What Can You Do With an Old Dish or DirecTV Receiver?

By Melissa King

When you cancel your DirecTV or Dish Network satellite television service, you no longer have any use for the accompanying receiver or dish. If you leased the receiver from the company, it usually asks you to return it. If you own the receiver, though, you need to find a safe way to dispose of it.


DirecTV and Dish Network allow you to purchase or lease your satellite receiver. If you leased the receiver, both companies require you to return it to avoid a fee. This fee ranges from $45 to $250, depending on your receiver model, as of November 2011. If you plan to have new equipment installed by the same company, the installation technician will likely collect the old receiver from you. When you cancel your service, Dish Network and DirecTV send you an equipment return kit in the mail. Package your old receiver in the box, along with other used equipment. Mail the package back to Dish Network or DirecTV within the specified time frame, usually 21 days to one month.


If you purchased your satellite receiver, you aren't required to return it. If you want to get rid of the receiver, don't throw it in the garbage. Satellite receivers contain electronic parts that may release toxic substances, such as mercury and lead, into landfills. Contact your city's waste disposal department and ask where to recycle old satellite receivers. Your city may offer free pickup for such items. If it doesn't, ask electronics stores or recycling centers if they'll recycle the receiver for you, which may cost a fee.


If your satellite receiver is still in working condition, consider donating it, selling it or giving it away to a friend. Most thrift stores accept working satellite receivers. If you have Internet access, post an ad for the receiver on a website like Craigslist or Freecycle. These websites connect you with others who need satellite receivers. Before you give away the receiver, call Dish Network or DirecTV to ensure that your account was deactivated.

Used Receiver Instructions

Both Dish Network and DirecTV allow you to use previously owned receivers. If the receiver is currently in use with another account, however, you can't use it with a second account. DirecTV activates only owned, not leased, receivers. If the used receiver is too old or outdated, it likely won't work. Look for a receiver ID number on the receiver. You can't use DirecTV receivers without an ID number. DirecTV also requires you to purchase a new access card before receiver activation.