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Starlink Internet for RVers: My Install

Starlink Internet for RVers is now available and while it may not be best suited for all RVers right now, fulltimers and remote workers can still start to reap the benefits.

It will cost you $135 a month, on top of the $599 one-time cost for the equipment.

I’ve been experimenting with it now for about two months, but this week I finished the installation I’ll use on our RVs. I made a video showing how I did it. Click the player below.

After watching the video, to learn more, keep scrolling down.

The key to getting practical and reliable Starlink Internet for RVers is a new feature enabled in early May 2022 called portability.

Here’s the official announcement, posted by SpaceX, the Elon Musk-owned company that is building a massive installation of low orbiting satellites that provide high-speed Internet access across the country.

starlink internet for rvers portability
What makes Starlink Internet for RVers so practical is the new portability feature

Portability costs $25 extra a month. That takes the total monthly fee for Starlink access to $135 a month. For RVers, portability means as you travel across the country in your RV you can plug your Starlink router into 110 volts, deploy your dish antenna and, in minutes, be up and running at very impressive speeds.

Even Elon Musk thinks the system is particularly useful for RVers, as evidenced in his tweet below:

Starlink Internet for RVers: My Install 1

Starlink Internet for RVers is not intended for in-motion use!

If you’ve been interested in Starlink Internet for RVers and have searched around online, you have probably come across videos and blog posts from some RVers who have taken their dishy antenna (that’s what Starlink calls the dish… “dishy”) and figured out how to mount it flat on the roof of a moving vehicle.

They’re not supposed to. And while up until portability was enabled, Starlink seemed to have mostly ignored them, now, the company has made it clear that the practice is no longer being allowed.

See below:

Starlink Internet for RVers: My Install 2

My Starlink Internet for RVers solution

For the first couple of months, I used the small foot-high tripod mount that came with the dish to access the satellites. Sometimes, I climbed up the rear ladder on my RV and put it on the roof. But I worried about storms and high winds so I never left it up that way for very long.

Other times, I put the dishy on the ground or a picnic table. But when it was low to the ground like that, I basically had to be in an empty field to have a clear view of the sky.

Finally, in mid-May, I received a pipe adapter that had been on backorder from Starlink. That adapter allowed me to put it on the end of a telescoping flagpole and then mount the dishy on it.

Starlink Internet for RVers: My Install 3
This is my Starlink antenna, mounted on the flagpole on the rear ladder of our fifth wheel.

The flagpole is known as the Flagpole Buddy and it comes in 22-foot and 16-foot lengths. I chose the 16-footer because it collapses down to a little over 5 feet in length and easily fits in the pass-through storage cabinet on our RV. Here’s a link to the flagpole kit.

The flagpole attaches to the rear ladder on our RV. The upper mount fastens to the top left of the ladder and is a twist mount. You insert the flagpole at an angle and sort of twist it into the mount. The lower mount is a cup to hold the bottom of the flagpole.

I mounted it at the 5-foot level, meaning you can easily lift it up and insert it into the cup from the ground once you have the pole in the upper mount.

When fully extended, the Starlink dish is about 21 feet off the ground.

The Starlink Internet for RVers system needs a clear view of the sky

That height is very helpful in giving me pretty much a horizon to horizon view of the sky.

If you like to boondock in heavily forested areas, those trees are going to interfere with reception.

Get the dish as high as you can.

Starlink provides an app that will let you scan the sky and tell you whether you are in a good area.

When I tried it without the height a month ago, down on the property we’re developing as a private RV retreat, the pine trees around our campsite posed a problem. I’m hoping for better luck when I go down again and try it with the flagpole mount.

Starlink Internet for RVs has delivered variable speeds

I’ve been collecting screengrabs of my speed results using different testing service over the past week and there are some minor variations day to day.

That’s because Starlink does prioritize local traffic – people operating from their registered home area – over those who are using portability and just visiting an area.

Still my download speeds have been excellent, generally equal to or better than what I would expect through cable at my home.

