How Summer Storms And Other Bad Weather Can Affect Your Home Internet

A native of North Carolina, I’ve become familiar with frequent summer storms that seem to come out of nowhere. And while I love opening my windows to indulge in the smell of rain or curling up with a good book when it’s overcast, rainy weather is less than ideal if it’s causing the internet outage.

It is very severe weather conditions like torrential rain, high wind speeds, wintry conditions and even heavy cloud coverage can interfere with your internet servicedepending on the type of internet connection you have. Satellite internet is the most vulnerable to service due to weather, but those with a fixed wireless or 5G home internet connection may experience weather-related internet issues as well. Cable, DSL and fiber internet connections are far more reliable. However, it could affect the electricity – like a hurricane internet in your area and in your home.

Before the internet outages rans on your parade, it is important to know what your service expects ahead of impending bad weather, and what preventative or countermeasures you can have any issues.

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Satellite internet is the most vulnerable

Not surprisingly, you are most likely to encounter damage due to rain, snow and ice, heavy cloud coverage and so on satellite internet.

Satellite signals have to travel quite a distance from the orbiting satellite – which often flies some 22 thousand miles or more above the ground – to your home. Any obstruction along the way, such as rainfall or heavy cloud cover and the signal-dispersing water droplets that come with them, can disrupt your internet service.

Not only that, but it is likely to cause problems with heavy rain or cloud cover, can still affect your service.

Starlink has the best potential among satellite internet providers.

John Kim / CNET

Heavy rain and cloud coverage are satellite’s kryptonite

Installing a rain guard or something to shield your satellite dish may seem simple to prevent temporary outages, but they seem to help.

Since the satellite signals have reached your home, they can be found in the vicinity of your dish. That’s why you may experience weather-related internet outages even if it’s not raining or cloudy directly above your home. It’s also why they won’t help prevent connectivity issues. If anything, installing a solid surface over your dish could block the signal, too, which can lead to even more service disruptions.

So, in the case of an internet outage due to rain or cloud coverage, there’s not much you can do for a service and a service to resume. It is not all bad news, however, as satellite providers have made improvements in recent years.

Design and technology improvements by HughesNet and Viasat, such as smaller, sleeker dishes and stronger internet signals, have helped reduce satellite internet’s vulnerability to rain and cloud coverage. You’ll also find innovative satellite technology with Starlinkwhich features the improved dish design along with low-orbit satellite technology to help reduce outages due to weather. while also vastly improving speeds, latency and overall performance. That’s not to say weather-related service doesn’t happen with satellite internet; they’re just not common as they may have been in the past.

Rooftop satellite dish covered with snow

Will your internet survive the next thunderstorm?

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But you can do something about snow and ice

Rain and clouds will eventually pass, but snow and ice can linger for days or weeks in some areas. A light dusting of snow or a thin layer of ice will probably cause a problem.

When snow or ice builds up on your satellite dish and affects your internet service, you can safely remove it. It’s not uncommon for roofing, roof railing or other hard-to-reach spots, which can make access and cleaning difficult and dangerous, especially in icy conditions. Don’t try to clear snow or ice from your dish if you can’t access it safely.

If you can safely reach your dish, try to remove the snow by hand or with a soft-bristle brush, Be gentle and try to avoid pushing the dish as doing so, even by a few centimeters, knock the dish out and lower the signal altogether. Also, you’ll want to avoid using anything that may scratch the surface, such as a windshield scraper, to keep from damaging the dish.

In the case of ice accumulation, applying the problem. For best results, use the spray bottle to apply a light stream of warm water until the ice is gone or internet service returns. Again, you’ll want to avoid using anything that could damage or move the dish, like an ice scraper.

Won’t dish heaters or covers do the job for me?

It’s often said that the ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I don’t know if that’s completely the case with satellite dish heaters and covers, but they’re worth a shot.

You’re probably going to get the best results with a dish heater. Starlink dishes come with a built-in heater (much to the delight of cold-weather kitties who might be tempted to turn your dish into a personal oasis), but you can buy one online for HughesNet or Viasat for a couple of hundred bucks, too. Keep in mind that they’ll also add a little to your electricity bill, but it always helps keep energy consumption low.

Satellite dish covers are a cheaper option, but they’re usually less effective. You’ll have no problem finding a cover for less than $ 50 online but results may be short-lived. Dish covers can accumulate dirt, dust and pollen, creating a prime surface for snow and ice, so you can still clear your dish manually, even with a dish cover.

Fixed wireless and 5G internet aren’t totally in the clear

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

With both services, internet signals traveling shorter distances, typically only five to 10 miles at most, so there’s a lesser chance of encountering bad weather along the way. Also, fixed wireless and cellular towers used for 5G aren’t miles above the Earth, heavy cloud coverage shouldn’t affect service.

Heavy rain, on the other hand, can be another matter. Fixed wireless internet works by beaming internet signals in a straight line, or fixed position, between the tower and your home. Anything that interferes with that signal, such as a seasonal downpour, can disrupt the signal and hence your internet connection.

Rain is less of an issue 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 due to rain or snowfall, others are still bound to reach your equipment and keep your internet going, though the signal may not be strong.

Snow and ice are also less of a concern with 5G as there is no external receiver. Fixed wireless service, however, requires mounting a dish or receiver (which may accumulate frozen precipitation). Heaters and covers are more difficult to come by, so you may need to manually remove any build-ups if they interfere with your internet connection.

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

Charter’s Spectrum cable service is the third largest by subscribers in the US – it’s also CNET’s favorite cable internet provider overall.

Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

What about cable, DSL and fiber?

Cable, DSL and fiber lines run directly to your home, so they are not susceptible to weather disruption over-the-air delivery methods such as satellite, fixed wireless and 5G. Rain, snow and cloud cover do not have an impact on your internet service,

The greatest threat to your cable, DSL or fiber internet during bad weather is a power outage. Losing power in your home will likely render your modem and router inoperable, meaning that, even if the internet signal is still running to your home, you won’t be able to use it unless your equipment has a battery backup.

And if a power outage hits your provider, you may be out of luck. Severe weather can knock out a provider’s servers or systems that deliver the internet, resulting in widespread outages. So even if the power is out of your home, your internet connection may still be affected. Worse yet, there is nothing you can do about service to be restored.

There is also a small potential for electrical conduction and electrical signals, which affect your connection quality. Changing the internet, but the risk is still relatively low across both service types.

How weather affects your internet FAQ

Can I use weather-proofing sprays on my satellite dish?

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

Do I need to clean my satellite dish?

Cleaning your dish is often not needed than maintaining a curb appeal. As mentioned above, clearing your dish of dirt and other deposits can help keep snow and ice from building up, but it doesn’t usually improve performance.

If you decide to clean your satellite dish, do so using a soft sponge and warm water. Avoid using any detergent, as you can damage the surface of your dish. Ideally, you would not want to clean your dish with anything you would not use to clean your TV screen.

Will extreme heat affect my internet service?

As with bad thunderstorms, extreme heat has relatively no impact on internet signals, but may affect the systems that carry them. Increased energy demands during a heat wave, which could affect the internet service at your home or somewhere along the way.

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