Satellite internet of any kind is influenced by weather conditions. But if your internet drops at the sign of a sprinkle it ceases to be useful.
How does Starlink perform during bad weather?
Starlink is unaffected by light rains or light snow. However, during heavy storms or heavy snowfalls, Starlink can drop out for a few minutes and have 30-40% slower speeds than usual. Weather issues are most problematic for Starlink users in low-capacity areas.
We ran a poll among Starlink users in our private Facebook group asking them how bad weather (rain, snow, sleet) affected their internet connection.
Of the 303 Starlink users who responded, around 31% (94 users) reported that they had issues/outages during moderate to heavy rains.
Among the 94 users who reported issues, 81 operated their Starlink from low-capacity areas.
Low-capacity areas are the ones marked in the Starlink Coverage Map.
While Starlink doesn't explicitly say anything, the data points to a correlation between where you live and how bad weather affects your Starlink connection.
The low-capacity areas are the ones inside the red outline mostly composed of Southern and Midwest states.
These are also the areas where Starlink has a waitlist.
Starlink's weather-related issues also seem to be much more prevalent in the USA compared to other countries like Canada, the UK, and Australia which have a much lower density of users.
Quick Summary of how Starlink performs in different weather conditions.
|Weather Condition||How Starlink Performs on Average|
|Rain||Heavy Rain Can Cause Brief Outages and Lower Speeds.|
|Snow||Heavy Wet Snow can cause issues. Dry fluffy snow is not a concern.|
|Fog||No effect on Starlink|
|Wind||No effect on Starlink. The dish needs to be secured though.|
|Temperature||No effect on Starlink. The dish is rated for an extreme range of temperatures.|
Most of Starlink's weather-related issues are directly related to how much moisture is in the air.
The radio frequency waves simply find it difficult to reach a satellite cutting through the water in the air.
Rain: Effect on Starlink
For most Starlink users, mild rains do not affect the performance of their Starlink.
During storms and heavy rains, users report outages that last a few minutes and at slower speeds.
|Reliability||Outages that last a few seconds or a few minutes are typical during heavy rains.|
|Speeds||30-40% lower speeds during heavy rains|
|Ping/Latency||Ping spikes are common during heavy rains combined with high packet loss.|
As expected, outages during bad weather are more common in low-capacity areas.
Here's an outage report during a particularly strong storm. This is not typical, however.
Ping spikes make gaming on Starlink difficult during moderate to heavy rains.
All these issues are as expected for any satellite service.
In fact, Starlink far outperforms other satellite services like Hughesnet and Viasat in terms of reliability during rains.
The most important factor that determines the effect of rain (called "rain fade") is the density/heaviness of the rain rather than how long it rains.
Starlink's internet gets weakened due to signals not reaching the satellites above the cell.
Heavy rains cause signals to be attenuated and Starlink typically shows the error- "searching for signal" during these episodes of outages.
Starlink internet can be affected even when the rains are not local.
There just needs to be an obstruction between your dish and the satellite. This can happen even if the rain occurs away from your area.
Performance during rains is unrelated to the shape of your dish.
Round and Square dishes perform equally during bad weather.
Some people mistake the effect of weather on Starlink as throttling done by Starlink or as Starlink having a data cap. But the truth is that Starlink does not have a data cap.
The effect of weather is also felt more by Starlink RV and Starlink portability users as they get deprioritized during periods of congestion.
However, getting Starlink RV is a great way to skip the long waiting list of Starlink.
Snow: Effect on Starlink
The effect of snow on Starlink is dependent on the type of snowfall that's occurring.
Fluffy, drier snow barely affects Starlink while wet, heavy snow causes outages and slower speeds similar to rains.
Clearly, the moisture in the snow is the deciding factor in whether the snowstorm will affect Starlink's performance.
When there's less moisture in the snow, even multiple feet of snow do not affect Starlink.
Make sure to turn on the snowmelt/heating feature if you live in an area that snows.
While turning off this feature can save some power, if it snows heavily, you could lose your connectivity.
Turning on the snowmelt is possible only through the app with internet, so you could be out of internet until the snowstorm clears.
Clean your dish of snow deposits and debris for it to work most efficiently.
Wind: Effect on Starlink
The effect of wind as such on the speed and reliability of Starlink internet is minimal to none.
You should be more worried about wind-assisted hail and storms on your Starlink connectivity than pure winds.
Wind becomes a concern when there are very heavy winds (upwards of 75 mph) or hurricanes as it can damage your dish.
Starlink has tested the dishes up to a wind speed of 75 mph but gives no guarantees on whether it will hold at those speeds.
This is to be expected as there are a lot of variables that determine the effect of wind on your dish apart from the wind speed.
