Why we will NOT add RV satellite TV to our new RV [PROS and CONS in 2020]

 Why we will NOT add RV satellite TV to our new RV [PROS and CONS in 2020]

When it comes to an RV satellite TV system, we’re done. We feel it is not worth the hassle. Here’s why we will not be adding it to our new RV.

You may feel otherwise. We get it, your RV is your home-away from home. And for some folks, it IS their home. You want your RV to have all of the creature comforts available. To be able to satisfy your wanderlust and still have a roof over your head can be one of the best things in life.

So why wouldn’t you want to include entertainment in your RV at your fingertips, with an RV satellite TV?

Lots of people do. We understand

Jennifer and I are just not two of them.

For full-timers, an RV satellite TV system and antenna makes sense. For people who really, really like TV and can’t bear going anywhere without it, then fine… get one.

But for us, who don’t find much of anything on TV worth watching that we can’t get other ways, it will not be a part of our RVing in our new Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RV.

There are pros and cons to having a satellite TV system in your RV. For us, past experience convinced us we just don’t need it.

But first, let’s cover the pros:

RV satellite TV pros

With RV satellite TV, you have almost unlimited entertainment inside your RV, for those times when you are ready to settle in for the night and want to relax with some television. It’s also good for those days when going on that hiking trip is just not a viable idea. That’s a big pro for many!

You can take the satellite TV with you wherever you go.

Another audience that RV satellite TV makes sense for is the sports junkie – assuming that someday sports will agan become available in the post-pandemic world, whenever that happens.

There are satellite dishes out there specially made for RV’s. We had such a system with Dish Outdoors.

CLICK HERE to see the RV satellite TV system we installed our previous RV

The advantage of such a system is that the unit uses a small antenna and receiver, and can easily be mounted on the roof of your RV. It is highly recommended that you have this professionally done. You can also elect not to mount it on the roof and run the cable out from your RV tp wherever your antenna can get a sightline to the satellite.

While that sounds all fine and good, our previous experience with an RV satellite system and found these issues:

RV Satellite TV Doesn’t Like Obstructions

If you experience inclement weather issues or there is lots of precipitation in the air, the satellite often has problems picking up a good signal. This can be a real pain. Here is a good article that explains the many obstructions you can face with satellite connection problems.

For us, rain fade was an irritation. But we had bigger issues.

Very frequently, we found it hard to get a line of sight to satellites because we like to boondock in woods where trees interfere.

It also takes an annoyingly long time for the system to acquire a satellite. Many times, when we’d set up someplace new, we’d not even bother turning the RV satellite system on because we wanted a quick check of, say the weather channel,  but it was so agonizingly slow in acquiring a signal that we felt it wasn’t worth it.

Pretty much every time you move your RV, you need to reacquire a signal.

Way too often, to get that line of sight the antenna needed to acquire the satellite, we’d have to park in wide-open spaces, often leaving us under the hot sun where you and your RV bake. Not fun.

There were lots of times when we’d get to a spot, find the perfect location and realize that if we wanted the RV satellite system to work, we’d need to take a much less scenic spot. We boondock to experience nature and if RV satellite TV meant we had to take a less than optimal spot, the RV Satellite system stayed off.

And Finally… there’s the cost of an RV Satellite TV System

To install the required hardware onto the roof of your RV is no easy task, and as we said,  really a professional should do it. This is definitely an investment and is not inexpensive.

Granted, you can keep your dish in a storage spot on your RV and haul it out and set it up on the ground. If you have lots of storage for that dish, then I suppose that may be a way to go. 

Also, if you want local channels it’s an extra cost and you have to call to set that up.

With the equipment costs, the monthly fee, and the hassle of getting it to work, we’ve decided it just isn’t worth it for us. 

When we sold our RV in June for a new one, we left the RV satellite system with it for the new owners.

On the rare occasions when we want to watch satellite, most times we can find an over the air signal that the built-in TV antenna we have on our RV can pick up. Or we can watch a movie on DVD.

There’s also Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime delivered over our cellular Internet connection. And if we’re in a campground, most have cable TV hookups.

So we really don’t need satellite TV for our RV.

Since we got the new RV in June, we’ve had lots of questions about whether we’d add satellite TV again. 

Now you know why the answer is no.

Curious about the gear, gadgets, accessories, and RV products Mike & Jennifer use and recommend?

On this RV Lifestyle Travel blog, our RV Podcast and our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, Mike and Jennifer mention all sorts of RV-related products and gear that they use, So they created a special page that lists all the different items they talk about and show. CLICK HERE to go to it directly.




Mike Wendland

Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, kayaking, video editing, and all things dealing with technology and the outdoors. See and subscribe to his RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, where he has hundreds of RV and travel related videos. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.


  • We are currently off the road and are using Directv and our monthly bill due to this period of time runs about $180 a month which includes various subscription channels. However, I usually watch YouTube movies and check out westerns, and numerous other entertainments galore all for the price of an internet connection. Yes we watch Netflix, hulu and Amazon Prime, but they also have their costs. The only free tv is over the air. Now in that regard can you comment on how you can upgrade to obtain a strong signal?
    Keep up the good work and we appreciate your personal comments and advice.

