UPDATED Which dish do you need for tailgating?

Updated for 2019 and beyond!

DIRECTV’s Slimline-5 dish has been its bread and butter for over a decade. It receivers broadcasts from DIRECTV’s four current primary satellite locations. (The fifth location, 110 degrees, is no longer used for US operations.) It would seem to be a no-brainer, but before you go out and get that dish instead of the less expensive Slimline-3, here are some things to consider.

First, look at what you have at the house.

The best thing to do when tailgating is to use the exact same dish you use at the house. This makes setup a breeze and lets you use a receiver from home confidently. (Remember though, if you take that receiver from home, DIRECTV’s rules specify that no one at home should be using any other receiver while you’re at that second location.) If you have a Slimline-3 at the house, it makes no sense to use a Slimline-5 while tailgating.

Ask yourself, are you leaving the local area?

The only HD channels that require the Slimline-5 dish are the ones used for local channels, and if you’re traveling to another city, you won’t get your local channels or theirs unless you live in New York or Los Angeles. So a Slimline-5 really doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’re going to another city.

Why are New York and Los Angeles special?

Those channels are carried nationally for the benefit of the roughly 3% of subscribers who still can’t get their local channels from the satellite.

What sort of meter are you using to aim?

While it’s harder to aim a Slimline-5 dish than a Slimline-3 dish, most satellite meters won’t aim the SWM-equipped Slimline-3 dish completely; if you’re using an inexpensive meter and a SWM dish, you’ll need the Slimline-5. I personally recommend the AIM meter which is the only meter which will work with all DIRECTV dishes. I get that it’s expensive. But it really is an awesome tool which will save you a lot of time with every single installation.

Do you need the reverse band?

This is a very important question. If you have 4K DIRECTV service at home or your install is less than two years old, you probably have the reverse band dish. This lets you get all of the channels available on DIRECTV, even the international ones, by pointing at three satellites.

Using the reverse band dish makes sense in tailgating if you are using a reverse band dish at home. If you aren’t sure which dish you have, Press MENU and then scroll to Settings, and Satellite Setup. The dish type will be shown as “RB LNB” or something similar if you have a reverse band dish.

Can you still even get the older dishes?

Our supplies of non-reverse-band dishes are dwindling, but as I write this you can still get them.

Do you need the Slimline-5 or just the Slimline-3?

As long as you have an HD receiver, you no longer need the Slimline-5 dish. All HD content has moved off the satellite at DIRECTV’s 119 location, meaning that you can use the Slimline-3 which is generally easier to aim.

When all is said and done, choosing the right dish takes a little bit more information. If you have a question, click on the words GET SUPPORT HERE at the top of this page. This will take you to our Facebook group. Post your questions, and one of our fine folks will answer them!

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 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.