A little flex in an aerial pole is no bad thing, it helps take some of the shock force out of the wind loading, but satellite poles must be rock steady if you are keep the dish focused on that little “geostationary” transmitter 22,000 miles above the Equator. Thus we stock ultra strong satellite masts, 5ft x 1.5” x 16G/1.6mm, 4ft x 2.0" x 14G/2.0mm and 8ft x 2.0” x 14G/2.0mm in alloy and a 6.5ft crank in hot dip galvanised 1.5in diameter steel. They are equally suitable as extra heavy duty aerial poles. Most Zone1 Sky / Freesat dishes will also fit on a 2" or 1.5" pole (though you will need a V bolt * ), but Zone2 dishes [or older Zone1s fitted with the little "L" pole] will only take 1.25" poles, no idea why, it`s brain dead. Also see plate mounts / satellite mounts.
* Most previous models of Sky / Freesat dish took a 2in V bolt but the Mk 4 introduced about 2010 takes a non standard 2.5" V bolt. On the Mk4 dish Sky also changed the design of the LNB fitting as well so older LNBs won`t fit it.
Steel poles. Eventually, they all come down.... (Pre galv far sooner than hot dip….)
Then we have Alloy poles. Not only are they rust free but they will flex slightly in the wind (some think this absorbs some of the shock loading) and they`re lighter as well. Both of these will help in putting a little less strain on the bracket, and on your brickwork. Unfortunately alloy is more expensive and (size for size) is slightly weaker than steel unless the appropriate gauge / diameter is used.
This is one of my favourite pictures on the entire site. Nothing shows so vividly
the differing qualities of materials used in this trade. Remember that the 1” steel
pole was originally galvanised, although as we have already seen it was only “Pre-
Let`s compare the three commonly supplied varieties of 6 ft alloy mast. They can be either straight or of the cranked/swan neck variety. The first type is 1" diameter x 18 gauge, they are the equivalent of 3” fence posts and we would not use a 6ft pole of this type for a TV aerial under any circumstances. In fact I am prepared to say publicly that any installer using such a pole (particularly with a large aerial) should be wearing a Stetson. Having said that, if the installation shown below was done by the house owner one cannot necessarily blame him. I was in a DIY shed the other day and the only 6ft pole they sell is a 1”x 18 gauge, we call them “Screwfix Specials”, and they certainly wouldn`t have a pole lifetime warranty !
I wonder where the installer who fitted this 6ft x 1” alloy pole tied up his horse ?
And he (or she !) has only used a 6” chimney bracket.
Incidentally, why has Roy (as in Rogers, as in cowboy) fitted a 5 element DAB aerial ? Very few people actually need one of those, could it possibly be was so he could charge more ?
Actually, I suspect this pole could be an extruded one.
Finally we have the third type and the only type we sell (straight or cranked). This is the Rolls Royce of the 6ft aerial poles and they are 1.25" x 16 gauge (1.6mm) alloy,
In normal usage, they will never fail.
Why doesn`t everyone use the latter type of pole ?
Well, two main reasons spring to mind :
They`re more expensive and DIY shops don`t generally tend to sell them.
If a weaker pole (particularly a 6ft x 1") is installed by an aerial rigger, they probably want some "repeat business".
The second variety is the 1.25" x 18 gauge (=1.2mm) aerial pole. They are a bit stronger than the 1” type and fine for smaller aerials, provided the top V bolt is not over tightened which can crush the tubing and eventually lead to failure.
Cranked (or "swan neck") poles (see graphic)
These are sometimes required if the pole has to clear an obstruction, the eaves for instance. You can use a bigger bracket instead of, or as well as, a cranked pole. You should always leave a gap of about 2" to prevent high winds causing the pole to bang against the fascia (or gutter) and also to facilitate maintenance of the latter. Cranked poles can also be used to move an aerial`s position laterally if this is required to give the antenna more of a clear path to the transmitter or keep the aerial out of any smoke.
Approximate overall clearance on a 9”x 9” wall bracket with a cranked pole is approx 17”
For those requiring more “off set” we have a 10ft Supercrank pole in 1.5” x 16G/1.6mm hot dipped galvanised steel. These are particularly suitable for buildings with large overhangs on the fascias. Fitting these is much neater than huge T & Ks and a straight pole. The 10ft Supercrank pole is sometimes used "upside down" to crank a pole back over the roof if birds` little presents to you are a problem.......
All offsets are approximate, if this measurement is critical phone to check the exact figure.
When deciding how strong to make your install remember that the weight of the aerial/satellite/weather station is almost * irrelevant, it`s the wind loading that counts !
