Can rain, wind, and other bad weather affect your Wi-Fi and Internet connection?

As a North Carolina native, I’ve become aware of frequent summer storms that seem to come out of nowhere. And while I like to open my windows to smell the rain or enjoy a good book when it’s overcast, rainy weather is less than ideal if it causes internet outages.

It is true that extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, high wind speeds, winter conditions and even thick cloud cover can interfere with Internet serviceDepends on Internet connection type you have. satellite internet They are most prone to outage due to weather, but those with a stable wireless connection or 5G home internet The connection may experience weather related internet issues as well. cableAnd the DSL And the Optical fiber Communication is more reliable. However, a particularly bad storm with a possible power outage – such as a hurricane – can affect Internet in your area And in your house.

Before an internet outage rains down on your parade, it’s important to know what to expect from your service before impending bad weather, and what preventative or countermeasures you can take to reduce your chances of experiencing any problems.

Read also: Here is the best way to disconnect from your home internet provider

Satellite Internet is the most vulnerable

Perhaps not surprisingly, you will likely encounter service outages due to rain, snow, ice, heavy cloud coverage, etc. satellite internet.

Satellite signals must travel a long way from an orbiting satellite — which often flies about 22,000 miles or more above the Earth’s surface — to your home. Any obstacle along the way, such as precipitation or thick cloud cover and water droplets scattering the signal that comes with it, can disrupt your internet service.

Not only that, but the dish itself can be swamped by snow and ice, which, while not likely to cause problems from heavy rain or cloud coverage, can still affect your service.

Starlink satellite dish

Starlink has the best potential among the satellite internet service providers.

Jun Kim / CNET

Heavy rain and cloud coverage is satellite kryptonite

Installing a rain guard or something to protect your satellite dish might seem like a simple solution to preventing temporary outages, but unfortunately it’s not likely to help you.

Since satellite signals must travel miles to get to your home, you may encounter disruption conditions anywhere along the way, not just near your dish. That’s why you may experience weather-related internet outages even if it’s not raining or cloudy directly over your house. It’s also why a rain guard doesn’t help prevent connection issues. If anything, installing a solid surface above or around the dish can also block the signal, which can lead to further service disruptions.

So in the event your internet is interrupted by rain or cloud coverage, there’s not much you can do other than wait for it to go through and resume service. However, it’s not all bad news, as satellite providers have made improvements in recent years to lessen the impact of bad weather on your internet connection.

Design and technology improvements by Hughes Net And the visaSmaller, sleeker dishes and stronger internet signals have helped reduce satellite internet exposure to rain and cloud coverage. You will also find innovative satellite technology with starlinkwhich is characterized by the extension Improved dish design Combined with low-orbit satellite technology to help reduce outages due to weather. With significantly improved speed, response time and overall performance. This does not mean that weather-related service disruptions will not occur with satellite internet; It is not as common as it used to be.

But you can do something about snow and ice

The rain and clouds will eventually go away, but the snow and ice can last for days or weeks in some areas. A light dusting of snow or a thin layer of ice will likely have little or no effect on your internet service, but a large buildup of an inch or more (here in the South, an inch is really big) can cause a problem.

When snow or ice builds up on your satellite dish and affects your internet service, you may be able to remove it yourself — as long as you can do so safely. It is not uncommon for satellite dishes to sit atop a deck, deck railings, or other hard-to-reach location, which can make access and cleaning difficult and dangerous, especially in icy conditions. Do not attempt to remove snow or ice from your plate if you cannot reach it safely.

If you can reach your plate safely, try removing the ice by hand or with a soft-bristled brush, such as a hand broom. Be gentle and try to avoid pushing or moving the dish because doing so, even by a few centimeters, could dislodge the dish and lower the signal quality or lose the signal altogether. In addition, you’ll want to avoid using anything that might scratch the surface, such as a windshield scraper, to prevent damaging the dish.

If ice builds up, using a little warm water usually cures the problem. For best results, and to avoid moving the dish or damaging any internal components, use a spray bottle to apply a light stream of warm water until the ice is gone or the internet is back. Again, you’ll want to avoid using anything that could damage or move the plate, such as an ice scraper.

Won’t dish warmers or lids do the job for me?

It is often said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I don’t know if that’s exactly the case with satellite dish heaters and hoods, but it’s worth a shot.

