Starlink for RVs: Three-Month Review
Check out the updated review of using Starlink for RVs for a full year!
Remote work has become a common trend, and for RV enthusiasts, the opportunity to work while traveling is a dream come true. When Starlink for RVs was announced, promising reliable internet connectivity on the go, I couldn't resist ordering it for our month-long RV adventure in July. In this article, I will share my experience with ordering, setting up, and using Starlink for RVs, highlighting the benefits, challenges, and the overall verdict.
Before making any significant purchase, it's essential to research and understand the product's benefits and challenges. While there were numerous reviews for Starlink Residential, finding information on Starlink for RVs was a bit more challenging. However, after placing the order, I was pleasantly surprised to receive confirmation for delivery within a week, without being subjected to a waitlist. This quick turnaround time instilled hope in me, but I couldn't help but wonder if the service would work seamlessly in all the locations we planned to visit.
Setup and Installation
Setting up Starlink for RVs involves both installation and setup, each with its own considerations. The installation process, as demonstrated in YouTube videos, is relatively straightforward—unpacking the components, connecting the router and dish, and finding an unobstructed location for the dish. However, one aspect that is often overlooked is the setup when you reach your destination and need to connect the system to your RV.
For RV newcomers like us, who haven't customized our vehicle with additional equipment, setting up Starlink required some creativity. We meticulously routed the data cable from the dish to the router through our rear door to protect it from the elements. While we explored other options like running the cable through the slides, it's important to plan ahead for such considerations to avoid any last-minute complications.
Performance and Reliability
During our trip across four different states—Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina—we put Starlink to the test. The service delivered impressive download speeds, often surpassing those provided by traditional cable internet providers in the United States. However, upload speeds were not as consistent, maxing out at around 30 Mbps. Overall, these speeds were acceptable for most tasks under optimal conditions.
Nevertheless, the most critical factor for reliable Starlink performance is ensuring an unobstructed view of the sky. Even slight obstructions, such as trees or canopies, can lead to buffering or dropped connections. I experienced this firsthand when an overcast sky caused disruptions during Zoom and Teams calls. Additionally, when moving between satellites, there can be a brief interruption, leading to temporary buffering. However, the Starlink app conveniently logs these outages, providing transparency and helping users track their connection quality.
It's worth noting that Starlink can still be used in areas where the service is not yet available, but the shared bandwidth during peak hours might result in significantly reduced transfer speeds. Therefore, depending on your location and the time of day, the performance may vary.
While Starlink offers impressive connectivity, it's crucial to have backup options. I discovered that relying solely on Starlink is not always foolproof. During our stay at a heavily forested campground in Florida, where even Starlink struggled, our backup solution—a T-Mobile Inseego MiFi hotspot—also failed to provide a stable connection. We had to resort to a secondary backup, a Netgear LTE Modem paired with an Asus N300 WiFi Router. These redundancies are vital, especially for remote workers who must be available during specific work hours.
Even with the challenges faced when using a satellite dish to receive and transmit data, Starlink for RVs remains the best option available for RVers today. It provides the freedom to roam while retaining all the digital amenities of home. The absence of data caps, the ability to suspend the service when not in use, and the consistent performance in most locations make Starlink a valuable asset for remote work and connectivity on the road. While there are considerations such as obstructions and occasional performance fluctuations, having backup options like a reliable hotspot can mitigate any potential downtime. Overall, Starlink for RVs opens up new possibilities for digital nomads and enhances the RVing experience by offering reliable and high-speed internet access.