally (or due to lack of experience) overtightens the “U” or “V” Bolt, it can cause the mast to bend in the air. This will eventually weaken it, making it more likely to collapse or blow away. Take extra care when installing your aerial, particularly when it comes to the top bolt. If possible, avoid using a ratchet spanner, as you can very easily overtighten it without even knowing.
Lightning and Electrical Storms
Though not particularly common, it’s possible for electrical storms to send high voltage through your aerial, frying the parts and components so badly that they no longer work. The same is true of lightning strikes, which can do a lot more electrical damage to your home than just your aerial. However, in the end, both situations will result in the need for a completely new unit, regardless of how new or old the previous one was.
Your Aerial Might Become Obsolete
Your aerial doesn’t need to be blown away in a tornado for you to want to get a new one. Especially given the rapidity with which technology moves nowadays, you might just want to get your hands on an aerial that offers you better performance. Alternatively, perhaps a large building has gone up near your home, and you need a more high-gain device. Either way, many people replace their aerials long before the decade mark for one reason or another.
The Longest-Lasting Aerials Are Loft Aerials
I should start this section off by saying that I recommend you avoid installing your aerial in a loft whenever possible. Still, I can’t deny the fact that models kept this way are sure to last much longer, as they’re largely protected from the elements, which are the main source of damage and deterioration.
However, the loft is usually lower than your chimney and gable end, meaning you will lose some of the height that guarantees you a good signal. Moreover, that signal will have to pass through walls, tiles, and more before it reaches your television, which can cause a wide array of signal and quality issues. Lastly, by not keeping your aerial outside, you might experience interference when you do normal things like use the hoover or turn on your microwave.
Know Your Installation Warranty Length
Most good companies will offer you a one to two-year guarantee on all aerial installations. In some cases, you might get one year free and a second year in exchange for a good review online. While this is far less than the average lifespan I quoted, it has more to do with the warranties on the parts themselves than a lack of confidence in our installation abilities.
In the end, if your aerial is installed properly and is of high enough quality, you should – barring some unforeseen weather event – see it last at least ten years. If conditions are particularly favourable, it might last much longer. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me using the information below:
TV Aerials Stockport. Houldsworth Business & Arts Centre, Houldsworth St, Stockport SK5 6DA.
Tel: 0161 883 3687