* If the antenna on the end of the pole is being whipped about significantly by the wind then the weight of it does become significant in the amount of force being put on the pole and brackets, but the fact it`s being moved about so much is a function of the antennas windloading anyway (plus the lack of rigidity in the pole and/or brackets) ! Basically, if possible, minimise windloading and/or maximise the rigidity of the pole.
Remember, if you`ve got a big aerial on a long pole and it`s accessible, if particularly high winds are forecast it is sometimes possible to temporarily lower the install for the duration of the storm, use of stainless V bolts greatly assists in this…..
Theoretically the higher an aerial is mounted the more signal it will receive. It is certainly the case that if any additional height is used to give adequate clearance (preferably by at least 3ft) to an obstruction in the path to the transmitter (e.g. a roof) the additional wind loading and larger bracket(s) required are very worthwhile. However in most cases (assuming the aerial is mounted at “normal” installation height, say 25ft from the ground) unless there is an obvious barrier to the transmission path I have my doubts about just how much extra signal you would get from (say) using a 10ft pole rather than a 6ft. Remember we`re talking the difference in the total aerial height, e.g. from 25ft to 29ft. Obviously if you live in a dip and your reception path is only just clearing the hillside, or indeed is through it, then any extra height may be significant, but generally speaking I wouldn`t expect miracles. Quite apart from anything else reception sites vary from sea level to 1000ft (or more) so how is four foot going to make that much difference ! Having said all of the above, particularly if the aerial is mounted relatively low to the ground (e.g.on a bungalow), and you`ve tried everything else, then a longer pole is always worth a punt !
In April 2008 we did some aerial height experiments to see on just how much extra signal one gets from an aerial 3ft 3in higher (the extra height from a 10 ft pole over a 6ft) and these more or less backed up the advice previously given above. Also see Anatomy of an awkward install.
On a related point if you are suffering from signal problems then moving the aerial laterally may well be more effective than using a higher pole.
Pole caps are plastic caps (or bungs) placed over (or inside) the ends of aerial masts. Their primary purpose is to prevent wind noise, though I have to say that worrying about the wind noise you`d get from the pole, when there`s an aerial mounted on the end of it, is like the captain of the Titanic worrying how much it`ll cost to clean his uniform when it gets soaked as the freezing North Atlantic water creeps inexorably up his ship...... Actually, it must be said, under certain conditions, you can get a low whistle created when wind blows across the end of a pole, but it`s fairly rare and not usually that loud either. Other uses of pole caps are for masts concreted into the ground, to stop them filling with water !
You could argue that steel poles (Pre Galv, not hot dip galvanized, the latter is far better….) benefit from mast caps, because they tend to start rusting from the inside first, and the cap helps to prevent the ingress of water, though they also prevent it drying out as well, so just fit one to the top of the pole (the last time I checked water flowed down hill). Actually it`s probably better to avoid caps in the bottom of poles (or drill holes in the bottom one) because you don`t want them filling them water do you ? We sell pole caps (1”, 1.25”, 1.5” and 2”) or you can make one out of decent quality insulation tape. Place a number of strips radially across the end of the pole, then run a length (stretched) round the outside of the pole to cover and strengthen them.
Note that external pole caps may be theoretically slightly more waterproof then internal fit types but in my experience the latter are significantly more durable. The former tend to harden in the sun, split and fall off. And anyway, if you`re only fitting a cap to the top (which we recommend) then being absolutely waterproof isn`t that important.
Subjects on this page are listed in the following order :
incl : sandwich brackets / keeper plates / flat roof mounting tray
Guy wire supported poles (dedicated page)
Also see :
Poles & Masts
Note : Birds find vertically polarised aerials rather less appealing !
Assuming that their aerial is sufficiently strong I don`t suppose most people mind birds perching on them. After all they may well be tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
However if your aerial is situated over the drive where you park your car, and the aforementioned bird is doing what birds do (or should that be doo doo) then you might not be so hospitable.
You have a few options, apart, of course, from buying a cat with an interest in aerials.
The best line of attack is more a case of defence, and that is to mount the aerial * where the avians gifts to you won`t cause a problem. Generally speaking this involves erecting the aerial over the roof. If it`s on a chimney then that would normally be the case anyway, but if it`s installed on a wall you might need to use cranked pole (usually a “Supercrank"), or an L Section pole or even a side pole to shift the antenna back over the roof. Use of a side pole would probably require a 2x1 clamp and a suitable length of 1” pole.
If all of the above ideas are unsuitable to solve your wildlife worry you could try using fishing line or tie wraps or plastic “anti bird” spikes (though the latter look horrible). String the fishing line across the top of your aerial, either from the top of the reflector down to the middle/front elements, or from the pole above the aerial to the same points if that is easier, as it would be with a Log Periodic type antenna.
