Starlink is one of the best internet services for rural areas where cable internet isn’t available. SpaceX uses thousands of satellites to provide high-speed, low latency internet that rivals cable broadband.
For over a decade, HughesNet and Viasat internet was the only choice in rural areas. However, their service is slow, expensive, and has long-term contracts. On the contrary, Starlink doesn’t have any downside.
However, the Starlink dish needs a clear sky view to get good and reliable internet. For this, the dish has to be placed on the rooftop or in the yard. Sometimes, the antenna needs to be placed far away from home. This article discusses some typical questions related to Starlink dish installation and operation.
Can the Starlink Dish be Painted?
The Starlink dishes that SpaceX ships with their package are white. There’s no other color to choose from. Even though the white color is neutral, sometimes this white dish doesn’t look good on some rooftops or lawns.
Moreover, many people live under HOA, with strict guidelines regarding the color of the house, roof, fence, and other things.
Some HOA tries to force homeowners to paint satellite dishes so that it blends in with the community. In some cases, it’s perfectly okay to do it; for example, it’s perfectly okay to paint a DirecTV or HughesNet receiver.
However, the Starlink dish is a phased array antenna. It has a cover and hydrophobic (water repellent) coating on that cover so that the Starlink dish can perform best in the rain and snow. Moreover, there’s a heater underneath that cover to melt snow. Therefore you can’t paint the top face (white surface) of the Starlink dish.
If you paint the top white surface, it will cause your Starlink dish to overheat. Moreover, the paint will decrease your Starlink’s performance, degrade satellite signal quality, and slow down your internet because it’s an extra layer of coating that was not supposed to be there.
Even the tree leaves block Starlink satellite’s signal and degrade internet quality. A coat of paint can severely degrade Starlink’s internet.
The Starlink dish is a precision-engineered phased array antenna. Even the thickness of the top cover is carefully designed so that it doesn’t cause too much impedance. Therefore, even a vinyl cover would degrade Starlink’s signal quality. Most materials aren’t transparent to radio frequency (RF).
We urge you not to experiment with paint on top of the Starlink dish. Because soon you will want to remove that paint due to degraded internet. But if you try to remove the paint, it will also remove the hydrophobic coating on top of the Starlink dish that comes from the factory.
Also, don’t spray UV protection to protect the dish from the sun. It will also damage the water-repellent coating.
Elon Musk, the owner of SpaceX, said that a very thin layer of paint could be used on top of the Starlink dish, provided there’s no metal particle in the paint. However, we have to remember that Elon Musk was talking about camouflaging the Starlink dish in a war situation. Therefore, it’s an unusual situation where even a degraded internet performance is oaky than no internet.
However, you can paint the bottom part of the Starlink dish. It will not cause any issues. And if the dish goes on the side of the house or the rooftop, painting only the bottom part of the Starlink is necessary because most people will only see the bottom part. No one will see the top because it will face the sky beyond people’s view.
According to federal law (FCC), local government, HOA, or landlords can’t prevent you from using a Starlink. They also can’t force you to paint your Starlink Dish because it degrades the receiver’s performance. Learn more about the law on Cornell Webpage.
So, why is it okay to paint traditional dishes such as DirecTV but not Starlink? It’s primarily because DirecTV dishes and Starlink dishes are different.
The DirecTV dish has a receiver/transmitter in front of the satellite antenna. This dish focuses the satellite signal on this receiver/transmitter. Therefore, the paint on the DirecTV dish isn’t going to change anything. The signal will bounce off the paint and gather at the transmitter/receiver device.
In the case of the Starlink dish, the phased array receiver/transmitter is behind the top white cover. If painted, it will severely degrade the signal quality that reaches the Starlink dishes receiver/transmitter. It’s why Starlink dishes can’t be painted.
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Can Starlink Cable be Buried?
Most of the time, users mount their Starlink dish on the side of the house or on top of the roof. However, due to various limitations, sometimes it’s necessary to mount the Starlink dish somewhere away from home.
The primary problem when putting Starlink dishes away from home is cable management. Overground cable is susceptible to damage from lawn mowers or animal bites. Buring the Starlink cable is the best idea in this case.
However, Starlink cable isn’t rated for direct burial. If you bury your Starlink cable, it will get damaged due to frost, water, pressure, and heat. Therefore, don’t directly bury your Starlink in the ground.
The easiest solution is to bury the Starlink cable through 1 inch (minimum) non-metallic flex conduit rated for direct burial. On Home Depot, Lowes or Menards, these are pretty cheap.
Put your Starlink cable through the flex conduit, dig a trench 8 to 10 inches in the ground and bury your cable. The flex conduit will protect your cable. The 1″ flex conduit is essential because the Starlink cable has a choke on both ends. If possible, buy a bigger diameter flex conduit.
While burying, take special care to seal both ends of your conduit to prevent water intrusion.
We, however, don’t suggest using PVC. PVC gets brittle over time when underground and breaks. Non-metallic flex conduit is best for this purpose.
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Can the Starlink Cable be Extended?
Starlink internet is primarily for rural areas where reliable cable internet isn’t available. SpaceX ships the Starlink with a 75 feet cable, which is enough for most properties. Users can also buy 150 feet cable from the Starlink online shop. However, in many cases, even 150 feet of line isn’t enough.
However, there’s an easy solution if you need to place your Starlink dish more than 150 feet away from your home. Starlink cable can be extended and easily done with CAT6/6A ethernet cable with Female to Female connector. You only have to make sure that the connector is waterproof.
The Starlink cable carries both data and power. Therefore, the longer the cable, the more power drop due to resistance. Therefore, your Starlink may not work properly if you overextend the cable, such as 600-700 feet.
How Far Can You Extend the Starlink Cable?
Starlink uses PoE(power over ethernet) cable. In theory, these cables can be extended up to 330 feet. However, Starlink support asks not to use non-standard cables as an extender.
It’s best to use the official 150 feet cable. If it’s not possible, use a good brand CAT6/6A cable that supports PoE, and don’t go over 300 feet for reliable Starlink internet.
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Can Starlink Cable be Spliced?
Starlinks dish cable has a choke at the end of the wire. Therefore, to get the cable into the house, an almost 1-inch hole is necessary. However, there are several alternatives to this.
Starlinks cable can be spliced and reconnected without any issue. It’s an industry-standard CAT6 ethernet cable. SpaceX isn’t using any special wire. Therefore, splicing and reconnecting the cable would not cause any issues. We suggest you use a Tripp Lite Cat6 Cat5e Shielded Junction Box from Amazon to reconnect the wire.
The alternative is to use a CAT6 Female to Female Coupler. If you plan to extend your cable for a couple of feet, we believe it’s an easier solution because you don’t have to splice the cable.
How Far Can the Starlink Dish be From the House?
Officially, a Starlink dish can be placed up to 150 feet away from a house. However, unofficially it can be placed up to 300 feet away with the help of a cable extender.