How Starlink Performs In Bad Weather (Real User Opinions)

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Written By Viktor

Product manager by day, Starlink enthusiast by night.

Weather has been one of the biggest enemies of satellite internet and TV for decades. Starlink is yet to bend the laws of physics and as such is no exception to that rule.  

However, not all weather conditions are made equal, which means that Starlink’s performance varies greatly depending on what situations it finds itself in.

In summary, Starlink performs reliably well during slight weather disruptions such as fog or stronger winds. However, heavy rains or snowfalls can cause potential outages.

With that being said, let’s examine why bad weather would affect Starlink in the first place and how each weather condition contributes to Starlink’s performance.

Why Would Bad Weather Affect Starlink?

Starlink is a so-called satellite internet provider. Satellite internet, unlike fiber, which transmits signals through ground-laid cables, sends signals between the dish, ground stations, and satellites in space.

What differentiates Starlink from competitors like HughesNet is the closeness to earth and the vastness of its satellite constellation. Signals, as a result of being substantially closer to the satellites, can travel much faster, thus resulting in lower latency.

And the thousands of Starlink satellites scheduled to be deployed give users theoretical worldwide internet coverage and greater download speeds (more satellites equal greater overall bandwidth).

In general, satellite Internet connections utilize microwave radio frequencies, which travel in straight lines and thus cannot move through solid objects. As such, signals can theoretically be blocked by houses or trees.

Related: everything you need to know about Starlink

In the case of Starlink, its satellites operate on the Ku band (12–18 GHz), Ka band (27–40 GHz), and V band (40 – 75 GHz). The higher the frequency of a given signal, the worse it tends to get with natural interferences such as rain.

For example, water molecules in the air may disrupt the radio waves as well, thus leading to lower latency and potentially further interruptions.

Therefore, your Starlink performance will largely be dependent on what types of weather conditions are present as well as how these weather conditions would affect the dishy’s surroundings.

If you do receive consistent signal errors, then feel free to check out our article on how to minimize them here.

Starlink in Cloudy Weather

Generally speaking, Starlink should not be negatively affected by cloudy weather, especially if there are just a few of them roaming the sky.

However, what might (!) cause disturbances are darker skies that are filled with clouds, thus edging on rain or even storms.

As someone coming from Germany where cloudy weather is part of our existence, I can say that clouds do not seem to have any negative effects on either downtime or speed.

Other users in forums like Reddit, such as here or here, seem to largely agree with that sentiment. Regardless, dense clouds containing rain are a whole other story.

Starlink during Rain

Rain is certainly one of the biggest adversaries that satellite internet providers face – and Starlink is unfortunately no exception to that rule.

As I mentioned above, the extent to which the connection will be interrupted is ultimately dependent on the density of water molecules in the air. Therefore, and as a general rule of thumb, the more it rains, the greater the likelihood of outages or lower speeds.

Similarly, fog can cause signal interferences, too. Again, this is dependent on how dense the fog itself is, meaning how many water molecules are currently in the air.

Speaking from personal experience, I did experience some obstruction during heavy rain. On the other side, light rain does not seem to affect performance whatsoever. Reddit users seem to largely agree with that sentiment.

starlink outages statistics
Screenshot Starlink App

Additionally, most rain-related outages only last for a few seconds or minutes tops. The only scenario in which obstruction may persist is during continuous and heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Rain may also affect your service if it’s pouring above one of Starlink’s ground stations. The ground station acts as the connecting glue between the satellite and your dish and vice versa.

Interestingly, SpaceX has since begun to decrease its dependence on ground stations with the launch of its v1.5 satellites. The newer versions utilize laser communication, thus enabling satellites to exchange data with each other instead of transmitting it back to the ground station.

As a result, the signal not only moves faster but is also not dependent on weather conditions at the ground station.  

Tone last note on the topic of rain: the dishy itself is waterproof, so there should be zero problems with hardware breaking down due to rain. The router, on the other hand, definitely needs to be kept away from any liquids.

Starlink in Snow

Snow, similar to rain, may also affect the performance of your internet connection. The amount of moisture contained within a snowflake is once again the deciding factor here.

Luckily, Starlink dashes are made to withstand even the coldest of days. Starlink is able to operate at temperatures of as low as -30°C (-22°F for my American friends), at least according to its own specs.

On top of that, Starlink offers a heating function that enables the dish to melt portions of the snow that lays on it. Simply navigate to the ‘Snow Melt Configuration’ page in the Starlink app and either select the ‘Automatic’ or ‘Pre-Heat’ option.

starlink heating
Screenshot Starlink App

Generally speaking, you would want to install your dishy in a way that minimizes snow coverage, especially considering that the dish is placed at a 100° angle, which lends itself towards accruing snow.

Therefore, higher placements, such as on rooftops or fences, tend to be the most popular choices to avoid the dish being covered in snow.

Starlink in Wind

Wind should not affect the performance of your Starlink so long that the dishy is securely mounted and preferably somewhat shielded from being hit by other objects.

SpaceX previously tested the dish at wind speeds of up to 75 miles per hour (~ 120km/h) and said that connections remained stable.

Just think about it this way: if the Ukrainians are able to mount their dishes to moving trains that likely move at much higher speeds, then you’ll likely be fine.

Users on Reddit largely confirm that sentiment, with some stating that their Starlink dishy worked just fine at wind speeds of even 100mph.

The only way in which wind may interfere with the signal is when it carries heavy debris, rain, or dust along with it.

As such, extreme weather phenomena such as hurricanes can potentially affect the dishy’s performance.

Starlink in High Temperatures

The Starlink dish is made to withstand the hottest temperatures that humans are capable of living in. More precisely, it can handle heat of up to 50°C (or 122°F).

During the beta test phase, some users reported that the dishy goes into “thermal shutdown” when hit with temperatures of 122°F.

Starlink’s support essentially confirmed this, stating that “Dishy will go into thermal shutdown at 122°F and will restart when it reaches 104°F.”

However, the tests were carried out using the first-generation dishy. Starlink has since introduced an improved version based on user feedback and extensive testing.

Starlink during Lightning

Lightning may pose a serious threat to your Starlink hardware, especially if the dishy is mounted on top of a fence or rooftop.

Unfortunately, Starlink does not provide you with the necessary equipment to handle a strike. As such, both your dishy and router may be seriously damaged when hit by lightning.

Ground stations may obviously be hit as well, thus potentially leading to outages across an entire region (depending on how the system is backed up). With the deployment of v1.5 sats, it seems that this concern may be made redundant in the future.

Your router, for example, could also catch fire and lead to even worse outcomes. Additionally, if you access the internet via an ethernet cable, then your PC or laptop may be affected, too.

One option to mitigate the effect of a lightning hit is to purchase an ethernet surge suppressor like the ones listed here.

You would also want to install a ground wire that is made to absorb the electric charge. Hiring an electrician is certainly a viable option if you’re not the technically most sophisticated person.

Lastly, if you do not need to continuously use the dishy, then it is recommended to unplug it from the cabling during periods of lightning.

5 thoughts on “How Starlink Performs In Bad Weather (Real User Opinions)”

  1. I don’t mind little interruptions or hiccups as long as they last a minute or two (ok maybe 5 minutes), but does internet go down completely during the heavy rain, snow, thick clouds etc., or is it the speed that slows down and internet is still up? I’m asking this because don’t really care about high speed as long as I can connect and check email and chat with colleagues?

    Reply
    • Lost mine for at least 30 min. with only fog and cloud cover. Other times slows considerably. Had it for 1 month. I’m on a mountain in the Philippines. (not that high up.) Also, satellite density may be less here.

      Reply

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