Satellite TV for Your Boat

Watch all your favorite shows and sports while afloat.

Installing Satellite TV on Your Boat

The Intellian satellite TV antenna dome must be mounted about the radar antenna, as it is in this installation on a Monterey 340SY. A riser from Seaview (seaviewglobal.com) allows you to elevate the sat TV antenna.Patsy's Bay Marina, Stony Point, New York

Installing Satellite TV on Your Boat

Flat-panel televisions are perfect for boat installations, shown here in the main cabin of a Monterey 340SY. These TVs are compact, light and energy efficient.Patsy's Bay Marina, Stony Point, New York

Installing Satellite TV on Your Boat

The antenna control unit -- the black box shown here on a Monterey 340SY -- allows you to adjust the satellite TV antenna for optimum reception.Patsy's Bay Marina, Stony Point, New York

No longer is satellite television reserved for yachts. Thanks to compact, rugged and sophisticated marine satellite TV antennas from companies such as Intellian (intelliantech.com) and KVH/TracVision (kvh.com), boats as small as 20 feet in length can access HDTV channels from the likes of DirecTV and Dish Network while under way or at rest, provided they have 110-volt AC power.

For this project aboard a Monterey 320SY cruiser, we chose the Intellian i3 satellite TV system ($2,799.99). The dome measures 167/8 inches wide by 75/16 inches high and weighs about 20 pounds. For smaller boats, consider the Intellian i2 ($2,199.99) or TracVision M1 ($2,289.99) — both are lighter and more compact than the i3. However, satellite TV signals are aimed at land, so the smaller the antenna, the less likely it will pick up a signal when venturing offshore. Bigger is better for blue-water boaters.

1. Antenna Mounting
Choose an elevated and level location clear of obstructions. Mount the dome above any radar antennas. This may require a special riser from a company such as Seaview (seaviewglobal.com). Otherwise, use the template to drill the mounting holes and cut the central hole in the proper places. Bolt the antenna in position, sealing the holes to prevent water intrusion.

2. Antenna Cable
Securely connect the supplied 49-foot-long RF (coax) cable to the RF-1 port on the bottom of the antenna and run it down into the cabin where you plan to position the antenna control unit (ACU). A second RF cable is needed if you want multiple onboard sat TV receivers. In anticipation of adding a receiver later, it's a good idea to run both cables now in order to make just one pull.

3. Antenna Control Unit
Intellian includes a bracket to secure the ACU. Once mounted, plug in the supplied power cord to the back of the ACU and connect the other end to a 12- to 24-volt DC source. Then connect the RF cable to the ANT RF-1 port on the back of the ACU. Plug a another RF cable into the receiver port, and run it back to the HDTV receiver. With some service providers, a second RF cable is needed for HDTV.

4. TV Receiver
Intellian can supply receivers, or you can get them from your satellite television company as part of your subscription. Secure the receiver with a Thumb Lock TV Grips MRV-100 kit ($10.33, amazon.com). Plug in the AC power cord to an onboard 110-volt AC source, and connect the RF cable from the ACU. Finally, plug in an HDMI cable, and run it to the TV mounting position.

5. Flat-Panel TV
Flat-panel TVs are thin, light and energy-efficient. When replacing a tube-screen TV, you may pick up an extra cabinet or shelf. Most cruisers can accommodate a 19-inch or 21-inch flat panel, secured to a bulkhead with a bracket such as the Rocketfish ($39.99, bestbuy.com). Connect the power cord to a 110-volt AC source, and plug in the HDMI cable from the receiver.

6. TV on a Chart Plotter
You can also view satellite TV on a multifunction display on the bridge. Run a video RCA cable from the "video out" on the receiver to the "video in" on the MFD. For audio, connect a stereo RCA cable from the "audio out" port on the receiver to the "aux input" port on your boat's stereo. Having TV at the helm is fun for game days spent on the hook or at the dock.

Quick Tip
If you already have satellite TV in your home, you can add a receiver to your service and use it, as well as your home subscription, on your boat. This can be as little as $7 per month extra.