You are likely to get the best results with a dish warmer. Starlink dishes come with a built in heater (much pleased Cold weather kitties who might be tempted to turn your plate into a personal oasis), but you can buy one online for HughesNet or Viasat for a few hundred dollars, too. Keep in mind that they will also add quite a bit to a file Electricity billMost appliances, however, have a temperature gauge and turn on automatically when needed to prevent snow and ice build-up, which helps keep energy consumption low.

Satellite dish covers are a cheaper option, but they are usually less effective. You’ll have no problem finding a dish cover for under $50 online but the results can be short-lived. Dirt, dust, and pollen can build up on dish lids, creating a prime surface for snow and ice, so you may still be cleaning your dish by hand, even with the dish lid on.

Fixed wireless and 5G internet are not so clear

Over-the-air internet services such as fixed wireless internet and 5G home internet are subject to many of the same service disruptions as satellite internet, but on a smaller scale.

With both services, internet signals travel much shorter distances, usually only five to 10 miles at most, so there’s less chance of encountering bad weather along the way. Additionally, the fixed wireless and cellular towers used for 5G are not miles above the ground, which means heavy cloud coverage shouldn’t affect service.

On the other hand, heavy rainfall could be another matter. Fixed wireless internet works by sending internet signals in a straight line or fixed position between the tower and your home. Anything that interferes with this signal, such as monsoon rains, can disrupt the signal and thus your internet connection.

Rain is not a problem with 5G home internet services like T-Mobile or Verizon Because unlike fixed wireless internet, 5G works by sending signals in all directions. Even if some signals are blocked or diverted by rain or snow, others are still bound to access your devices and keep you connected to the Internet, even though the signal may not be as strong.

Also, snow and ice are not a concern for 5G since there is no external receiver. However, fixed wireless service requires the installation of a dish or receiver (although often much smaller than a satellite dish) which can lead to a buildup of freezing precipitation. Heaters and covers for stationary wireless devices are hard to come by, so you may need to manually remove any buildup if it’s interfering with your Internet connection.

A woman stands on stage at WWDC with the Charter Spectrum logo behind her

Charter’s Spectrum cable service is the third largest for subscribers in the US – and it’s also CNET’s preferred cable Internet service provider overall.

Screenshot by Sarah Teo/CNET

What about cable, DSL, and fiber?

Cable, DSL, and fiber-optic lines run directly to your home, so they’re not nearly as vulnerable to weather disruptions as over-the-air delivery methods like satellite, fixed wireless, and 5G. Rain, snow and cloud cover will have no effect on your internet service, apart from extreme cases where the line gets damaged over time due to exposure.

The biggest threat to cable, DSL, or fiber internet during bad weather is power outages. Losing power in your home will likely disable your modem and router, which means that even if the internet signal is still working in your home, you won’t be able to use it unless your device has a battery backup.

And if your provider has a power outage, you may not be so lucky. Severe weather can disrupt your service provider’s servers or systems that provide the Internet, resulting in widespread outages. So even if the electricity in your house doesn’t go out, bad weather can still affect your internet connection. Even worse, there will be nothing you can do about it other than wait for the service to be restored.

There is also a small chance of electrical surges interfering with cable or DSL Internet signals, which are transmitted by highly conductive copper cables, and affecting the quality of your connection. The chances of this happening are higher on older DSL networks than on newer cable internet systems, but the risk is still relatively low across both types of service.

How does weather affect online FAQ

Can I use weatherproof sprays on a satellite dish?

It is not recommended to use any type of chemical coating on the satellite dish, including weather-resistant sprays, cooking sprays (to prevent snow from sticking), or anything else not intended for use on the satellite dish. In addition to potentially damaging the surface of the dish, many sprays can attract dirt, dust, and pollen, creating a surface more susceptible to snow or ice buildup.

Do I need to clean my satellite dish?

There is often no need to clean the dish other than to maintain the attractiveness of the dish. As mentioned earlier, cleaning your dish of dirt and other deposits may help prevent snow and ice buildup, but it won’t improve performance.

If you decide to clean your satellite dish, do it gently with a soft sponge and warm water. Avoid using any cleaning products other than a mild dish detergent, as harsh chemicals may damage the surface of the dish. Ideally, you wouldn’t want to scrub your plate with anything you don’t use to clean your TV screen.

Will extreme heat affect my internet service?

As with severe thunderstorms, extreme heat has relatively no effect on internet signals, but may affect the systems that carry them. The increased demands on power during a heat wave put additional stress on electrical networks, which could affect internet service in your home or somewhere along the way.

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