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Thursday, September 24, 2020
 Solid Signal  How to Choose a Satellite LNB for DIRECTV or Dish Network

How to Choose a Satellite LNB for DIRECTV or Dish Network

Satellite television is a miracle of modern technology, delivering clear, crisp picture and sound from satellites thousands of miles away, captured by a relatively small dish. The electronics that make this possible are designed to be weatherproof to withstand the test of time, although they do sometimes need replacing. Other times, you may want to upgrade your dish’s capabilities, and occasionally that can be done without replacing the entire dish. All you need to do is replace the LNB.


DIRECTV Slimline-3 LNB available at Solid Signal

How Does a Satellite LNB Work?

What is a Satellite Dish?

Most of a satellite dish is just plain metal. The only part that contains any electronic components at all is in the front of the metal arm. It’s generally referred to as an LNB, which stands for low-noise block downconverter. (Depending on your satellite TV system, it can also perform other tasks, too.)

An LNB has two important functions: it’s a low-noise amplifier, meaning that it takes the extremely weak satellite signal and amplifies it. It’s also a block downconverter, meaning it takes the signals on the super-high satellite frequencies and converts them to lower frequencies. Both functions are important in order to deliver a satellite signal through a regular cable.

Satellite signals are very weak by the time they travel over 22,000 miles to your dish. The big, round, “dish” part of your dish acts as a lens, focusing as much signal as possible onto the LNB. The LNB amplifies that signal and sends it down the cable. There are other functions, too, but they’re not as important as receiving the signal.

How to Choose the Right Satellite Dish LNB

If you research LNBs, you will find all sorts of choices for polarization, number of feed horns, number of outputs, and frequency range. As a general rule, you can’t use an LNB unless it’s designed for the dish you have. If you use the wrong LNB, the dish will focus the signals in the wrong place and you’ll get no reception. DIRECTV and DISH have specific LNBs that are designed to pull in signals from their specific fleets of satellites. There is no such thing as a “universal” HD LNB.

A visual guide to satellite dish types

LNBs for DIRECTV dishes

LNBs for Dish Network dishes

What does SWM mean?

SWM is a technology used by DIRECTV to put more than one signal on a single wire. DISH doesn’t have anything similar. SWM technology can be built into an LNB so that one wire can feed your whole home. LNBs with SWM technology built in have only one output, while LNBs without SWM technology have either two or four outputs. Here’s our guide to SWM Technology.


Guide to DIRECTV SWM Technology for DIY Amateurs and Pros

DIRECTV LNB Replacement and Upgrade Options

In general you cannot upgrade a satellite dish without completely replacing it. However, DIRECTV’s Slimline dishes for HD equipment come in several “flavors” and you can upgrade the LNB to give you more features.

Slimline-3 LNBs can look at three satellite locations, while Slimline-5 LNBs can look at five satellite locations. The extra satellite locations are needed for some areas served by DIRECTV’s 119 satellite. DIRECTV commercial accounts also use Slimline-5 LNBs because they provide additional channels.

DIRECTV offers LNBs with built-in SWM technology to make installations easier. The SWM-enabled versions of the Slimline-3 and Slimline-5 LNBs look identical to the standard versions but they only have one output while the standard versions have four.

List of Areas That Require the Slimline-5 LNB

DISH LNB Replacement and Upgrade Options

DISH offers the 1000.2 and 1000.4 dish with optional Eastern Arc and Western Arc LNBs, depending on your location. Some local channels are only carried on satellites in DISH’s west coast fleet, while others are only carried on satellites in DISH’s east coast fleet. The 1000.4 satellite is slightly larger and offers slightly better performance, especially for the Western Arc satellites. In general, use the LNB for your part of the country. If you are tailgating, most of the country is served by the Western Arc satellites, so there should be no need to change.

More questions? Visit our forums for dozens of tutorials and answers to your questions!

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