Why Your Satellite Dish Points The Way It Does

Ever looked at your satellite dish and thought it was in an odd position? It’s no mistake. While you may have seen other houses with dishes in less conspicuous places, yours should probably stay where it is – unless you’re willing to sacrifice signal quality. Satellite dishes not only need a clear line of sight to a signal tower, but also the correct alignment. Your dish installation engineer would have been well aware of this when deciding the best possible spot.

Look around your local area. Although you may have seen properties elsewhere with dishes pointing in other directions, you’ll undoubtedly find that every dish in your immediate vicinity is pointing the same way. It’s no coincidence – they are all facing the same signal tower!

Horizontal and Vertical Alignment

To receive a clear, uninterrupted signal, your satellite dish must have the correct vertical and horizontal alignment. The vertical alignment refers to the elevation angle of the dish in relation to the Earth’s surface. The horizontal alignment refers to the position of the satellite emitting the signal; therefore, the dish must point towards it. When calculating the alignment, engineers use a signal meter to determine the best angle and direction. Signal meters use the location of the closest signal tower and Sky satellites as a guide.
If you think your satellite dish has been knocked out of position, you can fix it yourself. There are various applications for phones and tablets available that can find your position using Google Maps, and then calculate the optimal alignment. When you have the position perimeters, you must then climb on your roof and manually make the adjustment.

Symptoms of Poor Alignment

When your satellite dish isn’t properly aligned, you will have a fuzzy picture and channels will overlap. Your Sky box may even fail to pick up some networks altogether. However, every symptom of poor alignment can also be caused by something else, such as weathering and incorrect cable setups.

Before you start tampering with your satellite dish, eliminate all other potential problems. Climbing on your roof and readjusting your dish can be dangerous, and should only be undertaken as a last resort. Check all of your connections to ensure they’re secure; remove any unnecessary signal splitters, and replace excessively long cables. If you still encounter signal problems, try retuning your box. Even if you haven’t tampered with the settings, external issues can also affect performance: an accidental knock, switching off the mains, pressing the wrong button on the remote, etc.

If all of your channels are stable and uninterrupted, your satellite dish is probably already in the optimal position. While you may want to move the dish behind your chimney or on the opposite side of your home, it simply might not be possible. If you have any doubts or would like to determine whether or not you are able to reposition your dish, contact a professional who has the right safety equipment and tools for the job.

Image: Garry Knight

satelite dish pointing

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