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Do Satellite Dishes Attract Lightning?

do satellite dishes attract lightning

Satellite dishes offer a wide array of channels for our viewing pleasure. But, as with everything, there are problems with owning and operating them while ensuring the utmost safety. This is especially true when it comes to lightning and thunderstorms.

But do satellite dishes attract lightning? Yes, the very much do when not grounded. While grounding won’t prevent a strike, it can lower the chances of it damaging the dish or other equipment within your home. Therefore, you should adopt an obsessive compulsive attitude toward the necessary precautions.

Unfortunately, many people believe that satellite dishes protect the home from lightning and this simply isn’t the case. What’s more, not even your surge protector will save you from the potential dangers presented by a lightning strike to a satellite dish.

Is Lightning Attractive to Satellite Dishes?

While it’s true that satellite dishes attract lightning, this won’t be every time there’s lightning outside. This will very much depend on the intensity of the lightning along with the satellite dish’s components. Most of the time, it’s likely to make a minor impact, only following the cable path without any visible damage.

Strong ; Powerful Lightning

However, stronger and larger bolts can destroy wires, heat up the dish, destroy the dish and cause fire. But, these are in rare and extreme cases. Having said all that, the major satellite dish companies are coming up with new models all the time with a focus on lightning protection and aversion.

Contact Your Satellite Dish Company

If lightning is a concern for you, you can call your satellite dish company to see if they have any upgrades. This is a good idea to do especially if you have an old satellite dish. Older dishes have the potential to be far more dangerous than newer ones.

How Do You Protect a Satellite Dish From Lightning?

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The best way to protect a satellite dish from lightning is by grounding it upon installation. There are two ways to accomplish this: you can install a ground wire or ground pole. It’s imperative you hire a professional or know what you’re doing with this to avoid any potential problems.

You can also check with your satellite dish company to see what their suggestions are for protecting their dish from lightning. At the time of the installation, they should inform you and provide documentation on the risks involved with this along with tips for protecting the satellite dish.

We recommend using 10 AWG copper ground wire like this one from Amazon. It is specifically manufactured for use on DirectTV and Dish HD satellites.

Surge Suppressors ; Lightning Arresters or Protectors

Also, there are things called lightning protectors or lightning arresters which are specific to coaxial cables. Some of these mount within the cable and others go onto the entrance/exit point of the receiver.

There’s also devices known as surge suppressors built specifically for protecting the entry point and cable lines for a satellite dish. Many are available on the market and most of these comprise rubber, which is what protects you from lightning strikes while driving in a car.

Are Satellite Dishes Electrical?

Satellite dishes, in and of themselves are not electrical. However, they use a DC electrical current to transmit frequency communication signals and comprise pure metal. The metal composition does conduct electricity and it’s what makes them so attractive to lightning.

When there’s lightning outside and your dish is active, the signals going back and forth along with the emission of electrical power provides the conditions for lightning to strike it.

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Should I Turn Off My TV During a Lightning Storm?

It wouldn’t be enough to turn your TV off during a lightning storm to protect your satellite dish. You would have to unplug the whole system for this to be effective. In some cases, you may very much want to do this. But, if you have a monster lightning bolt, even if your system is off, it can still strike in a major way.

However, you can do some other things to be able to keep watching TV during a lightning or thunderstorm. Just understand that nothing is solid and there is a certain risk with having an aerial installation like a satellite dish.

Earth Your Satellite Dish

You can “earth” your satellite dish, which means running a GI wire from any spot in the ground to any point on the satellite dish. This will often make it reliably safe. Also, get an adequate surge protector so, in the case the strike is much more intense than usual, your system will be able to handle it.

Nothing Is a Guarantee

However, regardless of all the safety measures you institute to guard against lightning strikes, understand that nothing is a guarantee. If a bolt or flash is powerful enough, it can break through all your measures. This can destroy wires, cables, outlets, the satellite dish itself and even your TV, among others.

In light of all this, many experts actually advise people to remove their satellite dishes due to the impending and potential doom that they can cause. However, this will depend on your area and how much lightning it receives every year.

Final Thoughts

Lightning can be a serious concern when it comes to satellite dishes. While these aren’t conductors of electricity, they are attractive to lightning due to the metals it comprises and the power running to and from it. This means you must ground the device upon installation. You can do this via a cable or pole.

However, unless you know what you’re doing, it’s advisable to hire a professional to install this. It will give more guarantees in the way of safety and protection. However, even when you do this, understand the satellite dish is not free and clear of lightning forever.

Such things heavily impinge on many variables, like the strength and size of the lightning strike along with the components of the satellite dish. In some cases, it can destroy the dish and cables completely. There are reports of people having their homes burned down because of it. So, it’s imperative you take all necessary precautions.

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