What Way Do You Point the Antenna for Sirius Radio?
By Shawn Rosvold
The Sirius XM Satellite Radio technology works well for most people, but some tweaking may be required. Your satellite signal reception and the quality of the sound delivered to your Sirius radio depends on where you place your antenna. Where you live in the country is also a factor. In the best case scenario, you plug in your radio, attach the antenna and you have sound. The reality is often more complicated.
Aiming the Antenna
Sirius recommends that aim your antenna south -- if you live in the Northern Hemisphere -- when you first fire up your unit. In many cases you will get a signal, but not always. There are several factors, mostly geographic, to consider when trying to aim your Sirius antenna and improve your reception.
Use an ordinary compass to find south -- it's on the side of the building that gets the most sun in the middle of the day. Alternatively, you can go to Google Maps to find your residence or use a compass app on your phone to locate the south direction. If you're surrounded by buildings, your southern view may be obstructed, affecting your reception. Metal blinds, screens and even trees and shrubs can block the signal. Sometimes you can still get a usable signal from the Sirius satellites by moving the antenna around. The best place is close to a window or open space. Height can also make a difference, so try holding the antenna up high to get a better signal. Look at the signal indicator or antenna-aiming screen to see the strength of the signal. Sirius has terrestrial transmitters to fill in the gaps caused by buildings in some major population centers. If you live in one of these areas, you might not need to point south.
Exceptions to South
If you live in the Northwest region of the U.S., you may get better reception by aiming east or northeast. In the Southwest, try north or northeast. In the southeastern part of the country, you'll aim north or northwest as an alternate direction. Northeast subscribers can try west or northwest. In the upper Central Plains area, point the antenna straight up at the sky. The same directional restrictions do not apply to vehicles. Place your antenna on the highest point of your car or truck to maximize your exposure to the signal. It can be tricky to accomplish a safe and secure installation on your vehicle, so you may want to consider using a professional installer. Authorized Sirius radio installers are good at hiding the wire that connects the outside antenna to your on-dash receiver or the unit that came installed in your vehicle.
If none of those methods work, then you may have to buy an outdoor antenna that mounts as high as possible on your home. They can also be pole mounted to get even greater heights.
Shawn Rosvold has been a broadcast journalist and news writer for more than 30 years. He studied English at Acadia University.