How does a cable TV splitter work?

Updated April 17, 2017

The day that you are having cable television installed into your home arrives and you are feeling excited. No more silly looking "rabbit ear" antenna on top of the television and the kids will have their own television. You will finally be able to watch your shows with clarity and peace and quiet. When the cable technician arrives, he informs you that to have two television sets hooked up, he'll have to run a splitter. What is a cable TV splitter and how does it work?

A cable TV splitter is a device that is built to provide multiple outlets for one signal. There are many variations of splitters, ranging from a simple two-way splitter to a mighty 16-way splitter. Today's splitters are built to retain a signal's strength without any modulation loss. To have the best picture quality for high definition television units, you have to have a strong signal.

A cable TV splitter has one input for the signal to enter and then delegates signal to the output ports. The amount of output ports on the splitter will decrease the signal that is coming into the splitter. Most splitter manufacturers will print or engrave the number amount (of the signal expected to come out of the output port) on the splitter above that designated port. This is important as you want the strongest signal to run your HD receiver or your broadband connection.

The loss of signal can happen from multiple factors, and troubleshooting the problem can take time. Knowing how your splitter works and the signal of its output ports will help decrease the troubleshooting time. For example, if your HD picture is not clear and is blotchy, then you would need to start troubleshooting at the source of the signal. You would make sure each fitting is clean and that the coaxial cable to your HDTV is on the strongest output signal on the splitter. Having too many splitters will diminish the signal.

Cable TV splitters work differently from satellite TV splitters. Using a cable TV splitter in a satellite set-up will cut the signal to your receiver drastically. Make sure you have a splitter that is made for your set-up and try to use a maximum of one splitter. If you need 10 outlets but your splitter only has eight output ports, then look at a 16-way splitter.

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About the Author

Hannah Scott has been a freelance writer for more than 12 years. Scott's first published article appeared in "The Mountain Press" in 1999. She has also written for the "Tennessee Star Journal" and several websites, including RAE Magazine.