What Is Starlink RV Internet?
Starlink RV provides high-speed, low-latency internet for travelers through a physical dish (provided) and low-orbit satellites (in space). This relatively-new option allows you to access the internet in places you might have never been able to go before, like remote areas of the wilderness or places that have no cell service.
It’s an especially attractive option for boondocking which is why I chose Starlink for my internet on the road. I knew I didn’t want to be tethered to metropolitan areas or do my research to determine cell service before arriving at a location, so Starlink was an appealing alternative.
1. How Much Does Starlink Cost For Van Life Internet?
Starlink RV is $135/month with a one-time hardware cost of $599 for the dish. It comes with everything you need in the box to get up and running, including a 75 ft cable, the dish stand, and a WiFi router.
One extra perk that Starlink RV members have over standard Starlink members is the ability to pause and un-pause the monthly subscription at any time. This is great if you know you’re only going to travel for certain times of the year or if you want to pause for one month while you visit with family.
2. What Kind Of Speeds Do You Get With Starlink RV?
My personal experience with Starlink speeds has been incredible. I’ve been in the deep woods of Maine, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the open desert of Arizona, and places in between. I’ve never had an issue with speed or connection as long as I checked the coverage map ahead of time. Specifically, my speeds have been in the 68-165 Mbps range and are always fast enough for video calls, Amazon Prime video downloads, and media uploads.
3. How Will I Know If Starlink Will Cover The Locations I Want To Explore In My RV Or Van?
This is one of the most important things to consider before purchasing Starlink. You have to check the coverage map ahead of time and bookmark that page when determining your travel routes.
Starlink is always launching more satellites into space which helps broaden the coverage area, but for now, there is a large chunk of the United States that isn’t covered, mostly the midwest and eastern half of the country. It’s a real bummer because I’d love to travel to Louisiana, South Carolina, and large areas of Texas, but it’s just not feasible with my work schedule since I need a high-speed internet connection Monday-Friday.
The great thing about the coverage map is that you can zoom in quite far to see if the area you’re visiting is covered.
4. Does Starlink Have Unlimited Data?
Yes! This was also one of the biggest factors when it came to my decision in choosing Starlink over a mobile hotspot. No data caps means I can stream Netflix guilt-free, scroll through TikTok without a timer, and never have any lag on important video calls.
Even if you think you’ll be hiking, biking, and non-stop adventuring while living vanlife, there will be times when you just need to chill (rainy days ruin even the best locations) and it’s nice not to have to worry about being throttled down to incredibly low speeds.
The other benefit to having unlimited data with Starlink is that you can share your WiFi password with other campers if you want to be a generous neighbor. I’ve used my high-speed connection as a trade to use someone’s kayak for the day. It was well worth the swap and didn’t cost either of us anything!
One additional note about data–I saw a van-lifer on TikTok who had a hotspot through her US-based cell phone company. She traveled to Canada and was having the most amazing time…until her international data cap had reached its limit and she had to trek back into the US. Her internet solution prevented her from traveling farther into Canada! If she had had Starlink, she could have traveled effortlessly into Canada AND Mexico without worrying about data caps.
5. What Are The Biggest Downsides To Starlink RV?
All these great features about Starlink almost make you want to sign up, right? Wait a minute. First, you’ll want to consider the four biggest downsides to Starlink RV. Depending on how you travel and your rig of choice, these could be minor inconveniences or total no-go’s.
The dish needs an open sky with no obstructions.
What do I mean by obstructions? Trees, buildings, mountains. If dishy (that’s what the Starlink community calls it) can’t see an open sky, the signal from the satellites won’t be able to provide quality internet. You might have no connection at all, or you might have continuous drops, which can be a detriment to focus work or video calls. I will say, I’ve been in the deep woods of Maine and have never had any trouble finding free campsites that have an open sky, so it might not be as much of an obstacle as you might think.
It’s an expensive option if you’re trying to keep your monthly costs low.
$135 is a big monthly expense if you’re a budget traveler. For me, it’s worth it to have the extra perks you get with Starlink RV, like unlimited data, and coverage in remote locations. Don’t forget, you can pause the subscription at any time for whatever reason.
Half of the US isn’t covered.
Since half the US isn’t covered, it will definitely prevent you from traveling to some of the best regions in the country if you need it for full-time work. As I mentioned, you won’t see me in New Orleans this year. Maybe these regions will be more accessible in the future with the addition of more satellites
The equipment can be a power hog.
That is, if you don’t build up your system to handle it ahead of time. I have two 100 Ah batteries, 360 watts of solar, and a 1000-watt inverter. Starlink needs power for the dish and WiFi router and needs to be plugged into a standard wall outlet. For that, I have to have my inverter powered on. If you know anything about off-grid power systems, you’ll know that the inverter is the least efficient part of the equation.
