One of our techs recently asked me this question, and he was surprised by my answer. I wonder if you’ll be just as surprised. His customer asked him:
I don’t have access to my roof but I can drill into a 4×4 hardwood fencepost. Is that ok for mounting my satellite dish?
The tech was all set to say no, and decided to ask me first. My answer:
Well, I said, it’s not the best idea in the world, but it probably won’t hurt in the short run.
That’s right. I said it was probably ok. He was surprised, and I bet you were too. But I’d like to explain the rationale for my answer.
No, it’s not ideal.
Ideally you would use a metal mast that was securely mounted to a wall. Remember that a dish that’s even 1/32″ off aim can lose a significant amount of signal. That’s why aiming your dish is so important. It’s also important to keep it aimed.
You’d think rot would be an issue but it really isn’t.
Yes, a fencepost will rot. So will an eave and a lot of people attach their dishes to those. A piece of pressure-treated lumber, such as 4x4s used for fenceposts, is pretty resistant to rot and it will be several years before you see any issues associated with rot. Someone who wants to mount the dish to a post probably isn’t planning on staying at that location forever. They probably rent, which is why they can’t drill holes into the roof, wall, or eave. In the short term that’s not going to be a problem.
Is a fencepost really going to move?
A properly installed fencepost is strapped to a metal bracket that’s sunk into concrete. That’s going to be every bit as secure as a metal pole sunk into concrete. Of course if the post is just stuck in the ground… yes it’s going to move. So if you’re going to do something like this at least make sure the fencepost isn’t going anywhere.
So it’s not perfect but…
…using a fencepost is still a better idea than using a tripod mount for the long term. Tripod mounts, even if they’re weighed down with sandbags, are going to fall over eventually. This is just a simple fact. Yet a lot of people use tripod mounts, and they leave them up longer than they should. If your two choices are a tripod mount and a fencepost, choose the fencepost.
In the meantime, though, consider other options that might be available to you. At Solid Signal we have non-penetrating mounts that don’t damage the roof. They’re just as secure as traditional mounts. We also have a wide variety of traditional mounting technologies. There are a lot of ways to avoid permanent damage when mounting, and you can keep your satellite dish totally secure.
Whatever you decide though, try to make sure that the dish is high up enough, or far enough away, that it won’t be affected by people randomly bumping into it. The biggest reason to put a dish on the roof may be line of sight, but after that the second biggest concern is making sure the dish is kept away from accidental contact.