Satellite television has brought many benefits: to the viewer and the retailer, to broadcasters and equipment manufacturers. However at the same time it’s given rise to millions of ugly and disfiguring wall-mounted dishes, many very rusty, and most screwed up, with more regard to saving time, money and cable than to aesthetics – some of those £80 jobs can almost knock your hat off as you go out of the front door. The prominence and state of the dish seems to be inversely proportional to the value of the dwelling it’s bolted to, and many people go without satellite TV to avoid the need for an unsightly dish.
Placing and painting
It doesn’t have to be so. Because dish mounts provide a 180° setting range there is always a choice of two walls on any house which affords them in easterly and southerly directions, so long as there are no obstructions to line of sight. Nor are long cable runs a problem: a line amplifier is only called for where they exceed about 35m. Even a terraced house facing south or east can be fitted with a pole-mounted dish on the back wall, and it doesn’t have to be far above the gutter-line to look over the ridge of the roof, especially in the south of England.
There are many alternatives. Dishes can be mounted down to ground level (patio, garden wall) so long as there is line of sight and little foot, or wheeled-traffic in front of them. Wherever they go they must be connected to the receiver, and the wrong colour cable stands out against a wall; you can get satellite cable in black, brown and white. Sometimes a less visible wiring route can be taken at the cost of a little more cable.
Whether or not the dish is mounted in an unobtrusive position it can be made to blend into the background by painting it. Conventional wisdom is that a matt paint should be used for this to prevent the risk of focusing the sun’s rays on the LNB, but this hazard is only present for a short time around the spring and autumn equinoxes, and at those times of year it is unlikely to be strong enough to do any harm – at least that has been my experience with glossy dishes in the UK, though I wouldn’t make them shiny in Spain! Certainly gloss finishes wear better and stay cleaner than matt ones on a metal surface. Car paints are very good for this purpose, and at Halfords you can get a wide range of colours in aerosols, some of them matt. Alternatively, DIY stores offer external matt brick-red tile paint, or you can use the original house paint, Snowcem or whatever.
Of course, a site survey is essential with this type of installation, after which there must be a clear understanding with the customer regarding siting, cable run, colouring and especially the total cost which will generally be much more than the going rate for botch-and-run jobs done on a fixed-price basis.
Exotica to buy
There are many disguised dishes available to buy from specialist suppliers. You can get flat-plate satellite aerials, transparent ones, dishes in various colours and images (eg brick pattern), ones that look like lighting globes etc. Suppliers of these can be found at for example www.brymar.co.uk and www.multisystems.co.uk
A new twist on this theme is available at www.sqish.co.uk/sqishoflage.php (01892 548468). You send them a photo of the wall on which the dish will go and they make an adhesive overlay for the antenna which is a perfect match. It’s a bit like vinyl vehicle signs.
It has to be said, though, that all these specialist devices and ready-finished products are much more expensive than a basic dish and a can of paint.
This whole concept of neat dishes is lost on many people, but others are very fussy indeed about the appearance of their houses, and are ready and willing to spend three, four times or more the price of a basic installation to get a neat, tidy and unobtrusive job. This business is well worth looking into.