Does Starlink work in bad weather? This is one of the most common questions among those looking to subscribe to Starlink service.
No one would want to subscribe to an internet service that experiences outages more often due to poor weather.
If your internet service drops connections even at the signs of rain, it is no longer useful. So, how does Starlink do in bad weather? Read on and find out.
What is Starlink and How Does it Work?
To better understand whether Starlink can work in bad weather or not, let’s learn how this satellite service works.
Starlink is a satellite Internet constellation that aims to offer global Internet coverage.
The service’s main target is to offer reliable internet connection in rural and underserved areas where the traditional networks can’t access.
Starlink doesn’t use cable technology but rather radio signals to transmit data through a vacuum. It involves a fourth and back signal transmission.
The ground stations relay the signals to the satellites in the orbit. The satellites then transmit the signal back to the Earth for the users to access.
However, unlike many other satellite internet services, Starlink uses a low-earth orbit constellation to create a global broadband network.
The low earth orbit constellation ensures a reduced distance through which the radio wave travels.
This contributes to its lower latency and better speed compared to its competitors, such as Viasat and Hughesnet.
Does Weather Affect Satellite Internet?
Generally speaking, weather is the biggest enemy of satellite internet services. Satellite internet use microwave radio frequency connections, which beam a signal through a vacuum.
The radio frequency travels in a straight line and usually finds it hard to cut through water in the air. For that reason, a lot of moisture in the air affects satellite internet.
Many satellite internet users complain of having internet issues, including outages during bad weather, such as moderate to heavy rain, snowfalls, and sleet.
SpaceX Starlink internet service is not an exception. However, different satellite services can perform differently in bad weather.
How Does Stralink Perform in Bad Weather?
Starlink offers reliable speed and remains unaffected during light rain or light snow conditions.
However, heavy rain and snowfalls will interfere with the signal and reduce speed.
The extent of interference is much lower than its competitors, such as Hughesnet. The low earth orbit constellation is what makes the difference.
It reduces the distance between the ground station and the satellite, thereby reducing the amount of interference.
It is essential to note that the interruption by weather conditions is common in areas with low capacity. That said, here is how Starlink performs in different weather conditions.
Starlink During Rain
Based on my experience, light rain doesn’t interrupt Starlink’s internet in any way. Many users have also expressed the same sentiments on Reddit.
However, some users report outages that last only a few seconds to a few minutes during heavy rain.
The extent to which the rain will interrupt the connection depends on the intensity of the rain.
The heavier the rain, the more water molecules in the air and the more interference.
Fogs can cause interference similar to rainfall. However, what many users agree on is that Starlink outperforms its competitors even in bad weather.
Starlink in Snow
Snow also increases the amount of moisture in the air, and this can affect your Starlink internet connection.
However, you don’t have to worry about snow landing on your dish and covering the antenna. Starlink dishes can deal with this situation.
To begin with, the dish can operate at as low as -30 degrees centigrade. Besides, the dishes have built-in heating features that can melt the snow that lands on them.
An antenna from Starlink was placed on the floor
Starlink in High Temperature
Starlink dish is capable of withstanding up to 40-50 degrees Celsius without going into thermal shutdown.
The company’s support team confirms that their dish can go into a shutdown at a temperature from 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
The dish will automatically restart when the temperature drops to 104 degrees F.
Starlink in Wind
Wind should not affect your Starlink internet connection, and no user has ever complained about it. The company tests its dishes at a high speed winds. Remember, you can install these dishes on your van and use it on the go.
The only concern is that strong wind can blow objects and hit the dish. That is why you should avoid installing your dish around objects that can easily fall on it. You can also shield your dish as long as you don’t interfere with its field of view.
How Starlink Internet Service Deals with the Weather Issue
SpaceX is aware of weather interference on satellites. The company, therefore, works to ensure Starlink has reliable internet connections even in poor weather conditions. Here are some of the moves the company has taken to help reduce weather interference.
Starlink Dish Designed to Withstand Range of Weather Conditions
Starlink design their dishes and rigorously test them to handle a wide range of weather condition. The dish can withstand a temperature between -30 degrees C and 50 degrees C.
The company also equips its dishes with a heating function that can melt a portion of snow that lands on them. You can easily configure the snow melt feature using the Starlink app.
Introduction of Laser Communication
Starlink has begun reducing its reliance on ground stations by introducing its v1.5 satellite.
This new version uses laser communication instead of microwave radio frequencies.
Laser communication allows Starlink satellites to exchange data with each other rather than relaying it back to the ground station.
That way, it makes the signal move faster and avoid dependence on weather condition at the ground station.
More Satellite Constellation
Lastly, given that weather interruptions are more common in areas with low Starlink capacity, the company works to improve its capacity globally.
That is why SpaceX proposed up to 42,000 Starlink satellite constellations in the low earth orbit.
A view of Starlink satellites at night
The Final Thought
Like any other satellite internet service, weather can affect Starlink’s internet connection.
However, the extent of interruption is not as much as other services with their satellite placed at high altitudes.
The low earth orbit constellation of Starlink satellites reduces the distance and, therefore, interference.
Besides, it will only take extremely bad weather conditions to interfere with Starlink’s internet connections.