Last updated: September 5, 2020

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Look high above your city and you will notice them, embedded in the roofs of houses and buildings. With their unmistakable white, round structures, they allow us to watch television, listen to the radio, or transfer data. Their success is due to the fact that they can get receive a high-quality signal from TV channels all over the world.

As you will have guessed, we are talking about satellite dishes. There is little doubt that you have seen them countless times before, but you may not know whether or not you can use one yourself. The rise of online subscription platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, or HBO may shake their popularity, but they still have a lot left in them. Are you ready to learn more about them?

Key Facts

  • With the purchase of a satellite dish, you will gain access to a multitude of TV channels from all around the world. This is why they stand out from their competition, such as conventional TV boxes and online platforms.
  • There are different types of satellite dishes. The model you should opt for will depend on your preferences, among other factors.
  • There are various criteria to take into account before you can buy your satellite dish. These include the channels you want to receive, the orbital position of the satellite, or the size of the device. We will delve into these aspects in the final section of our article.

Our Selection: The Best Satellite Dishes on the U.S. Market

From the outside, all satellite dishes tend to look exactly the same to us. They are big, white, round electronic equipment. But the truth is that they can offer different features and characteristics. In the following section, you can discover some of the best satellite dishes currently available on the American market. That way, you can familiarize yourself with these antennas.

Best Satellite Dish With Tripod

This portable kit by Satellite Oasis fits wonderfully in a carrying case so you can take it with you anywhere you go. Designed to give you access to DirecTV, it consists of a satellite dish, an easy-to-mount tripod, a coaxial cable, and the necessary equipment to set it all up. Past users have praised the versatility of this product that works wonders both at home and on the road.

Best Budget-Friendly Satellite Dish

This no-frills model is incredibly affordable, which is why dozens of customers have turned to it for all their TV needs. Sold at less than 50 dollars, it is the cheapest model on our list by a good mile. This 18-inch satellite dish integrates a dual output low-noise block downconverter to access DirecTV anywhere you are. Note that the coaxial cable does not come with this product.

Best Satellite Dish for Travelers

If you’re often on the road, whether it’s in your RV or on a camping trip, this is a fantastic option for you. Weighing a mere 8 pounds, the King Quest portable satellite dish will easily fit in your car for quality TV on the go. Compatible with a wide range of receivers, this model supports multi-TV viewing and works in 48 states around the country.

Best Large Satellite Dish

This large antenna boasts a 36-inch diameter and is designed to receive the signal from Ku-band satellites. This means that you will have access to hundreds of free channels. It comes with a single LNB downconverter, an elevation bracket, and two support arms for solid fixation.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Satellite Dishes

Unlike most modern high-tech devices, satellite dishes have been on the market for a while. And there are good reasons as to why they have survived over the years. In the section below, we will be answering the most frequently asked questions regarding these devices. From structure and use to installation and advantages, we won’t leave anything out.

The resistance of a satellite dish is just as important as the support that holds it in place.
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What does the ideal satellite dish look like?

These devices are generally round and will vary in diameter from 15 to 48 inches. Their shapes, however, have also been changing in recent years with technology advances. The most commonly used models measure 30 to 32 inches; they can capture a good signal and a large number of channels.

If you are looking for top quality, don’t forget to opt for a satellite dish that is weather-resistant and that features a good anchoring system. This is the best way to take care of this device that remains outside. You can learn more about some features and their applications in the table below:

Element Description
LNB The low-noise block downconverter is a device attached inside or outside the satellite dish to convert the high-frequency signal into a low-frequency one. This allows the signal to be distributed to the device through the coaxial cable.
Coaxial cable It connects the antenna with the satellite receiver or decoder. This essential part is responsible for the image appearing on your TV.
Satellite finder This device is designed to place the antenna in the appropriate position. You should be able to see your TV when you do so. That way, you will when you are getting the best signal.

What are the advantages of having a satellite dish?

One of the primary reasons why many of us turn to these antennas is the variety of channels they give you access to. You will be able to watch national and international channels from all over the world. And, unlike other platforms that are rich in content but that come at a cost, you don’t have to pay more with a satellite dish.

Portability is another key advantage of these devices. You can use your dish anywhere without having to go through a complicated installation beforehand. This is particularly helpful if you have a second home or if you need to move your antenna from one place to another. You won’t have to buy another device, and you won’t be losing hours in setting it up every time you change its location.

The first aspect you need to evaluate when you buy a satellite dish is where you will place it.
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Are satellite dishes in danger of extinction?

As we briefly mentioned in the beginning, the rise in popularity of digital platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, or HBO in the international audiovisual landscape could endanger the hegemony of satellite dishes. That being said, there are grounds to believe that both could coexist for years to come.

First of all, it is essential to remember that most of these new digital platforms are paid, unlike satellite dishes that you can use unrestrictedly. In addition, these antennas allow you to watch channels from all over the world, which is unique to these devices. This is why they still have some life left in them.

How can I install my satellite dish?

