Print this out and put it on your DIRECTV power inserter

You’ll thank me. The power inserter is the key to your DIRECTV system. If it gets unplugged, it can take several minutes to come back up and in the meantime you may also have to reboot all your DIRECTV receivers. There have been so many cases where people unplugged the power inserter thinking it didn’t make a difference, because they needed an extra outlet. In fact it’s critical because it supplies power to your dish and other external components.

So, print this out and tape it to the power inserter.

Click or tap here to get the image all by itself so you can easily print it

Here’s what the power inserter looks like.

If you’re not sure what the power inserter looks like, here’s an image. Find this thing… it’s probably hiding behind something… and make sure no one unplugs it.

Why do you even need a power inserter?

Your satellite dish isn’t what you’d call a “passive antenna.” In other words it doesn’t just sit there receiving signals. There’s a lot of electronic componentry there and all of it needs power. For example:

LNB

The LNB is the actual part of the dish that really receives the signal. The large “dishy” part on the back is a reflector that aims as much signal as possible into the white plastic areas at the front. Inside those white areas are chips that perform three functions:

  • They receive the signal. Obviously this is the most important part of the whole operation.
  • They amplify the signal. Satellite signals are too weak to travel over coax cables.
  • They downconvert the signal. Satellite frequencies are very high so the signals are moved to a set of frequencies that can travel easily over RG-6 cable.

SWM

The SWM can be inside the dish or external to it. SWM stands for Single Wire Multiswitch. It’s the device that lets you run one wire throughout the house instead of having to run one wire from each receiver all the way back to the dish. (That’s how we used to do it.)

Can’t the receivers just provide power?

They can. Although, only the Genie 2 and HR54 provide the 29 volts required for modern dishes. Older receivers and DVRs provide only about 18 volts, which was all that older dishes needed. If you have a Genie 2 or HR54, make sure it’s plugged into the red-centered port on the splitter:

and remove the power inserter. Reboot the DVR and everything should “just work.”

But I don’t like doing it that way

While it does cut down on extra clutter, I like having the external power inserter. It’s a way to add some redundancy to my system. There’s no difference in everyday operation but in a power failure, things come up more quickly with a power inserter some of the time.

Of course having that external power inserter means a greater likelihood that someone is going to unplug it, which is where the sticker comes in.

By the way, in case you were wondering, yes, AT&T now does include a sticker of this sort on every new power inserter but your older one might not have it. The sticker they provide is also green and doesn’t really scream out “don’t unplug me” as well as maybe it could.

For the best in satellite equipment and all the other goodies you’ll need for your electronic life, shop at Solid Signal.

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.