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Starlink RV review: is Starlink Roam the best option for your campervan?

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Space X’s satellite internet service, Starlink, released Starlink RV, a satellite dish for campervans in June 2022. In May 2023, Space X rebranded this to ‘Starlink Roam‘ and ‘Starlink Mobility‘. Below, we explain the differences and what each service covers.

We’ve personally been using Starlink Roam for the past few months in the US, so we’ll give you our review on whether it’s worth investing in a Starlink for your RV or campervan.

starlink rv starlink roam campervan internet

Our Starlink helps us get online in remote spots in the US without any cell coverage

What is Starlink RV?

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company, has been building a network of satellites in earth’s orbit since May 2019. Starlink proposes to supply low-latency (faster) worldwide internet using a large array of satellites in low earth orbit. As of May 2023, more than 4,000 Starlink satellites orbit the earth at around 550 km from its surface.

starlink for RV starlink rv satellite internet wifi mobile campervan remote working

The at-home Starlink service has been available since 2021. But in 2022, SpaceX released Starlink RV, marketed as being a solution for those in need of high speed, reliable internet whilst on the road.

When Starlink RV was first released, it was essentially the same as residential Starlink with the Portability add-on. Starlink with Portability gave you internet at home and on a roaming basis, where the at-home internet speeds were be prioritised, and roaming speeds were a ‘best effort’ service. Starlink RV only provided the ‘best effort’ roaming service, but for the same initial and monthly price.

Additionally, it wasn’t possible to use Starlink RV outside of your registered country for more than two months, and you weren’t able to use it in a different continent.

Since then, SpaceX have split their offering into different categories, with a lot more options for functionality. Starlink RV has now been rebranded as Starlink Roam. Additionally, there’s a new service, also aimed a campervans and RVs, called Starlink Mobility.

What is Starlink Roam?

Starlink Roam is portable satellite internet that provides a user with “unlimited high-speed, low-latency internet on an as-needed basis all over the world”.

It comes as a kit with a WiFi router and a Starlink satellite dish. This needs to be set up outside with a clear view of the sky.

As of June 2023, the upfront cost for the hardware is:

  • UK: £449
  • Europe: €300
  • US: $559

Starlink Roam is similar to the standard Starlink you would have at a residential address, in that it cannot be used whilst in motion. You are provided with a dish and stand which needs to be erected and dissembled each time you use it.

Whilst Starlink RV had limitations based on the service address, Starlink Roam is not limited in the same way. There are a couple of service options available.

Mobile – Regional

The Regional Starlink Roam service option gives you unlimited data within your continent

As of June 2023, the costs for the regional service plan are:

  • UK: £85 / month
  • Europe: €100 / month
  • US: $150 / month

So, if you’re a Brit or European travelling within Europe, or an American or Canadian travelling within North America, this option will be suitable for you.

Mobile – Global

The Global Starlink Roam service option gives you unlimited data anywhere on the planet

As of June 2023, the costs for the regional service plan are:

  • UK: £200 / month
  • Europe: €230 / month
  • US: $200 / month

Conversely, if you’re planning a worldwide trip, this is the right option for you. It’s possible to swap between the two service options.

For example, we are currently on a Pan American road trip, from Canada to the tip of South America. So, whilst we’re in the US and Mexico, we can use the Regional Starlink Roam service package (as we purchased our Starlink in the US). Once we travel down to South America, we’ll need to switch to the Global service package.

No matter where you are, you can get online with Starlink as long as your dish has a clear view of the sky

What is Starlink Mobility?

One of the big downsides to Starlink Roam is that it cannot be used in motion. So, you’ll have to rely on mobile phone data if you want to stream music or follow Sat Nav directions whilst driving.

In comparison, Starlink Mobility can be used for in motion applications. The hardware is designed for permanent installation on your vehicle and is resilient in harsh environments.

However, the Flat High Performance satellite dish is much more expensive than the standard dish. As of June 2023, the cost of the High Performance dish is:

  • UK: £2,410
  • Europe: €2,826
  • US: $2,500

In addition to the dish, you’ll also be paying extra for the ‘Mobile Priority’ service option:

  • UK: £247 / month
  • Europe: €287 / month
  • US: $250 / month

So, you’ll pay a very big premium to use your Starlink on the move.

The Starlink app

The Starlink app lets you manage your router and Starlink dish. From here, you can:

  • Manage your network name and password
  • Filter content
  • Reboot your router
  • Reboot the Starlink dish
  • Turn on the ‘snow melt’ functionality
  • Check your ‘uptime’ statistics
  • Check the sky for obstructions
  • Set the sleep schedule

Where can you use Starlink RV?

Starlink Roam and Starlink Mobility internet are already available all of the UK and the European Union, and most of the US. However, they have stated that some areas, marked as ‘waiting list’ will experience slower speeds during peak usage times.

It’s also available in Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Phillipines, Mozambique and Nigeria.

For the rest of Central and South America and some countries in Africa, Starlink will become available at some point in 2024.

You can use their map to check availability in areas you want to travel.

Starlink Roam Starlink RV availability June 2023

Image source: Starlink RV

Starlink RV internet speed 

Starlink is proposing an internet service which will be much quicker than current services with the use of an array of low-orbit satellites, but in reality, their satellite numbers are still limited. Here’s the speeds they advertise for the Starlink for RVs:

Latency: 20-40ms

Expected download: 50-250Mbps in normal usage, 5-100Mbps in congested areas at peak times.

Expected upload: 10-20Mbps in normal usage, 1-10Mbps in congested areas at peak times.

For comparison, the average broadband speed in the UK is 79Mbps (as of March 2021).  Typical real-world download speeds for 4G internet is 5-10Mbps, and 5G internet can provide speeds of around 150-250Mbps. Average fibre broadband speeds are around 30-70Mbps, and can reach up to 1000Mbps.

Below are some screenshots from our Starlink in a spot in rural Idaho. On the left, the basic speed test shows maximum potential download speed. On the right, the advanced speed test shows the potential speed between your device and the router. This can help you determine if your router is situated somewhere sensible, or if you need to reposition it to secure a better speed.

You should take these numbers with a big pinch of salt – because they only show the potential speeds, not the actual speeds. For comparison, we’ve included a screenshot below of the actual speed obtained in the same spot.

So, the actual download speed is more than 4 times less than the potential speed

The other thing worth noting is that 29.9Mbps is still more than enough to stream videos in 4K, have multiple devices on the internet, video call, etc.

So although the download speed figures in the Starlink app are misleading, the actual speed is still sufficient to do most things.

starlink actual speed

Is Starlink for RVs a good option for campervans?

The Starlink RV dish

The standard Starlink RV dish you receive if you purchase Starlink Roam is the same as the Starlink in-home dish. It hasn’t been purpose built for a campervan, and Starlink doesn’t offer a mount for securing the dish to your campervan. So, you’ll have to build your own mount, or set it up outside every time you park up.

The kit comes with a Starlink dish and a 4-legged base.

Whilst driving across the US, we’ve seen a lot of people fashion DIY mounts for their campers and RVs, or screw the provided mount directly into their van’s roof.

We’ve opted to just place our Starlink dish outside each time we park up. This gives us the flexibility of moving it somewhere with a clearer view of the sky if we’re parked in an area with a lot of trees.

You’ll need to fashion your own mount for your dish if you purchase Starlink Roam

If you purchase Starlink Mobility, you’ll receive a Starlink dish that’s been custom made to fit straight to the roof of your RV or camper. You’ll just be paying a hefty premium for the privilege. 

Power usage

Both kits come with a WiFi router and an ethernet/power cable.

The maximum power usage of both the dish and the router is 168W. So, it needs a 230V power supply, but you can use a low wattage inverter such as the Victron 250VA Phoenix inverter.

The dish and router combined have an average power consumption of 23-46W, so will use on average 2.9A per hour.

You can run the ‘snow melt’ functionality if you’re doing winter van life. This heats up the Starlink dish to melt any snow which has built up, which would otherwise obstruct your service. The snow melt function uses 69-93W, so on average this will use 6.8A per hour.

Limitations

There are a few limitations with Starlink RV that we thought were worth highlighting.

Cost: If you don’t need reliable internet anywhere, you might not be able to justify the £85 / $150 per month. If you’re roaming outside your home region, that amount jumps significantly to £247 / $250. This will be a blocker for a lot of people, and it means you’re only going to invest if you really need to.

Trees: One of the major drawbacks of satellite internet is that your dish needs a clear view of the sky. If the view is obstructed by trees, then your dish may struggle to pick up constant signal. If the edge of the view is obstructed, then you can experience regular outages. For example, when parked in a wooded area, we’ve had a notification saying that we’ll experience an outage every 5 minutes.

The starlink dish is supplied with a 15m / 50ft cable, so you can place it further away from your camper. This allows you to pick a spot that has the clearest view of the sky.

Driving: A big drawback of Starlink Roam is that you can only use it when you’re stationary. When on long drives, one of us will often work in the passenger seat while the other drives. This isn’t possible with Starlink. Additionally, you can’t use it to run Google Maps, so you’ll need to download maps offline if you don’t have regular 4G.

Of course, this isn’t an issue if you pay for Starlink Mobility, but this is much more expensive than Starlink Roam.

Buggy app: The Starlink app is pretty buggy. We use the ‘stow’ function to stow our Starlink when we’re moving between spots. However, if you don’t turn off the router, the Starlink dish will often unstow itself randomly. The app will think the dish is still stowed when it’s not, and the only option is to reboot the dish.

