Best Height For Satellite Dish
If you’re intending on installing your own satellite dish, it’s important to know what height that you should install this off the ground.There is no hard and fast answer to this as this would depend on whether you wanted the dish accessible or hidden away out of sight, or the height of your neighbouring buildings and trees. I discuss the pro’s and cons of installing your satellite dish in different locations and hopefully help you come to your own informed decision as the best place to install it.
Identify The Dish Direction First
Before I discuss actual positions to install your satellite dish, it’s important to understand where the the satellite dish alignment and where it needs to point. I will not go into this at great detail as I already have done in an older blog. Essentially there are two alignments that concern us with regards to picking the best height for your satellite dish:
Elevation – This is the angle that the dish points up to the Sky.*
Azimuth – This the East/ West direction that the dish points.
*Please note that offset satellite dishes that are the most common do not actually physically point to the Sky like prime focus satellite dishes do. The back reflector angles the signal down to the LNB so it doesn’t actually look like it’s pointing direct to the satellite.
I recommend using Dishpointer to establish roughly where your dish needs to point. You simply enter in your location and the satellite that you wish to obtain a signal from and it will give you your azimuth and elevation angles. If you do not know which way to point your satellite dish I recommend reading our older blog on the subject.
The Satellite Arc
The geostationary satellites that we use for satellite TV broadcasts orbit around the equator. From the Northern Hemisphere these will be south, in the Southern Hemisphere these will be north. If you’re on the equator and reading this these will literally be straight up above your head.
When looking either north or south depending where you are the satellites will form an arc, with the satellite closest to due south or north appearing highest and the further that you drift East or West the lower it will appear in the Sky. It’s important to get a basic understanding of the satellite arc as it appears in the Sky as this will help you determine the best height for your satellite dish.
Height For Best Signal From Sat Dish
As long as you have a clear line of sight from the satellites in space, the satellite signal strength being received will be exactly the same at head height that it will be on the top on a sky scraper. In this respect satellite dishes do not work like conventional TV aerials where height is usually very important to get a good signal.
Like I said line of sight is very important, so the satellite dish height that you choose must be sufficient to clear any nearby obstructions like trees and buildings. Using the azimuth/ elevation angle that you got when you entered your information into Dishpointer you should be able to visualise what obstructions will be a problem. Use a compass/ inclinometer if you’re not sure.
Installing Satellite Dish For Ease of Access/ Maintenance
If you’re installing your own satellite dish you may want to install it lower down on a south facing wall for maintenance reasons and to make the installation a bit easy. Providing that you have line of sight remembering that the signals come down at an angle this may be the best option for you. If you’re installing a motorised dish or a satellite broadband dish that is very big and heavy. I would prefer to install this lower down. If anything goes wrong with it of if you’re attempting to align it without professional satellite alignment equipment. This will make it far easy to alter the align and replace any parts if need be.
The downside to this is that the installation won’t be very discreet if that’s important to you and it may also not be possible. If you have nearby trees or buildings that are preventing the satellite dish from seeing the satellites you will most likely need to install it higher up the wall.
Installing Dishes To Clear Trees & Neighbouring Buildings
If you have trees or buildings directly in the direction that you need to point your dish, you will need to get high enough to clear these taking into consideration the angle that the signals come down from the satellites. This will involve installing the satellite dish higher up the wall or failing that onto the chimney stack if you have one as this usually get you a lot more height. It’s best when securing satellite dishes to chimney stacks to not use expansion bolts but a chimney lashing bracket instead. You could use a chimney ratchet strap to achieve the same result, but is easier to install. If you do not have a chimney stack dishes can be clamped onto aerial masts and brackets. I recommend using a 2” diameter mast for this task as you will want to keep the mast wobbling to an absolute minimum.
How Low Can A Satellite Dish Be Installed?
Satellite dishes can actually work at ground level if required. As you as you have a clear line of sight of the satellites it will work the same than as if it was on the wall or chimney with no signal loss. The downside of going low with your satellite dish is that people could walk in front of it and block the satellite signal albeit temporarily. If you have children, pets or just clumsy people in your family (like I do) you also run the risk of the satellite dish being knocked offline which could cost you a visit from a satellite engineer.
Dishes Mounted On Poles In Garden
Following on from the concept of installing satellite dishes at ground level, satellite dishes can be mounted in down the end of your garden or on your patio if you’re struggling to get a signal on your main property, do not want to drill holes into your walls – like with listed buildings where you’re not allowed to do this or just because you want to keep the thing out of site. There are a couple of ways of doing this.
Patio mount secured to paving slab – Your satellite dish can then be clamped direct onto this. If you’re sitting this on your lawn I recommend digging a square out of your lawn/ earth with a spade the same shape as this slab. This will ensure that it remains in position. You may also want to put some sand/ cement around it to hold it in position.
Concrete Pole Into Ground – This is suitable for larger dishes. I have done this a couple of times for satellite broadband dishes where the customer has wanted to keep these out of view. The downside of doing it this way is that it requires two separate visits. One to concrete the pole into the ground and another to mount the satellite dish when the concrete has set.
Dish Installed Higher Up To Keep Discreet
If you want to keep your satellite dish installation discreet. You may find that installing your satellite dish higher up will help achieve this, on the chimney stack perhaps. If you’re clever with the positioning of the satellite dish you may be able to hide the satellite dish behind the chimney stack itself when looking from ground view.
Optimum Height For Sat Dish – Out Of Reach
I hope that by now you can understand that the height isn’t necessarily the most important things when it comes to satellite reception. I would suggest however that an optimum height (if there was such a thing) would be on the wall but out of reach from the ground. This will stop anyone accidentally banging it and knocking it offline and it would less likely to ever be vandalised. This is particularly important if this dish is installed over public highways as I have attending call outs where the customer was unfortunate enough to have their dish vandalised. I have even attended a job where the customer had their satellite dish stolen!
Satellite Dish Installation Questions – In The Blog Comment Section Only!
If you have any questions regarding the best satellite dish height or location please post your questions and comments in the BLOG COMMENT SECTION ONLY PLEASE. Providing that you post your questions here I will be delighted to help when I can, I appreciate your patience when you do post an enquiry as I may not be able to respond as fast as you may like. Please DO NOT CALL OUR TELEPHONE LINES, these are reserved for CUSTOMERS ONLY and we do not offer any free technical advise and I do not give away my personal mobile phone number as is frequently asked. Please also DO NOT E-MAIL and please DO NOT FILL OUT OUR WEBSITE CONTACT FORMS, again these are intended for customers only as you will either not receive a response or you will receive one asking you to post your comment in the blog comment section. By doing this gives me a central location to answer all the questions and everyone reading the blog will get the benefit of the question asked and the answer given.
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