How to Add Satellite Television to an RV

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Until recently, satellite television was an expensive luxury item, particularly for RVs. Roof-mounted dishes were prohibitively expensive and portable units nearly unheard of. Satellite installers scratched their heads and looked confused and were often not mollified until they were assured that the RV was a fixed dwelling complete with a telephone line (used for communication between the receiver and the satellite company). By 2009, satellite television companies began to realize the buying power of the RV market. Today, satellite TV is an inexpensive and practical solution for many RV owners.

Things You'll Need

  • Satellite dish
  • Mast
  • Satellite receiver
  • TV
  • Drill
  • RG-6 Coaxial cable
  • Caulk
  • Caulk gun
  • HDMI or other receiver to television connector
  • Decide which type of satellite dish you want. Roof-mounted systems are the priciest choice, particularly those that feature automatic adjustment. They are difficult to install, but easy to set up and use at each RV park. If you park underneath trees, however, they may be unable to pick up a signal.

    A slim-line dish and portable mast is the most economical and practical solution for those who want to use the system in areas where the line of sight is blocked. However, you must have the ability to store both the dish and the mast for traveling, and this type of system can be complicated to set up at each new park. Stake the mast to the ground or sand bag it in case of wind or storms.

    A newer option is the all-in-one VuQube 1000. Self contained in a rugged plastic cube, the dish can be placed on a picnic table, camp chair or even the ground. Reasonably priced and easy to use, the dish is popular. However, it is the only one of the three systems that is not available in an HD version for all satellite providers.

  • Drill a hole for the coaxial cable that will run from the receiver to the dish. If an existing hole is available, use that hole instead. Be careful to avoid your holding tanks, furnace and other external parts of your RV.

  • Connect the dish to the receiver with RG-6 coaxial cable. This is a stronger version of the household coaxial cable used to connect to a cable service, and is available at any hardware store. Caulk around the wires to seal the opening against moisture and pests.

  • Connect the receiver to the television. RGA cables and S-video connections are two possibilities. If you have an HDTV and HD satellite service, consider using an HDMI cable instead. Although slightly more expensive, HDMI cables transmit digital sound and picture of the highest quality. If you do not want to invest in HDMI, component cables are the next best option.

  • Use the satellite receiver’s on-screen display to determine the coordinates for your dish’s azimuth, elevation and tilt settings. These numbers will change as you move to different RV parks. Use either the on-screen display or a satellite signal meter to fine-tune the dish alignment.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can connect a DVD player, VCR, surround sound system and other components to your satellite receiver. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions.
  • To receive network channels while outside your home area, contact your satellite company. You will need to fill out a form stating that the system is installed in a moveable vehicle rather than a permanent dwelling. Feeds are available from New York and Los Angeles, or both, for a small monthly fee.
  • If you are uncomfortable performing your own installation, ask the satellite company to send an installer. Initial installation fees are usually minimal.

References

  • Photo Credit Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
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