HughesNet and Viasat’s internet gets seriously interrupted in minor weather events. A slight rain, clouds, or snow will severely deteriorate their service, and outages in these climate conditions are expected with HughesNet and Viasat.
In contrast, the Starlink dish uses phased array antennas, and these get less affected by weather events. This article will discuss how rain, snow, thunderstorm, moisture, clouds, fog, and wind affect Starlink’s performance.
Light rain, fluffy snow, fog, and wind don’t affect Starlink; it will not lose signal. However, heavy rain, heavy snowstorm, hail, and sleet will deteriorate Starlink’s internet speed, and it may suffer signal outages until the bad weather passes.
There are several satellite internet companies in the world. HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink are the big three.
Amazon and OneWeb are also working on their satellite internet constellation.
HughesNet and Viasat are known as legacy satellite internet service providers because they use geostationary satellites to provide internet, which is painfully slow and almost unusable.
In comparison, Starlink uses the newest technology and low earth orbit satellites to provide fast internet that works reliably.
However, Cable internet service doesn’t get interrupted by inclement weather events unless power outages happen. Cable internet works most reliably irrespective of climate conditions.
Effects of Temperature on the Starlink
SpaceX has three types of Starlink dishes.
- First-generation circular antenna.
- Second generation rectangular antenna.
- Business antenna.
The business antenna is double in size compared to the residential Starlink antenna. Thus, Business Starlink works better and provides faster speed even in inclement weather than residential Starlink.
The second-generation antennas have an operating temperature from -22°F (-30°C) to +122°F(+50°C). Therefore, these terminals work from extreme cold to extreme desert heat.
The first-generation antennas, however, don’t work in extreme temperatures. It performs best if the outside temperature is between +32°F (0°C) to +86°F(+30°C)
The Business Starlink antenna has an IP56 rating. The other two terminals have an IP54 rating. Therefore, these are water and dust-resistant.
However, we want to point out that it’s not an IP67 rating. Therefore, if your area experiences a flood and the Starlink dish gets submerged in water, it will get damaged.
The second-generation Starlink routers are water and dust-resistant and have an IP54 rating. Therefore, these can be used outdoors.
The first-generation router, however, isn’t water-resistant and can only be used indoors.
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Effects of Rain and Storms
Light rain does not affect Starlink service.
Even though water and moisture affect satellite signal quality, the Starlink dish has a hydrophobic coating, and the water will slide off the antenna.
Even though the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) may become high during light rain, SpaceX has implemented several countermeasures to improve Starlink’s internet speed in this situation.
Heavy rain, however, severely affects Starlink’s internet speed.
During heavy, consistent rain, you will experience service outages, slower speed, longer ping time, and packet losses on the Starlink network. The service condition will not improve until the weather conditions improve.
Heavy rain at Starlink’s ground station will also deteriorate internet speed at user terminals.
Therefore, even if you aren’t getting any rain, your service may be affected if the ground station area receives heavy rainfall.
Does Snow Storm Affect Starlink?
Light snow has no effect on Starlink service. Numerous tests and user reports have shown that Starlink internet doesn’t degrade during light, fluffy snow.
Starlink has a built-in snow melt feature. The dish can automatically detect snow, and it activates the snow melt feature. The built-in heater will not allow snow to build up on the antenna.
However, reports have shown that heavy snow does affect Starlink’s internet service. During a snowstorm, you may experience service outages or slower speeds.
Snow build-up surrounding the Starlink dish also could be problematic. If your area receives heavy snow and it surrounds your antenna, it will obstruct satellite signal reception and transmission.
Moreover, as the Starlink dish melts snow, the water could refreeze and form icicles. If the dish isn’t mounted high enough from the base, the icicles could freeze the entire Starlink dish with the base.
The dish has a built-in motor that orients the antenna for a better satellite signal. If the icicles prevent the Starlink dish’s motion, it could damage the internal motor.
Related: Starlink is a substantial investment. Sometimes, you no longer need the Starlink equipment for personal reasons and want to recoup some of the money. This article discusses 5 things about Starlink sales, transfer, service cancellation, and related problems when you move to another address.
Will Starlink Work When it’s Cloudy?
