When most people think of satellite communications, they think of satellite TV such as Dish Network. We’ve all seen those popular satellite TV dishes mounted on roofs, usually facing south. If you’ve ever had one yourself, you know it has to be pointed in a very specific direction in order to function.
If you are a potential Starlink satellite internet customer, you might be wondering about where you should place the dish, and which way it should point.
In this article we are going to cover some best practices when it comes to placing your Starlink dish. We will also answer the concern about which way it should be pointing, and whether or not you even need to worry about it.
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Optimal Starlink Mounting Position
Other satellite communication services, such as Viasat or Dish Network, require a line-of-sight to their satellites, but aren’t nearly as sensitive as Starlink. With Starlink, the dish needs a completely unobstructed view of the sky.
The optimal placement of the Starlink dish is somewhere near the peak of your roof, which is likely to be the highest mounting location available to you. The more trees and objects you have around your house, the higher the dish will need to be mounted. Those living in areas without tall trees can mount it lower on the roof, but must still be aware of other obstructions like chimney’s or buildings.
Fortunately, Starlink makes it easy to check potential mounting locations for suitability. Using the Starlink app, you can use your phone’s camera to check for obstructions before you attempt to install the dish in that location.
For further details on mounting and installation, check out our guide covering all the Starlink mounting options.
In general, we recommend J mounts for Starlink.
Which Way Does the Starlink Dish Point?
It depends on where you live in the world, but for people in the Northern Hemisphere, Starlink dishes generally point north. The angle of the dish is nearly vertical, but it has a very wide angled field of view. That is why Starlink needs a clear view of the sky all around it, even if the satellites are in more of a northern direction.
The only way to tell which direction your dish will face is to use the Starlink app obstruction tool in the area you plan to mount it. When you use the obstruction tool, it will tell you which area of the sky needs to be completely clear for the Starlink to get a good signal.
Starlink ultimately decides where your dish will point, and they can adjust the orientation at any time. For example, customers on the west coast of the US have noticed their Starlink dishes point west out over the ocean. People on the east coast have seen the same thing, where Starlink points their dish more towards the east. It’s important to install your dish in a way that has a clear view of as much of the sky as possible, otherwise you could run into issues later on if Starlink changes the direction in your area.
How Can I Aim the Starlink Dish?
The Starlink satellite dish is motorized and self-aligning. The user does not need to aim the dish in any way once it is mounted according to the Starlink specifications. In fact, attempting to manually move the dish can damage the internal motors.
It is also important to make sure the dish can move freely. The dish can spin and tilt on it’s own, at any time. Some customers have run into issues when mounting the dish too close to chimney’s or other obstacles, resulting in an error message on the app when the dish isn’t free to move freely.
Does the Dish Move By Itself?
Yes, the Starlink dish will align itself by moving with its electric motors if necessary. Under typical usage, the dish does not need to regularly move. Once it is locked to the satellite constellation it shouldn’t need to readjust very often. During the initial booting period, Starlink automatically finds the best dish orientation.
Starlink satellites move across the sky regularly. The dish does not need to move in order to track a satellite. Starlink antennas are phased array, and they are able to adjust to the signal without physically moving the dish.
Users who take the dish on the road, such as on an RV or boat, will probably notice the dish moves on its own if they travel a far enough distance away. Starlink will seamlessly aim for the most optimal satellite, even on moving objects! It is important to note that using Starlink in motion is not supported at this time, and will void your warranty.
Will I Ever Have to Aim or Move the Dish?
You won’t ever have to aim or adjust the Starlink dish in order for it to align to the Starlink satellites. You might, however, need to change the mounting location if trees or buildings start to obstruct the view. We recommend checking for obstructions on a regular basis if you have tall trees, just to be sure your signal isn’t degrading over time due to obstructions.
The app has a handy tool that shows you if your dish is obstructed. If that is ever the case, you will need to use the app to find a more suitable mounting location away from the obstructions.
The Starlink dish will face north for most customers in the US. But, depending on where you are in the world, it can point in different directions. Starlink has changed the direction for some customers as the satellite constellation grows, so the direction your dish points could change in the future.
The Starlink dish is self aligning, and doesn’t require you to aim it. It will automatically tilt and spin to achieve the maximum signal from the satellites. The main concern for mounting the Starlink dish is obstructions. Using the Starlink app, you can check the mounting area for obstructions like trees. Starlink won’t operate properly without a clear view of the sky.