Can you change TV services on your RV without changing the dish?

This seemingly simple question has an annoyingly complex answer. At one point you could, but then you couldn’t, and now you can again depending on what’s on the roof of the RV. Let’s take a deep dive into this, because it’s a question a lot of RV owners are asking right now.

First, why would you want to do this?

In the USA, there are two main satellite TV providers. DISH and DIRECTV have owned satellite TV for decades. At one point back in the 1990s they were technically very similar but since then their technologies have grown and changed completely. They’re now really about as different as two companies could be and still both be satellite TV companies.

What DIRECTV offers

DIRECTV offers more channel selection, plus more 4K content. They have more sports programming than anyone else, and cover most of the nation with more local channels than any other provider. For RV owners, their big strength is their satellite fleet. One fleet of three satellites services the entire United States.

What DISH offers

DISH offers a DVR with more advanced technology. They also offer a month-to-month plan that’s perfect for RVs. However, the company has a history of long-term carriage disputes that has left it without key channels, sometimes for years. They also operate two different satellite fleets. If you live on one coast and plan to drive to the other, you might not get satellite service once you get there.

Hey what about Orby?

Orby is a relative newcomer to the satellite space and offers a low-priced spread of channels at a lot price. The video is more like you’d expect back in the 1990s — grainy standard definition. It’s not compatible with most RV-mounted dishes right now.

Can you change services?

It depends on what you’re willing to accept. If you are using an “in-motion” dish like this one:

You’ll find it’s possible to switch from DISH to DIRECTV or back again in some cases. It depends on the specific model that’s being used. The problem with these systems is that they only aim at one satellite at a time. This can limit your channel selection. You also may have a long delay in changing channels as the dish re-aims.

If you have a dish on the roof like this one:

you’re probably aware that it works great while you’re parked but not while you’re moving. This multi-satellite model gives the same performance that you’ll expect from home and it automatically aims itself when you turn it on. That makes it very convenient. Unfortunately it also means you really can’t switch from one service to another. Dishes like these are essentially the same ones used in homes, with some added motors and robotics to do the hard work. That means they’re specific to the service you have.

There has to be a better way

This is the Eagle TV automatic antenna system from RF Mogul. It’s a self-aiming dish that works when you’re parked. The difference is that it’s engineered from the beginning to let you change from one service to another whenever you want. You just buy a replacement part for the front of the dish, attach it easily, and the dish will work with a different service.

Of course, you’ll also need to pay for satellite service and have the right receiver, but that’s another article, right?

The Eagle TV dish is the perfect product for people who want to add resale value because you never know what the next person who buys your RV is going to want. With this product you can give them the option. In the meantime you can make the choice to change services as well.

Need more information?

If you’re interested in satellite TV service for your RV, call the experts. No one does more RV satellite activations than Signal Connect, the corporate and activation arm of Solid Signal. One easy phone call to 888-233-7563 will get you started. You’ll get a technical advisor who will explain everything and stay with you every step of the way. We take pride in our personal service! Try us anytime and you’ll see what a difference personal service can make!

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.