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Aerial Pole and Bracket Tests

Poles / Brackets Tests

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, 4ft x 2.0" x 14G and 8ft x 2.0” x 14G 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 Sky / Freesat dishes will also fit on a 2" or 1.5" pole (though you will need a V bolt * ), but a few of the older ones [fitted with the little "L" pole] will only take 1.25" poles. Check which type you`ve got !


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. Now that`s either crap design, or they were just being bleedin` awkward, it`s one or the other, take your pick, don`t you just hate Sky ?

Cowboy`s bendy pole

Steel poles. Eventually, they all come down....  (Note the 6” pressed brackets)


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, in fact I like it so much it`s also on the Sales page !  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-Galv”. If one looks carefully one can see where the wall became so thin that eventually the pole snapped in the wind. Compare the two alloy poles, the 1” pole`s smaller size and thinner wall are immediately obvious and a 6ft length weighs about 450g. The 1.25” x 16 gauge pole`s superiority is plain to see and a 6 foot length of this pole has a weight of around 750g, that`s 67% more metal....


 In normal usage it will never fail.


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 “B & Q 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.


See our tests of Poles, and also Cowboys` Locker


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.

Steel poles, they`ll all come down, sooner or later.... Steel poles, they`ll all come down, sooner or later....  2 Steel poles tend to rust from the inside......

Steel Poles rust from the inside !

Quality pole, next to crappy poles.

Poles / Masts


Who would have thought that something as simple as a TV aerial pole could have so many different types with such wide variations in quality…...


Size for size Steel poles are stronger than alloy poles, so why don`t we stock them ? Well, in the first place steel poles aren`t actually that much stronger than alloy ones, but more importantly, even though they`re galvanised they rust. How come ? Virtually all steel masting sold in this country is "Pre-Galv", that is to say the metal is pre-galvanised before being formed into a tube. On Pre Galv products the galvanising is much thinner than "Hot Dipped Galvanising" and furthermore the weld line up the side of the tube is generally just painted, if that….  Incidentally, steel poles will generally rust from the inside as shown in the picture below. Finally all Pre-Galv products have an exposed unprotected edge where they are cut or stamped out and this is where rust usually starts. Don`t get me wrong, a steel pole will take years (many many years if it`s hot dip galvanised ! ) to rust through to the point where it becomes so thin that a strong gust of wind will break it, but eventually, it will come down.  


See our tests of aerial / satellite poles and brackets and our our pole lifetime warranty.

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.

We sell 3ft & 6ft poles both at 1.25” x 16G.

The 8ft pole is 1.5" x 16G. Our 10ft poles are either 1.5 inch diameter or 2.0” diameter (both 16G = 1.6mm), the latter type should be used for larger aerials (e.g. XB16s) or in exposed locations.

We also sell 2” Pole Couplers, e.g. to join two 2in diameter poles together however we would not normally advise coupling two 10ft (16G) poles together. We`d suggest using an 8ft (14G) "satellite pole" and coupling that to a 10ft pole, placing the thicker walled pole at the bottom (think Eiffel Tower).

The 12ft pole is 2 inch but the thicker 14gauge (= 2mm).


16ft & 20ft poles are also available but with a carriage surcharge


Then there are cranked (or "swan neck") poles (see graphic) which 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 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 to avoid an “RF dead spot”, or keep the aerial out of any smoke.


Our 3ft cranks are 1.25” diameter alloy and as far as we know we are the only people to sell 3ft these, we go the extra mile because we love quality, fantastic !  These poles (and the 6.5ft x1.5in cranked satellite pole) are so strong  they are even suitable for mounting satellite dishes up to 60cm (or more in sheltered locations).

We also sell 6ft cranks at 1.25" x 16G (alloy) plus 6.5ft & 10ft cranks at 1.5” x 16G (hot dipped galvanised steel), though if using one of the latter in an exposed location with an XB16 or an XB22 I`d be tempted to chop 1ft off the end of it.

NB 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 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.......


