Planet Fox > Microwaves > Dish Network > Dish Mounting

Dish Mounting

Dish mounting is an art. Every dish I've ever installed (about 2,000 in total) is still there because I did it right the first time.

Line of sight

Satellite signals are microwaves, which, like light, don't pass through buildings, trees or other obstructions. First, lookup the azimuth and elevation of each satellite for your location. Using a compass and inclinometer or protractor, scout around for a location with a good view of all the orbital locations you want to receive. If you have a smart phone with GPS, there is an excellent augmented reality application which uses GPS and your phone's camera to provide a nice view of where each satellite is. Just search "dish pointer" in your phone's app store. Since magnetic compasses and GPS aren't 100% reliable, you should have 5° of clearance on both sides, which should also allow for any future foliage growth. Dish has a 5-50-5 rule for technicians - nothing for five feet east or west for 50 feet, 5° clearance east and west for any obstacles further than 50 feet.

Mounting priority

The number one best place to mount a dish is on a flat wall with wooden siding, close to a ground source. Most people seem to have vinyl siding these days, which you should NEVER mount a dish to since it's unstable, permanently damages the siding, and it's impossible to find a stud. When a suitable wall isn't available and the roof is asphalt shingles, you should mount it to the overhang (the lowest part) of the roof. This part of the roof isn't over living space, so if you screw it up and it causes a leak, it won't cause any problems. This is my personal favorite choice for mounting dishes, since it's least likely to cause permanent damage to the house, it's strong and reliable, easily accessed, and looks best. Avoid mounting the dish anywhere it isn't accessible directly from a ladder, since it's unsafe. (Note that Dish employees aren't allowed to walk on a roof.) If it can't be mounted to a wall or roof, you can mount the dish to a fascia board, providing you are able to drive at least two of the lag screws into a stud and a special mount like a fascia/gable plate is used.

Dish Mounting Dos:

  • Do mount the dish away from any trees or plants that may grow into the signal path
  • Do mount the dish directly to a stud, rafter or other structural member
  • Do mount the dish to a masonry surface using lead lag shields or Tapcon screws
  • Do use plenty of silicone or pitch pads to seal all of the lag screws
  • Do predrill the two center holes
  • Do mount the dish to a stable structure with a concrete foundation
  • Do mount the dish somewhere it will be easy to service and clear snow from

Dish Mounting Don'ts Nevers

  • Never mount a dish to metal roofing
  • Never mount a dish to vinyl siding
  • Never mount a dish to any portion of the roof directly over living space
  • Never mount a dish to any part of the roof not accesible from a ladder
  • Never mount a dish within 10' of overhead power lines

Mounting the mast

You'll need two  ¼" × 3" and four ¼" × 2" galvanized lag screws. Find a stud or rafter, DO NOT skip this step! If you mount a dish to nothing but plywood it will come loose, usually within a year or so. Using the two center holes in the mast foot as a template, predrill two small holes into the rafter. Apply pitch pads to the four outer holes on the mast foot, wad up two pieces of pitch pad and force it part way into the holes you drilled. Put a 3" lag screw into the top hole, but don't tighten it all of the way. Use a small level to get the mast perfectly level on the left-right axist, then drive in both center bolts. Drive 2" lag screws into the four outer bolt holes. Push the mast arm up as high as it will go, partially tighten the two positioning bolts and then pull it down until its level. Tighten the positioning screws and pivot screw. Double check and make sure the mast is level on all four sides.

Special case - pole mounting

Pole mounting a dish should be a last resort, since it's less reliable, more work, and a pain to mow around. Unfortunately, some people live in trailers, in houses with metal roofing and vinyl siding, or down in a hole with no line of sight. In these cases it's necessary to mount the dish on a pole. You will need a 6' × 1¼" piece of EMT conduit, six 3" lag screws, two plastic pipe elbows, and two 60 lb. bags of concrete. Start by digging a hole 18-24" deep. Drill three holes about four inches apart on both sides of one end of the pipe. Put the pipe in the hole, make sure it's plumb, then pound it down about four inches with a heavy hammer, then pour in the two bags of concrete, making sure to keep the pipe level on all four sides. Taping a pair of levels to the top of the pipe helps. Let the concrete set up for a day or so before messing with it. Use plastic electrical conduit where the cable enters and exits the ground to keep weed trimmers from damaging the cable. Use waterproof silicone flooded cable rated for direct burial for the run from the dish to the house.

Special case - flat roofs

I only ever had to use a flat roof mount once - on top of a Sears store in Clarksburg. Assemble the mount according to the instructions. Put down a rubber mat to protect the roof. Add six solid concrete blocks for a Dish 1000, nine for a Super/Plus dish. If the roof has an access door, keep the dish at least 15' away from the edge of the roof. If it's only accesible by ladder, make sure the dish is somewhere accessible directly from a ladder, so any maintenance personnel won't have to walk on the roof.

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