My power system does just fine as long as I turn Starlink off a couple of hours after work and don’t turn it back on until the morning. Honestly, that’s a great balance for me so that I don’t spend too much time on the internet when I’m surrounded by beautiful landscapes and lots of outdoor adventuring to do. I built my electrical system before I knew I was going to get Starlink, so this might not be an issue for you, depending on your power.
6. Is Starlink Reliable Enough For Video Calls?
Yes! I take video calls for work all the time and never have any issues. You can always use the Starlink app to check your internet speeds when you arrive at your location to determine if you want to stay there or if you need to move on.
7. What Should I Consider Before Starting My DIY Van Build If I Want Starlink For Internet?
I was in the middle of my van build when I decided to get Starlink, so luckily I was able to prioritize some of these in my design.
When you’re not using dishy, where will you store it? It’s a big, bulky thing and doesn’t have foldable legs so it can be kind of difficult to tuck out of the way. I have space under my bench seat if I need to store it away for longer periods of time.
Beef up that system! Solar power can be expensive though, so determine if it’s worth more power in order to have Starlink running all the time, or if you can do with some internet-free time.
Where and how to mount Dishy
Personally, I don’t have a permanent mount for dishy. Dishy comes with a heavy-duty metal stand. I place it on top of the van or off to the side on the ground if there’s enough clear sky. However, if you want something more sophisticated, I’ve seen van-lifers do a flagpole mount and a flat mount. Leave it to the DIY community to come up with something innovative!
8. Can I Use Starlink While I’m driving?
Yes! This was just updated in July. Starlink had to gain official FCC clearance to be used while driving. Just make sure you have a secure mount for dishy.
9. What Do You Do With Starlink Dishy While Driving?
If you don’t have a permanent mount, you’ll need to store the dish while you’re driving. If you thought ahead and have built-in storage space, this won’t be an issue. I can store mine under the bench seat, but most of the time, I store dishy in the kitchen area with some bungee cords because I almost always set it up whenever I arrive at my destination. If I’m parked at a Walmart and not using it for the night, I’ll move it to the cab area.
10. How Long Does The Setup And Takedown Process Take With Starlink?
Luckily, Starlink really is a plug-and-play solution for high-speed internet. Between placing the dish on the roof, plugging in the WiFi router, and Starlink finding a connection via satellite, it all takes about 10 minutes max. You don’t have to enter your WiFi password or do anything on the app unless you want to check your speeds. It’s all automatic as soon as it has power. Taking it down is just as simple. Tuck away the dish and you’re good to go.
11. What Additional Equipment Do I Need For Starlink For RV?
Unless you want to get some after-market bracket for storage or a mounting system for the dish, you don’t need anything else to get high-speed internet for your travel rig. Everything you need comes in the box.
12. Is The Starlink Dish Weatherproof? Can I Use It During A Rainstorm?
Yes! I’ve used Starlink in the rain, high wind, and thick clouds, and I’ve never had any issues with connection or speeds. The dish itself is designed to withstand the elements. Make sure you do a visual inspection to check for damages, but my dish has been untouched so far.
I’ve even been in some high winds in the desert that have rocked the van a bit, but the dish never moved from the top of the van. The base is very heavy so it provides a solid foundation against the elements.
13. How Long Does It Take To Get Starlink RV After You Place An Order?
This is the other benefit of Starlink RV over standard Starlink. Orders are being shipped just 1-3 weeks after placement. Mine was shipped maybe a week after I purchased it. Unfortunately, standard Starlink customers are waiting months and months for their service but since Starlink RV is a separate service, you won’t have to wait as long.
14. Is There A Trial Period To Test Starlink RV?
Yes! Starlink offers a 30-day trial. If you don’t like it, you can return it for a refund of the hardware cost. You’ll still have to pay for the month of service you received, but it’s good to know there aren’t any contracts to keep you boxed in.
15. Is Starlink RV Worth It?
Overall, yes! You can pause your subscription, you can visit super remote locations, you get unlimited data (no caps!), and the speeds are insanely high! I’m incredibly happy with my service and it’s the only internet service I use while traveling full-time. I trust it enough not to need any hotspot as a backup. I always tell other travelers about my experience with it since it’s relatively new.
Bethany travels full-time with her husband, Wade, and her dog, Walter. She really enjoyed the design and creativity that went into completing their self-converted T1N Sprinter van. She travels with the seasons, preferring to stay in mild climates. You can find her in Maine for the summer and in the desert for the winter. She loves to share insight into living in a van because she thoroughly enjoys the freedom to explore and the novelty she experiences every day.