Though for many, a holiday in the caravan means getting back to nature, there are plenty of keen campers who also like the creature comfort of television at the end of a long day. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
In order to tune in to your favourites, however, you’re going to need an aerial - a decent one, capable of detecting the relevant signals and staying supported in the wind and rain. We’re looking at you, Welsh caravan sites!
Today we’re here to take you through everything there is to know about TV and caravanning, as well as provide you with some high quality aerial choices.
We’ve even got tips and tricks for getting the best reception possible, 24 hours a day.
Before You Get Started - Some Important Aerial Information
Your experience watching telly in a caravan is the same, but it involves a slightly more complex setup, with more things to consider than whether the aerial is decent or not.
Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered, and here’s what you need to know:
Line Of Sight
Your aerial does not literally need to be within visual distance of the signal tower it is aiming for, but it does need to be facing in the right direction, with a clear line of sight towards it.
This means there should be as few obstructions in the way as possible.
Trees, bushes, buildings and other caravans or motorhomes can all block the transference of signal - this is a less common occurence on higher ground and quieter pitching sites, as you might imagine.
As long as you erect the aerial facing the right way and as far from any potential blockages as possible (you may need to extend its height a bit in order to do this, but many models come with installation kits) then you’ll be absolutely fine.
Directional or Omnidirectional
This isn’t quite as complicated as you might think. TV aerials can either be directional, which means they’ll only work when positioned in the correct direction, or omni-directional, capable of picking up signals from any location, 360 degrees.
Although you might, quite rightly, assume that an omni-directional aerial is better at picking up signals, they can also more easily fall victim to interference, poor weather conditions and channel blocking because they are more sensitive.
If you’re concerned or confused, don’t fret. This handy video from The Antenna Man over on Youtube thoroughly explains the differences between the two, and situations in which either model would be appropriate.
Reception Interference Due To Weather
Those familiar with the UK will know that, especially in the countryside, we are prone to a LOT of wet and windy weather.
Aggressive rainfall, snow and even thick fog can really impact the amount of signal that your aerial is able to detect.
Although it is only in rare cases that this will cause your TV signal to cut out altogether, you could fall victim to jumpy, stuttery, pixelated pictures with discordant and choppy sound to match.
If it’s at all possible, keep your aerial as protected from the elements as is possible without interfering with signal.
Opting for an indoor aerial as opposed to one attached to, say, the roof, can also be beneficial if the signal is strong enough where you are.
Aerial Options For Your Caravan or Motorhome
Okay - you know exactly what to expect from your brand new aerial once it arrives, but now it’s time to pick one.
Whether you’re upgrading from an old model or have enver had one before, the following choices should all be perfect!
OUR TOP PICK
Perfectly designed to pick up those many digital channels in a matter of seconds, you won’t go wrong with the Status 570 from Vision Plus.
Renowned for manufacturing perfectly caravan friendly aerials, it’s definitely your best bet.
Boasting an integrated TV Signal Finder, uniquely dedicated to locating transmissions, alongside a Horizontal and Vertical Polarisation Indicator, there’s no need to worry about finding the right direction - this baby does it for you!
A slim, low profile design is perfect for roof assembly with the included 330mm mast.
Variable Gain Control means that, even in areas with especially weak or strong signal areas, Digital TV, DAB and FM Radio receptions are all easily within reach.
You’ll never need to worry if it’s working or not, as the LED light power indicator shows not just function, but using colours (red, yellow and green) also indicates the current signal strength. This is really helpful for establishing proper line of sight!
Installation is incredibly easy, with all parts required for proper erection provided in the box, bar an electric drill.
Customer reviews indicate that the Vision Plus support staff are helpful and friendly, should you have any concerns or questions!
- LED power and signal strength indicator lights
- Low profile, compact design, perfect for caravans
- Easy to install, especially with included signal finder
- Digital TV, DAB and FM Radio reception
- Requires drilling into the roof of your caravan, which some may not be capable of or want to do
Scared of damaging your caravan with an aerial that needs drilling?
Worry no longer, as the incredibly strong magnetic base of the portable Roof Aerial from TV Village can be mounted anywhere instantaneously, with zero screws and zero tools!
Long enough for easy installation, the RG-58 coaxial cable is five metres and of very high quality, so won’t interfere with your signal strength.
