how is satellite tv in bad weather
January 14, 2004 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Economic considerations make switching from cable to satellite look more and more appealing every day (as in same run of channels for about half the price). But there's a problem: I live in western NY, which has, shall we say, weather. Most of my acquaintances have cable and I haven't been able to run down any honest assessments of what it's like to have satellite TV in areas with significant quantities of white stuff. Can anyone out there share their experiences?
posted by thomas j wise to Technology (12 answers total)
I'm in Ottawa, and have been using Starchoice for about two years now. No problems to report - although a really bad storm (snow, lightning, whatever) can knock the signal out for a bit, the worst I've seen it is about five minutes, and that's rare. Very happy to have made the switch.
posted by danwalker at 12:41 PM on January 14, 2004

We have Dish Network, mainly because my employer had a lot of leftover receivers from a project that was abandoned. I prefer it to cable because 1) I despise our cable provider and 2) the package we chose has more channels and costs less than its companion package on cable.

As for the white stuff, I built a special tool for cleaning snow out of the dish so I don't have to climb on the roof, and it works just fine. I put a small garden rake into the end of a 16' PVC pipe and ran two screws through it to hold it in place. Standing on the ground, I can reach the dish with no problems.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:59 PM on January 14, 2004

Although it wasn't prolonged, a recent snowstorm and icestorm haven't given my DirecTV dish any problems, and the only time in years of owning a dish (in a nice climate though) I've had problems was during a severe windstorm, which moved the dish enough to affect the signal for a few seconds.
posted by mathowie at 1:28 PM on January 14, 2004

I don't get snow, but during the heaviest rainstorms -- once or twice a year -- I have experienced loss of signal and signal degradation to the point where it was mostly unwatchable (since the box kept losing sync with the MPEG stream). If your area experiences these, you might find there are occasional minor problems.
posted by majick at 1:32 PM on January 14, 2004

When I was in Chicago, I had DIRECTV and not one problem during snowstorms. There was one time that the signal went south, but that was during a rather violent thunderstorm. In contrast, cable was very problematic in Chicago and is a little off-kilter in Denver.
posted by hijinx at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2004

I'm also in Ottawa with a dish in a residential area of downtown. Our experience is that if the dish is placed and aimed properly, you will have very few problems with rain fade, perhaps once or twice a year for a few minutes.

My strong advice is to make sure you have someone competent survey the site and install the thing. We've had several problems because someone was recommended to us who placed the dish in a very poor spot.

Make sure the dish is high enough that it won't be blocked by changes in the environment, like snow on a neighbour's roof, tree branches changing position, or a sagging power line.

As well, I would suggest you avoid any of the gimmicky dish covers that claim to keep rain off the dish. We bought one from our installer and icicles grew off it blocking the sat signal much more effectively then any rain could.

We love our dish and would recommend satellite over cable to just about anyone.
posted by tranquileye at 1:59 PM on January 14, 2004

Sorry, but I'm compelled somehow to mention this to anybody looking to go satellite. If you go with DirectTV, as a new customer you'll get a free TiVo (most published deals quote $99, but it's easy to haggle them into refunding you that over 3 bills, or some such) and ultra cheap monthly service charge (if you subscribe to Total Choice.

Life-changing, God's machine, etc. etc. etc.

/end tivo_shill
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:10 PM on January 14, 2004

Yeah, we have a TiVO/DirecTV as well and we lub it.

Kicks the ass of video on demand.

Also, Directv much easier to hack then cable or Dish.
posted by johnnydark at 2:18 PM on January 14, 2004

Agreed on the DirecTiVo combo box. It's even better than tivo because you can record two things at once, or watch something live while you record another and it stores the native MPEG stream uncompressed, meaning it looks pretty close to a DVD instead of like a bad jpeg.
posted by mathowie at 2:29 PM on January 14, 2004

For $1000, you can get a HD television and HD satellite tuner. For $1600, the tuner can also be an HD PVR. From Dish Network.

Slate says the 34" monitor can be pretty good but warns against the 40" rear-projection.
posted by blueshammer at 2:42 PM on January 14, 2004

My dish was installed near an upstairs window. When show accumulates on the dish, I'm able to throw open the window and brush off the snow with a broom. If my neighboors glance over at our place during that time I'm sure I look like a complete eejit. But it gets the job done. If you live in an urban environment you'll probably have fewer problems than rural folks (trees are a complicating factor). I've had both cable and satellite, and, having briefly gone back to cable, am now returning to satellite which has better HD options.

Having done the back and forth between cable and satellite, I probably have had just as much down-time for both. With cable the down time is rare, but ruins a whole evening. With Satellite the down time is occasional and ruins just that key scene in the pivitol Sopranos episode.

Ironically, I'll occasionally see digital noise ruining the picture on cable that I've seen on satellite. That's 'cause the cable distribution station pulls it's signal from the networks via satellite. So, what goes around, comes around, I guess.
posted by dchase at 8:23 PM on January 14, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody--satellite now definitely looks like the way to go.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:57 PM on January 14, 2004

« Older Recommned universities in Ontario and Quebec   |   Recommendations for a good music lyrics search... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.