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Minneapolis-St. Paul
Acadia Region

Updated June 30, 2013

TV Reception on the Road

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FAQ's of  Television Reception in RV's


With satellite service when you travel approximately 100 miles from the hub of your service area, you will lose reception of your local network channels, meaning CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. The loss of your local channels is due to you leaving the footprint of the satellite that serves your home area. When you are settled in a new area with the RV, you can call your satellite provider and have them change your home area so that you can receive the network channels in your current location. There are a couple of alternatives in satellite dish types to be considered.

1. A dish could be mounted on the roof of the RV. A roof mounted dish could be auto-adjust, meaning that it would automatically locate the satellite when activated. Some of the auto-adjust dishes are also what is known as in motion dishes. The in motion dishes will track the satellite while the RV is moving, allowing passengers to watch television during a trip. A roof mounted dish could also be self-adjust, where you would have to manually adjust the dish to establish a satellite connection.

2. A dish could be portable and sit on the ground next to the RV. A portable dish gives you flexibility in where you place it so that blocking trees can be avoided. Again, a portable dish will have to be self-adjusted to point at the satellite. You can check the web page of your service provider to find the coordinate settings for the dish at the zip code where you are currently located.


Cable television reception will obviously not always be available where you are camped with the RV. To get cable television, you will need to be in an RV park that offers cable TV. Always have a connector cable on hand to connect the park cable system to your RV.


RVs are equipped with a crank up antenna for reception of channels via the free airwaves. You will need a digital converter box now if you use this method of TV reception. This is a good option for receiving local channels of your current area.

Many RVers use a combination of the three methods for TV service at various times, depending on what is available in their area.  We’ve been known to have satellite service on one TV and cable service on the other one at the same time. From

Other considerations:

An uncovered satellite dish antenna is large. The newest are shaped to pick up multiple satellites simultaneously; this is useful when there are two receivers (or one receiver with two tuners) AND the need is to watch shows on different satellites at the same time (a possibly rare situation). Being large, it picks up weaker signals, therefore it can sometimes work if there's just a bit of tree, or in a very stormy situation, or in a fringe region (satellites don't cover everywhere with equal strength). But an open antenna can only be used when parked.

Though it begins with a button push, it can take some time for the antenna to unfold itself, pop up and find the satellites (most antennas aim automatically but it can several minutes of sky-scanning). Also, there must be sufficient space above the roof for the tall antenna to erect itself. Wind is a major consideration. An uncovered dish antenna, being a large vertical surface, is quite vulnerable to wind (common almost daily in some regions). If the antenna is stowed when wind increases (so it doesn't get ripped off the roof, any potential better performance in a storm might be of little actual value.

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Check out the other Bruce Bernhart RV Websites and Blogs:

Solar power for your RV

The care and feeding of your RV battery

The sport of "geocaching" and RV refrigeration basics

The basics of RV power inversion

RV travel tips and tire care

Advanced discussion on power inversion

Tips on buying a house battery and cold weather maintenance

RV Insurance basics

Buying the right generator for your RV and portable power

RV television reception options

Care and maintenance of the RV air conditioner

Top RV destinations

RV long-term supplies and weight considerations

RV Insurance- Road protection and bodily injury coverage

RV battery types and winter charging considerations

Deep cycle battery basics

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