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coaxial cable

How Do You Pick The Best Coaxial Cable For Digital TV?

There are many coax cables out in the market. Worse, they all kind of look alike. However, as there are many different kinds of coax cables developed for many different purposes, it is natural to be confused or at a loss on which coaxial cable you should be using to make sure that your audio and video signals are at their best quality. 

In order to help you tell the most common coaxial cables apart, and hopefully understand what makes up the best coaxial cable for your digital TV, we will be giving you a quick rundown on what a coaxial cable is for, and giving you a guide on what exactly you should be on the lookout for in identifying the best coaxial cable for digital TV.

What Is A Coaxial Cable?

The first step in identifying the best kind of coaxial cable for your digital TV? Knowing what exactly coaxial cables are. So, what exactly is a coaxial cable? 

It is a heavy-duty, shielded type of cable that is widely used for both commercial and residential purposes. It works by carrying data into the centre conductor, while the surrounding outer layer of shielding helps resist signal interferences, reduce EMI, restrict attenuation loss and prevent damage from outside or environmental factors. 

Coax cables are easy to tell apart from other cable types as they have distinctly thick and round due to the presence of its interior insulation layer. However, while they are distinct and easy to identify among other types of cables, coax cables are typically similar-looking with each other.

One significant difference between such coax cables, though, is their size or thickness. Additionally, there are differences in the impedance rating and air spaces within coaxial cables. These factors are crucial in determining what kind of coax cable is most useful for your needs. 

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Most Common Kinds Of Coaxial Cables and Their Uses

Three of the most common kinds of coax cables are the RG-6, RG-59 and RG-11 cables. Each cable serves a different purpose. Here’s a preview on what each cable type is used for:

RG-6 Coaxial Cables

An RG6 coaxial cable is best used for connecting a TV set or set top box to a TV aerial, satellite dish or satellite receiver. It is also used for the internet and digital video. RG-6 cables are made with a different kind of shielding and have a 75-ohm impedance, making them more effective for carrying GHz signals. 

RG-11 Coaxial Cables

RG-11s are coaxial cables for HDTVl. It provides more air space for signals to transfer, making it adept at transferring strong HD signals at high speed. Using a  low loss RG-11 cable could mean better overall signal quality.

RG-59 Coaxial Cables

This cable works best for CCTV systems as it is extremely convenient to work with. 

Determining The Factors That Make Up The Best Coaxial Cable For Digital TV

Now that you understand the basics of how a coaxial cable works, it’s time to break down the elements that make up a coaxial cable that is best for digital television. 

Shielding

Following the notion that more shielding is equal to better TV signal quality, it is logical to prioritise shielding in the list of things you should consider in determining the best coaxial cable for digital TV.

The shielding resists all kinds of external interference. Such external interference, or “noise,” in turn, creates poor TV signal quality. 

There are two common kinds of shielding varieties for coax cables. The braid shielding and the foil shielding. Most RG-6 cables, which are most commonly used for digital television, typically have both. 

The foil shielding protects the centre conductor from high-frequency electromagnetic interference or EMF, while the braided part blocks out low-frequency interference. A coaxial cabling with both means having a pretty powerful shielding system around your cable. 

If you’re looking to further protect your TV system from signal interference, you may also consider springing for a quad shielding system, which surrounds your cable with an extra layer of foil shielding and an extra layer of braid shielding. 

Cable Lengths

While a signal loss is pretty much unavoidable, having a much shorter coaxial cable makes way for less of it. To put it simply, the shorter your cabling is, the less chance you have of having degraded incoming antenna signals. 

If keeping your coaxial cabling short is not on option, you may want to consider investing in a TV signal booster. 

Impedance

Impedance is the term used to express the ratio of voltage to current within a cable of infinite length. To put it simply, it is the amount of resistance the waves encounter within the coaxial cable. Using a coax cable with too much or too little impedance can cause issues with your TV’s signal quality.

However, as impedance would require a whole discussion in itself, it is best for you to know that a coaxial cable with 75-ohm impedance is best for TV aerials, internet connection and digital video signals.

Insertion Loss Rate

If you plan on splitting, or tapping, your antenna signal by connecting a splitter onto your coax cable, that will automatically degrade the incoming signal. Additionally, inserting something, like a splitter, into your antenna cable could cause insertion loss. 

If you plan on inserting a splitter onto your coaxial cable, be sure to find one with a low insertion loss.

Connector Quality

Many coax cables come with nickel-plated connectors. They’re cheap and will definitely get the job done. However, if you don’t mind spending a few more bucks to make sure that the impedance of your cable stays true and accurate, you may want to splurge on a brass or gold plated connector. Such connectors have anti-corrosive properties that protect them from oxidation.

Some connectors, meanwhile, have o-ring seals or special kinds of coatings that make them waterproof. Such connectors are best for outdoor use.

Speaking of connectors, it would be best to know the particular kind of connector you would need. There are several kinds of coaxial cable connectors in the market, but the most compatible for any of your domestic wiring needs would be FType connectors. They are used with cable television, satellite television and even cable modems.

Final Thoughts

To end this article, I’m leaving you with a few tips to remember before you go out (or go to your favourite online shopping website) to purchase your coaxial cable:

  1. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a coaxial connector with the right ohm impedance, as well as the connector on it. Getting it wrong could result in signal losses and poor TV picture quality.
  2. As mentioned above, cable lengths could affect the incoming tv signal quality. Find out if the length you need is just right or if, you will need to get a signal booster.
  3. If you think working with a coaxial cable on your own is too overwhelming or risky, you may want to consider leaving it to a professional TV service provider

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