Should you mount an antenna to your satellite dish?

There was a time when we sold a ton of these Terk TV44 satellite dish antennas. You can’t even get them anymore, but way back when they sure were a hot seller. The antenna clipped to the top of the dish and then a built-in diplexer was used to feed the antenna signal and the satellite signal all on one line down into the house. It was a neat idea, but personally I never had one and never really wanted one. Here’s why:

One antenna does not fit all.
The thing about this antenna is that it’s a relatively small dipole antenna that’s going to do a decent job of getting signals within about 15 miles of the towers. Beyond that it’s not going to work. That means it’s going to end up disappointing a lot of people. Not only that, semi-circular isn’t necessarily the best shape for a dish. It’s much better to get the exact antenna you need and not worry about whether or not it fits the satellite dish.

A dish might need to be aimed differently than an antenna.
Unless all your TV stations are located in the same direction as Austin, Texas, you’ll probably need to aim the antenna differently than you aim the dish. (DIRECTV’s primary satellite sits at the same longitude as Austin.) With a clip-on antenna that’s impossible, so it’s a fair possibility that you won’t get the best reception unless you aim the antenna where it needs to go.

Diplexing doesn’t work with SWM dishes.
DIRECTV’s SWM technology means that unfortunately, it’s not possible to use a single wire for both antenna and satellite. It’s actually the whole-home DVR part of the equation that causes the problem, because it uses the same frequencies as broadcast TV. So you wouldn’t be able to use a single wire anyway.

And the main point…
There’s a reason that satellite dishes are the exact size that they are. Every inch of that reflector is used to give you the best possible satellite TV service. If the dish is covered up even a little, then performance can be impacted. Oh yeah, maybe it’s only impacted a little, but why not get the best possible satellite TV reception? Why intentionally handicap yourself?

The best choice for using an antenna is really to mount it where it needs to be mounted, and often times that means mounting it separately and running a wire into the house that’s dedicated only to the antenna. Yes, that’s more wiring and more effort and I certainly get that, but it’s not only the right thing to do… in many cases it’s the only solution that works.