Too sunny for satellite TV? Is that even possible?

Yeah, that sounds a little weird to me. But hey, people call Solid Signal with all sorts of questions. It’s our job to make sure that we have answers. So, when I heard about this one it seemed like a good time to explain that yes, it’s possible. It’s just unlikely and hardly ever a problem.

The question

Here’s how it came in:

I live out in El Centro, California where the temperatures get pretty high. I’m not worried about rain fade, it doesn’t rain much here. But I’m worried that the strong sunlight might cause problems with satellite TV. My neighbors sometimes complain of weird outages  and I don’t want that to happen to me.

OK, so that does explain a lot.

Why this person might be worried

El Centro, California, is out in the middle of the California desert. Summertime temperatures get up into the high 100s and low 110s. It rains only a few inches a year. It’s a dry place, to be sure.

Out in the desert, the heat beats down onto the sand. Without plants to absorb it, it collects until it begins to rise and creates distortions in the air. It’s these distortions that cause mirages, and believe it or not this sort of thing can affect satellite reception as well. As warm air rises it can bend satellite signals as easily as it bends light.

But, this kind of effect is only really an issue a few feet at most from the ground. It’s not likely to cause a problem with satellite signals as long as the dish is pretty high up. Remember too that dishes point up to the sky, giving them even more protection against mirages.

Why their neighbors might be having problems

The person said that they were worried about satellite TV service. Well, it turns out it can get pretty windy in El Centro, California. Those winds might be the source of the problems that neighbors are having. By itself, wind isn’t a challenge to satellite TV at all. However, combine daily changes in temperature like they have out in the desert with gusts of wind and you just might have a problem. When metals get hot, they expand at different rates. This might cause a dish to get loose. Over time, a slightly loose dish combined with gusts of wind might be enough to cause problems with reception.

I’m willing to bet those problems could all be fixed in under an hour with a wrench and a satellite meter. It’s a good idea to check your satellite dish’s aim every year or two anyway, especially if you’re worried that extreme weather might have moved it out of alignment.

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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.