What to Know Before Buying or Installing a Satellite Dish

When you subscribe to DSS, you'll need to install an 18- to 30-inch satellite dish. Typically, you install the dish on your roof, the side of your house, on top of a big rock in your backyard, or just about anywhere. This dish is your main link to the satellites floating around in space, so it has to be aimed properly to pick up the signals. Aiming the dish correctly is the hardest part of the installation and may warrant a professional installation.

Here are some details to ponder before purchasing and installing a satellite dish:

  • When you’re buying a DSS system for high-definition TV, make sure that you buy the corresponding HD-capable dish. These dishes are typically a bit bigger than a typical dish (about 24 inches) and are often oval in shape. The HD dishes are capable of picking up more satellites, including the ones that carry local HD channels.

    Within this dish assembly is a device called an LNB, or Low Noise Blocker — the horn-shaped dingus that sits in front of the parabola of the dish. This device sifts the high-frequency satellite signals out from other radio signals and blocks extraneous signals.

  • Dishes can have one or more LNBs. Dishes with more than one LNB are referred to as dual-, triple-, or quadruple-LNB dishes. Deciding how many LNBs and the antenna shape you want can be confusing. It depends on where you live, what service you are subscribing to, and how many TVs you want your satellite to feed into.

    The AT9 DIRECTV dish has five LNBs. If you subscribe to DIRECTV, you should consider the five-LNB dish if you want HDTV (or local channels in some parts of the country). DISH Network uses a second dish for HDTV, so you won’t run into a triple-LNB dish for that service.

One key factor to remember is that single-LNB dishes can feed only a single DSS receiver. If you want to watch different programs on different TVs simultaneously, you need at least a dual-LNB dish. In most cases, you should get at least a dual-LNB dish.

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