Keep snow off the dish… with a garden hose?

Some folk wisdom tells us that a cheap way to keep snow off your dish is to spray it thoroughly with a garden hose. In fact, this does sometimes work. Water from the hose is warmer than the outside temperature, so even if the water feels cold to the touch, it will melt snow falling on the dish.

So, is this a good way to make sure that you can enjoy uninterrupted viewing in the winter months?


A satellite dish is designed to live outside in the weather all year long. It is expected to take punishment, be rained upon, snowed upon, and suffer wind and heat without complaining. For all the sensitive electronics in a satellite dish’s LNB and its relatively low cost it does a remarkable job.

That said, a dish is designed to handle rain falling from the sky. It is not designed to handle a steady, pressurized stream of water coming from below. If water gets in the LNB assembly, which has its most sensitive connection points toward the bottom, it can cause connections to corrode more quickly. If water actually gets into the LNB itself and settles, it can freeze and crack delicate components.

If you live in a truly cold climate, water might freeze on contact with the dish’s reflector and reduce its effectiveness. At that point you don’t just have some light snow that can be removed with a broom; you have a layer of ice that will take some serious defrosting to fix.

So, spraying the dish with a garden hose, while it might help in the short term, isn’t going to do a lot in the long term and could actually cause your dish to fail sooner.

So what does work? Many people use a broom. This is another recipe for disaster, since if the dish is slightly loose you could knock it out of alignment with a poorly aimed swipe. Others use a solution like rain-x or non-stick cooking spray. These do work pretty well up to a point, as they cause the snow to slide off more easily and have only a minimal effect on the dish. However, neither solution is designed for winter weather and may only work for a few weeks before requiring another re-application.

If you live in a snowy climate, the best bet is really a dish heater. A properly designed dish heater uses no energy except when it’s needed and is designed to keep your dish in tip top shape. It’s more expensive than a garden hose and far more expensive than a can of PAM but you already pay quite a bit for your satellite service… what’s a little more to ensure that it works properly?