Here's what Starlink says-
The Starlink dish is tested for winds up to 75mph, but because specific conditions can vary greatly, SpaceX does not guarantee the Starlink dish even if properly mounted in winds of that speed. SpaceX recommends that if you fear damage to your roof, property, or Starlink dish, remove the dish before, then re-install the dish after the weather event.
If you're expecting a hurricane, the wise thing would be to remove your dish and put it back on after the event.
Wind can also affect your Starlink's performance if it's not mounted right.
If the mounting is loose, the dish can sway in the wind causing possible reception issues.
However, Starlink's tolerance to sway is reasonably high as reported by users who've mounted their Starlink on tall trees with a sway as high as 3 feet.
In any case, choosing the right mounting accessories for your Starlink is a must.
Clouds: Effect on Starlink
Starlink is almost always unaffected by Clouds in the sky.
The only situation when Starlink's speed can go down due to clouds is when there are heavy dark or white clouds in the sky.
Heavy clouds have a lot of moisture in them which makes it difficult for the radio waves from the dish to reach the satellite.
Even then the effect is minimal compared to rainstorms.
Fog: Effect on Starlink
Fog or even heavy fog does almost nothing to Starlink.
The most important factor that affects Starlink's performance is moisture in the air. If the fog is very wet, it can mildly affect the speed.
Lightning Issues for Starlink
Lightning can be an issue for Starlink if your dish is at the highest point in the nearby area.
Several users of Starlink have reported their dishes being fried or their adapter and router being burnt by lightning strikes.
If your Starlink is mounted at the top of your roof atop a pole or if you have your Starlink mounted on a 40-foot tower, you need to take precautions.
A direct lightning strike to your dish will certainly damage it beyond repair no matter what you do.
But taking precautionary measures can prevent fires and related accidents due to lightning.
The best way to protect from lightning would be to run a ground wire (lightning arrestor) from your dish to guide the electric charge from the lightning safely into the ground.
Get professional help from an electrician to do this correctly. This is not something you want to take lightly.
To protect your device from the inside, you should also install a surge protector in your house. While it cannot fully mitigate the effect of lightning, it does help.
Starlink also recommends unplugging your dish when you plan to not use it for a prolonged period.
Some states in the USA, such as Florida are especially prone to lightning strikes due to its geography.
Temperature Range of Starlink
According to SpaceX engineers, Starlink is tested to work between temperatures -22F (-30°C) to 104F (40°C).
However, Starlink works well beyond these temperatures.
Several users have tested Starlink even up to -50F and Starlink was perfectly fine.
About the upper-temperature range, a few users have reported "thermal shutdown" issues past 120F.
These were noticed in extremely hot regions in states like Arizona.
However, the issue was due to the dish being installed too close to the mounting surface (such as the roof) or ground which was essentially cooking the dish with heat.
Setting the dish a few feet above the roof appeared to solve this issue.
In conclusion, it's safe to say that Starlink should work irrespective of the temperature of your area.
How to Minimize Effect of Weather on Starlink
There's very little you can do in case of bad weather. However, there are some basic things you should get checked off.
Make sure your Dish is pointing North
Sometimes during heavy rains, Starlink dishes can get misoriented and point in other directions.
What you need to do here is stow it, power cycle it, and then unstow it to make it point in the right direction (North).
Clean snow and debris on the dish
During heavy snowstorms, the dish can get physically covered in ice and debris. Clean the dish for it to work efficiently.
Keeping the snowmelt feature turned is a must if you live in such an area.
Make sure your Dish is obstruction-free
This should be done irrespective of weather conditions, but bad weather can worsen the performance of an already obstructed dish.
In some cases if you live in a heavily wooded area, getting your Starlink atop a tall tree or a tall tower is the only solution for it to work well.
Backup Options during Bad weather for Starlink
If you face outages every time it drizzles outside, you should think of having a backup for the internet.
This isn't common at all, but sometimes you can get unlucky. What do you do then?
For those living in areas with cell service, 4G LTE or 5G home internet are the best backup options.
wireless internet signals just need to get to the nearest cell tower and do not need to travel hundreds of miles like Starlink signals.
More distance means more chance of obstruction during bad weather conditions.
LTE with a good plan from a provider like AT&T or Verizon can be a good failover system for Starlink.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is there a Heater in the Starlink Dish?
The Starlink dish has a heater built into it which Starlink calls "snowmelt configuration". The heater is good for melting any snow that gets deposited on the dish. This can be turned on or off using the Starlink app.
How cold can Starlink get?
Starlink can work in extremely cold temperatures and still won't show any issues. Starlink users have tested the dish in temperatures as low as -50F and it worked without any issues.