Why do RV and marine satellite domes look like big gumdrops?

This should be a nice, easy article.

If you’ve ever wondered why the satellite dish on your RV or boat doesn’t look like a dish, the picture above explains it. It most definitely does look like a dish… inside. Outside it’s covered in something called a radome. A radome is a covering for an antenna that’s transparent to the kind of signals the antenna picks up. Radomes are an important part of a satellite system that moves.

Yeah but this?

You’ve seen RVs with traditional-looking satellite dishes on them. We even sell them at Solid Signal. These dishes are intended for use when the RV is parked. When you’re moving, they fold down or aren’t used.

Satellite systems for RVs and boats use complex computers, gyroscopes, and other equipment to make sure they stay properly aimed. Because of this, the equipment is almost constantly moving around. Without the plastic covering, there’s a big chance that those delicate moving parts would get something stuck in them. By covering the dish with a plastic shell, the moving parts stay cleaner and last longer.

Can you operate one of these dishes without the plastic shell?

Yes, and one of the earliest videos on this blog shows you just how they work:

Of course we don’t sell this exact model anymore since the video is eight years old. But even though the shape of the outside case has changed, you can see it work with the covers off.

Even though it’s possible to use one of these dishes with the covers off, I don’t recommend it. That radome is there for a reason. It keeps dust and dirt out of the sensitive electronics. You can see in the picture at the top of this article, and in the video, that taking the cover off exposes a lot of electronics. They’re only weatherproof because of the plastic cover. Without that, they would short out the first time it rained or even the first time you splashed up on deck.

With marine electronics it’s even more important that all the equipment be shielded from the elements because the salt air will corrode and short out the sensitive electronics that make these devices work.

Are you looking for a marine or RV satellite system?

If you’re looking for a new satellite TV system for your RV or boat, or if you’re looking to upgrade what you have, you owe it to yourself to call the experts at Solid Signal. We carry all the popular brands and no one does more mobile satellite activations. Our experts know all the ins and outs of the system and we can get you moving quicker than anyone else. When you call Solid Signal you get a real person on the other end of the phone. You get someone who knows the equipment and isn’t just reading lines from a script. We’ll take great care of you!

Give Solid Signal a call at 866-726-4182 during East Coast business hours, or fill out the form below and one of our techs will get back to you, usually within 24 hours.

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 5,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.