RVs, DIRECTV, and Local TV Channels

Satellite TV alone doesn’t always deliver local TV programming. I learned this lesson the hard way!

Many years ago, I needed to be in two places at once. The annual Catfish Jamboree was happening on one side of the state. Meanwhile, my then-girlfriend’s little brother was going to be featured on a local TV news program. I wanted my girlfriend to come fishing with me, but she wanted to stay home to watch her brother on TV. My brilliant solution was to rent an RV with satellite TV.

If You Have DIRECTV for Your RV…

…You probably know where this is going. I was catching fish left and right on the day of the Catfish Jamboree. My hot streak ended when my girlfriend tore out of the RV wearing a tear-stained face. She was unable to find the local news program that featured her brother and his scholastic achievements. I stormed inside the RV and snatched the remote control. After 10 minutes of furious guide surfing, I couldn’t find the channel either.

“Take me home!” she said.

On the road, we streamed a lovely radio program. It was called “Jacob Phineas Buckler’s Many Shortcomings, Faults, and Character Defects.” It was hosted by my girlfriend and her family, who phoned into the show. The next morning, I head straight for Duke’s Camperland and RV World fame. My intention was to tear into Duke about his RV’s satellite TV service. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

Duke said, “The minute you drove out of town, you wouldn’t be able to get your local channels.”

Gee, thanks a lot, Duke.

The Truth About Local TV and RVs

There’s a lot to learn from my little misadventure. First and foremost, this IS NOT DIRECTV’s fault. The service is an excellent addition to any RV, motorhome, or camper. When it comes to watching local TV shows, though, there are a few things you need to know before you hit the road:

1. Local Truly Means Local

If you’re a Michigan RV owner traveling to Colorado, you’ll be watching Colorado TV channels when you get there. You’ll only get YOUR local channels if your RV stays within those stations’ broadcasting range. It’s pretty simple when you think about it.

2. You Won’t Get ALL Your Local Channels

DIRECTV typically gives you three to five local stations on average. And you don’t get to choose those stations; you get what you get. This can be limiting for RV owners who are dead set on having all their local stations.

3. You Can’t Watch TV While You’re Driving

It’s difficult for your mobile satellite dish to stay locked on to the signal while you’re moving. And you shouldn’t be watching TV while you’re driving anyway. That’s dangerous!

The Best Way to Watch Local TV in Your RV

You need to attach a TV antenna and other equipment to your motorhome. It’s really that simple. A TV antenna will receive most or all of the local TV channels wherever you are. Some of the same rules apply as they do with satellite dishes:

  1. You’ll get the local stations of the area you’re in.
  2. You might not get ALL the stations because of transmission range and other factors. (You’ll still get more than DIRECTV alone delivers.)
  3. You can’t watch TV while you’re driving. Seriously, it’s dangerous.

The best news is that TV antennas can run alongside your DIRECTV system. This gives you the best of both worlds whether you’re traveling or “driveway camping.”

Want a TV Antenna for Your RV?

Solid Signal recommends the Winegard Sensar III. It features a built-in amplifier and other technology that delivers clear VHF and UHF reception. Just getting this antenna won’t solve all your problems, though. You’ll have to know how to install it so it runs alongside your DIRECTV system. If you need more information, drop a question on the Support from Solid Signal Facebook page. Our master technician will give you the best installation advice and more. And if you want DIRECTV in your RV, call 888-233-5834, or fill out the form below and send it our way!

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.