Can you add an external SWM to a SWM-enabled dish?

Quick answer: No.

Let’s say you have a Genie DVR and an HR24 DVR. You want to add a few more receivers to that lineup, but when you do, you get an error on the screen:

Problem Communicating with Dish (776)

You look at Solid Signal’s handy dandy error code checker and you see that you have too many tuners on the line. Remember that article about tuner math? A Genie DVR counts as 5 tuners, a regular DVR counts as 2, and a regular receiver counts as 1. Imagine if what you have at home is a Genie, 2 HR24s, and one H24. So you count up all your tuners and surprise surprise, you have 10 tuners.

The problem: The most common DIRECTV system only supports 8 tuners. So what do you do?

You might want to read up on doing a Single Wire Upgrade, but in case you don’t have the time:

Take a look at the dish. If there is only one wire coming from it, that makes it a SWM-enabled dish. The problem is, you can’t just add another SWM Multiswitch on top of that dish. There’s a lot of technical reasoning why, but take it from us… you just can’t. It doesn’t work. It’s like putting a square peg in a round hole, you can’t do it.

What’s the right way to do it? Here’s the old-school way: replace the LNB (the front part of the dish) with a “legacy LNB” that has four wires coming out. Then run all four wires into a SWM-16 Multiswitch. We have a whole document on how to do it here.

The newer way involves simply swapping the older SWM LNB with one that’s more capable. If you’re on a tight budget, you can upgrade to 13 tuners using the SWM-13 LNB, or you can get 21-tuner support with the 3D2 LNB. If you’re looking to be future-proof, you can add a Reverse Band 3 LNB which will support 4K programming when that moves to its permanent satellite location. Note that all these LNBs only support DIRECTV’s 3 primary satellite locations, so you might want to consult our guide to see if you need a Slimline-5 dish. If you do, you’ll lose some local channels when upgrading to one of these LNBs.

Changing out an LNB is as simple as disconnecting the old one and connecting a new one. All it takes is a screwdriver, a 7/16″ wrench, and a steady hand. We give you full instructions in this guide.

The bottom line… if there’s only one wire coming out of the dish, you need to deal with that before you expand your system in any way. Upgrading to an external multiswitch is one way to do it that will give you maximum flexibility, but changing out the LNB can be easier and just as effective.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.