DISH Installation: Your Options
As someone who was a DISH subscriber for 16 years, I know first-hand that satellite TV technology has improved dramatically since 1998 when I installed my first DISH system. At the time, it was as easy as calling an authorized reseller of DISH systems and having it shipped to your door.
It was very typical for customers to install their own systems at the time, since it was a much less complicated process than it is today. After all, in 1998 we were dealing with a single satellite, and it was fairly simple to line the dish antenna up to receive a good signal from the satellite, which if memory serves, was located at the 119 degree orbital location.
I was actually quite comfortable with the installation process since I had been a radio hobbyist for many years and had a lot of experience erecting radio antennas and running, terminating and connecting coaxial cable and other related activities.
I really enjoyed the experience of installing my system back in 1998, but as a radio hobbyist, I may not have been representative of the typical DISH customer. Everyone has their own passions and interests, and many folks are probably not too excited about the idea of installing a satellite TV system in their home.
Although somewhat time-consuming, the installation went very well and I was extremely pleased with the end result. Having been a cable TV subscriber before signing up for DISH, and I was amazed at the clarity of the picture I was receiving with my new satellite TV system.
To be fair, the cable industry had not yet introduced digital cable at that time, which has greatly improved the quality of the reception, but I still prefer satellite because I think it is a better value and offers more of the programming I am interested in.
You can schedule your own DISH installation right on the internet if you are the type of person who would rather not talk to someone on the phone. I have to confess that I take that approach sometimes because sometimes it is just easier for me to click a few buttons and fill out my name and address than it is to call and talk to a customer service person.
Installing Your Own DISH System May Not Be An Option
My old single-satellite DISH 5000 system is long gone and was replaced a couple of years ago with a new DISH 500 system that includes a ViP 622 HD-capable DVR.
I had wanted to install my own DISH 500 system because I’m just the kind of person who likes to do things my way. I have a somewhat complicated installation since my dish antennas are mounted on the side of my home near the peak of the roof and the coaxial cable is a real pain since it has to be run through the attic and down through the wall to the bottom floor where the utility room is.
That’s a total of three floors, and quite frankly, I was not crazy about the idea of an installer traipsing around my attic, where it is easy to slip off one of the planks that are safe to walk on, and end up with a foot through my ceiling!
My pleas with DISH customer service didn’t get me very far. They insisted that I have a professional installation done here since I was upgrading to an HD-capable DVR. Although I was a little miffed at the time, it turns out that professional installation was the best option for me.
However, I was still not happy about having their installer in my attic so I decided to make his job a bit easier. I purchased a generous quantity of high-quality RG-6 coaxial cable and the tools and high-quality connectors to terminate the cables with.
I ran the new coaxial cable from my attic to my utility room and simply fed the cable outside through holes that were drilled in the wall of my attic so the installer could simply connect them to the DISH antennas after he mounted them.
The installer was quite cooperative, and since it was a cold and windy February day, I think he was happy to have some of the work done for him already, since it meant less time spent on my roof. I was happy since the cables were run and terminated the way I wanted them. Yeah, I’m often accused of being a bit too picky about some things!
Why Professional Installation Is The Better Option Today
Unless you are a real satellite TV buff, or otherwise experienced with electronics, professional installation is the best option if you want my advice. From what I can tell from looking around on the internet, there are companies that will sell you a DISH system that you can install yourself.
According to these companies, you can install your own system and then contact DISH to have your system activated. Some of them, I have to say, are a little less than honest about how simple the installation process is.
Granted, if you manage to get a single LNB dish and just want to receive programming from one satellite, it’s probably not that difficult for most people who are reasonably handy to complete the installation. However, reception from only one satellite sure is going to limit your viewing choices.
DISH currently has at least seven satellites in orbit as of this writing, and will probably be launching more at some point in the future. That complicates things for those wishing to install their own system, since the modern dish antennas can receive more than one satellite, with some of them capable of receiving four satellites at the same time!
Installing and aligning a dish antenna that receives four satellites is a lot more complicated and difficult than installing a dish that receives only one satellite. Equipment such as signal meters are pretty much a must-have for that kind of work. Sure, anyone can buy one, but it is an added expense and since I did not install DISH Network systems for a living, it wasn’t an expense I could easily justify. I would probably only use it once every few years.
My old DISH 500 system used two dish antennas. One of them received signals from two satellites and was pointed southwest, while the other dish received its signal from a single satellite and was pointed southeast. To a lot of people, this probably made things a bit less attractive, and that’s understandable, but I actually thought it looked kind of cool.
Only after I decided to go up on my roof one day to re-align the dual dish did I realize that setting one of those up can be a long and frustrating process without the benefit of a signal meter and other installation equipment that would make the job a whole lot easier. Still, it wasn’t all that painful for me since I considered it rather fun to mess around with this kind of thing.
As luck would have it, we had some very high winds only days after the DISH 500 system had been installed and it knocked the dual dish completely out of alignment. It was entirely the fault of the installer since he did not tighten the alignment bolts enough to stand up to the wind. Mistakes do happen, and that was the one that happened the day my new system was installed.
Being the do-it-yourself kind of guy I am, I got out my ladder and proceeded up to the roof to re-align the dish antenna. I was successful in the end, and tightened the alignment bolts sufficiently, but it was much more time-consuming than aligning my old single-LNB dish, and made me realize that having the installer come out to put in the new system was the right decision.
I’m sure that the installation of the dual-LNB dish would have been a long and frustrating experience for me, since I do not have all the necessary equipment and training to take on a job like that from scratch.
Since I was upgraded to the Eastern Arc DISH early in 2011, I no longer had two dish antennas mounted on my house. You can see what my new dish antenna looked like in the picture to the right.
Although I had some difficulty aligning the dual-LNB dish that was part of my old DISH 500 installation, I have to admit that I was doubtful about my ability to successfully realign this new Eastern Arc DISH since it receives signals from three satellites at the same time.
Professional installation of new DISH systems is free for up to six rooms, so there really is no reason for most folks to attempt their own installations. It just doesn’t make sense for the majority of people.