Conclusion – our review of Starlink Roam

So, should you invest in Starlink RV for your campervan?

Personally, we think that if you’re working nomadically in North America, Starlink is 100% worth the investment. After spending only a couple of weeks in the US, we were surprised at how often we didn’t pick up any cell signal. Additionally, data plans are very expensive – we paid $90 / month for 100GB of data. We use around 4x this on average per month, so things started getting very expensive very quickly!

For us, running a business remotely from our campervan, we need a reliable and affordable source of internet. This meant that despite all the limitations, Starlink was a no brainer for us.

On the flipside, we never struggled to pick up mobile phone signal in Europe or the UK. Plus, it’s much easier to get an affordable SIM card or data plan. Connect+ offer a European SIM for £59 / month, or a global device for £99 / month.

There are already lots of easy, budget-friendly and effective ways to get WiFi in your campervan. In Europe, these may well work out as more cost effective than Starlink.

In Europe, we found a simple WiFi dongle and EU SIM such as the one from Connect+ was sufficient

Starlink for RVs FAQS

How much does Starlink RV cost? 

Starlink Roam UK has an upfront cost of £449, and a monthly subscription of £85. Starlink Roam US has an upfront cost of $559, and a monthly cost of $150.

If you want to use your Starlink whilst you’re on the move, you’ll need to pay for Starlink Mobility. The upfront cost in the UK is £2,410 and the monthly cost for Global Priority is £247. In the US, you’ll be looking at an upfront cost of $2,500 and a monthly cost of $250.

How is Starlink internet different? 

Starlink use low-orbit satellites which are much closer to the surface of the earth (around 550 km) to provide low-latency (faster) satellite internet. They propose to achieve this worldwide internet with a large array of satellites. They currently have over 4,000 satellites in orbit, and they’re ultimately aiming to launch 42,000 in a so-called ‘mega-constellation’.

Does the Starlink RV dish require power? 

Yes, the Starlink dish and WiFi router require 230V power. A combined Ethernet/power cable is included with the kit. Starlink RV uses up to 168W, so you’ll need an inverter larger than this.

Can you use Starlink on an RV?

Starlink for RV doesn’t include a bracket to mount the Starlink dish to the roof of an RV. It currently only includes a portable stand. However, you can position the dish on the floor outside your campervan, or fashion a DIY mount for the roof of your RV.

When is Starlink for RVs available?

Starlink for RVs is available now. You can order it from the Starlink website.

How is Starlink RV different from residential Starlink with Portability?

Starlink with Portability gives you internet at home and on a roaming basis, where at-home internet speeds are prioritised, and roaming speeds are a ‘best effort’ service. Starlink for RV doesn’t require you to update your service address, so you can use it on the move. It gives you access to internet anywhere in your home continent.

Is the SpaceX Starlink the only option for WiFi in a campervan? 

There are several other options for campervan WiFi which are much cheaper than SpaceX Starlink for RVs. You can use a campervan WiFi dongle which uses mobile internet to bring WiFi into your campervan. However, if you’re travelling in areas of low cell coverage, then Starlink might be a better option for you.

Will Starlink satellites affect the night sky? 

There are a number of implications of Starlink satellites because they orbit so close to the earth’s surface (at around 550 km, as opposed to previous communications satellites which orbit at over 1000 km). The number of low earth orbiting satellites is predicted to rise from 2,000 to 100,000 by 2023, which will begin to cause problems such as increased collision risk and light pollution of the night sky.

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6 Responses

  1. It’s looking like Starlink RV is going to be disappointing in the short term. The idea of watching Netflix mid Atlantic ocean or viewing Windy.com for the weather might have a to wait a few more years yet …………
    This is a bit reminiscent of GPS when it first appeared in the late 1970’s – circa 20 to 30 minutes to get a fix, but look where we are now!

    1. Hi Martin, we very much agree with you! We were hoping for a solution to travelling long-term to lots of different countries, maybe even continents, but apparently not for now! It seems more like they’re just gauging the market to decide if they spend time developing something more suitable for campervans and RVs. Interested to see the direction it goes in the future…

        1. Hi Craig,

          There are now 2 Starlink options for campervans: Starlink Roam and Starlink Mobility. With Starlink Roam, you can travel anywhere in your home continent. With Starlink Mobility, you can travel anywhere in the world. The only other restriction is that you’re only able to use Starlink Mobility whilst in motion. Hope that helps!

  2. We have a catering trailer and we need good Wi-Fi at music festivals and our large events for our card machines .is it good Wi-Fi with thousands of people around you on phones. ?

    1. Hi Rob, the Starlink internet uses special Starlink satellites, so it won’t make a difference if there are thousands of people on phones around you as they are using phone masts rather than satellites. Hope that helps!

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