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. It’s a critical part of your DIRECTV installation. Without power, you’ve got no reception.

Yes, dishes need power

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. Not only that it takes specific voltage and amperage to make sure you’re receiving the right signals from the right satellites. All that power travels over the same coaxial cable used for reception. It’s a neat trick that keeps installations simpler.

“I don’t remember seeing…”

Have you been with DIRECTV for over ten years? You might remember the days when you didn’t need a power inserter. 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 generations of DIRECTV’s Genie, the HR54 Genie DVR and HS17 Genie 2 Server, can make this problem go away. They both 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. It only took a bit of engineering to make it happen

DIRECTV’s standards changed several years ago so that a new install that includes the Genie 2 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.

This was a deliberate move to simplify the install experience as well as make customers happy. Customers often complained about too many boxes and wires. So, the Genie 2 does away with them. In addition to acting as a power inserter, it has other talents. It can be a wireless bridge, a broadband DECA, and control several clients while sitting there silently looking good.

If you have an existing Genie 2 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 Genie 2 is going into SWM1. Then, you should be ok to ditch the power inserter, reboot the DVR, and the system should “just work!”

Shop at Solid Signal

Solid Signal is your source for DIRECTV accessories. We offer the same products the installers use, at lower prices than you’ll get anywhere else. We can help you whether you’re at home, in your vehicle, or even on the water. You’ll get “white glove” service to make sure you get what you need. We’re here for you! Shop the great selection at Solid Signal now! If you need help, how about some free support! Call 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours. You’ll reach a real technician. They’ll be able to answer questions before, during, and after the sale.

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.