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A coaxial cable splitter is an affordable device that helps you get TV signals on more than one TV. The installation process is simple enough, and anyone can get it done.
Today, we are going to take a quick look at how to use and install a coaxial cable splitter in your home or business.
- What is a Coaxial Cable Splitter?
- How Do Coaxial Cable Splitters Work?
- Do Coaxial Cable Splitters Weaken the Signal?
- Tips for Installing a Coaxial Cable Splitter
- Common Cable Splitter Problems
What is a Coaxial Cable Splitter?
In simple terms, a coaxial cable splitter (like the GE splitter with 2 ports out above) is a device that designed and built for the sole purpose of providing multiple outlets for one signal.
Your typical coaxial splitter has one main input for your coaxial cable and multiple outputs for as many ports as the specific splitter allows.
Typically, coaxial splitters have 2, 3, 4, and 6 output ports (or even more) and the best of them do maintain the proper impedance environment at both ends (input and output ports).
Unfortunately, the greater the number of output ports, the more cumulative signal loss that occurs. Admittedly this isn’t much loss generally, but the higher the number of ports you’re using for a weaker TV signal, the more your signal can be affected.
How Do Coaxial Cable Splitters Work?
Technically, your typical coaxial cable was designed to provide your devices with one signal. Each cable was intended to provide a singular device with this radio frequency signal.
However, as homes grew in size and people used more than one TV per household, a need arose to split an incoming signal among multiple TVs.
That is where a coaxial cable splitter comes in!
Where there’s more than one TV needing to be connected to the main signal provided by your TV antenna, a coaxial splitter is installed at the end of the cable.
Coaxial splitters are small connector devices that are designed to take the single signal from your original coaxial cable through the input port and divide it among your televisions through multiple output ports.
You’ll need, therefore, to get a device with the correct number of output ports.
Tip: Try not to get a splitter with unused ports (or use termination caps), as these nonetheless will cause signal loss.
Do Coaxial Cable Splitters Weaken the Signal?
Remember that any time you split your TV’s distribution signal, you’ll experience some attenuation or weakening of the signal.
However, this doesn’t mean you should forget about splitters and go back to huddling around that one TV in your household.
If you experience significant signal loss after using a coaxial splitter, you can install an antenna preamplifier, or a distribution amplifier.
Tips for Installing a Coaxial Cable Splitter
If you want to connect your antenna to more than one TV, then it’s quite easy to buy and then install one.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install a coaxial cable splitter in your home:
Step 1: Get the Right Cable Splitter
You have to buy the splitter you need, and to do that, you need to determine how many ways you want the signal to be split.
As already mentioned, there are different types of splitters, and each one is designed to connect to a certain number of TVs. There are 2-way, 3-way, 4-way, 6-way, and even 8-way splitters.
NOTE: Don’t forget to add extra coaxial cable to your order for the other TVs. Good RG6 cable that I recommend is Mediabridge cable.
Step 2: Find the Main Coaxial Cable
Once you’ve bought the appropriate splitter, you need to locate the main coaxial cable—the one that’ll serve as the single signal provider.
Sometimes this is as easy as finding where it goes into the house from your antenna. Other times you may need to trace it through your attic and behind walls.
Once you’ve found it, all you have to do is connect the end of it to your splitter. You’ll see a male connector, which is often colored black or silver, in the splitter’s “in” port and the receiver’s “out” port.
Step 3: Connect All the Appropriate Cables
Now, once you’ve connected the original cable to the splitter, it’s time to measure exactly how much extra cable you’ll need to each TV.
NOTE: Remember that long cables naturally also produce signal loss; in fact, I recommend installing an amplifier if the total length of the cable run from the antenna to your TV exceeds 50 feet. You can use a cable toolkit to shorten and re-cap cables as needed.
Simply connect one end of the antenna coaxial to the input port of the splitter. Then connect the other coaxial cables from the splitter to your TVs.
You should see a coaxial F-connector port on the back panel of the TV set. This is sometimes labeled “ANT-IN” or similar.
NOTE: Some TVs won’t have a coaxial input, but instead offer HDMI or USB ports exclusively.
Remember to tighten the cables on both splitter and TVs by gently screwing in the caps to the connectors.
NOTE: Don’t use any tightening tools here because you might damage the connector.
Step 4: Turn on the TV
Once you’ve connected all the required TV sets to the splitter, turn on the TVs and use the menus to start scanning for channels, keeping an eye on the signal strength reading of each channel.
NOTE: If the strength is very low or you’re not getting the number of channels you were expecting, you may consider installing a preamplifier or distribution amplifier to boost the signal.
Common Cable Splitter Problems
As you might have already noted, as convenient as splitting might be, it isn’t without a few issues. Here are some common problems with splitters:
Splitting Too Many Times
This is the most common. When you have more than three TVs connected to the same splitter, you might experience some signal weakness or even total loss in the most extreme of cases.
This can be solved by either reducing the number of splits or buying an amplified coax splitter, like the one shown below.
Improper Cable Splitting
One mistake that many homeowners make is they buy an 8-way splitter right off the bat, when in fact all they need is a 3-way splitter.
The reasoning here is often, “what if I buy other TV? Will I need to go through all this again? Why not make just one purchase and retain the options should the need arise.”
While this thinking may appear sound (and it is to a point) the problem is that splitters are designed to distribute signals evenly throughout the available connection ports.
This means that even if you don’t use all the eight available ports, the signal will still be as weak as though you’re using all of them. That’s why you need to buy the right kind of splitter for your specific needs.