Do you need a power inserter for a DIRECTV Genie system?

Do you have one of these in your home? If you have a DIRECTV system installed in the last nine years, chances are you do. It’s called a power inserter and it sends power up to your dish so it can work.

What’s that? You didn’t think your dish needed power? All dishes need power. They’re receiving signals, amplifying them, and sending them down the line. In the case of modern DIRECTV dishes, they’re also acting as multiswitches, sending only the signals that have been requested by the receiver. You bet this takes power.

Before the late 2000s, DIRECTV dishes were powered by the receivers themselves. This wasn’t a bad setup but when the new SWM technology came out, DIRECTV started using a separate power inserter so that older receivers could still be used. That power inserter has been the cause of many headaches as people unplugged it looking for a place to plug in a vacuum. DIRECTV added a sticker to the inserter saying that the system wouldn’t function without it, but that wasn’t really the solution.

The current generation of DIRECTV’s Genie, the HR54 4K Genie DVR, makes this problem go away. It can supply the 29 volts needed to power the dish if needed. That means no power inserter. If you’re thinking, “Why didn’t they do that sooner?” you’re not the only one.

Just very recently, DIRECTV’s standards changed so that a new install that includes the HR54 Genie DVR will not have a separate power inserter. This saves time in installing, frees up an outlet for the customer, and means that no one’s going to unplug a power inserter by mistake.

It also saves money. Think about how much free equipment an installer used to bring for a 4-room system. In 2012, you’d get:

  • 3 DIRECTV receivers
  • Power Inserter
  • Broadband DECA to connect the system to the internet

Now, if the customer has DIRECTV-ready TVs, only one piece of equipment is needed: the DVR. This cuts down on costs, clutter and makes everything go very smoothly. Even if the customer doesn’t have DIRECTV-ready TVs, it’s still a simpler system because the DVR also connects to the internet and also acts as a power inserter.

If you have an existing HR54 DVR and you want to ditch the power inserter, make sure that your DVR is connected to the red port (usually the leftmost one) on the splitter. That’s the only one that will pass power. If you have an external multiswitch, make sure that the line coming from the HR54 is going into SWM1. Then, you should be ok to ditch the power inserter, reboot the DVR, and the system should “just work!”

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.