Finally we stock a Right Angle Crank, which has an off set of 21 inches. The right angle crank, along with the 6ft L section, is “pre galv” steel. Both are 1.25” diameter, the wall thickness on the former is 16G (1.6mm) and the latter is 18G (1.2mm).


All offsets are approximate, if this measurement is critical phone to check the exact figure.

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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 !


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.

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Pole Recommendations


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.


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 palate mounts will take a 1m dish.

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Straight & L section loft kits

Seam welded v extruded alloy poles


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 which I tested a few years ago, the result was exactly the same, 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.

QED.

We only stock seam welded alloy poles…..

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Seam welded v extruded alloy poles on test

Use Of Longer Poles


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.

Importance of pole height

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Pole / Mast Caps


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.

You could argue that steel poles (Pre Galv not not hot dip galvanized) 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 it may be worth (just) fitting one to the top of the pole because the last time I checked water flowed down hill. Since all other things being equal we don`t usually recommend steel masts this is all a bit irrelevant because alloy poles (which we do advocate) don`t actually rust. If you feel you want to use a mast cap I`d advise adding one made of decent quality insulation tape because it`ll last longer as there`s less danger of it splitting and falling off*. 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.


* Outside fitting caps are more likley to suffer from this in my experience. The type which fit inside last longer but aren`t 100% watertight. Take your pick, or don`t bother at all.

Pole (and bracket) strength tests

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Dimensions of our cranked poles / masts (roughly to scale ! )

Cranked poles


Satellite poles


Loft kits


Pole recommendations


Seam welded v extruded alloy poles


Use of longer poles


Installing an aerial which is on a long pole……


Pole / Mast caps

Poles / Masts  incl :

We are more than willing to give advice to those actually purchasing from us. Could those only seeking information please just find the answer somewhere on this site, or ring an aerial installer local to them, or call the reception advice phone numbers.

Subjects on this page are listed in the following order :

Poles, Brackets & Galvanising on test


Our pole lifetime warranty


Our bracket lifetime warranty.

Pole clamps and couplers  incl : Pole clamps  incl : 2 inch pole coupler


Pole caps


Weather station installations  incl : Joining poles of different diameter


Avians on your aerial


Plate mounts / satellite mounts / patio mounts  incl : sandwich brackets / keeper plates


Guy wire supported poles (dedicated page)

Also see :

Bolting poles to brackets incl : use of saddles with V bolts


If you`ve found this site informative and, hopefully, interesting as well,

please help us increase the number of people reading it.


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Poles & Masts

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Flimsy aerial, only suitable for small birds......
Bacofoil Aerial

Avians On Your Aerial


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. 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 !

Aerial on a side pole, for the birds Using of a 9ft supercrank pole to place the aerial over the roof

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Weather Station Installations


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 re-tightened, thus it`s worth considering the use of stainless steel Vs……


Also see “a pole on a post”.

Davis Vantage View weather station mouted on a 9ft Supercrank pole and 9x9in walll bracket.

One problem you occasionally get with some weather stations 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.


External / internal diameters of poles

Sleeving a larger diameter pole down to accapt a smaller one

Sleeving : this packing is simply cut from a spare section of the pole, but any material is suitable, even (for a small gap) insulation tape !

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Plate mounts / Satellite mounts / Patio mounts


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.

Plate mounts are handy for an installation on a flat roof (hence the term patio mount), the plate can either be bolted straight to paving slabs or the slabs can be mounted in a large formwork and the plate mount bolted to that. We can supply the formwork (sometimes called a non penetrating roof mount) to order, please phone for a price, though I have to tell you they aren`t cheap !


Plate mounts are available with a 3ft straight or L section.




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).



Plate mount / satellite mount

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 (lower left). 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......


* Unless it`s an FM/DAB dipole in a sheltered area ?

#Keeper-plate-25cm-square

How do I install an aerial if it`s on a long pole ?


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 you really shouldn`t be fitting an aerial in high winds, and 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

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An L section loft kit is VERY flexible in its application

This also picture 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 !