Starlink Internet In The Caravan and Motorhome

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Using Starlink in The Caravan and Motorhome

You may have heard about Starlink on your travels, you may have seen the distinctive white rectangle pointing towards the sky on a campsite, but what exactly is it? Well, Starlink rather modestly say “The world’s most advanced broadband satellite internet”

Starlink has (at time of writing) a constellation of 6,000 satellites orbiting the Earth, bringing internet services around the world. This constellation orbit about 340 miles above the Earth, most satellite internet services come from single geostationary satellites that orbit the planet at 22,000 miles. Why is this important? Well, Starlink say, due to the shorter distance from Earth of the Starlink satellites, the latency is lower. Latency is the amount of time information takes to get from your device to the satellite and back to you.

It’s All About Latency (Honestly)

When we moved into our last house, there was no internet, or rather in internet speeds were like .5mpbs, or Starlink I’ve achieved over 200Mbps, as a reference. So .5mpbs is SLOW! I had to do something as I’m addicted to the internet, I seriously can’t live without it 🙂 I was on the hunt for a solution, I was in a semi rural area, fibre was out of the question. I came across the idea of “satellite internet” and it did sound space age.

I found a solution and purchased it. The dish was larger than a dustbin lid and dwarfed the Sky dish. There were some problems, like the data was limited, like a mobile contract and latency was shocking. I was aware of latency, as it popped up in my job from time to time. In the modern age, with fibre connected internet, most people want be aware, or even care about latency.

For any financial service company dealing in stocks and shares, this latency can make or break them. Imaging a company automatically buying and selling of shares. The speed at which you can buy, or sell can make a big difference and companies spend millions getting this latency as low as possible.

Anyway, the latency on my first satellite internet was pretty bad. What his meant in real terms is that if I wasnt to BBC’s news website, it would take an age to load. Once it finally did load it was OK. This type of problem makes gaming online, or making video calls over the internet impossible.

Elon Musk (of Tesla car fame) owns a company called Space-X, they run Starlink.

I could answer this with, if you have to ask, you probably don’t need it. However, there are reasons you might need, or I should probably say, want, Starlink in your caravan or motorhome. When travelling from site to site, you’ll have noticed that you don’t always get a good mobile single on any chosen network. You’re wife, partner or friend might be enjoying 4G or even 5G and you might not have any signal at all. That can be a bit annoying, if you work from home or live the life of a digital nomad (whatever that is) it’s more than annoying it could be effecting your livelihood. Picture this; you’re in the caravan, it’s raining, there’s nothing to do outside and the kids are complaining they are bored and even worse, there’s no mobile signal or site wifi. Starlink could give you a lifeline here and get you the internet connect you need to keep your sanity!

It’s Not All Good News

I’ve been using Starlink for a while and it does have some draw backs, Starlink gloss over these of course, but one of them is a real pain in the backside. Imaging you’re in a forest location, there’s no internet connectivity via your SIM card. Oh wait, you have Starlink. You set it up, you’re Starlink bravely hunts the sky for it’s companion satellites, come on it has 6,000 to choose from. Disaster, it can’t see the damn things because of the trees, surely in 2024 this isn’t a problem still? I remember back in the day having a satellite dish for the caravan, to get TV. What an absolute faff, I’d be out there trying to find the Astra satellite, I could feel the curtains twitching..

Unfortunately it’s no different today, the dish needs a lear view of the sky. You get an app so you too can look like an absolute plonker whilst you point your phone to the sky hunting satellites, or rather hunting obstructions, trees and buildings, mainly. Clouds don’t seem to bother it.

I Know What You’re Thinking

Wait a minute, aren’t you an influencer? Aren’t you meant to be selling this to me?

I’ve created a vlog about Starlink, in it I demonstrated (rather badly) how to set Starlink up. I left the bit’s in where I was having difficulty with it. A few commented on the vlog, things like, “No thanks I’ll stick with what I’ve got”. But hang on, I wasn’t trying to sell it to anyone, and there’s one problem with watching vlogs. Anyway, back to Starlink.

YouTube player
Starlink as Used by Caravanvlogger

I hope by now you know I’m not trying to sell you Starlink, and I definitely don’t work for them. I’m a YouTub scrub who is just trying to increase the chances of me getting internet wherever I might be. And I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t always work out well.

Firstly, the downside. You get a dish (Starlink call is Dishy) a cable and a router, or access point, call it what you will. So the router is your wifi access point, you connect to it to get access to the internet. You set up your dish, connect it to the router via the supplied cable, then plug the router into the mains. (I think there are devices you can use to enable you to utilise 12 volt if off grid, or you could plug it into a powerbank etc). The problem is, here do you place the router? If you want it inside the caravan you’ll have to get the cable inside. I know some people put it on the roof and feed the cable through the skylight. I don’t know about you but her indoors isn’t going to be happy with a quite chunky cable hanging from the ceiling 🙂

What I have done is left the router in the awning, you can connect wirelessly from the caravan. However, what to do if you don’t have an awning, it’s raining and cold, you don’t want a skylight partially open. I’ve not yet tried getting the cable in via a partially opened window yet, not sure if the cable is too thick?

Obstructions are an issue as mentioned earlier. You need to leave the Starlink dish outside the caravan whilst using it. There’s no obvious way of securing it if you go out during the day. You could of course pack it away, but that’s not really convenient.

So, if you can get your head around the cable conundrum, you can’t deal with the obstruction issues AND you’r enot too worried about the dish being stolen, read on my friend there is some good news!

There Is Good News

At last, something good to say about it. It’s fantastic. What do you mean you’ve just spent the best part of this article moaning about it. You see, if you want to love it, you will. If you buy it thinking it’s going to solve all your connectivity issues you’re going to be disappointed, that’s why I pointed out the negatives, to set the scene, so to speak.

Once you’re set up, and it really doesn’t take long with an unobstructed view, it does work well. The app tells you if you’re going to hit issues, like it’ll say something like “you internet will be interrupted every x minutes” if there are obstructions. Anyway, let’s say you have a clear sky. It doesn’t have to be a wide open plain like you see in the middle of America.

The set up really is, plonk the dish down, connect it to the router, plug in the router. Boom, done. (The very first time you use it there’s a bit a setting up with the router, but I did this at home before my first trip)

I’ve had speeds of 150Mbps, where EE has been 24Mbps. I’ve spend a week watching TV via the Starlink, with no problems at all, including live football, just like being at home.

OK, I’ll stop there before I go into full fan boy mode..

There is no way I could justify this financially, I’ll just get that our of the way first. I’m not going to pretend it will be “value for money” for you, or anyone else for that matter. As the saying goes, “it is what it is”

Equipment. The kit itself, which is quite often of sale is £449. I would not have paid that, but I was looking one day and it was selling for £199. That’s the dish, the router and the cable.

Starlink also do a monthly rental.

The internet subscription is £75 per month for home use (unlimited data) or £85 per month if you chose “Roam” which allows you to take it with you on your travels. You can pause Roam if you think you’re not using it next month

Conclusions

Personally, although I use it, I do think it’s expensive. However, if you really do need internet connectivity and you can’t get a mobile signal, it’s a great solution.

Whilst we’re in the caravan we watch all of our TV via the internet and rarely bother with the aerial. I have a vlog coming up on how I do that using Starlink or a 4G connection. Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel for more updates (It’s free)..

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