Gentleman Jack gets ready for infotainment as he upgrades his motorhome with a satellite dish.

Digital transmissions and auto-locate satellite dishes have resulted in warp-factor improvement in the quality of TV and radio in your motorhome.

The many dishes on the market are of two main types: those permanently mounted on the roof of the 'van, and portable systems that are stored away while travelling and set up on-site.

Portable systems are cheaper and can be used at home or transferred to a new 'van. Fixed systems are more costly, but oh-so convenient, especially if you opt for auto set-up, as we did. Just press the button and the dish does the rest.

When buying a satellite dish, think about what you want it to achieve. A satellite's footprint is the area within which you can expect to receive a watchable signal. However, published maps are only an indication. If the area you visit most often is at the footprint's extremities, seek professional advice.

In 2014, European satellite footprints changed, with implications for those who winter on the Iberian Peninsula.

Jack's Hacks

  • Make sure that your viewing patterns require such a large investment. Other alternatives include live streaming/catch-up via the internet and a laptop, the mobile network or DVDs.
  • Portable or fixed? If convenience is a major factor in opting for fixed, go for a fully automatic system. Anything else is a compromise you might regret.
  • If you want to have two individually controlled TVs, or intend watching one channel and recording another, opt for a twin LNB system.
  • A perforated dish greatly reduces wind resistance when deployed.
  • For every kilogram the dish weighs, there is a kilogram reduction in your payload. Some weigh twice as much as rivals, with no obvious advantage.
  • Consider the closed (folded) height - especially if the 'van is parked under a carport or inside a storage facility. Don't forget to update your maximum height reminders on the dashboard!
  • If you are going off-grid, power consumption is important, both when the unit is deployed and on standby. Don't forget to add in the current draw from the control unit and the TV itself.
  • Ensure that the system is as future-proofed as possible. Only consider those that can be updated by the user.
  • Choose your installer carefully: find one who specialises in motorhomes.
  • If you fit the dish yourself, raise all roof lights before assessing clearance under rotation. Most dishes must be fitted pointing rearwards when closed.
  • One of the most common causes of disappointing performance is poor quality leads from the control module to the TV - sadly, sometimes supplied with the TV itself.
  • Auto-close on engine start-up is a must, unless you fancy mitigating the cost of any accident damage by earning a few quid on You've Been Framed!

SPEC CHECK

We opted for an Alden AS4 satellite system, including ASSC module

  • Features Twin LNB, auto-close on engine start-up
  • Size (L x W x closed H) 735 x 760 x 205mm
  • Weight 11.7kg
  • Current draw Dish and control module operating at 12V, just under 2A; on standby, less than 0.5A
  • Supplied and fitted by Vanbitz, Cornish Farm, Shoreditch, Taunton, Somerset, TA3 7BS; 01823 321 992 or 01823 353 235
  • Price £1999 including VAT
  • Fitting (Usually) £240 including VAT and complimentary one-night stay on award-winning Cornish Farm campsite

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