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RV Satellite Dishes

July 13, 2014 by · 9 Comments 

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King Aire 001If your RV option choices will include a satellite dish, you need to decide which type will best suit your needs.  There are at least four styles of RV satellite dishes available.

First, let’s start with the stand-alone portable.  These are not really an attached RV option, but more an added accessory.  Consisting of a simple tripod, this dish is placed and aimed manually at the desired satellite. The stand-alone is also available in a “Cube” style which features automatic satellite acquisition.  These portable units are great for use in heavily treed areas as they can be positioned remotely from the RV in a location that has a clear view of the satellite.  From here, a cable connects the dish to the RV receiver.

Next, there are units that remain fixed on the RV roof.  They are manual operated antennas that require aiming from inside the cabin.  These offer only a single LNB (Low Noise Block) signal feed, meaning only one satellite can be accessed at one time.  These units are also offered with fully automatic acquisition, meaning that they self-aim.

The next, and perhaps most popular on motor homes, is the in-motion dome type.  These are capable of acquiring and tracking a given satellite signal, even while driving.  However, they do have their shortfalls.  With bridges, trees, buildings and geographic terrain, uninterrupted reception while driving is not readily available.  Additionally, these units are single LNB type antennas capable of only receiving KU band frequency.  For multi-satellite programming, the unit must re-acquire the needed satellite when switched from one to another.

Winegard Slimline

Winegard Slimline

Then, there is the stationary multi-LNB (3 to 5) fully automatic RV satellite dish.  This type can only be employed when stopped and is capable of both KU and KA band signals.   It can acquire up to five satellites at the same time.  In my opinion, the Winegard Slimline multi-LNB stationary RV satellite dish is by far the best choice.  Happily, these are generally lower priced than the in-motion type, so you can definitely get more for less here.  The lack of it being unusable while in motion is greatly overcome by its many other advantages. If the kids want to be entertained by TV while travelling, use a DVD.  That will provide the best uninterrupted video stream.

The Winegard Slimline is also a great add-on, even if you already have an in-motion type.  A selector can be used to enable the operator to switch from one dish to the other.  I personally used this set up for several years and found it wonderful.  It gave me the best of both worlds.  While it delivered in-motion TV from the dome type, I always preferred using the multi-LNB when stopped.

The next motor home that I buy will be with only the stationary multi-LNB Winegard dish.  After all, no one needs two satellite dishes on one RV, do they?  Enjoy.

Comments

9 Responses to “RV Satellite Dishes”
  1. Linda Bodkin says:

    What will work in both the US and Canada the best?

  2. Rick Bates says:

    As you move further north, a larger dish is required to gather enough signal so you can watch TV. The typical 18" (.4 meter) dish for an RV becomes too small at about a latitude of Anchorage or >800 miles north of the US border. It gets dodgy before that depending on the look angle (which gets lower the further north you go).

    The in-motion dishes are (in my opinion) a waste of time and money since you're always turning, going under trees, in canyons, behind hills and next to larger vehicles. The dish will always be in seek mode and you'll have plenty of blackouts. The carry out automatic style are second only to permanent mounted for ease of use, but you can adapt more readily to local conditions for the extra few minutes of set up cost.

    Do not expect to get your home 'local' channels if you're away. They are on a 'spot beam' (a very specific pattern from the satellite) that only covers the area around your home. But you can get the local (to your current location) channels (and if you leave a receiver at home, you'll change that programming too, so chose wisely if you wish to DVR something while gone).

    There are three primary companies involved, one in Canada (name escapes me), Dish and DirecTV. I use Dish.

    Each company only allows purchases within that country and each requires a 'local' billing address. (wink wink nod nod, nudge and smile, they mostly work in Mexico too).

    There are apps for iOS and Android OS that will help you determine where the best dish site is for your location. REALLY handy to have to work around trees, hills, etc.

  3. Rick Bates says:

    As you move further north, a larger dish is required to gather enough signal so you can watch TV. The typical 18" (.4 meter) dish for an RV becomes too small at about a latitude of Anchorage or >800 miles north of the US border. It gets dodgy before that depending on the look angle (which gets lower the further north you go).

    The in-motion dishes are (in my opinion) a waste of time and money since you're always turning, going under trees, in canyons, behind hills and next to larger vehicles. The dish will always be in seek mode and you'll have plenty of blackouts. The carry out automatic style are second only to permanent mounted for ease of use, but you can adapt more readily to local conditions for the extra few minutes of set up cost.

    Do not expect to get your home 'local' channels if you're away. They are on a 'spot beam' (a very specific pattern from the satellite) that only covers the area around your home. But you can get the local (to your current location) channels (and if you leave a receiver at home, you'll change that programming too, so chose wisely if you wish to DVR something while gone).

    There are three primary companies involved, one in Canada (name escapes me), Dish and DirecTV. I use Dish.

    Each company only allows purchases within that country and each requires a 'local' billing address. (wink wink nod nod, nudge and smile, they mostly work in Mexico too).

    There are apps for iOS and Android OS that will help you determine where the best dish site is for your location. REALLY handy to have to work around trees, hills, etc.

  4. Linda Bodkin says:

    Since I am from Canada and travelling to the US it probably works a little differently. By the way, Canada is generally Shaw Direct although i am told that Bell works in Canada buy not in the US. We have a Shaw Direct dish and a tripod, I just would like something a little easier to use wherever we are.

  5. I purchase a King Dome, worked for two years and broke. when I attempted to buy a mother board King Dome would not help. they wanted me to buy another one dome. not very good people

  6. Good Sam says:

    Rick Bates great insight! Really valuable information that we hope people take into consideration.

  7. Good Sam says:

    Wesley, we would love to help you find what you're looking for. We carry King Dome dishes at Camping World, have you taken a look at our products yet? http://www.campingworld.com/category/satellite-antennas/173

  8. Brenda Bassett says:

    We are from Alberta (Canada) and have a Shaw Direct that is installed on our roof and we really enjoy having it. We were advised it will work in the US (no matter where), but have yet to go to the US to give it a shot.

  9. You're no different King Dome, you still want me to but a brand new unit, when I have one mounted on my roof. I never buy a second one.

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