About coax splitters

Updated April 17, 2017

Installing a coax splitter device enables you to share the digital terrestrial television, digital radio or FM radio signal from your aerial to more than one receiver. The coaxial cable splitter divides the signal from the TV or radio aerial to two or more outputs feeding separate runs of coaxial cable to TV sets or radio receivers in different rooms. Careful installation of the coax splitter is essential to limit signal loss.


Also sometimes known as "mastheads," coax splitters come with a single input jack to receive the coaxial feed from the aerial and two, four and sometimes eight outputs to split and distribute the feed down separate coaxial cables to receivers throughout the home. Splitting the signal from the aerial isn't without disadvantages. Each split introduces signal loss, typically up 2 decibels according to UK communications regulator Ofcom.


You can mount the coax splitter outside or inside your home. If you mount the splitter outside, install it inside a weatherproof box to prevent water ingress and corrosion and fix it firmly to the wall or eaves with the supplied screws. Most external coax splitters on sale at electronics shops or from online retailers come supplied with a weatherproof cover. Many people choose to mount an internal coax splitter inside the attic, because this location is usually close to the rooftop TV or radio aerial and is within easy reach of the rooms to which they want to supply the multiple signal feeds.


The coax splitter sits between the TV or radio aerial and the devices you want to feed with the signal. Always follow the manufacturer's specific instructions, but for all installations you will need to run a length of RG6 coaxial cable from the TV or radio aerial to the coax splitter. Screw on an F-type or Belling-Lee coax connector to the end of the cable and screw or push the connector onto the coax splitter's input jack. Check the splitter's instruction manual to determine whether you require F-type or Belling-Lee connectors. Install runs of RG6 coaxial cable from each device to the coax splitter, attach connectors to the cable and then screw or push these onto the splitter's output jacks. Fix the splitter firmly to a wall or another suitable flat surface with the supplied mounting screws. Always secure cable runs with clamps or ties.


Ofcom advises avoiding splitters if you live in an area with low signal strength. If you do want to install a splitter, always invest in a high-end coax splitter that balances the signal load equally between each output. If you need to feed more than two receivers through a coax splitter with multiple outputs, you will almost certainly require an amplified splitter that boosts the signal to minimise loss. Another option is to install a diplexer, rather than a splitter. Although more expensive, the diplexer has a lower insertion loss than a splitter and uses separate frequencies to avoid interference.


Although suitable for digital terrestrial television, digital radio and analogue FM radio signals, you cannot use a splitter to divide a digital satellite or digital cable television input signal. Instead, most satellite and cable TV receivers come with a secondary output socket that you can use to distribute the signal around your home.

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About the Author

Adrian Grahams began writing professionally in 1989 after training as a newspaper reporter. His work has been published online and in various newspapers, including "The Cornish Times" and "The Sunday Independent." Grahams specializes in technology and communications. He holds a Bachelor of Science, postgraduate diplomas in journalism and website design and is studying for an MBA.