How to Site a Satellite Dish

Often the biggest problem when installing a dish is finding a suitable position. 

All dishes point south. Satellites orbit at the equator, so in Europe, all dishes point south.

If you have a back wall pointing south, that is ideal but the dishes used for European satellite services are sometimes large, many times larger than the typical  Sky mini dish. Generally, I’ll look for an alternative position if your property has a south-facing front wall. 

The Direction

Finding the right direction is the next step.  I use two great resources to do this. Google Maps and Dishpointer.com , I wrote an introduction to this here https://www.satellitetveurope.co.uk/How-to-find-your-map-coordinates/

You can find your own map coordinates here:

https://www.satellitetveurope.co.uk/map5.html

I gave some dish alignment and satellite coverage tips here : 

https://www.satellitetveurope.co.uk/dish-alignment/

But all of the above assumes that Google Maps have actually covered your location, what if you have a  new-build house?  Here are a few tips to check where the dish will work. 

A good Compass is ok, but make sure you don’t try to use it near any steel/iron structure ( such as a sat dish mount ! ) . Most compasses though are rather small and not ideal for this task. So here is a method that doesn’t rely on a compass. It needs a siting to be done at a certain time of day, so plan it out the day before the dish installation.

The Sun’s position is reliable and tables exist to plot where it is at any time of day. The info is available in an app. online. In the example below, I have used a location in Lincoln UK, but the great thing about the method is, it will work even with very rough and approximate coordinates or addresses that are not yet available on Google Maps.

For satellites like Astra 1,  or 3, if you can see a neighbours house with a Sky dish, it will give a good approximation (Astra 2 (Sky) is at almost 30 degrees East ) . For satellites due  South like Thor or on the West side like Hispasat, are not so easy.

For example TDT (spain) the satellite is Hispasat which has direction  = 30 degrees west , this is measured from due South, so on the app shown below, the azimuth is 180 + 30 = 210 degrees.

You can use the apps on SunCalc.org or sunearthtools.com, they work in a similar way.

Note the cursor at the top, on the timescale. Move left or right, until the 210 appears in the left-hand sidebar settings for Azimuth. The TIME on the Timescale is the important figure, in the example, it is approx 14:15

We are only looking for a rough  guide so, line up the map on Lincoln, it isn’t necessary to get the exact location.

So at 14:15, look for the position of the Sun. Now look at the house, where on the house can we fit a dish, to receive a signal from this direction.

This is the easiest , the gable end and a detached house
SemiDetached Not so easy here the dish is mounted on a pole
Here the side wall or the back wall could be used, usually the back is preferred

If you have anything in the path of the satellite, you will also need to check the elevation angle of the satellite and see if there is a position for the dish to avoid the obstacle. Here’s an easy and quick elevation finder constructed in a minute or two using card and a tube, like a thick drinking straw. 

Simply point the angle in the sat direction found above and standing at the position of the dish,  check if the obstruction is going to stop the reception or not. 

There is also a good phone app that will do the check for you from Dishpointer.com