Clouds don’t affect Starlink’s internet service. On a cloudy day, it will work flawlessly without any issues. Clouds don’t obstruct or block Starlink’s satellite signal.
However, you will receive degraded service if there’s a thick cloud with thunder.
Keep in mind that moisture does affect the satellite signal strength. If the cloud is too moisture heavy, it could raise the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), which can deteriorate internet speed.
Effects of Lighting
If your area typically experiences thunderstorms and lighting, you must install the Starlink antenna with an external lightning protection system (ground rod, lightning rod, surge protector, etc.).
Starlink needs a clear view of the sky for it to work correctly. Therefore in most areas, users install their dishes on top of the house roof. In areas with too many trees, we found that many install their Starlink antenna on the tree top for better satellite signal.
Lighting can strike your Starlink antenna as these Starlink dishes are exposed on high ground.
The cable connecting your Starlink dish and router carries data and power. Even though SpaceX has designed every piece of equipment following the U.S. National Electrical Code (NEC) grounding requirements, if lightning strikes your Starlink dish, it will damage every electronics connected to your Starlink router.
Therefore, it’s best to install a lightning protection system.
Many RVers are surprised that they are getting very slow internet over Starlink. Starlink is not always the best internet for RVers. This article discusses the important reasons you should remember before ordering your Starlink for RVs.
Storms & Winds
Winds do not affect Starlink’s network unless storms knock out the internet at the ground stations.
However, the effect of storms on the Starlink network is minimal compared to how it affects competitors.
Starlink has thousands of ground stations throughout the world. In comparison, HughesNet has only a couple of ground stations. As a result, HughesNet suffers more due to storm outages.
Effects of Fog & Smoke
Xplornet, HughesNet, and other satellite internet get affected by fog. However, Starlink is immune to foggy situations. Starlink will not get disconnected due to fog, and its internet speed will not slow down.
Inclement Weather With Increased Usage
When inclement weather hits, people tend to stay at home. On a weekday, the peak usage time is 5 PM to 10 PM, but in stormy weather events, people stay home all day and use the internet.
Therefore, during these days, two things will happen.
- One, your Starlink internet will degrade due to weather.
- Two, more people will use the internet at home.
Thus, Starlink’s internet will get slower in bad weather because of heavy rain/snow and increased usage.
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Bad Weather at the Ground Stations Area
Ground stations beam internet to Starlink satellite. And at home, we connect to those satellites for the internet. The satellites work as an intermediary to radiate down the internet to and from the ground stations.
The simple analogy will be a WiFi router.
Typically the internet comes to our house through a cable to a modem. Then we connect our WiFi router to the modem. The WiFi router converts the wired internet to wireless internet. The router is a medium that helps to connect our devices wirelessly to the internet.
Similarly, the Starlink satellites receive internet wirelessly from the ground stations. Then it beams the internet to our Starlink dish. Our internet requests take the reverse path — from our antenna to the satellite to the ground stations.
Therefore, getting reliable internet depends on our area’s weather. The ground stations’ weather also affects internet quality.
SpaceX estimated that they need more than 40,000 active satellites in the Starlink constellation to provide a good and reliable global satellite internet. However, so far, SpaceX has added a couple of thousands of satellites.
Therefore, the number of satellites necessary to provide fast internet is nowhere near.
Moreover, all the satellites that SpaceX launched don’t have inter-laser connectivity.
This laser connection will allow one satellite to beam internet to another. Therefore, those satellites would still work even if some ground stations go down or have bad weather.
However, not all satellites that Spacex launched have laser intern-connectivity.
It’s also a new technology that no other company has ever used in space to transfer data between satellites. As this technology is at an early stage, those laser inter-connections still don’t work at their full potential.
Therefore, Starlink’s internet is heavily reliant on individual ground stations.
Lousy weather events such as heavy snow, rain, and storms will affect the ground stations’ internet and capabilities to beam internet to Starlink satellites.
Therefore, there’s a possibility that your area doesn’t experience any rain or snow storms, but these events could be taking place at the ground stations.
In that case, your Starlink internet will deteriorate, and you will experience slow internet and connectivity issues.