The majority of our guests who arrive at Horton Common will just raise their caravan ariel and watch Freeview TV. However, from time to time we do have guests who have satellite/Sky TV setups. I’ve seen various portable and fixed satellite dish setups and discussed with our guests the pros and cons of each. The need/want for satellite TV in a caravan varies. For instance, in some cases due to experiences of patchy Freeview signals in the past, some guests just prefer a satellite for free TV. In other cases for guests who frequently visit the continent, they use a satellite dish so they can pick up British TV while abroad. We also have guests who have Sky TV at home and want be able to watch SKY Sports etc while they’re away in their caravan. With this post, I want to discuss the feedback I’ve heard from our guests on the various satellite TV options. Furthermore, is a satellite dish today even the best option to watch SKY TV in your caravan?
I’ve previously written a post on what I think are the best caravan tv setups. Within that post, I only very briefly discuss Freesat and caravan satellite TV options. I also don’t discuss SKY TV at all in that post in terms of how to get it to work in your caravan. The introduction of SKY Q has changed what type of satellite setup you need for your caravan. There are lots of resources out there, some of which I will reference below in terms of setting up a caravan satellite dish to receive free to air TV. However, my main focus to this post is to address the caravan SKY TV dilemma. Furthermore, how your best option may actually be to stream SKY in your caravan via the SKY Go app.
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or Caravan Guard are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase, with no additional cost to you.
Introduction to Caravan Satelite TV Setups
To get satellite television in your caravan or motorhomes via a dish you have a couple of options depending on how much you want to spend. Essentially you have three main options.
- Portable Tripod Mounted Satellite TV Dish
- Suction Cup/A-Frame Mounted Satellite Dish
- Permanent Roof-Mounted Manual/Automatic Satellite Dish
Below I’ll provide a bit more detail on each of these three options. This is based on my observations of seeing these different caravan satellite TV setups in action and also the feedback I’ve received from our guests. Which option will be best for you, if any, will depend on a couple of different factors, budget obviously being one of them.
1: Portable Tripod Mounted Caravan Satellite Dishes
A portable tripod mounted satellite TV dish is the most common option I see people turning up with here at Horton Common. Typically because it is the cheapest option to set up for satellite TV in a caravan. There are many different branded and unbranded kits available. From time to time, you will even see portable satellite dish kits in Aldi or Lidl.
A typical example of a cheap tripod-mounted portable satellite dish for a caravan. A kit such as this does not include a receiver though: Image – Amazon.co.uk
If you are interested in going this route, try and choose one that’s got some good reviews. I’ve seen a couple of these units in the past where the build quality is pretty poor. This not only makes it harder to position the dish at the satellite to receive good clear reception, but a gust of wind can knock them out of position. Personally, I currently think the best quality portable tripod mounted satellite dish receivers are made by Maxview. From guests who own them and have owned cheaper portable satellite dishes, they have stated the build quality is noticeably better.
While a Maxview tripod satellite dish such as this has better build quality than much of the competition its also one of the few portable dishes compatibility with the SKY Q subscription service: Image – Amazon.co.uk
If you do wish to be able to watch the SKY Q subscription service in your caravan it is important to note that not all caravan satellite dishes are compatible with the service. In fact, currently, I’m only aware of the Maxview Precision range which is compatible with SKY Q. However, as I discuss below to actually get SKY Q working in your caravan/motorhome under the terms of service its more complicated than just having the right portable dish.
Tripod Caravan Satellite Dishes and The Wind
While we have amazing views here at Horton Common caravan site, we also have higher than average wind speeds. Hence, when any of our guests set up a portable tripod satellite dish I encourage them to fit guy ropes to the tripod. Some kits like the Maxview Precision above come with guy ropes. However, it appears some of the other kits do not. Whichever portable tripod kit you choose, make sure you get a guy rope kit. The guy ropes are not only to stop the wind blowing the dish over and potentially damaging it. If the tripod and dish are moving about in the wind it will struggle to keep a clear signal from the satellite.
2: Suction Cup/A-Frame Mounted Satellite Dishes
So as I’ve stated above, a problem with the tripod satellite dishes is they can move about/blow over in the wind. Now, guy ropes can help a lot, in fact, I would go as far as to say they are essential for a tripod satellite dish. However, you may want to consider an alternative. These are still portable satellite dishes that are not permanently fixed to your caravan. However, their fixing points are more secure and you are less likely to lose reception due to the wind. The first alternative is a suction cup mounted caravan satellite dish.
A typical example of a suction mounted satellite dish for a caravan: Image – Amazon.co.uk
A couple of things I want to make you aware of with suction mounted satellite dish such as the Maxview Remora 40 above. First, to get good suction against the caravan the surface must be clean. If the surface is dirty with road grease etc it will not firmly fix to the caravan. Secondly, I’m not sure if this suction mounted Maxview Remora 40 is compatible with SKY Q. Therefore, if SKY Q compatibility is important to you I would advise checking that with Maxview. The other alternative is to use any portable satellite dish you choose with a caravan jockey wheel bracket kit.
