How Satellite Subscribers Can Prevent Reception Loss During a Storm

Satellite dishes are susceptible to interference due to rain, snow, wind and fog

Caucasian man swinging baseball bat at satellite dish on roof
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Bad weather can affect the signal reception of even a properly wired and aimed satellite system. Heavy rain can cause the signal to sputter in and out, frustrating satellite TV subscribers. If you live in a region of the country that receives heavy annual rainfall, you've probably had this problem a few times. Snow and ice that accumulate on a dish can also affect reception, as can high winds.

How Rain Affects Satellite Signals

During a rainstorm, the raindrops can weaken or absorb the signal on its way to a satellite dish.

Rain can also cause signal scattering as the electromagnetic waves refract and diffract around raindrops on the surface of the dish.

Mini-dishes are better designed to minimize signal loss due to weather, but large dishes are better in areas with frequent heavy rains as they better compensate for reduced signal strength due to weather.

Rain isn't the only culprit, though. Snow, ice, high winds and heavy fog can all affect the satellite signal.

About Satellite Signals

Most satellite TV signals are in the Ku-band (Kurz under band). As the name implies, the Ku-band is located directly under the K-band. The K-band resonates with water, so it can be dispersed by the atmospheric moisture of any kind, even humidity, and clouds—particularly in bad weather. The Ku-band transmits at high frequency and data rates. It is able to penetrate atmospheric water and still deliver an acceptable signal, but because it is close to the K-band, it can still be affected by bad weather.

Most satellite receivers have error correction built in to attempt to correct intermittent signal reception. 

Possible Home Solutions for Poor Reception Due to Weather 

  • If your dish is located under trees or the eave of a house where water falling from the trees or roof lands on the dish, relocate the dish to a drier location.
  • If the dish is mounted to the side of a house, you can mount a clear piece of fiberglass in front of the dish. The fiberglass act as a shield for the dish, so water doesn't affect the dish's ability to receive a signal.
  • Spray your satellite dish with a non-stick cooking spray. This prevents raindrops from clinging to the dish, which can cause it to receive signals erratically. Depending on how frequently it rains in your area, you'll need to spray the dish at least once every three months. 
  • If the rain is accompanied by high winds, the dish may be out of alignment with the satellite. This is likely to occur when the dish is mounted on a tall pole. Although you might be able to do the realignment yourself, you might be better off calling a professional for this task. 

Dealing With Snow and Ice Accumulation

Heavy snow can affect signal quality, but it is less likely to interfere than heavy rain. Snow and Ice accumulation on the dish affects signal reception, which is why subscribers who live in frigid parts of the country sometimes buy dishes with built-in heaters. An accumulation of snow or ice on a dish can interfere with the signal or move the dish out of alignment with the satellite, which affects the signal.

Other than positioning the dish where it is less likely to accumulate ice and snow—not under trees or eaves where runoff occurs—there is little the homeowner can do to prevent interference.

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