Can you convert a DISH Western Arc dish to DIRECTV?

We get it, you don’t want more holes in your house. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to convert a DISH satellite dish (Western Arc OR Eastern Arc) to work with DIRECTV. Why?

Most important: the technology

DISH’s satellite equipment may look like DIRECTV’s, but the resemblance is definitely only skin deep.  There are really only two key parts to a satellite dish, and in this case, DISH’s and DIRECTV’s are nothing like each other.

The LNB

The LNB is the front part of the dish and contains all the sensitive electronics. The one for DISH equipment is designed to receiver broadcasts in the Ku band only. That’s fine, because those are the frequencies DISH uses. DIRECTV dishes receive on the Ku band and the Ka band, because DIRECTV uses both. But even if you were trying to convert a DIRECTV dish to DISH, you still couldn’t do it. The devil’s in the details: the two services use different frequencies, too.

The reflector

The reflector is the “dishy” part of the dish. It’s the part that most people recognize. Its sole purpose is to focus signals on the LNB’s delicate equipment. While DIRECTV’s and DISH’s look similar, they’re not. DISH’s equipment is is designed to get signals from three locations 19 degrees apart in the sky. DIRECTV’s reflector focuses signals on five locations, 18 degrees apart. That means that although it’s hard to see from the naked eye, the two reflectors are different. Not very different, just different enough that all the signals that come in would totally miss the LNB.

The mast

DISH uses 1.66″ outer diameter masts while DIRECTV uses 2″ outer diameter masts. In the past, we used to sell an adapter for this very purpose but it didn’t sell well. There’s a reason DIRECTV uses a thicker mast — their dishes are HEAVY. If you choose to use your existing mast you’ll want to use the monopole braces to steady it, or use a stub mount which puts the reflector assembly closer to the roof.  Either way there’s a good chance you’ll end up drilling more holes.

Should you try to franken-dish?

Before you go suspecting that you can use the DISH reflector and graft on a DIRECTV LNB, let’s say that it’s not impossible, but without some sophisticated measuring equipment you’re not likely to be able to do it right. The distances and positions are critical and it’s not going to be something you just hit by accident.

If you are leaving DISH and going to DIRECTV (or the other way around) you’re much better taking the opportunity to patch the roof and move the dish to an eave or consider one of the many non-penetrating mounts we have available at Solid Signal.

Or, if you’re looking for great advice, leave a comment below, visit our Facebook Group,  or call our 100% US-based call center in Novi Michigan during East Coast business hours. The number is 877-312-4547. You’ll get all the free support you need, and if you’re considering DIRECTV satellite TV, our reps can even help you find discounts you never knew existed!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.