Coaxial Cable the Definitive Guide

Coaxial cable (coax) is used in a variety of ways to transmit data from one item to another. You may be familiar with it on cable TV installations, satellite, and signal boosters. Most of the time when it’s used for TV that is paid for such as cable etc. the signal being pushed through it is very strong. This allows the user some forgiveness in the quality of cable they can run.

Most folks have no idea you can buy higher quality cable, or that it matters. Unlike many things in life though, higher quality cable might not yield better results for your application.  It’s important to take things such as run length, frequency, and sheathing type into consideration. We’ll cover all this in our coaxial cable the definitive guide article.

Coaxial Cable the Definitive Guide – length

Something that is often over looked is the length of cable required for the job. Most installs have a really strong input signal. This allows even long cables to produce proper output, be it a TV channel, Internet, or cell phone booster. However for a weaker signal, such as a booster, or over the air TV antenna it could matter a lot. All cables have a maximum recommended length, the higher quality cables can be ran further. Trying to use a lower quality cable over a longer run will result in a poor experience. As an example a CAT5 cable, also known as an Ethernet cord, or internet cable has a maximum run of about 100ft. If you run them over that amount, your internet will have serious issues.

Coaxial cable & Frequencies:

When someone says frequencies, you may think of radio waves. You might be surprise that everything transferred over a coax cable is a specific frequency. Much like a radio station has a frequency, we’re just reproducing the signal in a different way. The reason frequency is important is because cable loses signal at different rates depending on frequency. A cellular booster typically operates somewhere between 700mhz and 2.5Ghz, where a TV over the air station is 700mhz or so. You may notice that’s close to the TV station frequency, however they normally don’t interfere.

Cable and Satellite installs are often in the 2Ghz or higher range. This means that a single cable type must cover all of these frequencies. In the world of antennas and frequencies, you can’t have it all, without giving up something else. This generally means you mean lose more signal at 700mhz, than at 2.5Ghz, or vice versa. Where a higher quality cable comes in, is to minimize the loss for all frequencies. Allowing a stronger signal to pass through the cable.

Do I Need Better Coax?

This question may sound hard to answer, but it’s not. If you’re currently satisfied with your booster, TV, cable, satellite, internet, etc. then no. However if you’re having issues with any of the above, and have long cable runs it could be an issue. Most coax is rated for 50-100ft in length, adding splitters along the way make it lower. Where folks generally run into issues is over 50+ feet of cable in a single run. If you have good quality, you may notice no issues. If the quality is cheap though you can run into problems, like the tv losing signal, or poor coverage from a cell booster. It’s only advised to look at the coax if you’re having issues, and it’s a very long run of cable. If you have a short run, then cheaper cable should work well most of the time.

Why is Some Cable Better?

At one time, I thought all coax was the same, it looks the same right? Once you look on the inside though it can look very different. A higher quality cable will have thick metal shielding, with multiple layers. This shielding keeps the signal in, and other signals out, allowing for a longer run. You will notice the higher quality versions have mesh shielding, solid copper cores, foil shielding etc. where the cheaper type may only have foil, with braided copper cores. This follows the general pattern with all cable types. Cable beyond coax can be far more shielded, thicker, and overall harder to work with. The benefits come when you need all the signal you can get. In the higher end boosters like the Weboost connect 4G-X, you get LMR-400 cable. This cable loses about half as much signal as RG6 coax, supplied with the Weboost Connect 4G version. It’s harder to work with but it has the benefit of losing less signal. A comparison would be, RG6 losing 5db every 50ft, vs LMR-400 losing 2.5db every 50ft. These numbers can change depending on cable quality.

Coaxial Cable The Definitive Guide – Sheathing Type

The type of outer coating on a cable is important for a number of reasons. The first reason is what it can be used for, are you installing it in a house wall? Many places require the outside layer to be fire resistant if installed in home walls. Luckily, not everyone needs fire resistant sheathing, because it’s expensive. Other types can’t be buried underground which is another issue some folks may face. When looking for your type of cable be prepared to make adjustments to your install if need be. In our scope of cellular boosters I doubt too much line will need buried, but everyone’s install is different.

Coaxial Cable the Definitive Guide -Conclusion to the Madness

To conclude the great coaxial cable the definitive guide, I hope you learned something useful with the information. If you’re looking for cellular boosters, you may be in the clear. All Wilson Electronic, and WeBoost products come with good quality RG6 coax, it’s not the best of the best, but it’s of good quality. The more expensive boosters come with high quality LMR-400 or similar. If the supplied cables are enough, I wouldn’t worry about buying more, or a different type. The best RG6  generally recommend is Belden 1694, however instead of the cheaper $0.25 per foot, you’re looking at up to $1.00 per foot, that will add up very quickly. I only recommend buying such cable if you really need it, or you want every last drop of performance.

If you’re using this for TV, it’s important to note that with digital TV, it either works, or it don’t. So if your picture looks good and it’s not pixelating, this won’t help. You won’t see an improved picture with better cable unless your previous cable was too long, and caused pixelation to occur. That could also be a sign of weak signal coming in from your TV antenna (or cable company) also. It’s important to check all these items. Until next time, thank you for reading, coaxial cable the definitive guide.