Does Starlink work in the rain? And in extreme heat? Answering Common Questions

Global satellite internet created by Elon Musk promises lower latency and faster than traditional connections

Starlinkrecentlyarrived in Brazil as a proposal for fast internet without the need for local infrastructure. Already in operation in the United States and 31 other countries, the global satellite internet created by Elon Musk is costing, recently, $ 99/month here in the country. In addition to the subscription to the internet plan, the user needs to buy the equipment, with a single cost of $ 557 – values ​​without taxes and other possible charges.

Even with the popularity of the Starlink internet around the world, users still have doubts about how it works. In this article “Starlink: What you need to know about Elon Musk’s satellite internet“, we explain everything about the company’s low-orbiting antennas and satellites, as well as bringing information about the global coverage mesh created bySpaceXand how it is the internet signal in Brazilian territory.

Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the installation and operation of Starlink.

Does Starlink work between trees?

Starlink needs a “clear view of the sky” so it can stay connected with satellites as they move in low Earth orbit. Tree branches, masts or a roof, for example, will cause service interruptions.

However, the company says many Starlink users live in areas with lots of trees. As trees can cause signal obstructions, it is recommended to install the antenna at higher locations, so that the height compensates for the environment and improves the chances of clearing nearby obstructions. That is: it can work as long as the antenna has no obstructions above its signal angle.

How to know the best place to install the antenna?

Starlink’s own application can map the sky, calculate the possible signal and show the most suitable place. In the app, the option “Check for obstructions” or “Visibility” shows the signal points in the sky through the user’s smartphone camera. To calculate the quality of the antenna connection to the satellites, the cell phone must be positioned as close as possible to the height and height of the Starlink antenna.

Can extreme temperatures affect the signal?

According to the company, Starlink is designed and tested to handle a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions, including snow, sleet, heavy rain and extreme heat. Despite its toughness, Starlink was not designed to deal with hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. The product’s website also jokes that the antenna cannot withstand “meteors, dinosaurs, or other extreme forces of nature”.

In terms of temperature, Starlink promises to operate in outdoor environments between -30ºC to 50ºC , or between -22ºF to 122ºF. The router and power supply are also rated to operate indoors between 0ºC and 30ºC or 32ºF to 86ºF.

The antenna is built to withstand extreme outdoor temperatures
The antenna is built to withstand extreme outdoor temperatures

Even with that rating, the company says it is possible for the connection to have “slightly reduced performance” in extreme temperatures.

Can rain and lightning damage the product?

The antenna is designed to operate in wet conditions as it is hydrophobic and has a low affinity for water. In case of rain or strong wind, the connection may be affected. The company recommends that the user does not put additional protective covers on Starlink, as this interferes with the signal’s performance, including its ability to melt snow.

Despite being water resistant, rain can interfere with the signal quality
Despite being water resistant, rain can interfere with the signal quality

In terms of lightning, Starlink meets the grounding requirements of the US National Electrical Code (NEC). Even so, an external lightning protection system (lightning rod, ground rod, surge protector, etc.) is recommended in areas susceptible to them. As with electronics and appliances, it is recommended that Starlink be turned off during lightning storms to prevent product damage caused by lightning or power surges.

Can the antenna work with snow on top?

Too much snow build-up on the antenna can affect service. If Starlink is completely covered with snow, it is likely that there is no internet service because of the obstruction.

The company also says that the icicles do not affect the antenna’s performance. “Most of the time, the ice doesn’t affect the service, but it can stop the motors from moving if the antenna needs to move” (yes, it moves by itself to seek signal). If the antenna base is obstructed with snow or ice, the user will receive an alert in the Starlink app.

Troubleshooting: That’s why Starlink can melt snow! With the Snow Melt feature, the antenna automatically uses the heat it generates to heat and melt the snow on and around it. This feature helps to avoid service problems, while also eliminating the need to go to the roof to remove snow from the top of the appliance.

Cats: It seems that cats have discovered that the antenna manages to heat up to eliminate the snow, which causes the agglomeration of kittens on top of the antenna – which ends up, anyway, compromising the signal. Starlink is not cat proof.

Cats in winter taking advantage of the antenna heating feature
Cats in winter taking advantage of the antenna heating feature

Can you use Starlink outside your home address?

Yup. Recently, Starlink released a new add-on portability feature that allows customers to upgrade their account to use the Starlink terminal anywhere on the same continent as their home address. When used outside the customer’s home location, service may be reduced based on network usage in that area.

Starlink has a recreational vehicle plan that can be used by any home user for a variety of purposes such as camping trips or for people who have vacation homes. This means that the user can take their antenna to other places.

Can you use Starlink while on the move?

Although a mobile version of Starlink has been talked about for some time, it is still not possible to use the antenna on the move, whether in cars, motorcycles or boats. The company’s FAQ notes that using Starlink on the go voids the kit’s warranty.

“We do not currently support the use of Starlink on the move. Using the Starlink Kit on the move will void your Kit’s limited warranty. While our teams are actively working to enable the use of Starlink on moving vehicles (e.g. automobiles, trailers, boats), Starlink is not yet configured to be used safely in this way.”

Does the portability feature have an additional cost?

Starlink’s additional porting feature costs $25 per month, on top of the usual monthly cost of $110 in the US. In other countries, this cost varies slightly, but is roughly the equivalent of $25 in most places.

To hire this service, simply enter the account page in the Starlink app and activate it. The support page states that this change is effective immediately and the customer will be billed for the entire month in the next billing cycle.

Is it possible to add a third-party router or mesh?

First, it should be noted that the Starlink router does not have the ability to forward ports. About connecting your own equipment to Starlink, it is possible. However, the company does not guarantee the performance or compatibility of Starlink and its application with third-party routers or mesh systems.

To connect a third-party router or mesh system, you must purchase the Ethernet adapter from the Starlink Shop to allow a wired connection to the network. According to Starlink’s website, the company is actively working on developing a Starlink mesh product.

Below are warnings and instructions about external connections:

  • Bypass mode can be enabled via the Starlink app under “Settings”.
  • Bypass mode will completely disable the functionality of Starlink’s built-in WiFi router.
  • An Ethernet adapter is required to use this feature. A manual factory reset will be required to revert the configuration.
  • The Starlink router does not have a router bypass mode. If using your own router or mesh system, we recommend physically removing the included Starlink router and using third-party equipment exclusively with the power supply.
  • The company does not recommend using Starlink in a dual LAN system or placing network switches in line with Starlink and Starlink’s or third-party router.

About security, which method does Starlink use?

The Starlink router uses WPA2 and WPA3 security. Older security standards will not work with the Starlink router.

What do the lights on the router and power supply mean?

  • The Wi-Fi router has lights in different locations depending on the antenna model. For the circular Starlink (default), the light is on the front of the router. In the rectangular model (Business), the light is at the bottom of the router.
  • Solid white = good internet connection.
  • Blinking white = searching for satellites. If the router is unable to connect to the Internet within 20 minutes, the light will turn red.
  • Red = Starlink not connected.
  • No light = no power to the router. Check your cable connections to the power source.

Below, what the colors on the power source mean:

  • Two solid white lights = good power connection.
  • A solid white light = check that everything is securely connected and that there is no damage to the hardware or cables.
  • No lights on = no power to the power source. Check the outlet and make sure it is fully plugged in.
  • N/A — The power supply is built into the router.

Leave a Comment