  • Mike,
    I agree with your no Satellite TV. We have the dome on our Sprinter Van and do not use it. When I ordered the RV in 2018 I did not ask for the Satellite antenna/dome but when I arrived to take possession they had mistakenly installed it anyway. Nice gift but never used. I was wise enough in 2018 to specify a WIFI set up for streaming. As I mentioned to you in a prior email we use the WIFI modem in the van to serve our residence. To ensure a good signal we purchased a NETGEAR BOOSTER to enhance the signal (not sure if it was necessary but did it anyway) between the home and the RV parked adjacent to the home. We now have three AT&T hot spots, two iPhones and the RV Modem. The only other service expenses are YouTube TV, Netflix and Prime.
    Safe journey to all.

  • Totally agree Mike there’s so many alternatives for entertainment available over the internet now, waste of money

  • I’ve been “Semi Fulltiming” for five years. I boondock in the southwest from January until April. I’ve been streaming TV with AT&T-TV for four of these years. I have three hotspots. Verizon via my cellphone ($55 a month) T-Mobile Hotspot ($30 a month) and AT&T Hotspot ($35 a monmth) the AT&T-TV service costs $60 a month. I have never been in a location where I can’t receive internet and stream TV and other content. I do use a WeBoost and at times a Yagi antenna on a 16′ painters pole. As time has gone on, service has been easier and easier to obtain. I have not used the T-Mobile device for well over two years as AT&T and Verizon always perform. I’ve not unpacked the Yagi antenna in a couple years also. Both of these services allow unlimited data with no throttling.
    Streaming TV is so good we recently cut the cable box at our house and stream via our cable internet (Xfinity)…….Add to AT&T-TV, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube Videos and you don’t have enough lifetime to watch it all.
    Can’t wait for Elon Musk to get his systyem up and running and that will be the GO TO system for RVers.

  • For those that just like to stream – Locast is a great source for local TV in various parts of the country to get local affiliate and news channels and various other channels normally found on cable tv services or over the air. Of course you need a decent WiFi or Cellular signal to use it but those are becoming more and more popular and plentiful to find. Oh and Locast is free or you can choose to donate money to help keep it free. I don’t use it all the time but I do donate monthly since the cost is only $5 a month if you choose to do so. A great alternative to cable. http://www.locast.org

  • I disagree, respectfully. I have a Dish Wally with a Playmaker antenna that I put on a tripod to make it easier to keep my RV (2018 PleasureWay Ascent) in the trees with the antenna where it can pick up a good signal. I agree—it takes too long to set up—but I’m enough of a TV junkie that I can wait—after all, I’m retired! And there are plenty of other things to do while the TV is booting up. I store the antenna in the bathroom while in transit, and for stops where I don’t want to set up, I hook the antenna on a hook over the drivers seat. Getting local channels is easy, and the total cost of everything per month is about $55. I bought the Playmaker and Wally on sale for about $250, and I did the entire installation myself. It’s actually quite easy.

    I’m sitting right now in a well-treed campground at Table Rock Lake near Branson, MO. I have great reception, while my PW is in the trees. With a couple button pushes on my phone, i acquired local TV channels from Springfield, MO (I normally get my locals from the Denver area).

    I still use the OTA antenna that came with my PW, for those short stops where I don’t want to take the time or effort to set up the Dish, such as overnight stops when I’m in more of a hurry to get going in the morning without hooking up to anything, or lunch stops. And I have the DVD player as well, along with a DVR hard drive attached to the Wally. So I have lots of sources of TV—again, because I’m a bit of a junkie.

    Different strokes for different folks.

  • Yea! Great decision. All the television does is bring bad news to your little home. We have been TV free for a couple of years now and enjoy our time together and our books. If I want to stick my nose into the almost always crappy news, I’ll open up one of my national news phone apps and read the news until I get nauseated.

    The TV is an addiction! Break that habit and you’ll be better for it. .

  • We don’t use the television in our Airstream Flying Cloud 20 because by the time we get back from wherever we go exploring, we are tired. All we want to do is take a shower, eat, and sleep, so we can go an explore some more. We bring some books and laptops. No television.

  • Thank you for your honesty and plain talk. That’s one of the reasons so many of us who have never met you consider you friends – cause that’s what rely on friends for. I listen to your podcasts when my job as apartment maintenance keeps me in an empty unit for several days for a turnover. Have listened to 50+ in one month. I actually get a little sad at the end of each one now, because I enjoy your efforts so much. My wife of 40 years and I are preparing for an rv lifestyle, and will use what we learn from you to help others who travel with full time oxygen to still fulfill their dreams! Please keep doing what you do!

  • […] fact, I wrote an entire Post on why we don’t want to have satellite TV in our RV. You can read it at: […]

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