A typical example of a jockey wheel bracket for a portable caravan satellite dish: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Again, similar to the suction kit, with the satellite dish mounted to the jockey wheel the mass/weight of the caravan is providing ballast. Therefore, you have a better chance of keeping a more stable picture quality in adverse weather conditions compared to a tripod setup. Furthermore, the satellite dish jockey wheel bracket is a similar cost to a tripod setup.
3. Permanent Roof-Mounted Manual/Automatic Satellite Dishes
If you are looking for a permanent roof-mounted satellite dish for your caravan or motorhome there are a couple of different options. This could potentially be a DIY project. However, it will involve drilling holes into the roof of your caravan or motorhome. Hence, if your leisure vehicle still has a water ingress warranty in place, even if you are sufficiently DIY capable, get it professionally installed. At the budget end of the permanent roof-mount satellite dish options are the manual/crank up dishes.
An example of a roof-mounted manual crank caravan satellite dish: Image – Amazon.co.uk
A roof-mounted crank up satellite dish will require you to raise the dish and find the satellite signal, more details below. However, it also importantly means you have the responsibility for remembering to lower the dish when you leave a caravan site. If you didn’t remember the dish was in the raised position it could be damaged on high speed roads due to the force of the air hitting the dish. Just worth thinking about before you choose this option, as it can be easy to forget to lower the satellite dish. I have seen a guest leave Horton Common in the past with their roof-mounted dish still raised. Luckily I was able to get in touch with them to lower it before any damage occurred. There are also automated roof-mounted caravan satellite dish options such as that in the image below.
This is the Maxview VUQube 2 Automated Roof-Mounted Satellite Dish: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Now the interesting thing about the Maxview VUQube 2 is while it can be permanently mounted to the roof of your caravan or motorhome, it doesnt have to be. Therefore, you can still use VUQube 2 as a none permanent/portable satellite dish. However, you would want to consider the implications of wind and security in a portable form. As you can see from the Amazon link above, its not a cheap bit of kit. Furthermore, the VUQube 2 is not compatible with SKY Q. Obviously not an issue if you are only interested in free-to-view Freesat. However, if you do want SKY Q it appears the Maxview Precision range is currently the only option.
Installing An External Satellite TV Port
If you opt for a permanent satellite dish on the roof of your caravan or motorhome the internal satellite TV connections will be completed as part of that work. However, what if you have opted for a cheaper portable satellite dish for your caravan? Well, the cheapest and simplest option is just run the signal cable from the portable satellite dish through an open window up to the TV or set-top box receiver. The issue with this option is while you can lower the window on the cable you cannot close it. Hence, not ideal in adverse weather conditions and its also a security risk which could invalidate your caravan insurance. Hence, if you choose this option, before you leave the caravan you should remove the cable and close/lock your caravan windows. Alternatively, you could install an external satellite TV port on your caravan.
A typical example of external connections for a portable caravan satellite dish: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Now, its worth checking if your caravan already has an external TV/Satellite port. Check any outside ports, inside the leisure battery cupboard and your wet lockers. If not, you could, if you feel competent and brave enough install a new external TV/Satellite connection port. Dan Trudgian has produced a video on this topic. So if its an option you do want to consider, the video below is well worth a look.
How To Position a Caravan Satellite TV Dish
Now, if you opt for a top of the line fixed/automated satellite TV dish for your caravan it will position its self. However, let’s presume you have a cheaper portable or fixed caravan satellite TV dish. The YouTuber Dan Trudigian has done a video on how to position a caravan satellite dish which I’ve included below. Its a good video, it goes through the whole setup. Essentially with free-to-air satellite TV or subscription-based satellite TV within the UK, you need to aim the dish at the Astra 2 satellite.
Now, as Dan shows, while the Astra 2 satellite is in the sky south of the UK the angle you need to aim the dish will depend on where you are located in the UK. For instance, in Scotland, the angle of the dish will be around 23 degrees. Whereas let’s say you were in Brighton, for instance, the dish angle required would be closer to 26 degrees. Dan goes through some really handy phone apps such as augmented reality app which shows the location of the satellite in the sky on your phone’s screen.
As Dan states in the video above, he does not cover setting up a caravan to receive subscription satellite TV, hence SKY. Therefore below I’m going to cover what you need to know about how to set up your caravan to receive SKY satellite TV. As it has changed since the introduction of SKY Q.