Tie wraps can also be used to agitate the avians, leave the uncut lengths poking skywards, they don`t like it up `em, apparently, similarly with the plastic anti bird spikes. However, I`m unconvinced how long either of these would last….. The major advantage of using fishing line over tie wraps is that is looks a lot neater. After all fishing line is supposed to be invisible (to fish at any rate). Make sure the fishing line is UV resistant though.
* Obviously you have to make sure that your aerial is sturdy enough to withstand our feathered friends sitting on it. What you don`t want, is a Bacofoil aerial !
Our customers tell us there are a few different priorities when it comes to mounting weather stations. The wind loading of weather stations is generally much less significant than it is with aerials and satellites, particularly large aerials and satellites. That is to say you don`t need to worry so much about using larger brackets and stronger poles in case the install gets blown down in a gale, so that`s good news. On the other hand we`re also told that having a weather station on a bendy bracket and pole can induce errors in the rain gauge measurements and wind speed readings. So, from that point of view you actually need stronger (i.e. more rigid) bracket and poles ! Anyway, I`m pleased to have clarified that for you........
On the right we have a neat weather station installation which was put up by Nick Beer. He`s mounted his “Davis Vantage View” weather station on a Supercrank pole which is itself mounted on a 9x9 wall bracket (one 9x9 bracket with a 10ft Supercrank is only suitable for a low wind load aerial or weather station). Nick reports that the station is stable in use and provides accurate readings. This install gets the station well away from the walls and/or roof plus it gives it a 6ft clearance above the roof line which, I`m told, is a good idea to ensure maximum wind speed accuracy. Note how Nick has painted the bracket and the lower part of the pole the same colour as the wall so as to be as unobtrusive as possible (also see low profile brackets) though it`s still worth using a galvanised bracket because it won`t rust when the paint wears or flakes off.
One last thing, many weather stations need regular maintenance which generally requires
the V bolts (which install the pole on the bracket) to be repeatedly slackened and
Also see “a pole on a post”.
One problem you occasionally get with some weather stations (and also certain antennas) is they have a mounting socket which will only accept a particular size pole, so, what do you do if you want to fit the station on the end of a pole of larger diameter ? You can use a mast clamp to attach a short section of smaller diameter pole on the end but that looks a bit Heath Robinson (remember him.....), so an alternative is to fit a short section of the smaller diameter pole inside the larger one using suitable sleeving if necessary. Obviously the longer the overlap between the two sections of pole the stronger and more stable the joint will be. Lastly put a small bolt through the joint to stop the poles slipping.
Sleeving : this packing is simply cut from a spare section of the pole, but any material is suitable, in fact, for a small gap insulation tape is perfectly acceptable, provided the smaller pole is a tight interference fit.
Plate mounts are available with a 3ft straight or L section.
These plate mounts are often used to install satellite dishes, particularly large satellite dishes, but are equally suitable for a neat install of aerials or RF links or whatever. They`re all heavy duty, even the 1.25in is pretty strong (we loaded it with 65Kg and it still hadn`t failed….) and are all hot dip galvanised steel. See dimensions of our plate mounts. Picture below left.
Alternatively plate mounts can be used as “sandwich brackets” on thin walls like metal cladding. A second plate, sometimes called a “keeper plate”, is bolted through the wall to the plate mount (hence the term sandwich bracket). Picture below middle
For an installation on a flat roof (hence the term patio mount), a heavy duty flat roof mounting kit (also called a non penetrating roof mount) is available, see picture below. This product takes 18in square paving slabs. Picture below right.
Particularly since switchover aerials in loft aerials can work fine in reasonable signal areas and we sell the above “Loft Kits” to mount the antennas. You can just suspend the aerials from string though this can be awkward when aligning the antenna ! The loft kits come with a 2 way surface bracket, these mount perpendicular or parallel as shown in the pictures (below). The picture in the centre shows a further adaptation, if the L section pole is mounted in the bracket`s side it can then be rotated to give a diagonal pole ! Some people use also use the 2 way brackets (with large jubilee clips) to attach small items, e.g. CCTV cameras, to lamp posts or similar, also of use for doing this are the multi angle brackets.
Although some people use loft kits to mount installations outside, we don`t recommend it* and the picture on the right illustrates why ! Still, at least the flimsy Bacofoil aerial matches the under specified pole/bracket......
