When I was about to get my Starlink dish, I was concerned about the several tall trees all around my house that were likely to obstruct the field of view of the dish.
I did some thorough research on solving this problem and was able to get Starlink to work well.
If you're like me, this article will tell you everything you need to know.
Starlink can work in wooded areas if the dish is mounted higher than the trees. If mounting it higher is not an option, mount the dish far away from the trees and use the long cable to connect the dish to the router in your house.
Will Starlink work in Wooded Areas (Trees)?
Like any satellite internet, Starlink dish needs a clear field of view to work well.
You can even travel with your Starlink, as long as you have clear skies and a dedicated plan for it.
What this means is that trees near the dish are bad for Starlink.
And it's not just trees, if you have tall obstructions like a tower next to your house, that can affect the reliability of the internet you get with Starlink and may induce several issues like Starlink getting stuck on 'searching'.
However, trees are worse, since they have water content in them. The radio waves that Starlink uses to communicate is bad at penetrating through water.
For this reason, Starlink warns potential customers to check if they have a clear field of view for the dish before buying Starlink.
Thankfully, Starlink has a 30-day return window to test the dish at your desired location and return if it doesn't work.
What Field of View does Starlink need?
How clear should your dish's surroundings be?
Is even a few trees a problem?
Yes, unfortunately even a few trees can be a problem with Starlink. Especially if those trees are on the north or northeast of where you want to place the dish.
To determine the exact level of obstruction you'll need to test for obstructions using the Starlink app that you've to install on your phone.
Obstructions get mapped as red dots on the Starlink obstruction app.
Starlink users who see even a few red dots in their map notice connection issues or drops often.
Even with a few minor red dots (obstruction), users have reported a few seconds of drop every 10 minutes.
Overall, you need a clear field of view all around the dish to get the full potential out of your Starlink connection.
How to Check for Obstructions with Starlink App
Here's how to check for obstructions with the app.
- If you're new to the app and opening it for the first time, select Check for Obstructions. Else, select the same option from the Home screen.
- Go through the instruction, then select I'm Ready.
- Once your device's camera opens up, point it to the sky and sweep through the different angles as pointed out by the app.
- Green dots indicate areas scanned while the arrow points to the general direction towards which you should pan the cam.
- Click on View Results and wait for the same.
- Note that you need to wait for up to 12 hours for the visibility map to be completely populated.
How to Make Starlink Work around Trees
These are three broad approaches to a solution if you live in a wooded area:
- Get the dish higher than the trees.
- Get the dish far away from the trees and run a long cable to your house.
- Clear the trees.
Clearing the trees isn't an option for most people which means it's either getting higher or getting farther.
When you're testing the dish at different locations make sure to give Starlink at least 12 hours at each location to build a full visibility (obstruction) map.
Place the Starlink Dish Higher than the Trees
If the trees near your house aren't very tall, this would just mean placing the dish on your roof.
To go a bit higher than that, you can use a tripod mount that you can fix on your roof.
A tripod mount like Skywalker can give an extra 5ft height.
If you have a chimney in your house, you can use a strap mount to fix the dish on it.
Sometimes even that's not enough when the trees around you are really tall.
In that case, to get the dish higher you'll need to invest in a tower like the Rohn 40ft tower.
This is an expensive option but will definitely solve any obstruction problem you face.
You need a heavy concrete foundation under this tower, plus lightning protection.
The total cost for everything including the tower can be almost $2,500-$4,000.
You can also mount other satellite-based instruments such as a weather station, tv antenna, and cell antenna on the same tower.
Before deciding on the height of the tower, make sure you know the height restriction laws of your county.
Another budget solution a lot of Starlink users go for is to mount the dish on top of the tallest tree after topping it.
Note that you'll need to ground the dish to protect your house from lightning if you go for this option.
The wind is a concern users have when planning to mount on a tree.
Starlink works well for up to 3 ft of horizontal sway which is within the sway of most large trees.
Getting access to the dish later is a problem if you mount it on a tree.
The Starlink cable that goes into the dish can get loose sometimes, and you'll need to access the dish and tighten the connection then.
There are people who also mount it on things like wind towers which have larger sways than that.
The connection will likely drop for a few seconds when there's heavy wind in such a case.
Another option would be to look for old radio towers near your house.
Place the Starlink Dish Away from the Trees
If you can't get the dish higher, you can get the dish away from the trees.
The farther the dish from the trees, the lower it can be.
How far should the dish be placed from the trees?
A good rule of thumb is to place the dish at a distance equal to 2.5 times the height difference between the tree and the dish.
Distance =((Height of the tree) - (height of the dish)) x 2.5.
If the tallest trees are 80 ft. tall and you can place the dish at a 40 ft. height, you should place the dish 100 ft. away from the tree.
Note that the cable that ships with Starlink by default is 75 ft. long.
You'll need to buy extra cable from Starlink for longer runs.
Connect the extra cable with the included cable using a waterproof RJ45 connector.
Users have successfully run 200 ft. of cable from the dish to the router without any connection issues.
The risk with long cables is dogs or animals chewing on the cable. There's also the risk of lawnmowers accidentally snipping the Starlink cable.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Does Starlink work in all weather?
Starlink works well in all weather except when there are heavy rains. Heavy rains can cause connection drops and around 20-30% drop in speeds. Starlink is usually unaffected by snow, window, hails, etc.
What are the disadvantages of Starlink?
Starlink's disadvantages include slow speeds during peak hours, poor customer support, high latency, rain-related issues, price, and a long waiting list.
Despite these disadvantages, Starlink outperforms most other satellite internet options in the USA.
Can you get Starlink in rural areas?
Starlink is available in most rural areas in the USA. In some southern and midwest states, Starlink residential has a long waiting with more than 1 year waiting time. But even in those areas, Starlink will work if you have the hardware.