The Internet Age
Let’s face it, we live in the Internet age. An age when being connected, even in our RVs, is more of a necessity than a luxury. From weekend warriors, seasonal snowbirds, to full-time RVers, we all value the ability to be online. We want to send emails, check the weather, stream that basketball game, or upload that video we just took at the Grand Canyon. And for the increasing number of people who live and work full-time from their RVs, a steady Internet connection is an absolute must.
There are several options for procuring Internet in your RV. You can utilize the (usually) free wifi provided by RV parks, purchase a data card through a cell phone company, or for longer stays at RV parks, you may be able to sign up for a cable or DSL connection. All these options have their own set of pros and cons.
RV Satellite Internet
But wait…there is one more option. It’s called an RV Satellite Internet Service. Through a roof or tripod-mounted satellite dish, the Internet signal is beamed down from space, and transferred to a modem in your RV. Sounds great right? By far, the biggest advantage to mobile satellite Internet for RVs is that it’s available everywhere. Want to bring your RV to the most remote corner of the Arizona desert, high in the mountains of Colorado, or smack in the middle of a mid-western prairie? RV satellite Internet has got you covered.
Satellite Internet For RVs: Roof or Tripod
Before you rush out and purchase a RV Internet satellite, there are a few things to consider. Namely, do you want to mount the dish on your RV roof, or on a tripod that you can manually move around to find the best signal?
Roof Mounted RV Satellites
Roof-mounted RV satellites are attached to the RV roof in a fixed location. They are simple to operate. There is no need to climb on the roof to tilt or rotate the dish. With a simple click of a button, the satellite is deployed. Another click of a button, and the satellite automatically rotates to find a signal. Depending on your location, and how fast the service provider responds, this process usually takes under 10 minutes.
Since they are permanently mounted to the roof, this type of RV satellite doesn’t take up additional storage space when in transit or not in use. It also has a reputation for ease of use, and reliability. If you park in clear view of the southern sky, you can expect to get a signal. Keep in mind that RV Internet satellites are large. When deployed they measure around 3-feet tall. When stowed in a flat position on the RV roof, they take up roughly 4.5 to 5-feet of space. For small RVs, or those who prefer to use roof space for solar panels, the space needs of a large RV satellite is a definite disadvantage.
Aside from size, the major downside to a roof mounted RV satellite is the cost. The typical price for installation and set-up is nearly three or four times more than a tripod-mounted dish. For many, a roof-mounted system is not worth the investment vs. convenience factor. For others, the quick set-up and lack of hassle is priceless.
There are currently only a handful of companies selling roof-mounted satellite-internet dishes for RVs. The most popular brands are Winegard, C-Com, and AVL Technologies. Aside from meticulously researching each company, the easiest way to decide on a roof-mounted set-up is to contact a company such as Mobile Satellite Technologies. Their trained service technicians will take into consideration your specific needs, and recommend the best dish and service provider for you.
Tripod Mounted RV Satellite
A tripod-mounted RV Satellite is attached to a movable three-legged stand. The stand can be placed anywhere around your RV, with a clear view of the southern sky. This allows you to park your RV in the shade of a tree and still get a great signal. The tripod set-up is popular among RVers with smaller rigs, who may not have the roof space for a mounted system. Keep in mind, you will still need to find space to store the dish and tripod when not in use.
The cost for a tripod-mounted RV satellite is only a small fraction of a roof-mounted system. Not only is the equipment less expensive, but you don’t have to pay for installation. Of course, for some, the lack of professional set-up could be considered a downside.
You are essentially your own installer. This means you will have to set up, plug in, and orient the satellite dish every time you move your RV. Most people report an average set up time of 30-minutes. Others claim that it can be done in as little as 15, or can even take as long as 60 minutes. Keep in mind that you need to aim the satellite in a precise direction to lock on a signal. There are a variety of online maps and software that assist you in aiming your dish. But for the most part, if you know how to determine your location with a GPS, read a compass, and use a bubble level, you’re well on your way.
There are a wide variety of companies and services offering tripod-mounted satellite-internet set-ups for RVs. The two most popular are HughesNet and Directway. Both sell the equipment, and offer monthly service plans.
RV Satellite Internet For You
If you want a guaranteed internet connection, no matter where you are, or how remote of an area you travel to, RV satellite internet is for you. If you move often, and have ample roof space on your RV, consider a “quick to set-up” roof-mounted system. If you tend to stay in one place for longer periods of time, don’t have the roof space, or the funds to make a large investment, a tripod-mounted dish may be more your speed. Whatever choice you make, you can be sure that with RV satellite internet you will be emailing, surfing, and chatting with ease.