Satellite TV is an excellent option for home television, but it really shines on the road. Because the signals are beamed from space, they are available anywhere with a clear view of the southern sky—no cables or other infrastructure required.
This makes satellite TV the ideal choice for activities like tailgating or camping, where you need something portable and easy to set up and take down. It’s also a fantastic choice for folks who spend a lot of time in an RV, whether you’re parking at a campground or trying to entertain the kids on a long drive.
The Best Portable Satellite Dishes
Best Antenna Overall for DIRECTV
Amazon Rating (4.5 / 5)
The Winegard SK-SWM3 TRAV’LER is a powerful satellite antenna for DIRECTV. This dish can receive signals from multiple satellites at once, which means you always get the full range of DIRECTV programming, including HD. This dish is intended to be mounted on the roof of your RV and is fully automatic. It offers a handy one-button activation that will raise the dish and lock on to the satellite signal with minimal fuss on your part. When you’re ready to hit the road, just push the button again, and the dish will fold and lock itself into a safe position. This dish also supports multiple TVs, so everyone can watch what they want. It’s a little on the pricey side, but the powerful features are well worth it if you spend a lot of time in your RV.
Best Antenna Overall for DISH
Amazon Rating (4.5 / 5)
The Winegard SK-1000 TRAV’LER is the DISH version of Winegard’s powerful TRAV’LER satellite dish. It has the same great benefits, including one-button operation, automatic satellite tracking, and support for multiple satellites and TVs. Again, this is one of the more expensive dishes you can buy, but if you need something reliable and capable of delivering consistently strong signals to multiple TVs, it might be worth the investment.
Best RV Antenna for DIRECTV
Amazon Rating (4.2 / 5)
For a more portable and versatile option, the KING Quest is a domed DIRECTV antenna that can be mounted to a roof or taken on the go. If you opt for the roof mount, you can use this dish while driving thanks to its covered design. Automatic satellite tracking ensures you always have the best possible picture, while support for multiple TVs lets you enjoy the entertainment how you want.
If you’d rather keep things portable, the dish is small and light enough to grab and go, making it ideal for tailgating. The price is also much more wallet friendly than the Winegard options. The one downside is that the Quest is not compatible with DIRECTV HD signals because of its covered design. However, for a tailgating situation where you’re not likely to have a huge TV, the difference may not be noticeable.
Best RV Antenna for DISH
Amazon Rating (4.2 / 5)
The KING Tailgater is the DISH-compatible version of the Quest. Unlike the Quest, the Tailgater is compatible with both HD and SD signals. It features the same portable design, support for multiple TVS, and fully automatic tracking. The advantage here, of course, is the HD support. If you plan on using DISH as a provider, you can take your tailgating up a notch with a sharper picture.
Best Tailgating Antenna for DIRECTV
Amazon Rating (4.1 / 5)
If you’re on a budget or aren’t worried about having a roof-mounted dish, this DIRECTV-compatible dish from Satellite Oasis should suit you nicely. It comes with a tripod, so you can set it up and position it for optimal signal strength. It’s also small enough to easily toss in the back of a truck for tailgating or camping and includes a carrying case for accessories.
The Satellite Oasis dish can pick up HD signals and supports multiple TVs, but it is a manual dish. This means you’ll have to position the antenna yourself to get the best signal quality, which can be a pain. This is by far the best budget option out there, though.
Best Tailgating Antenna for DISH
Amazon Rating (3.9 / 5)
This is the DISH version of the Satellite Oasis dish. It is compatible with DISH’s HD satellites and has the same portable design with tripod and accessories. This model comes with a signal-strength meter to help you find the best position for your antenna, but other than that, it’s basically the same kit as the DIRECTV one. Like its DIRECTV sibling, this antenna supports multiple TVs and is a perfect camping or tailgating companion for shoppers on a budget.
How Do I Get Started?
To get set up with a portable satellite solution, you’ll need the satellite dish, plus a receiver and subscription plan from a satellite TV provider. While your provider will typically set you up with a dish (also known as a satellite antenna) when you sign up for a package, the one you receive will probably not be ideal for taking on the road. To help you find the best satellite to take on the road, we’ve sifted through the sea of satellite dishes to find the best choices for each provider.
What Should I Look For in a Satellite Dish?
Automatic Satellite Tracking
This is a fantastic feature to look for. When the dish has automatic satellite tracking, it will locate the satellite’s position in the sky relative to itself. The dish will then point itself toward the satellite for optimal signal strength. Dishes that lack this feature must be aimed manually, which can quickly turn into a guessing game that will suck the fun out of your time away from home.
Support for Multiple TVs
If you want to watch on more than one TV at once, choose an antenna that can support it. This feature is pretty straightforward—the dish you purchase should tell you if it supports multiple televisions. Not all satellite dishes do, though, so make sure you double-check before buying.
Domed Antennas or Open Antennas
A domed satellite dish has a cover over it. Rather than appearing as the traditional saucer-shaped antenna you’re used to, these look like, well, a dome. Domed satellite dishes come with both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, a domed dish is resistant to the wind, so it can be used while driving—perfect for long trips in the RV. The downside is that it’s not compatible with DIRECTV’s HD signal, so if DIRECTV is your provider of choice, keep this in mind.
An open antenna, on the other hand, is one that has no cover. These dishes can receive any DISH or DIRECTV signal, whether it’s HD or SD. However, they are not protected from the elements like a domed dish is. This means if you’re planning to mount the dish to the top of an RV, you’ll need to either remove the dish when driving or purchase one that you can fold and lock down. But if you’re just looking for something portable for tailgating, the lack of a cover won’t be an issue.
How Do I Choose a Satellite TV Provider?
Even if you purchase your own satellite dish, you’ll still need to subscribe to a plan from a satellite provider to be able to watch anything. A satellite dish can only pick up the signal—you need a receiver to translate that signal into something your TV can use. Receivers are the set-top boxes or DVRs you get from your satellite TV provider when you sign up for service.
Since the provider will have to rely on satellite, your choice here boils down to DIRECTV or DISH. Both are excellent providers. In general, DIRECTV has the better sports packages—including the exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET. DISH, on the other hand, has the DISH Hopper, which is an overall better DVR system compared to the DIRECTV Genie. Whichever one you choose, you’ll have to make sure your satellite is compatible, since the two providers use different satellites.
Find and compare DIRECTV and DISH plans and pricing in your area: