Solar Outages 2019

Fall solar outages will begin on some stations as soon as September 26th. Solar outages are a predictable disruption of satellite communications that happens each spring and fall around the time of the equinoxes.  The cycle lasts for a period of several days during which reception will be affected.  Fading is mild during the beginning and ending days of the cycle but much more pronounced in the middle of the cycle.  On those days when fading is most severe, your receivers will lose the network signal for a period of several minute.  Without getting too technical, the happens when the LNB causes shade over the center of the dish.  At that time the sun is bearing down on your satellite and it has trouble grabbing the signal from the satellite.

Solar outage near center of satellite dish.

There are a few online calculators to help determine when it will effect your receivers.  The simplest one found is at the link below:

Solar Outage Calculator

A few notes when using this online calculator, this isn’t a product Relevant Radio® has created.  It is also important to fill out the form correctly to give you the most accurate window when the outages will occur.  A few notes on how to fill out the website:

  1. The satellite that Relevant Radio uses is SES-2.  This is an older website that still refers to it by the previous owner of the satellite.  So use AMC-3.
  2. It might not list your precise city, but picking the closest city to you on the list will give you a pretty good idea of the time.
  3. The Frequency Band is C-Band.
  4. Make certain you are using Fall.
  5. Diameter of the dish you use differs from affiliate to affiliate.  Previous recommended dish sizes Relevant Radio have made are 3.1 meter (10 foot) and 3.8 meter (12 foot).
  6. Year is 2019
  7. The time zone differs from affiliate to affiliate, but please make certain you are using Daylight Savings Time in the fall of the year.

These charts detail the dates and times during which you can expect fading to occur. You may get phone calls from a listener stating their signal was off for a while or fading of the signal – the solar outage would be a good reason depending on the day and time per the charts.

There are several different dish sizes. These calculations for the outage are based upon a 3.1 meter dish. Please note if you have a 10 foot dish, the 10 footers will be likely to lose signal for 8-12 minutes during the mid-cycle fades; if you are using a 12 ft. (3.8 meter) dish, you will likely experience 6-10 minutes of signal loss.

The best approach is to pick a convenient time, on each side of the fade window, to cut away from the network to alternate programming and to rejoin network programming at the conclusion of that fade window.  A few suggestions for alternate programming:

  • Pre-record a weeks worth of shows at the time the outage occurs at your station and play those shows from your local automation.
  • Contact your Affiliate Relations person to ask about getting a Barix webstream as a backup to your satellite.
  • Have you made the transition from a Wegener receiver to an XDS receiver?  If so, you are already covered.  XDS receivers have an option to have a webstream backup the satellite signal should you experience any disruption of service.  If you have yet to make the change, please contact Affiliate Relations to find out more.