Will your SWM get too hot this summer?

All of a sudden the heat is upon us. Will this be the year that your older DIRECTV hardware finally fails? Possibly. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Rockin it 2011 style

Back in the early part of this decade, DIRECTV fans had a choice. The SWM-enabled dish at the time could only supply 8 tuners. This was enough for four DVRs of the style used at the time but no more. If you needed more receivers you needed to upgrade to an external SWM.

The solution was the SWM-16, still sold at Solid Signal. Using a dish without a built-in SWM, the SWM-16 could handle 8 DVRs, or when the Genie system came out, one Genie plus five DVRs. This was also the right system for people with real serious DIRECTV habits. You could use as many SWMs as you wanted to supply a home of any size.

The most common installation at the time put the SWM in the garage. Most homeowners don’t have a dedicated equipment closet and they also don’t want a lot of visible wires. The garage seemed like a good solution.

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot

The big problem with a garage is that it gets hot in the summer. Even in the north, it can get well over 100 degrees inside a garage. In the desert southwest, it can get to 120 or higher for months at a time. That heat, combined with the tendency of a SWM-16 to run hot, can cause the multiswitches to fail. Generally a SWM-16 multiswitch can be expected to run for a decade or more if placed in a clean, cool environment. However, in a garage that time can be a lot shorter.

What are your options?

As I see it you have three options.

1. Keep a spare on hand and let it fail.

At some point that SWM will fail. You’ll start getting random 775 and 776 errors on your receivers. If you buy a spare SWM-16 then all you have to do is swap in another one when it does. This is a good option if you’re willing to “ride it out.”

2. Upgrade now to a SWM-30.

The latest external multiswitch is the SWM-30. While the SWM-16 supports a total of 16 tuners, the SWM-30 supports two banks of 13 tuners each. If your system can work this way, it makes sense to upgrade to the SWM-30. It uses less power and runs a lot cooler. It should be the last multiswitch upgrade you need for a decade or more. Do the upgrade on your time and it will be well worth it.

3. Change to a SWM-enabled dish.

Technology has changed a lot since 2011. The new SWM-enabled LNB can reliably support 13 tuners and can support up to 21 tuners in the right configuration. This might be enough for you to simplify your system. If you’ve moved to a Genie 2, this is the right choice for you. It eliminates the entire issue of putting the SWM in the garage once and for all.

Do you need more advice?

Luckily you’ll get the most complete advice on the web, along with diagrams and purchase lists, by downloading the Ultimate Guide to Upgrading, Solid Signal’s free eBook. Choose the all-new 4th edition for all the latest and greatest ideas, or take a look at the 2014 edition if you are interested in making the smallest possible change. Both books are free!