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TV Aerial Splitter: What Is It and What Does It Do?

Posted by on November 6, 2019 in Stuff with 0 Comments

The average number of televisions in an American household is 2.3.

The average number of TVs is on the decline, but more families still use three or more televisions compared to the 1990s and early 2000s.

At the same time, although most of us are two-television households, we aren't two antenna households.

But how do you split the signal from one TV to another without adding an antenna for each TV? You use a device called a TV aerial splitter.

In the U.S., we primarily use coaxial cables, which means you need a coaxial splitter, in particular.

What is a splitter, and what does it do? Keep reading to learn more.

What Is a Coaxial Splitter?

A coaxial splitter is a “signal splitter” that allows you to connect two (or more) TVs to your antennae signal.

If you purchased your home with an existing antenna or cable system, then your house will probably be fully wired with an existing coaxial splitter and cables. All of these then meet at a central point, usually in your utility room or basement. You'll recognize it because it's a bundle of black cables. If it's a high-quality splitter, you may even find it outdoors.

The splitter accepts a coaxial cable in from the antenna and then “splits” the signal energy through the output ports. You can find splitters with two to eight (rarely up to 16) output ports. Because the splitter divides the signal, you will find that the signal is stronger when you use a 2-port splitter versus an 8-port splitter.

You can install the splitter yourself, but some additional aspects of the job, such as installing an in-line amplifier or preamplifier, require you to call an antennae repair company to run the cable for you.

Also, some households aren't a good match for a splitter system. If you have firm demands for your TV signal, you could be better off running two antennas instead of running a splitter.

Why It's Important to Choose a High-Quality Splitter

Choosing a high-quality splitter is essential, particularly in the era of digital and HDTV.

HDTVs require full signal strength without any loss, and you can't achieve this with a low-end coaxial splitter. Low mechanical integrity means you'll struggle to get a powerful enough signal to make the split worth it.

This also means that if you are just now buying an HDTV and upgrading from a CRT TV, then you will also need to upgrade your existing wiring (if you currently use a splitter with your CRT TV).

No matter what television you use or whether you use a cable or satellite splitter, poor quality devices “leak” the signal and “radiate” electrical magnetic interference (EMI). Leaking is terrible for your signal because what leaves the device can also come back in. If your splitter radiates EMI, then it will also receive interference from corrupt signals.

One of the most important quality features of the splitter is the mechanical seal. A well-sealed splitter keeps moisture out of the body to prevent the internal components from becoming damaged and corrupted.

Now that you better understand how a splitter works and what makes it high-quality, it's time to find out how to find the appropriate one for your needs.

How Do You Choose the Right TV Aerial Splitter?

There are three things that you need to think about before you go out and buy an aerial splitter.

The first is the splitter's frequency. Every splitter has a frequency rating measured in megahertz (MHz). The frequency must match your antenna's frequency to transmit the signal correctly.

In most cases, you need a 1000 MHz splitter, which is the top end of TV frequencies in North America. You can choose a 900 MHz splitter as long as you don't have channels 83 or higher. However, 1000 MHz is usually better.

Second, you need to decide between powered and passive splitters. Powered splitters improve your signal, and the passive merely conducts the available signal through the splitter, which means you don't benefit from any boost. If you have an HDTV, then a powered splitter is ideal because you don't want to risk signal loss from the get-go.

If you already have a passive splitter and don't want to upgrade, then you can get away with it if your cable runs are short enough, and you have an antenna booster to help it along.

Third, you need to determine the number of outputs you want — these range from two to sixteen. You can use a splitter as a feeder for a second splitter, but each time you add a splitter, you generate more loss. It's better to use a single splitter with enough outputs. Or, if you need that many, consider a second antenna because it could cause you a lot less grief.

Remember: cable splitters always result in the loss of the signal, even if you don't use all the ports. You can alternatively add terminator caps to unused ports to reduce this, but it won't stop the loss.

Do You Have More Questions About Using a Splitter?

A TV aerial splitter allows you to transmit the signal from one antenna to all the TVs in your house. Choosing the right splitter is very important, particularly if you run HD systems and have a large house. When a splitter divides the signal, you lose some of the power, which impacts the signal your TV receives.

Did you find this article helpful? Make sure you check out our Technology archive for more great content.

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