It is known that
adverse weather can affect quality of the satellite TV signal reception.
Just how much of a problem it can really be? Typically, this occurs
rarely, and lasts only a short period of time. For the majority of
users, it is heavy rains that can attenuate signal enough to result in
noticeable degradation of image quality. In extreme cases, the reception
can be effectively disrupted. How concerned one should be about the
possibility of signal degradation/loss depends on: (1)
regional yearly rainfall figure, (2) location in the
satellite footprint and (3) height of the satellite above horizon.
It takes very heavy rain to affect signal reception of a properly aimed
and wired satellite home system. Still, it can and will happen, once in a
while. It normally last for only a short period of time, during the worst
downpour. It is likely to occur more often in the regions with significant
annual rainfall. This puts Eastern US in the most favorable position.
Somewhat less so the Central and North-East US, with the South-East being
the region where this kind of occasional service interference or
interruption is more likely.
What causes signal
attenuation is mainly wave absorption by the rain drops. There is also
some signal scattering, due to refraction and diffraction of
electromagnetic waves in and around rain drops. Very heavy snow can also
affect signal quality, but it is generally less likely to interfere.
Satellite mini-dishes are designed to minimize the effects of adverse
weather. Still, it does make sense to consider somewhat larger dish in
areas where heavy rains or snow are relatively frequent, to compensate
for signal attenuation.
Signal strength factors
Both, DirecTV and Dish Network, emit their core
programming from satellite locations between 100W and 120W western
longitude, which makes TV satellites nearly as high as they can be in
the continental US; also, it ensures generally good footprint coverage.
In general, TV satellites are highest in the sky for the southernmost
states, and somewhat lower for the mid- and northern states. That alone
is of no consequence in the normal weather, but does put southernmost
locations in somewhat better position when it comes to the effect of
It is the locations farther east, west, or north from the
continental US - as well continental US areas receiving signal from
special programming satellites farther west, or east than the "core
satellites" - that are more likely to experience rain fade, due to
weakened signal. A simple solution is somewhat larger dish antenna.
Not all satellite signals are
affected equally. In general, the longer radio wave, the less affected
it is by the "rain fade". Programming emitted in the longer
C-band wavelength is significantly less subject to this kind of interference
than programming in shorter
Ku-band and, especially,
Also, the farther off central receiving area location, the more
pronounced rain-fade effect. Rain fade "over-sensitivity" indicates less
than optimally aimed dish.
Snow, ice, water
Reception quality also can
be affected by water or snow/ice accumulating over the surface of a dish
receptor. This can cause scatter and less efficient focusing of the
satellite signal after its reflection from the dish surface. The
result can be poor reception. Most often, simply spraying dish surface
over with a non-stick spray, such as King's Rain Shield will do the
trick. In very cold regions, a special dish with built-in heater, such
as DirecTV's "Hot Shot", may be needed to prevent ice build-up.
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