Coaxial cables are used to transmit Internet connections and cable television signals from the wall outlets or cable boxes to the computers or televisions. With a central core surrounded by an insulator and outer shield, coaxial cables are unique in their size and design. Because of this singularity, a specialty splitter, known as a coaxial cable splitter, is needed when the signal must travel in multiple directions.
There are several instances when this split becomes a necessity, but one of the most common occurs when homeowners have a single coaxial line that controls the Internet and cable television signal, and they want to be able to attach both a computer and a television to the same coaxial cable. In this situation, the homeowner needs a coaxial cable splitter attached to the incoming coaxial line that will divide the signal into two different directions, one going to the computer, and one traveling to the television.
In a similar fashion, this type of cable splitter can be used to divide a coaxial signal to a number of devices. These devices could include a cable modem or a telephone in addition to the typical computer and television. Because the majority of homes has many appliances that could require connection to the main coaxial line, a cable splitter with multiple ports could become necessary.
Coaxial cable splitters are typically marketed based on the number of ports available. For example, a four-way cable splitter will feature four different ports. It is important to remember that as more ports are added to the splitter, it becomes more likely to drop signals or allow signal interference. Because of this potential pitfall, it is best to use a cable splitter with the least number of ports necessary to do the job. In addition, cable splitters should never be attached to another cable splitter in a chain for similar reasons. Splitting a cable signal into too many directions will become detrimental to quality of the signal.
When considering the best type of coaxial cable splitter to use, there are several options depending on the situation.
Passive Cable Splitters
Produced as simple metal boxes featuring coaxial inputs and outputs, passive cable splitters are the most basic type. In these splitters, the coaxial signal travels into the splitter, and the signal is passively divided into several different directions. Because this splitter is a simple divider, no savings or amplifications of signal are included. This means that as the main signal is divided, each split causes a loss of approximately three decibels. While this loss is not incredibly detrimental in a two- or three-way splitter, a device with many more ports will cause a much higher loss of signal. Overall, this type of splitter is a good choice for a situation requiring a low number of ports.
Active Cable Splitters
Active splitters work in basically the same method as passive cable splitters, except that each divide includes a small amount of amplification. If a cable is being stretched over long distances, this is the type of splitter that should be used. Signal strength can be lessened as it travels along significant stretches of cable, and the boost provided by this type of splitter can help compensate for any losses incurred because of the distance. In addition, because this type of cable splitter includes amplification circuitry inside, the loss of decibels incurred by a passive splitter is basically negated. Sometimes active cable splitters are known as coaxial distribution amplifiers, and this moniker is perfectly descriptive of the duties that the splitter handles. It is important to remember that active splitters require AC power in order to operate, but that is a small price to pay for the increased signal strength provided by this device.
Diplex Cable Splitters
Although diplexers are technically signal combiners and not splitters, they can be used reversely to divide cable signals. Because diplexers are frequently used in satellite installations in combination with antennas, it is not difficult to add a second diplexer to split the cable into several directions leading to different devices. Homes that wish to combine the signal from a satellite with the signal from an antenna run these two cables into a first diplexer. From this initial diplexer, a single coaxial cable emerges that can be run into the home. This coaxial cable can then be attached to a second diplexer, which will divide the coaxial’s single signal into the various directions required for the television and computer.
Multi-Switch Cable Splitters
Used almost exclusively by satellite installations, the multi-switch cable splitter is necessary when the signal from one satellite dish needs to be divided to multiple apartments, offices, or rooms of a home. In a multi-switch coaxial splitter, the single signal from the dish travels into the building to the multi-switch location. Typical multi-switches redistribute this signal into more than four different directions, each lead traveling to a receiver that handles the incoming signal. This type of coaxial cable splitter is generally reserved for major operations, and the multi-switch often includes amplification technology that will boost the signal strength as it is divided into so many directions.