Installing these antennas requires a certain amount of skill, and many people turn to a technician to do it for them. However, if you are skilled enough and want to do it yourself, we have prepared the following step-by-step guide to help you:

  • Start by making sure you have all the necessary materials for the installation: the satellite dish with all its elements, wall bracket, metal plugs and hex screws, F connectors, coaxial cable, and satellite receiver.
  • Attach the bracket to the wall where you want to place your antenna. Keep it away from any obstacles that could block the signal to get the best possible quality.
  • Position the satellite dish on the mount. The model you buy should come with an instruction manual to help you find the best position.
  • Aim the antenna towards the satellite. Using an automatic location system will make this task much easier and help you get the best image quality for your channels. There are generally three basic concepts to follow to get the correct orientation: azimuth, elevation, and polarization of the LNB.
  • Connect the cables. Next comes a series of consecutive steps linked to these cables. You have to attach the coaxial cable, take both ends off and place the F connector, screw the F connectors on the LNB, and the digital receiver or PCI card.
  • The last step is configuring the tuner model with the chosen satellite. In the menu, look for the option that will tell you the intensity of the signal. That way, you can play with the orientation to find the optimal tuning level.

Setting up a satellite dish requires some skills.
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Why do most satellite dishes have the same shape?

These antennas have been a common sight in urban landscapes for many years now. While their structure is no novelty, have you ever wondered why they have this shape? We have to delve into geometry and, more specifically, into the concept of the parabola to understand it.

Without going into too many technicalities, the rays parallel to the parabola’s symmetry axis are reflected by it towards its focus. This means that when a ray sent towards the parabola is parallel to its axis, it reflects it towards its focus and captures it correctly. Here is an interesting video on how satellite television works:

What types of satellite dishes are there?

As we discussed above, most of these antennas share the same shape. That being said, different models may have distinct characteristics and functionalities. In the table below, we have listed the types of satellite dishes you can find on the American market.

Types of satellite dish How it works Specificities
Offset The surface of the dish isn’t strictly oval, but rather asymmetrical. Its inclination isn’t directly aimed at the satellite but around 25 degrees lower. it consists of galvanized steel plates.
Multi-satellite This dish can receive signals from different satellites at once. It is designed for the most demanding users.
Flat It is used for the reception of high-powered satellites. You won’t need to be as precise when aiming it towards the satellite as in other types of antennas.
Prime focus The waves have an impact parallel to the main axis before being reflected and heading to the focus point. Its diameter often reaches 60 inches.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you purchase your own satellite dish, you will have to evaluate several criteria that can help you make the best possible choice based on your needs. First of all, you should think about where you want to place your antenna, the space you have available, and the level of performance you are expecting. In the section below, we will go into these aspects in greater depth.

Location

The first aspect you need to evaluate when you buy a satellite dish is where you will place it. In that regard, consider weather factors, such as the wind flow or the likelihood of snow in your area. If you have limited space available for the antenna, this is another factor you shouldn’t overlook if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises during its installation.

The weather conditions and the space you have at your disposal are, therefore, the main aspects affecting the location. Since the vast majority of satellite dishes are placed outside, you must pay attention to its positioning to make the most of it.

Satellite dishes have been a common sight of urban landscapes for many years.
(Source: Emelphoto: 70727275/ 123rf.com)

Resistance

The resistance of a satellite dish is just as important as the support that holds it in place. Once again, the fact that this device will stay outside means that it may have to resist in places with strong winds or rain. This is particularly important if you live in an area with frequent adverse weather conditions.

Besides, the size and overall characteristics of the mount must be good enough to withstand the weight of your satellite dish. These devices represent a decent financial investment, so you certainly don’t want it to go to waste because of a support that wasn’t appropriate to start with.

Performance

This aspect is always crucial with any electronic device, and antennas aren’t any different. We have already talked about the different types of satellite dishes available on the market. Knowing that each is more tailored to specific settings, analyze your situation and pick a model accordingly.

Prime focus satellite dishes, for instance, have a maximum efficiency of approximately 60 percent. That is, of all the energy that reaches the surface of the antenna, 60 percent actually reaches the focus and uses it. The remaining 40 percent is lost. Offset models, on the other hand, are more efficient and smaller in size.

One of the primary reasons why many of us turn to these antennas is the variety of channels they give us access to.
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Size

The size of your satellite dish must be examined from various angles. On one side, you have to make sure you have enough space to set up the model you purchase, taking into account the specific location. This is absolutely essential to avoid problems once you proceed with the installation.

On the other hand, smaller satellite dishes tend to offer higher performance. The adjustment of offset models is easier than primary focus antennas because of their smaller surface and slightly wider beam. Once again, the type of satellite dish you buy will ultimately depend on practicality and comfort of use.

Connectors

Whether you plan on setting it up yourself or getting a professional to do it, you have to make sure that the product you choose comes with all the necessary elements to carry out this installation correctly. These include a quality mount or bracket, the right connectors, a gauge, and clamps or brackets to fix the device.

If you would prefer not using extension cords, you should opt for a model with a cable long enough to go from the satellite dish to your power connector. In that regard, you should always keep in mind that the antenna will be placed outside and, therefore, at a certain distance from any power outlet.

Satellite dishes are generally round and will vary in diameter from 15 to 48 inches.
(Source: Ludovikus: 93376166/ 123rf.com)

Summary

Having your own satellite dish offers a wide range of advantages that conventional antennas cannot. Despite the growing popularity of online content platforms on the Internet, these devices still allow you to gain access to an incredible range of TV channels from all around the world.

Don’t forget to check that the product you buy comes with all the necessary equipment to carry out the installation correctly and safely (connectors, cable, and screws). If you decide to set up the satellite dish yourself, please always follow the recommendations and guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

Did you find the perfect satellite dish for your home? We hope that you found our shopping guide helpful and informative; If so, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share this article on your social media!

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