How to Buy a Satellite Dish

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How to Buy a Satellite Dish

Satellite television is received by thousands of people around the world via small satellite dishes mounted outside of their homes. Often, these people prefer satellite television to broadcast television or cable because it is more affordable, and it offers a wider selection of channels. Those interested in receiving satellite television sign up for paid satellite service from a service provider, or they attempt to get some of the free satellite channels. In either case, a satellite dish is required. Older dishes are much larger than the modern dishes, and they usually scan for different frequency ranges. Newer dishes are smaller, but limited to a higher frequency range.

The style of dish which most people end up using often depends on whether or not they have signed up for paid satellite television service. However, satellite dishes are purchased from electronics retailers, television service providers, direct from manufacturers, or on auction sites, such as eBay. Before purchasing a satellite dish, it is a good idea to research the different designs used to receive television signals and the frequency ranges these dishes recognise.

About Satellite Dish Operation

Most satellite dishes purchased by average people are used to receive satellite television signals. These dishes are parabolic and magnetic antennas designed to capture satellite signals sent to Earth from satellites placed in geosynchronous orbit around the planet. Satellite dishes themselves focus these signals and aim them into low noise block converters (LNBs). The LNBs convert the electromagnetic signals from the satellites into electrical signals, and send them to the satellite receivers through coaxial cables for decoding. If the electromagnetic signals are not converted into electrical pulses, televisions do not display very clear pictures, even with receivers to process and decode the signals.

Satellite dishes need a direct line of sight with the satellites in space to properly receive the signals. If something blocks the line of sight, such as house or tree, then the satellite dishes do not work. These dishes are usually aligned with the satellites using electronic meters which show exactly where satellites are in orbit.

Satellite Receiver

The satellite receiver is like a cable box. It is attached to the television and receives a satellite television signal from the antenna placed outside the home. A satellite receiver decodes encrypted satellite signals from paid television providers. It can take a digital television format and convert it into analogue for an older television. It is setup to extract individual television channels from the main satellite signal on demand, such as when viewers change the channel with the remote. A receiver also keeps track of pay-per-view television orders and contacts the service provider automatically to send billing information. It is not possible to watch satellite television without some type of receiver.

Types of Satellite Dishes

Satellite dishes are used for many purposes, from sending signals into space to broadcasting signals received from local network television stations. Most buyers only need to worry about the types of satellite dishes used for receiving satellite television signals. These dishes vary in the type of signal frequency they receive and through their overall design.

Prime Feed Focus Antenna

The prime feed focus antenna is the most well-known design of a satellite dish. People are familiar with this round concave dish with the LNB placed directly in front of the centre of the dish and supported by three arms. The prime feed focus dish is quite large at over 1.4 metres in diameter. It takes up a lot of space, and the LNB disrupts about 50 per cent of the incoming satellite signal. This type of satellite dish is very old technology and is used by few modern satellite television providers.

Offset Dish

The offset dish is more commonly used by modern satellite television providers. It has a small concave dish with the LNB placed directly over the bottom third of the dish, and it is supported by one or two arms. The LNB is angled toward the centre of the dish to receive the signal without blocking it. This type of satellite dish is usually made much smaller so as to be less obtrusive than a prime feed focus dish. Some satellite television providers supply compact offset dishes as small as 45 centimetres in diameter.

Dual Offset Dish

The dual offset dish is an interesting design which most people probably do not use for their satellite television. It consists of two antenna dishes; one which is smaller than the other, and it is set up facing the opposite direction of the larger dish. The smaller dish takes the satellite signal and sends it to the LNB. This dish is able to receive up to 80 per cent of the signal.

Flat Antenna

The flat antenna is flat and rectangular and mounted on a tilting arm. The LNB is placed inside of the dish. This style is useful only in areas which are located near the centre of the satellite's signal footprint. A flat antenna receives up to 85 per cent of the satellite signal, if placed in the right area. This is the most compact of the satellite dishes, with a height less than 50 centimetres. This style is also used for longer periods of time, with a lifetime of up to 15 years; primarily because it has fewer external parts.

Satellite Television Signals

Satellite television feeds are generally broadcast on two different frequencies. Early satellite television was broadcast on the C-band frequency, while modern satellite television users receive their signals primarily through direct broadcast satellites using the KU frequency range. The change came about because most C-band frequency satellite dishes were large and unsightly. Television providers wanted to change how they were thought of by the public, so they switched to a different frequency range to use with their new, smaller dishes. The KU band is higher in power and strength, so it is picked up more easily, even with small dishes. The early C-band dishes could also pick up local broadcast television, and were also used to receive some satellite television channels like HBO. It is still possible to use C-band satellite dishes to get some television from various satellite feeds.

Satellite Band

C-Band (gigahertz)

KU Band (gigahertz)

Frequency Range

3.7 - 6.4 GHz

11.7 - 14.5 GHz

Standard Signals

Radio signals, free broadcast television, free and wild feeds

Satellite television providers, satellite radio

The free and wild feeds mentioned as one of the possible signals received by C-band satellite dishes are free broadcasts of television by private satellites or from international television satellites. These are broadcast from different satellites and are hunted down by people who know the location of the satellites. Active wild feeds are listed in "Satellite Orbit" magazine.

Buying a Satellite Dish on eBay

Instead of getting a satellite dish through a satellite television provider, you can visit the eBay website to purchase your own satellite dish. Finding a satellite dish is possible by narrowing down your selection through a category search. However, you can save yourself a lot of time by using the search box on eBay's homepage or any other page to search specifically for a satellite dish. The search engine is also used to look for brands, sizes, and types of dishes. For instance, you can enter the search terms "Triax satellite dish" or just enter the size and type such as "55 cm dish".

Sellers by Distance

When purchasing a satellite dish on eBay, you may want to buy from a local seller to cut down on shipping time and cost. To get local sellers by distance, click on the appropriate filters and enter the requested information on your search results page. eBay automatically updates the search results to show only those items within your search area. You can use other filters on the search results page to further narrow down your results, such as type of dish, price, seller type, and dish size.

Conclusion

Satellite dishes are manufactured in a variety of styles, sizes, and shapes. Average people only have to worry about finding satellite dishes created specifically to receive satellite television signals. These dishes include prime feed focus dishes, offset dishes, dual offset dishes, and flat dishes. Prime feed focus dishes are large and use old technology. They have fallen out of use by many television providers.

Most people use offset dishes to receive their satellite television signals. These dishes are much smaller, at about 45 to 50 centimetres. These smaller dishes also receive their satellite signals on the KU band, which is a higher frequency radio signal that is also more powerful than the older C- band frequency. Many private and television satellites still broadcast in the C-band signal range, but they must be located manually when setting up the satellite dishes. Satellite television providers usually send out KU band signals, and they assist customers with setting up their dishes. Buyers can purchase many kinds of satellite dishes for both the KU and C-band frequencies on eBay.

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