Pros & Cons... Roof Mounted Antenna, or Carry-Out model:
Since the HD vs SD argument is simply one of preference, I'll not address my thoughts on that here... although as SD begins it's fade-out, it may become a relevant topic later.
But (in my opinion) the roof-mount vs carry out debate has many factors.
- How often do you use your RV? Weekends only? 2-to-3 weeks at a time? Full-time?
- How much TV do you watch when using the RV?
- Will you be satisfied with whatever local stations and/or cable options the campground offers?
- Do you have a desire to watch YOUR local sports team wherever you are?
- Do you value convenience over portability?
- Do you have ample storage options for a carry-out dish AND it's support structure? (tripod or ground-block, extra cord, power supply, wind-anchor, anti-theft security, etc)
- Can you easily aim & align the antenna to receive satellite signals?
- Do you camp mostly in the east, or west?
- Are your favorite campground sites in the forests or out in the open?
- Will the campgrounds you'll be frequenting have sites that are not under canopy of trees... and even if so, will you want to be in such a site, open to the sun?
These are just some of the questions you'll want to ask yourself while debating which option to go with.
Of course, the ultimate in convenience is the roof mount. Nothing to do but stab a button, and a few minutes later, you're in business. Nothing to aim, nothing to unpack, noting to set up, etc.
Ok, so what's the down side? 2 things really... cost, and somewhat limited service ability, depending on where you go.
Roof mounted antennas are usually more expensive, simply because of the cost of installing them... and maintenance is something goes wrong. And, of course, if you want the considered best antenna on the market (the Winegard Travl'r), it's also the most expensive to buy.
And, because they are roof mounted, if you go to a campground that is nestled deep in the woods... you may not be able to enjoy the benefits of your antenna, as they may not have any sites with a clear, unobstructed view of the southern sky. This is especially true if you're trying to receive an HD signal, because the antenna will need to receive THREE satellites to receive that signal (SD signals require only 1). And if even the smallest leaf-covered limb is in the way of that narrow beam... you WILL NOT receive a signal. Trust me as to how I know this.
That said, it is very rare that I have not been able to reserve a site that is satellite-friendly. Of course, a little research beforehand does wonders. Google Earth can allow you to see if your intended location has such sites available at a glance. When making reserving by phone, I always ask for a satellite friendly site... and when reserving online, I always put the following statement into the Requests / Notes section... and I'm almost always accommodated:
HAVE ROOF MOUNTED DIRECTV SATELLITE DISH ON MY 5th WHEEL RV. IF ABLE, REQUEST SITE WITH AN UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW OF THE SOUTHERN SKY FOR RECEPTION. THANKS.
Moving on to carry out models... they've come a long way. Portability & convenience exists in some models, while others are a hassle. But no matter which model you buy, you still have to set it each & every time you change locations... and then pack it all back up when you leave. You have to have dedicated storage space for it, and for all of the other stuff you'll want/need with it. The base it sits on (whatever that may be)... an anchor to keep it from shifting or even tipping over in the wind... and, unless you're very trusting with a piece of expensive electronics, some means to secure it so it doesn't 'walk away' when you're out & about during the day, or sleeping at night.
Of course, the plus side is that they can be placed almost anywhere... so long as the power supply & signal feed cords are long enough. Campsite deep in the woods under the canopy of the trees... set it out near the roadway, and you've got a signal.
So that's my little 2Ę worth on the subject. I'm sure there are things that I left out, but pretty sure I got the main points.
We each have our priorities, and that will usually dictate which way we go. For me, since I'm full-time... it was pretty simple.
- Would I be content with just an SD signal in my house? No, I need HD
- Do I want to have to set-up, align, and pack-up the unit every time I change locations? No. Convenience is the key.
- Will I be comfortable leaving an expensive portable HD-unit sitting outside while I'm out & about on day trips or sleeping? No... we aren't taking a $15 chair, or $100 grill.
Your mileage may vary...