Watching SKY Q in Your Caravan/Motorhome
When we first opened Horton Common in 2014 I had a few conversations with guests who had SKY+ setups. They could use pretty much any portable satellite dish and an additional SKY box to watch TV in their caravan. However, with the introduction of SKY Q things have now changed. New SKY customers now are automatically supplied with SKY Q, while some existing customers may still be using SKY+ boxes. Out of the box currently only the Maxiview Precision range of portable satellite dishes work with SKY Q. Now, older portable and fixed caravan satellite dishes can be upgraded to work with SKY Q. However, it involves changing over the LNB (low-noise block downconverter). The video below explains why that’s the case:
Now, the above video does go into quite a bit of technical detail on how to change to a SKY Q LNB. Whether its something you feel you are capable of doing via DIY is obviously a personal choice. If not, it may just be simpler (maybe even cheaper) to just opt for the latest Maxview Precision dish.
SKY Q Boxes and Service Terms and Conditions
Ok, so what I’m now going to discuss is based on second-hand information from our guests. Therefore, I would encourage you to explore this further if you want to use SKY Q in your caravan or motorhome. So apparently the SKY Q viewing cards a programmed only to work with a specific set-top box. Therefore, it wouldn’t be possible to have a second SKY Q box in your caravan and use the same viewing card from under your TV at home.
Taking the SKY Q box from under your TV at home and putting it in your caravan/motorhome may be an option, but obviously not ideal. Especially if family members are still at home while you’re away in the caravan. Furthermore, the SKY terms of service apparently state the SKY Q box should only be used at the registered address. Therefore, with the potential issues and costs of changing LNBs etc to get SKY Q working in your caravan, you may want to consider another option.
Streaming SKY Q in Your Caravan or Motorhome
OK, I’ve covered the principles of getting other streaming services to work in your caravan or motorhome in my two previous posts on the best TV setups and getting internet in your caravan. Essentially, you are going to need to be able to take advantage of the 4G mobile data network or the 5G data network which is now rolling out. Its highly unlikely that any WiFi network supplied on a caravan site you visit will be able to provide enough speed/data to reliably stream video.
WiFi booster kits are available for caravans and motorhomes. However, its rare that any caravan site WiFi will provide sufficient speed/data to make TV streaming services viable: Amazon.co.uk
You will also need a service which can provide unlimited data. Otherwise, you will quickly use up any data restricted service streaming video. I currently have an unlimited data plan with Three for my phone, and I can tether my phone to laptops, TV etc to stream video. Now, you cannot get a pay as you go unlimited data service, for obvious reasons. However, some of the network providers offer 1-month rolling contract unlimited data services. Therefore, you could sign up for a month while you are away in your caravan/motorhome and then cancel the service.
Now you have internet in your caravan with unlimited data. So you can be watching BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc, but what about SKY? Well, there is obviously NOW TV, but that’s a separate service. What about if you currently have a SKY subscription service at home and you want to use SKY GO in your caravan or motorhome?
Watching SKY GO in Your Caravan or Motorhome
At some point, SKY is set to launch a service which will not require a satellite dish at all. This has been stated by the company for many years. However, its still yet to appear. Some think the service is probably going to be branded SKY X. However, in the here and now every SKY subscription customer has access to the streaming service SKY GO. Though depending on whether you are just a SKY TV customer or a SKY Q customer, your level of access to the GO service varies, as you can see from the image below:
So anyone can have access to watch all their SKY channels live which are included in their package or catch up services via phone/laptop. However, to watch SKY GO live TV/streaming on more than two devices you will need SKY Go Extra. If your caravan TV has been manufactured within the last decade it will likely have an HDMI video/audio connection. As many laptops (and some tablets) have an HDMI connection you could then watch SKY GO on your caravan/motorhome TV with an HDMI cable.
Conclusions on The Best Caravan Satellite TV Setups
So in summary, if you are looking for a satellite dish to just watch free-to-air (Freesat) in your caravan or motorhome you can choose any of the options above. We have guests that frequently visit the continent and they like having the ability to watch British TV abroad while in their caravan or motorhome. However, if you wish to watch the current SKY Q service its a bit more complicated. Out of the box currently, the Maxview Precision portable satellite dishes are compatible with SKY Q. As shown above, older dishes can have the LNB upgraded to work with SKY Q, but that may get a bit too technical for some people.
If you want to watch SKY Q in your caravan or motorhome you could avoid a dish altogether and just stream the service via SKY GO using the 4G/5G data network. However, it should be noted internet speeds do vary based on location and network demand. For instance, I notice the Three 4G network noticeably slows down during peak times (around 5 pm). Furthermore, unlimated 4G/5G data plans are not applicable if you are travelling in the EU. You will typically be allowed some data, but it will not be unlimited. Hence, not really suitable for video streaming. Therefore, if you want SKY Q while you are touring around the continent, you will need a compatible caravan satellite dish.
Thanks for reading, this post ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would. However, it should provide you with some direction on your best caravan satellite TV options. I also hope at some point in the future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common caravan site. 🙂