It may be only five inches tall, but don’t underestimate it - it’s packed full of power!
As an omni-directional, high gain aerial, it’s suitable for use in and out of doors - either stick it on the roof, or keep it inside the caravan, depending on the signal strength.
The F-type connector and standard adapter are included.
Don’t worry about keeping it dry - this unit is fully waterproof and certified up to IP 68, so even in the wettest parts of Wales it should stay completely dry.
Installation is as simple as plugging it in - you’ll be watching your favourite shows in minutes.
Given as it costs more than three times less than competing models and still manages to provide a crystal-clear picture, there’s no reason you won’t be completely satisfied with your purchase.
- Perfect for DAB, DAB+ and DVB-T Freeview Digital TV
- Highly magnetic mounting base - no drilling required!
- Waterproof and IP-68 certified
- Plug and play installation
- Not as powerful as some of the larger, stronger aerials
Optimised to deliver perfect reception, even for 4K Ultra HD Freeview TV signals and including BT TV, the SSL Outdoor Digital Aerial with full kit is ideal for installation on a caravan or motorhome - be sure you definitely get the “70 Element” model!
Designed to be incredibly strong and weather resistant, this is a durable aerial equipped with anti-corrosion and rust-proof elements.
It is both waterproof and weather resistant - just what you need for UK camping.
Receive absolutely every available TV signal with the high, forward gain; you won’t do any better when it comes to seeking reception on weak and fringe signal areas, especially when you’re pitched up at a site in the middle of nowhere.
With a built in LTE/4G filter that automatically avoids potential interference or channel loss that are caused by 4G mobile phone transmitters in your area, there’s no need to panic about any disruptions.
Set up is as simple as mounting the unit to your roof and connecting its cable to your TV; the aerial sits on an adjustable antenna pole, the full length of which is 46cm long, so you can ensure the height is absolutely perfect for your location.
- Simple to install with easy TV setup
- Ideal for strong reception on UHF, DAB and Digital TV signals
- Built in LTE/4G signal filter to prevent disruptions
- Waterproof with anti-rust elements
- Requires drilling into your roof, which again, not everyone wants to do!
Would you prefer not to drill into the top of your caravan, and instead simply suction cup your aerial to the side of it?
You’re in luck, as that’s exactly what you can do with the STH3000 from Avtex - it also comes with a wall mounting bracket too!
Suitable for use indoors and outdoors, with three different power supplies provided - your choice of a 12V, 24V and Tv Antenna plugs - makes this perhaps one of the most versatile aerials on the market.
Worry not about angling the aerial towards the nearest tower and establishing that all important line of site - the suction attachment is strong and secure, but it also has a flexible, movable stalk, which allows you to fully reposition the aerial once in place.
With a stronger than average reception strength, its strong 20 dB power has a built in volume amplifier, so even on the loudest and most hectic sites you’ll still be able to hear every word of whatever you want to watch.
Constructed with UV-resistant housing, once affixed to any flat surface (whether roof, window or windscreen) it is weather resistant and waterproof. It should be able to handle whatever the rocky UK weather conditions throw at it!
- Affixed by suction cup or wall bracket
- Three choices of power supply, suitable for use inside or outside
- UV-resistant and waterproof casing
- Integrated volume amplifier
- Customer reviews indicate that the weatherproof casing seems quite fragile and may be better supported with some added sealant
Forget those ugly, bulky aerials of the past: the SLx DigiDome is a 21-st century design that uses innovative technology, providing full signal reception in spite of its cute and compact design.
You’ll barely notice it’s even there!
Their unique omni-directional tech is capable of receiving all of your locally available digital TV signals, but it’s also more than adept at picking up VHF and UHF frequencies too - you can even get the HD channels.
Thanks to the integrated 4G filter, there’s no need to worry about any interference or channel loss as a result of stray mobile phone signals.
So long as it’s erected correctly, this bad boy blocks out everything but a clear TV picture, 24/7.
Upon opening the box, you’ll find everything you need for an easy, simple installation, including the coax cable, cable clips, a wall bracket and all of the scres, plus a signal amplifier.
The instructions are incredibly straightforward to follow, too!
Manufactured right here in the UK, SLx products are renowned for being high quality and reliable - this is a product that has been designed and built in Britain.