Actually, this really isn`t such a stupid question, read on……
First, back to basics. When an installer puts up an aerial it`s almost always pre installed on the end of the pole (c/w the cable taped down the side of the pole) then the pole is bolted to the bracket. The aerial is almost never installed on the end of the pole whilst the pole is in situ, for obvious reasons. Now, fitting the pole to the bracket with the aerial already installed on the top of it is all very well if the pole is relatively short (up to 6ft) but if the pole is a long one (10ft plus) that`s a rather different ball game, particularly if the aerial is a large one. Think about it, you`re holding the pole at the bottom with the aerial at the top ( = large leverage effect) and then trying to slide it into the (loosely fitted) V bolts on the bracket, all whilst you`re perched at the very top of the ladder. Remember, there isn`t usually room to get the ladder much higher than the bracket because the bracket is usually near the top of the wall (in order to gain maximum height) !
There are two approaches. The first involves sliding the pole (c/w pre installed aerial) into just the bottom (loosely fitted) V bolt, tightening the latter then helps stabilise the pole before you install the top V bolt. This can be worthwhile because if it`s a long pole the bottom V bolt will be up to 18 inches or more below the top one, thus you can hold the pole a bit higher up and/or you`ll be further down the ladder. The alternative approach involves pre installing the aerial as usual but not taping the cable all the way down it. Thus you can clamp the pole to the bracket nearer the top of the pole and gradually push up the aerial / pole combination (by temporarily slackening off the V bolts) taping the cable to the pole as it emerges from the top V bolt . This method is more problematic if you`re using saddles because the saddles bite into the pole, even on loosened V bolts, and the pole doesn`t slide as smoothly through the V bolts. This does at least prove that saddles do work quite well ! !
Very important. It should go without saying that fitting an aerial in high winds is a big no no. In fact, if it`s a large aerial on a long pole, I`d say it`s a bad idea to try and fit it if there`s any significant wind at all ! And use your ladder safely……
Also see Anatomy of an awkward install
This picture also illustrates the fact an aerial can be mounted from the top as well as the bottom. Ideally the pole wouldn`t pass through the aerial`s elements, but, because the aerial and pole are opposite polarities, it wouldn`t actually make much difference.
This is how adaptable an L section loft kit is !
Strong brackets and poles are all very well, but what if you don`t have a chimney to fit them on and/or the roof overhang is large so huge brackets are needed ? Even worse it may be a hip roof so has no gable end, so you need a long pole to get any aerial (or weatherstation or whatever) above the roof. That seems a hell of a lot of hardware particularly if you only need to put a little aerial or RF link or CCTV camera up there. Well there is an alternative, the tile & slate mount, illustrated on the right. It must be stressed these are really only suitable for small low wind load items and the stub pole must not be extended. The manufacturers do say they`ve been tested in a wind tunnel with a zone 1 satellite dish but surely that depends on the strength of the tiles and their fixings ? Personally I`d only really recommend mounting an aerial (or similar) with a wind loading of less than about 50N.
The mount is non invasive and doesn`t require any drilling, it works by three cleats being slid under three tiles then they`re clamped to the “T frame” mounted on top. Self adhesive pads (supplied) are then fitted at the contact point with the tiles to reduce the stress loads and lessen the risk of cracking the tile. They are not suitable for small “Rosemary” type tiles or roofs in poor condition.
This is rare, I can`t remember when I last saw one of these.
Is this install a bodge ? We`ll ignore the fact the installer has used painted K brackets (though he has at least used two Ks) but we can`t disregard the aerial / pole combination he`s used. One assumes he`s used a “double pole” because the aerial was swaying around alarmingly in the wind, but the fact he`s used an aerial with a very high windloading must have contributed to that just as much as the poles strength or lack of it. That aerial, which is on Emley Moor by the way, looks like a SAC Mux Magician (or a similar type, see test of this aerial) and they have a wind loading of about 150N at 80mph. A Yagi 18B on Emley would actually have more gain but also half the windloading (around 75N at 80mph) ! It`s actually better made as well but that`s not entirely relevant here.
Onto the actual “double pole”, I think it`s fair to say a scaffold pole would have been just as strong, looked better and probably have been more reliable long term, but what I think has happened here is the installer has put up a pole about 15ft long then become concerned at the amount of movement in when the wind blows. We`ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he used a heavy duty 14G/2.0mm wall thickness pole, though he may have used a thinner one, either through lack of knowledge or by design because he`s a tight arse (if he used a 16G/1.6mm pole he is a bodger). So, he thought “what can I do here ? I know what about using a second 10ft pole to support the first by clamping it to it with 2x2 clamps !” Personally I think he`s put the clamps in the wrong place, I`d have thought one just below the bottom bracket, one just below the top bracket, and the third at the top of the “support pole” would have been more logical, but there we go.
