Best Co-Axial Cable For HDTV Antennas
For any entertainment system, you’ll need at least one co-axial (“co-ax”) cable to connect things together. At a minimum, you’ll need a short cable to connect your TV to your internet cable-box / cable-modem or HDTV antenna; You may also need a longer cable to connect TVs in other rooms; And possibly a really long cable if you are cord-cutting with an attic-mount or outdoor mast-antenna. Our review has you covered for every length you may need: 4-, 8-, 15-, 25-, 50-, 75-, 100-, 150- and 200-feet coax cables, starting about $5 to under $20 for 200-feet.
(Related – Best HDTV Indoor Antennas For Cord Cutters)
What Is Co-Ax?
These cables go by many names: Coaxial, Coax, RG-6, 75-Ohm are the most common. All of these are basic descriptions of the type of cable you’ll want.
Wikipedia provides a great explanation, “it’s a type of electrical cable that has an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer, surrounded by a tubular conducting shield. Many coaxial cables also have an insulating outer sheath or jacket. The term coaxial comes from the inner conductor and the outer shield sharing a geometric axis.”
For most people, it’s a simply a black (or white) round cable with copper wire poking out the end of the silver screw-on connector.
Some manufacturers may offer “RG-59” instead of “RG-6”. While the RG-59 may be a lower cost, we recommend using the RG-6. Why? Well, the RG-6 is better suited because (1) thicker copper wire to better carry the signal, (2) it has a thicker insulation for better signal immunity and cable strength, (3) better shielding to protect against electrical noise , (4) matched for 75-ohm impedance.
You can read more about this in an article from Sewell Direct – RG-59 versus RG-6 .
Basically, a better cable will greatly reduce or eliminate the hum or static of RF (Radio Frequency) and EM (Electro Magnetic) interference. This means a better signal, and hopefully no drop-out of any digital stations you tune in on your antenna.
What is F-Type Connector?
The “F-Type connector” is the metal piece at the end of the cable that screws onto your actual antenna on one end, and the antenna input of your TV on the other end.
Devices with F-Type ports typically include: cable box, TV, satellite receiver, VCR, cable modem, indoor HDTV antenna, outdoor antenna and many more.
We prefer either nickel or brass connectors since they hold up better to the outdoor elements. Fortunately, most companies are using one of these metals, so we can easily avoid some of the the plastic housings which get brittle.
For the long cable lengths (around 50 feet to 200 feet), we found the cables from “Phat Satellite Intl” to work well, last long and have a good price. Since cables are probably something you only buy every couple of years, or when you change equipment, it’s best to go with quality. This is especially true for running cables outside the house, from the attic or through walls. And it goes double when you have to bury the cable underground.
We like these cables have brass F-Type connectors, which screw on and off easily. The “easy grip connector caps” are smooth for tightening/loosening, so you can do this by hand without needing additional tools. And it includes a rubber O-Ring for a weather seal, inside each connector.
The cable itself is flexible and durable. We’ve had one 100-foot run on an exposed roof for nearly 5-years without any cracking, breaking or defects. The outer PVC jacket is made of fire-retardant materials, so this is suitable for indoors as well as outdoors.
Phat Satellite assemblers their cables in 8 USA sites, with each facility ISO9001 qualified. The cables also have the full suite of certifications: UL (Underwriters Laboratory); ETL ; NEC 820 – CATV, CM; NEC 830 – BM; RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances).
We also like the internal copper center conductor is 18-guage, compared with thinner wires in some competitors.
How Long Should I Get?
You may look at many of these cables and see that it’s nearly the same price for 200-feet as 150-feet, or similarly 100-feet as 75-feet. More is better, right?
Well, It’s best to get the cable length that best matches the actual length but not shorter. If you need about 115 feet, then get the 150-feet cable and not the 200-feet, even though it’s only a few dollars more.
The reason is that there is some signal reduction in every piece of cable, and while it’s not a large amount per cable-foot it is still something to be aware of. Also, each additional foot of cables can add incremental noise into your signal.
You want the strongest possible signal, with the least amount of noise, when you plug the cable into your TV or cable-modem box. You also don’t want a big coil of cable sitting on the shelf behind your TV, or up on the roof collecting dirt and leaves.
Ordering Links / More Information
There are a few basic categories to consider: long (50 to 200 feet), short (1 to 10 feet), weather-proof and underground/buried.
For long cable runs from your antenna to inside your house, where your cable-box / cable-modem is, we like a company called “Phat Satellite International” that ships through Amazon Prime. They generally get the “Amazon Choice” awards for most of their cables, which is always good to see.
Here are the links to Amazon, with current pricing as of publication:
50-feet, about $10
75-feet, about $11
100-feet, about $14
150-feet, about $17
200-feet, about $19
50-feet, about $10
75-feet, about $11
100-feet, about $12
150-feet, about $16
200-feet, about $20
If you need to bury the cable, or are concerned about excessive moisture, you’ll want a cable with Moisture and Soil Acidity Tolerance, special Gel coatings and water-tight rubberized compression fittings for the F-Connectors.
Expect to pay about 2x for the underground cables compared with the standard coax.
75-feet, about $30
100-feet, about $30
150-feet, about $40
200-feet, about $45
For the short runs, typically from your equipment to the TV, we find that AmazonBasics has some great products. The AmazonBasics are ” UL CL2 rated “, which allows for in-wall use. Basically, this means the cable’s materials are not going to burn during a sudden surge of electricity up to 150 watts and the cable itself will not carry a flame.
These are also good if you are using a “cable splitter” to connect multiple devices to one signal source.
4-feet, black, about $7
8-feet, black, about $8
15-feet, black, about $9
25-feet, black, about $10
50-feet, black, about $12
Splitters / Adapter
About those cable splitters we mentioned above – these let you extend / “adapt” a cable length (1-to-1), connect one source (like your antenna) to two, three, or four devices (like your TVs, modems, etc.) (1-to-2, 1-to-3, 1-to-4). You can split to more outputs from the single input, but you’ll may end up losing too much signal strength / integrity to get good enough reception.
Here are some we recommend:
F-Type Cable Extension Adapter Connects Two Coaxial Video Cables (2-pack), about $4
2-Way Coax Cable Splitter Bi-Directional MoCA 5-2300MHz, about $10 from BAMF
3-Way Coax Cable Splitter Bi-Directional MoCA 5-2300MHz, about $13 from BAMF
4-Way Coax Cable Splitter Bi-Directional MoCA 5-2300MHz, about $14 from BAMF
Consider how much labor is involved with running cables, moving TVs and hooking everything together when you start your planning. You want to make sure you have all the appropriate lengths of cable, along with any adapters / splitters before you start the project. While cables are relatively inexpensive compared to all your other equipment, it pays to get quality from the beginning and only do this once.
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