Upload speeds have been markedly less impressive. In some cases, they have not been good enough, for example, to do livestreaming.

Here are two showing some of the variations.

Starlink Internet for RVers: My Install 4
You really need over 5 <bps for reliable livestreaming
Starlink Internet for RVers: My Install 5
This one would be fast enough for livestreaming

These tests were all done from the Addison Oaks County Park Campground in Leonard, MI. The weather was a mix of clouds on some days, and clear on others. Even with a light rain earlier in the week, I saw no real effect on connectivity caused by the weather.

Just to show you the difference between Starlink and the normal cellular Internet speed I get with my Verizon access, here’s a screengrab of that speed.

Starlink Internet for RVers: My Install 6

Download speed was excellent, but a bit less than Starlink. However, upload speed with Verizon, was much better. And for me, upload speed – because we do so many livestreams – is at least if not more important than download speed.

Starlink may not be worthwhile (yet) for many RVers

So who is Starlink for?

Well, remember it is not completely built out yet. It will get better.

Each month, about 50 new satellites come online. Right now, there are about 2,500 in operation. Eventually, the constellation will be many times more.

Musk has said he plans to have 40,000 satellites in the Starlink system.

But right now, I’d say if you are a remote worker or fulltime RVer who does a lot of boondocking, having Starlink would be a no-brainer. Service is good throughout much of the continental US (with the exception of Alaska and some western states) and much of Canada.

That said, I need to repeat that if you boondock in heavily forested areas, Starlink will not perform very well. For optimum performance, it really does need a clear view of the sky from horizon to horizon.

However, if you are a weekend and holiday RVer only and you spend most of your time in places where there is already good wi-fi and cellular coverage, I’d say hold off. It really won’t add that much to what you already have.

Need the Ultimate Guide to Cheap or FREE RV Camping Sites?

Starlink Internet for RVers: My Install 7

Camping can be expensive. 

Especially if you are spending more travel time in outdoor spaces. Or, perhaps you’re living and working from your RV. 

Traditional campgrounds can also be crowded and noisy. It can sometimes feel like the opposite experience you are seeking by getting away from civilization and into nature. 

That may be why you are looking for cheap or free RV camping sites and that’s why I’m here to help.  I’m going to introduce you to boondocking in off-the-beaten-path campsites and then teach you how to find them.

This ebook (not a print book – but you could print this one out on your own if you wish) is available right now.

Here’s your Ultimate Guide to Cheap or FREE RV Camping Sites



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7 Responses to “Starlink Internet for RVers: My Install”

May 19, 2022at11:07 am, Susan Olsen said:

Will Star link be good for people who have young one and camp a lot for watching Live tv?
Also, I’m looking for information about Star link and how well it works in the Pacific Northwest. Thank you for any information you may have about these questions🤗

Reply

May 20, 2022at9:34 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Mike is still testing his unit and sharing how things work for his camping needs. Best to check with Starlink with these questions, especially with the one about the Pacific Northwest since he is in a different part of the country and location does seem to matter. Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

September 13, 2022at7:48 am, Eric Hamilton said:

Yes, I full time and use it to stream a lot.

Reply

September 13, 2022at7:52 am, Eric Hamilton said:

Yes, I full time and use it to stream a lot. I have used mine in Washington, Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and now Ohio without issue. I stream upload. It rarely ever drops out long enough to use up all the buffer in any of my streaming services. General only during heavy rains does that occur.

Reply

May 14, 2022at10:55 am, Steve Karolek said:

Mike, as a licensed amateur radio operator, you should understand that operating dishy while moving is not authorized by the FCC and is thus illegal in addition to being against the terms of service.

Reply

May 14, 2022at11:07 am, Mike Wendland said:

Huh? I Don’t operate my Dishy while in motion. I made that abundantly clear in the video and post.

Reply

May 14, 2022at5:37 pm, Kevin davis said:

I think the point is, that’s why it’s against Starlink policy to use while moving. Starlink’s FCC license isn’t for moving use.

Reply

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