Satellite TV Options for RV Owners from Lichtsinn Motors

Satellite TV Options for RV Owners from Lichtsinn Motors

RV owners now have a wide variety of satellite TV options available for access while they are away from home.  Asking yourself a few simple questions can help determine which product and service is best for your individual wants and needs. 

What Service Do You Have?

If you already subscribe to satellite TV service at home, you may be able to take one of your existing receivers to use in your RV while travelling.  Alternatively, you may choose to add an additional receiver to your account to have a dedicated receiver in your RV.  The additional receiver can be added to an existing account for a nominal monthly fee.  If you don’t have satellite TV service currently, there are a couple of basic options to consider – a new residential contract or a pay-as-you-go service.

A new residential account with DirecTV or DISH Network will require a 2-year programming contract.  It may include a free or discounted receiver box that is not owned, but leased instead.  Full time RVers and those interested in switching to satellite at home may find some advantages with the lower up-front cost.

The other option is a pay-as-you-go plan from DISH Network designed especially for RV owners.  With the pay-as-you-go plan, you purchase and own the receiver instead of leasing.  There are no contracts or commitments, no fees to start or stop the service, no credit checks, and monthly programming fees are the same as for a residential customer.  You only pay for the months you use the programming.

SD/HD Programming

While most RV satellite antennas are compatible with DISH Network HD programming, only a few will get HD programming from DirecTV.  If you want to watch live HD channels while travelling down the road (in-motion), DISH is the only available in-motion HD option at this time. 

Portable vs. Roof Mounted Systems

There are unique advantages to both portable and roof mounted systems that appeal to different people.  Roof mounted antennas let you lock onto satellite(s) without having to set up anything outside.  They are definitely the most convenient.  They also remove the need for additional clutter within the campsite and don’t take up precious storage space.  The Winegard Trav’ler roof mounted dish is a great option for DirecTV with HD.  For DirecTV with SD, the Winegard RoadTrip Mission, MiniMax, King Controls Kingdome AIR, and Kingdome Relay work well.  For DISH, Winegard RoadTrip Mission, Minimax, King Controls Kingdome AIR, Kingdome Relay work great.  The Winegard Trav’ler dish is also available for DISH Network.

A portable satellite antenna can be moved easily around a campsite to find a clear and unobstructed view to the satellite where trees or other obstructions could block signals from reaching a roof mounted dish.  Some RVers like having a portable unit as a back-up alternative to their roof mounted unit.  A portable system can also be used to bring live satellite TV to other events such as trips to the cabin, tailgating, or a backyard BBQ.  Great portable options include the Winegard Pathway X2, Carryout, Anser, King Controls VuQube, Flex, and Tailgater.

Manual, Automatic, or Semi-Auto

Getting locked on a satellite signal can be a difficult process that requires a working knowledge of satellite antenna technology or it can be as simple as pressing a button.  You should consider your general level of patience and mechanical aptitude when deciding upon the type of dish.

Choosing the Right Receiver

Although you may already have satellite TV service at home, you may not necessarily have the receiver to work with your mobile antenna.

Single tuner receivers with one satellite antenna input are usually compatible with most mobile satellite antennas.  Some newer satellite antennas have integrated software that use a custom, on-screen user interface for simplified operation, however, they must be used with only specific receiver models.   

Dual tuner DVRs (Digital Video Recorder) have a built-in hard drive that is susceptible to damage caused by road vibration so they aren’t generally recommended by many manufacturers.  DISH single tuner HD receivers have a USB port that allows you to attach your own external hard drive (up to 2 TB) to add DVR functionality.  You will have to pay DISH a one-time fee of $40 to activate the DVR service with no recurring monthly DVR fee.  The DISH ViP 211k and 211z receivers are great pay-as-go options.

DirecTV now uses SWM (single wire multi-switch) technology exclusively in several receiver models including the H25, HR34, and C31 receivers.  These HD receivers work with a larger style HD antenna similar to what is used in residential installations.  Although additional accessories can be purchased to allow a SWM only receiver to be used with other types of mobile antennas, the additional hardware cost and the fact that you can’t get HD channels in this combination makes getting a non-HD receiver the better option.

Using Multiple TVs

One satellite receiver can output the same channel to two TVs at the same time, but the same program will be playing on both TVs.  If you want the ability to view two different programs at the same time, you’ll need two receivers.

By spending a little time to understand your satellite TV expectations, you’ll find it much easier to decide on the right satellite system for your particular situation.  Be sure to contact us here at Lichtsinn Motors with any additional questions. Just call 1-800-343-6255. Happy viewing!