Anyway, we tested two double pole assemblies, one with the support pole on top, and one with it on the side where the clamps would have been working in a different mode. We used 10ft x 1.5in poles and 5ft x 1.5in support poles. The assembly with the secondary pole on top was just under 60% stronger, the one with it at the side was around 100% stronger. I think the difference was down to how the main pole was clamped as it left the top 2x2 clamp and thus affected the stress pattern on the main pole at that critical point.
How this double pole assembly will last when subject to repeated wind movement over the years is another question…..
Diagram of a 1.5in pole sleeved into a scaffold pole. This is a good way of making an 18ft pole out of an 8ft x 1.5in pole and a 12ft scaffold pole. This is actually much stronger than an 18ft x 2in pole (even with a 2.0mm wall) and, on balance, superior to an 18ft scaffold pole, think Eiffel Tower. Additional benefits are it`s lighter than an 18ft scaffold pole and also cheaper, particularly as it avoids the “direct from the supplier” additional carriage charge ! See Bill`s article.
They could call it the “Rod Hull Rule”.
It`s pity he didn`t fall on that bleedin` bird isn`t it ?
Or perhaps he did ?
Is that a tautology ?
There could be some Health & Safety Bollocks ruling* about trying to fit your own aerial, so consider this sentence to be a concession to that.
Or, put another way, gravity plus height is a bad combination, don`t fall off the ladder.
If in any doubt about this scientific fact, don`t do the job.
See basic ladder safety.......
Generally any of our poles are suitable for any aerial, but, bearing in mind wind loading considerations, we have a few specific 4" fence post recommendations, and these are to be followed to qualify for our pole lifetime warranty.
Our 6ft x 1.25” poles are suitable for any aerial we stock, though the 44” (“surcharge avoider”) versions are even stronger.
We do not normally recommend fitting any TV aerial or multi element FM/DAB aerial on a 6ft x 1in pole although you might be alright with a DM18Log or an FM or DAB dipole. Six foot x 1in poles are excluded from our pole lifetime warranty.
If fitting an XB16 aerial on a 10 ft pole we only recommend the 2" variety, the same applies if fitting multiple aerials on a 10ft pole. An XB10 or DY14 aerial would be unlikely to break a 10ft x 1.5in pole but it may move around a bit in a high wind......
The 8ft x 1.5" pole is pretty much strong enough for any aerial though, as is the 12ft x 2in 14gauge.
We don`t recommend fitting XB16/XB22 aerials on 10ft cranks (or 10ft Supercranks) unless cut down by at least one foot, and preferably two foot in exposed locations.
The 4ft x 2in satellite pole is suitable for dishes up to 1m. The other satellite poles are only suitable for dishes up to 60cm, particularly in exposed locations.
Any of our satellite poles are suitable for any aerial (or aerials) under any conditions.
When using a pole coupler we do not recommend coupling two 10ft x 16G poles together unless it is a small aerial, i.e. up to 50N windloading, e.g. a DM Log. Coupling a 10ft pole to an 8ft satellite pole (the latter at the bottom......) is suitable for an aerial up to an 100N windloading, e.g. an XB10. For XB16s/XB22s the maximum length pole we would recommend coupling on top of an 8ft satellite pole would be 8ft (i.e. total 16ft), and less in a particularly exposed location.
The 1.25in L section plate mount will take any aerial or a satellite dish up to 60cm. The models of 2in plate mounts will take a 1m dish.
I had heard that extruded alloy poles were weaker than seam welded ones but because we only ever stocked seam welded I never gave it much thought. I was told this disparity was due to extruded alloy having a bit of air in it which would also explain why it isn`t as dense as seam welded, maybe someone out there can enlighten us whether this is true ! ? ! However, in May 2013 a mill which supplied most of the seam welded poles to the aerial industry went bust and suddenly there was a major shortage of welded aluminium poles and most of my suppliers were now offering extruded. Well, I thought, I suppose I`ll have to test them, which I did.
The first lot were T4 extruded alloy which is actually meant to be soft so it`s easier to crank. It certainly is easier to deform, it was so weak I could bend the standard 6ft x 1.25in x 16G pole over my knee. On test it failed with only 5Kg on it. Shite.
Next came the harder T6 extruded alloy, now this was much better, it failed at 20Kg.
Last I rechecked the seam welded and the weight required to fail it was exactly the same as when I tested it a few years ago, which was somewhat of a relief I can tell you. Anyway, it took 25Kg to fail which is 25% stronger than T6 extruded alloy.
I also checked 10ft x 2in x 16G poles and found the the T6 extruded poles to also be around 20% weaker than welded.
We only stock seam welded alloy poles…..