Freesat Installation Frequently Asked Questions
If you've got questions about installing your Freesat box, look no further than this handy FAQ. If you're not sure about any of the terms used in this page, such as high definition, Freesat or recorder, check out our Freesat FAQ page for a simple guide to it all.
Installation of the satellite dish and connecting it to the Freesat box
Do I need installation?
If you're buying a Freesat box and you have a dish from Sky or a previous Freesat installation, this will work, so long as you still have the line coming in to where you wish to site the box. The incoming line should have a screw-on connector at the end of it.
However, if you're adding a box to the household, or replacing a standard Freesat box with a recorder one, you may find that you need to add to the number of connections coming from your dish. In these cases, get a quote directly from the retailer or a specialist.
Do I have to buy a dish too?
Almost all installation offers (including all the ones listed on this page) are a package that include the satellite dish, at least one connection to the Freesat box, and the installation itself by an expert installer.
I'm currently with Sky. Can I cancel my subscription to them and use their dish?
Yes. You can replace the Sky digital box with a new Freesat one, and the Sky dish will work fine with it.
Do I need a different type of dish for high definition (HD) Freesat boxes?
No. All Freesat boxes connect to the same type of dish. While you may need more connections if you're adding a recorder box, the dish itself stays the same. This also means you can replace a standard definition Sky box with a high definition Freesat box with no hassle!
Can I replace my standard definition Sky box with a high definition (HD) Freesat box?
Yes, and it will work fine with the current Sky dish.
Ok, so how many of these connections from my dish do I need?
Every Freesat recorder box you wish to have in your household will require 2 connections from your dish to allow you to record one program while watching another. Every non-recording Freesat box will require only 1 connection from your dish.
- If you have 1 Freesat recorder box for the living room, and 1 for your bedroom, you'll need 3 connections from your dish. (2 for recorders + 1 for standard)
- If you're installing just 1 Freesat recorder box, you need 2 connections from your dish. (2 for recorders + 0 for standard)
- If you're installing just 1 Freesat box, you need just 1 connection from your dish. (0 for recorders + 1 for standard)
- If you're fitting out your new guest house and requiring 2 Freesat recorders for your own living space and 5 Freesat boxes for the guest rooms, you'll need 9 connections from your dish (at which point you may need more than a single dish!). (4 for recorders + 5 for standard)
So while the last one was a bit extreme, hopefully you'll now have a greater understanding of how many of these connections you'll need.
What's the technical term for these connections from the dish?
Ok if you really want to know so you can understand your installer if he starts talking tech-speak, they're called low-noise blocks, or LNBs for short. They're the antennas that sit in the dish, receiving the signal, and each one provides a unique feed into your home.
So if you wish to watch Coronation Street while recording Eastenders, or the children want to watch cartoons on BBC while you're watching Come Dine With Me on Channel 4, you'll need two have two LNBs, each providing a unique television feed. In these examples, one LNB would provide BBC to the kid's Freesat box while the other provides Channel 4 to yours, and in the first scenario one would provide Eastenders to the recording part of your box while the other provided Coronation Street for you to view now.
Each LNB will have a line coming from them into your home with a screw-on connector at the end, which will screw onto the back of your Freesat box. In the case of a recorder box, you will normally find two points to screw the LNB lines onto.
Who should I go with for my installation?
The recommendation is normally to stick with the retailer you buy your box from, as their installers will have the most intimate knowledge of the product and provide an integrated service - so if anything happens, you won't be passed between two companies arguing over who's in the wrong.
Connecting the Freesat box to your television and surround sound kit
What do I need to connect the Freesat box to my TV?
If you're buying a high-definition (HD) Freesat box and have a "HD Ready" television, if you don't use a HDMI lead you won't be getting the best out of it. These leads carry both the highest quality picture and sound from the box to the TV, and are the neatest solution to a tangle of wires. They're usually provided with the more expensive Freesat boxes, but even if they're not one can generally be picked up for around £20. While this may seem a lot (and by hunting around you can get cheaper ones), this is generally a good price to pay for a quality lead that will last years. You can also get higher build quality but more expensive leads if you want to buy the very best or are going over a long distance.
A SCART lead can be used to hook up a standard defintion (SD) Freesat box, or to connect a HD Freesat box to a non-"HD Ready" TV. You'll not get the best picture, but it's still simple and carries both the picture and the sound.
There are other options too, such as component but these are dependent on the Freesat box itself and your television, are more expensive and not as high quality as HDMI.
What do I need to connect my Freesat box to my home cinema system/surround sound kit?
Welcome to a whole new world of fun. This mainly depends on the inputs on your surround sound, and the outputs on the box you choose. Let's break it down to make things more simple, but remember to read your home cinema system manual to check the inputs for certain!
Home cinema systems/surround sound kits will have either an optical input (which looks like a hole covered by a plastic cover), a digital coaxial input (usually coloured orange or black, check the manual to see if you have this) or stereo inputs (normally in a pair, where one is red and one is white, often marked Audio In).
Optical leads are usually the easiest and best quality, and go from the optical output on the Freesat box (if it has one), which normally will look identical, into the input on the home cinema system. All you need for this is an optical (or TOS-link) cable, which can be bought from most retailers that sell Freesat boxes. Don't spend less than £15 or £20 on an optical cable - with the insides being very delicate, cheap cables can often break and cause sound distortion. More expensive ones are generally a lot better protected.
Digital coaxial leads are rugged and can also provide surround sound, but are less common now. If your Freesat box has one of these as an output, and your home cinema as one as an input, just buy a digital coaxial lead (available from most of the retailers on here) and hook them up.
If however your surround sound kit only has this input and your Freesat box only has an optical output, you're doomed to the world of extra cables and a converter, which is available from Maplin. You'll need the converter itself, plus a digital coaxial lead to go from it to the home cinema system, and an optical lead to go from it to the Freesat box. Have fun!
Stereo leads - if you're unlucky enough to only have a home cinema system with stereo inputs, you may wish to consider upgrading as this means you can't play anything in true surround sound apart from DVDs that play in the system itself. If upgrading isn't an option, get some red and white stereo cables (also known as RCA stereo cables) and plug the correct colours into the back of the red and white stereo output on the back of your Freesat box or TV. If neither of them has this as an output, there's not much you can do, but if they have, you'll at least be able to get left and right stereo sound from them.
Finally, some systems are now beginning to use HDMIs to carry sound to the home cinema system instead, or in the case of some Samsung TVs use the TV itself as a switchbox for the different units hooked up to it. When this happens, the units are hooked up with a HDMI as normal to the TV, which has an optical output to the home cinema system. Whichever is playing on the TV at the time, the TV automatically sends that source's sound to the home cinema system. For more advanced setups like this and HDMI-input surround sound kits, please check the manuals!