What to look for when getting satellite for your RV
Some features, like automatic signal acquisition, can make or break your TV and internet experience while RVing.
Not sure where to start when it comes to buying an internet or TV satellite dish for your motor home? We totally feel you.
Along with a pretty hefty cost, satellite terminology can be confusing. We broke each term down to help you figure out which features are must-haves—and which ones you can tell your wallet to forget about.
We won’t beat around the bush: roof-mounted satellite dishes are not cheap. We’ve seen them run anywhere from $700 to upwards of $5,000.
But if you call your RV home, the up-front cost of a mounted satellite dish can be a good investment. Many mounted satellite dishes also automatically acquire a satellite signal, which makes it much easier to connect to a satellite every time you move to a new location.
Portable satellite dishes aren’t permanently attached to your RV, so you can move them around to try to get the best satellite signal. They sit on a tripod similar to the one professional photographers use to support their camera.
These tend to be a bit cheaper—the Winegard PL-7000 costs $309. That lower price makes portable satellite dishes a friendlier option to your wallet, especially if you don’t use your motor home that often.
Stationary or in-motion viewing
Want to take a break while someone else drives for a change? If your satellite TV antenna has in-motion viewing, you can catch up on the latest episodes of Outlander while on the way to your next destination.
Sounds awesome, right?
Well, compared to stationary viewing, which lets you watch satellite TV while your RV is parked, in-motion viewing can be expensive. We saw price differences up to $500 just to get the in-motion viewing feature. Yowza.
Automatic or manual satellite signal acquisition
We think automatic satellite signal acquisition is a must-have feature. Otherwise, if you’re stuck with manual acquisition, you might spend hours fiddling with your antenna to try to find a strong signal.
That does not sound like a relaxing getaway to us.
Number of satellites tracked at a time
If you’re big on catching up on the news back home or just want more channel options, an antenna that can track more than one satellite at a time might be up your alley.
This means your antenna can track multiple satellites, allowing you to watch programming available to more than one satellite at a time.
Number of receivers supported
If RVing is a family tradition, you can make your kids or relatives more comfortable with life on the road by grabbing a satellite TV antenna that supports more than one receiver.
This means your teenage daughter can DVR her favorite show in her room while mom and dad watch the news in the living area.
Internet, cellular, and TV providers supported
Make sure you grab a satellite dish that’s compatible with the service provider you’re signing up with.
Most dishes work with multiple providers, like the Winegard Roadtrip T4, which works with both DISH and DIRECTV. But we've seen some in the past that work with only one provider, so it's worth checking.
Similarly, cellular hotspot devices will likely be limited to certain providers. The ZTE Velocity, for example, works with only GSM providers like AT&T or T-Mobile. So no, you can’t get internet access on your Velocity if you have a CDMA provider like Sprint or Verizon.