For some RVers, the whole purpose is to get away from everything, travel to remote locations, and "rough it." For others, the RVing adventure may include those things, but at the end of the day they enjoy taking a warm shower and curling up in front of their favorite television show or movie. For them, the motorhome is an actual home-away-from-home or even their fulltime apartment on wheels, and having all the creature comforts adds to the experience. How Does Satellite Work?
In order to enjoy TV in your rig or trailer, you need to either be camping at an RV park that provides access to cable television, or you need satellite TV. This allows you to not only watch your favorite programs, but to also remain informed about the weather and news. With so many options in brands, setups, and size of investment, how do you decide what's right for you? With a little information and bit of research, the choice for your style of RVing should be easy.
The beauty of using satellite is that there are few cables and infrastructure required. You only need a satellite dish, a receiver box, a TV, and a satellite provider. Since the signals are transmitted from space, theoretically, they're available anywhere you have a clear view of the sky. Of course, if you stay in areas that are heavily wooded, the signal may be blocked or interrupted.
Automatic Satellite Tracking: When you have an automatic satellite tracking dish, it locates the position of the satellites in relation to the dish, and then adjusts itself to receive the optimal signal strength from the satellite. This is an extremely convenient feature. When your dish doesn't have this, you must manually aim it. Even with the best calculations, this can take hours of making tiny, incremental adjustments, which is very frustrating. Satellite Plans: Since a satellite dish only picks up the signal, you need a receiver to interpret the signal for your TV. Although you might purchase your dish—or your rig may come equipped with one—you still need a receiver box or DVR that you'll likely obtain from the DISH or DIRECTV satellite provider when you subscribe to their service.
There are several roof-mounted options you can choose from but Winegard is one of the most popular. They're available for both DISH and DIRECTV. These fully-automated dishes feature one-button operation, receive signals from multiple satellites at once, and lock in place so you get the full range of programming. Roof-mounted dishes typically provide independent programming for multiple televisions. They're the most expensive option, but they're generally viewed as the most convenient.
The next tier option is the versatile domed dish, which can be either left portable or can be mounted on the roof. It has automatic satellite tracking for easy use and supports multiple TVs. When it's mounted, the covered design allows you to use it even while you're driving. If you keep it portable, you can park in the shade and still have unlimited access to satellite signals.
The least expensive, mobile option is the tri-pod dish. When using this dish, you set it up in a space that has an unobstructed view of the sky. Then, using the signal-strength meter that often accompanies it (or you can purchase one separately), you maneuver it to find the best signal strength. This might be a quick endeavor, but could take some time to find the "sweet spot." Once you have, you can stake the feet of the tri-pod to the round and keep it in place. It's the least convenient option, but it's perfect for RVers on a budget.
Fortunately, to stay current on all your favorite television programs, you have many options in a range of prices and levels of complexity. For a considerable investment, roof-mounted versions allow you to activate the dish at the press of a button, and they're self-positioning, but they require you park in spaces without heavy tree coverage. For less money, a domed-dish can be either mounted on the roof or left mobile. A mobile, tri-pod mounted dish enables you to park in the shade and place the dish in view of the sky. Although it's the least expensive option, it does take the most work to set it up. Good luck and enjoy the show!