Once you have your home away from home, one of the first items you’ll want to add is a satellite service for TV and even internet. Finding the right combination of equipment to suit your needs may seem daunting, but we’re here to help. Many of the major providers including DISH NETWORK, DIRECTV, HughesNet, and RVDataSat offer an on-the-go service. This guide will help you understand what it will take to set up through each company.
The right equipment
DISH and DIRECTV do not actually offer an antenna (dish) that can be used on the road. And before you ask, they said no—you can’t yank the dish off your roof and take it with you. This means you’ll need to purchase a dedicated unit from one of their partner companies such as Winegard, KVH, or KING.
If you would like to add internet options there are a few available, but you’ll need a proprietary dish for your mobile internet unless you pair DIRECTV with an RVDataSat system. In each scenario, you’ll need a dedicated receiver box as well.
Choose an antenna
There are a few key items to look at when shopping for your dish antenna. The least expensive and simplest form is a tripod mounted dish that is set up and manually aligned to the satellite at each stop. The next step up will be those mounted to your RV and typically autofind capable, which means that it automatically points to the satellite signal. The best are slim profile antennas which not only autofind the dish, but also offer in-motion viewing.
The right TV service
If you’re already a DISH customer, you’ll simply need to purchase a mobile satellite and receiver and add pay-as-you-go service. This will extend your existing service to your mobile unit. The fee is a very fair $7.00 per month paid in advance, but it is also subject to proration.The DISH pay as-you-go system has no contract so it can be used as seldom or frequently as you like. If you are not already a customer, you can still use the pay as you go program, but the monthly service fee will need to include a full programming package.
The mobile service offered is completely separate from your home service. It is possible to pause or suspend service on both home and mobile accounts with DIRECTV for up to six months of each calendar year. The suspension can be done in one billing cycle increments. This will also pause the expiration of your two year service agreement extending it until you have reached a full two years of service.
If a user pauses service every year for the full six months this would double the duration of the agreement. Unless you are a traveler who spends exactly six months per year in the RV and six months per year at home, you’ll wind up paying both bills for a period of time each year. Since you have the service active anyway, why not power up the camper and make it a backyard getaway for movie night?
Shop for satellite internet companies
HughesNet and Viasat (formerly Exede) are your best options for satellite internet. To choose which one is best for you, see our full review here. RVDataSat is the only real competition to HughesNet and Exede with comparable monthly rates but drastically higher equipment costs (as in, around $6,000).
Choose the best combination for you
Power User: RVDataSat
The best of the best in all categories is RVDataSat’s 840 Antenna with optional second LNB for DIRECTV Choice programming (which currently includes NFL SUNDAY TICKET at no extra cost) and the Entertainment internet package. Hardware will cost $6,894.99 without shipping fees or setup costs and the service will run $454 per month (including current promotional pricing for DIRECTV service). This is also the only way to get both internet and TV from one dish antenna.
Frugal Friendly: DISH NETWORK
Your best bet is to be a DISH customer at home and simply add a mobile package, then add an Exede dish and plan.
Best All-Around Option: Winegard Carryout G2
The Winegard Carryout G2 + Power Inserter is a few bucks more up front, but you’ll never need to buy another dish. The power inserter allows the user to switch between DIRECTV and DISH with the flip of a switch. If you have no allegiance to either company, try out the DISH pay-as-you-go option, then switch to DIRECTV if you’re ready for a two year commitment.