Elon Musk has been aiming for internet speeds of 1Gbps but before he achieves this lofty goal he might want to take a look at how well his satellite dishes work. A new report by Ars Technica, is revealing that dishes perform thermal shutdowns when they reach 122° Fahrenheit (50° Celsius).
A user called Martin discovered this the hard way when his internet stopped working and he received the following error messages which he shared online on a Reddit post: "Offline: Thermal shutdown." The dish "overheated" and "Starlink will reconnect after cooling down."
He reached out to Starlink support which said that "Dishy will go into thermal shutdown at 122°F and will restart when it reaches 104° F (50° and 40° Celsius respectively)" He even tried to water down the dish to cool it down which worked but only temporarily.
"The fix was temporary," he told Ars Technica. "When I stopped the sprinkler, [the dish] heated back up and would cycle back on for a few minutes and go back down for thermal shutdown. The overheating started that day about 11:30 am and came back for good about 7 pm... I'm currently headed to a hardware store to get materials to build a solar shade/sail around the dish to see if it doesn't impact connection and speed."
Is this SpaceX's fault?
No, SpaceX has stated that Dishy McFlatface can operate from 22° below zero up to 104° Fahrenheit (-30° to 50° Celsius). Unfortunately when it comes to electronics, overheating is a big issue and one that is not easily resolved.
It should also be noted that Starlink service isn’t 100% operational yet, it's still in beta. Current customers are forewarned to expect periodic outages until the satellite constellation is more fully built out and reviewers say Starlink is great when it works, but it’s still unreliable.
As for the heat, Martin has another explanation. "I'm thinking the radiating heat from the ground is effectively cooking the bottom of the dish, [while] the top of the dish is cooked by the sun," Martin told Ars. He is currently looking to build some shade for the dish and maybe even get a HAM radio tower to lift the dish off the ground. We wish Martin good luck with his ingenious ideas.