Difference between a splitter & a diplexer

Written by matt wills
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Difference between a splitter & a diplexer
Splitters and diplexers look similar, but work differently. (Aerial splitter 4 sockets made of metal isolated on white image by Olga Sapegina from Fotolia.com)

Splitters and diplexers are essential components in home cable and satellite systems. A two-way splitter and diplexer look similar, with each having one port on top and two on bottom that attach to a cable fitting. Both are silver on the sides and back--the face on splitters can be white, red or blue with black or white letters, while diplexers have a blue or red front with black or white lettering.


Satellite installer Jim Van Vliet cautions that splitters and diplexers are not interchangeable. Customers who move their TVs or receivers may mistakenly substitute one component for the other, causing their TVs to stop working. Van Vliet says satellite or cable customers should contact their service providers before making any system changes.


Splitter output ports have dB markings above them to show the signal loss. The inside of the ports are white, indicating the component is for TV signals. On the diplexer, the inside of the top port marked "IN/OUT" is purple. The bottom port marked "VHF/UHF" for TV signal is white. The other bottom port, marked "SAT" for the satellite signal input, is blue.


Splitters divide a low-frequency signal to two or more TVs. Diplexers are used with a satellite system to allow satellite and TV signals, along with low voltage, to travel different directions simultaneously along a single coaxial line, saving the satellite technician from running separate coaxial line for each signal.


Splitters can be found anywhere in a home or apartment, behind a wall plate, at the cable box along the side of the house, in the attic or crawlspace. Diplexers are only used in pairs, with one near the satellite antenna, connecting the line from the antenna to the lines to the receiver and additional TV. The second diplexer is attached via coaxial cable to the back of a dual-tuner receiver.


Splitters and diplexers require a dry location out of the weather. Direct sunlight will cause them to overheat and fail; water or damp conditions will cause them to corrode. Cable premises technician David Busby says cable fittings must be attached to the components using 13.6 Kilogram of torque, to make the connections waterproof and ensure minimal signal loss.

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