Television is a great means of entertainment and information but it can be tricky to use reliably in a motorhome. With a terrestrial system the aerial has to be a directional type to have a fighting chance of working and it has to point at the transmitter before the TV can be tuned in to that transmitter’s broadcasts, it also has limitations in range which can be very frustrating when you’re camping out in the wilds or even abroad.
Satellite TV systems can provide solutions to most of these issues. For a start as we only really use one small group of satellites (Astra 2 group) there is no need to retune each time you move location. Satellite dishes come in a variety of types, portable manual systems like the Multimo, or the Multimo twin LNB in every respect both dishes are the same except that one has a twin L.N.B. enabling it to be used with SKY or Freesat + or if required two receivers.
Roof mounted manual systems (as shown in picture above) like the Camos “crankup” Plus, the antenna measures 60cm across but has a performance similar to a dish of 65cm diameter and when it’s in the parked position, the unit’s height is just 12cm. The Camos “crankup” Twin Having a twin LNB enables the functionality of Sky+ or other similar satellite receivers so that two channels can be watched at the same time. As well as being small in size, this Camos system has the additional advantage of being light in weight. At just 6.5 Kgs, it’s almost half the weight of other crank-up systems.The antenna’s design makes it much more resistant to wind than a normal dish, allowing it to be used in conditions where other systems would have to be lowered for safety. The dish is controlled from inside the vehicle using a ceiling-mounted cranking handle.
Fully automatic systems like the Roadpro Dome both the 30cm and 40cm, Including the “In Motion” “Static” all have their place in the market. It is incredibly easy to operate; most users will only ever have to switch the control box on – that is it! When the sat-dome has found the satellite (usually within 30 seconds) the controller can be switched off so that the system uses virtually no power when in operation.
Manual portable dishes are fine as long as you have storage space for them and don’t mind setting them up, one big advantage is that if you are pitched under the shade of a tree then you can usually move the dish to a position where it is not obscured by that tree.
Manual roof mounted systems are fine, again as long as you don’t mind setting them up. Being roof mounted they can be obscured by trees of course.
Fully automatic systems are great if you can afford them, as with the roof mounted manual dish they can be hampered by nearby trees but there is no fiddly time consuming setup procedure to go through, just switch it on and settle down to watch. Enclosed dome systems are great as they are not affected by wind but their range is slightly less than can be achieved by a large offset dish type.
At the time of writing SES who own the satellites are in the process of replacing some of the older equipment, the new satellites being brought into service will have a much reduced footprint ( the area of land covered by the signal) focused more tightly over the UK, this means that it will be more difficult to receive much of the UK broadcast channels in mainland Europe. The likelihood is that mainstream UK TV channels will be receivable in Northern France/Belgium/Holland but not much further afield than that without resorting to very large dishes. We will not know for certain what reception ranges are going to be until all the equipment upgrades are completed early in 2014.