Plus, their full time, local support staff are on hand all day every day if you need any support.
- Easy assembly on the roof of your caravan or motorhome
- Integrated 4G signal blocker to prevent interference
- 360 degrees omni-directional reception
- Sleek, low profile contemporary design
- Setting up the external power pack can prove tricky if you’re inexperienced in electronics
Caravan and Motorhome TV Aerial Options Buying Guide
Getting The Best TV Signal in Your Caravan or Motorhome
Right, you’re all set for proper installation and you’ve picked out your aerial of choice. Now - how can you ensure you get an optimum connection, signal detection, and all of those glorious channels that you deserve?
We’ve been over line of sight, preventing interference and choosing between directional and omnidirectional, which should all help matters, but there are several more considerations to bear in mind. Such as…
Tuning Your Channels - Manual or Auto?
The easiest way to get your TV set up is of course to whack on autotune, as most televisions are capable of picking up all of the channels that are possible to find, provided there is a TV reception tower within close enough range.
However, even though they might pick up multiple signals for the same popular channels (think BBC, ITV, Channel 4), autotune does not automatically select the strongest signal. It just picks one at random. Why does this happen?
Well, when autotune is fired up, your TV set will start searching right at the beginning of each digital signal band - TV reception towers will trasmit their signals on separate signal bands, so as to avoid interference.
Unfortunately, the first channels that are detected will be displayed on your channel list, regardless of whether or not the signal quality is poor. Therefore, even though it sounds time consuming and dull, manual tuning is the way to go.
Manually Tuning Your Television
First things first: head over to the Freeview UK website, on which you can input your postcode to find all of the relevant signal coverages in your area. This next bit is very important - make sure you check the “detailed view” box as you search.
The results displayed should indicate not only all of the TV transmitters in your area, but their relevant signal channel numbers. Make a note of the tower number closest to you; when manually searching, input those bands and your TV will search them.
Still Struggling With Signal? Check Your Aerial Alignment
Although many modern aerials will feature a signal detection light, which indicates using a colour scheme (usually red, amber and green) how close the aerial is pointed to the nearest TV tower, so you know where exactly to position it.
However, if you’re not lucky enough to have one of those units, or if you just want to try for the strongest signal possible, there’s something else you can do… and it’s as easy as downloading an app!
Our favourite would definitely be UK Aerial Alignment - all you need to do is input the postcode of your caravan site and ping! Up come all of the towers in your area, indicated on a map, for you to choose and successfully create a line of sight with.
It Could Be The Cables!
In the event that your aerial is connected up perfectly, you’ve checked the local signal transmissions and found them to be strong enough, and you still can’t seem to pick up any channels - it could be the cables that you’re using causing an issue!
Coaxial cables are notorious for being shoddy and easy to break, so if those provided with your aerial appear flimsy or bent, or you’re struggling to source a signal, then swapping yours out for a fresh brand new one may do the trick.
Have You Tried Signal Boosters?
For especially remote caravan sites and camping locations, it’s very possible that you’re just too far away from the nearest TV tower to pick up any of its signals on your aerial. When that is the case, you need a booster!
Even the most high-end aerials can struggle when you’re in the sticks, so buying a signal booster or amplifier is a great back up option to have around just in case. They range in levels of power, with the price increasing the stronger the unit is.
Depending on the quality of your aerial and your distance from the tower, you should aim to get the most powerful booster around. All they do is hook up to your aerial and make it stronger - there’s no need to solder or anything, so don’t panic!
So, what have we learned today… besides that it is very rainy in the UK?!
Picking out a decent quality aerial is important, as well as ensuring it’s easy enough (and suitable) to install outside or on the roof if you would like to.
Also important is positioning, line of sight and whether you opt for directional or omnidirectional.
Provided that you make a good choice, install it well and follow our thorough instructions for manual tuning of your TV, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be enjoying your favourite shows from the comfort of your motorhome.
Any one of the five aerials we’ve listed above would make an excellent choice, whether you opt for a unit that needs mounting or the handy magnetic model we pointed out. All should have you enjoying Corination Street in no time at all!
Remember - it’s not just about the aerial itself, but where you put it, the way it’s facing, how far away you are from the nearest tower… there are many factors to consider and only by bearing them all in mind can you secure the ultimate signal!