Sunday, January 24, 2010

Satellite TV installation

Out here in the sticks, we cannot get Comcast cable TV - not that I'm complaining too much. So we're left with either satellite TV, or erect your own big antenna. We chose satellite TV from the beginning, and our low-voltage contractor ran five (5) RG6 cables from the attic down to the wiring box in preparation for this. In addition, every TV drop in the house actually has two cables - one for live TV, and one for DVR recording.

A moderate concern of mine, was just how the satellite dish would be attached to the house. I didn't want some hamfisted oaf drilling screws into our brand-new siding, or roof! The installers will do the latter, by the way; after researching online, it turns out that most installers have great faith in a product called "bishop tape" to seal the holes in the shingles. Not sharing that faith, I kept looking for a better way. At some point during construction, I discovered the CommDeck dish mounting system. This seemed like a much more elegant (and leak-proof) way to mount the dish, as opposed to driving screws straight through the shingles.

Long story short, our satellite TV was installed yesterday. Fortunately the installer was a good guy and was more than willing to work with the CommDeck product (I had worked with Dan the previous week to get it installed on the roof, as a semi-punchlist item). So far the reception is awesome and the dish install was nice and clean:

We even have one of the hi-def packages, and for much less per month than what Comcast was costing us - sweet!

One last educational point: it turns out that how a satellite dish is grounded can be of great concern. Obviously you don't want static buildup or ground loops, of course. Based on my research, a strict interpretation of the electrical code shows that the dish must be directly grounded to a grounding rod or water pipe within 5' of electrical entrance. In other words, you're not supposed to just run the ground to the nearest light or receptacle. In the worst case, this might result in your installer wanting to run a ground wire through the siding to the outside, and then down to the the ground somewhere. Fortunately we had time during construction ask our electrician Joe to run a dedicated ground wire, tied off at the grounding rod then going all the way to the attic, and the installer had no problems with this. Something to keep in mind.

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