Should you use an amplifier on your satellite line?

It all boils down to one question: are you in a home, or somewhere else?

Satellite TV amplifiers are used in different parts of an installation to allow for very long runs. That’s it. An amplifier is not going to help you get more channels and it’s very unlikely to help you with rain fade. That’s just not how digital signals work. Let’s take a quick look at situations where an amplifier will help:

Tall building, dish on the roof.
Whether you’re serving one room or many, a long run from the roof to the equipment closet deserves an amplifier. The amp should be placed as close to the roof as possible and should be designed for “trunk” use like the one above. Satellite amplifiers need to be a good bit more complex than regular ones.

Distributing to multiple closets.
If you’re feeding a lot of receivers, you’re probably going to have equipment closets in several locations. Amplifiers can help you compensate for the loss due to adding splitters and taps.

If you’re using a modulator or headend system.
If you’re operating a headend system, the output from that system can be amplified so it can reach a lot of different locations. These systems are common in bars, hotels, and some apartment complexes.

And that’s pretty much it.
Residential users should almost never use amplfiers for satellite. A DIRECTV or DISH satellite antenna should be good for 150 feet between the dish and the multiswitch or first receiver, and so there should be very little need for an amp.

DIRECTV’s SWM distribution and DISH’s MoCA implementation for its Hopper DVRs do not allow amplification at all. Once you get to the point where you lose signal, which is usually about 150-200 feet, there is nothing more you can do other than run RG11 cable or reduce the number of splitters you’re using.

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.