What Is a Coaxial Cable?

What Is a Coaxial Cable?

So you’ve hooked up your coaxial cable to the right ports, but you’re still not getting TV or internet. What should you do?

First, check a few things. Is the TV on? (Sorry, but we have to ask.) Are all your other devices on as well? Then, double-check the ports so you’re absolutely positive the coaxial cables are where they need to be. Check the inner wire inside the cord, too. If it’s bent, it might not be going into the little hole in the coaxial jack. Without that, the coaxial cable won’t function.

Unfortunately, coaxial cables are subject to wear and tear. They’re more delicate than they might appear, and they don’t handle bending and twisting quite as well as some of their more modern counterparts. Once you’ve looked at the inner wire, check for signs of fraying on the cable. While you’re at it, check the metallic connector portions at the end of the coaxial cable. If that’s damaged somehow, then you probably need to replace your coaxial cable with something new.

Some coaxial cables last longer than others. Look for “low loss” cables that have better shielding, because that better shielding makes them a bit more resilient. That said, you shouldn’t do things like step on your coaxial cable or store it in extreme temperatures. No cable will last forever, but taking good care of your coaxial cable is the best thing you can do to ensure it has a longer life.

Finally, remember that it’s not always just about the cable. Consider device-specific troubleshooting. If you’re having trouble with an internet modem, reboot the modem and consider contacting your ISP for help. If you’re dealing with an antenna, you could try our antenna troubleshooting tips. One option with an antenna is to add an amplifier to the setup. An amplifier is a little device that does exactly what it sounds like: It amplifies the signal!

Which Coaxial Cable Should I Use for My TV?

Coaxial cables all look pretty much the same, but is there a special one to look for when it’s time to go buy one for your TV?

The short answer is that you probably don’t have to worry about it. While there are differences in coaxial cable types, they’re not generally going to affect compatibility: Some might be “better” than others, but they’re pretty much all always going to work for the typical things we use coaxial cables for. But if you’re committed to always getting the very best, you could pay attention to the specific type of coaxial cables on the market.

There are more than three types of coaxial cables, but there are three that you’ll see most commonly. Those are the RG6, RG11, and RG59. Those may sound like rejected Star Wars characters, but they’re not. You won’t find a droid named RG6 popping up in The Mandalorian anytime soon.

Instead, RG stands for “radio guide.” The higher the number, the thinner the conductor in the middle of the cable is. So of the most common types, the RG6 would be the thickest cable, and the RG59 would be the thinnest.

What does that mean for you, the person who is just trying to connect a coaxial cable or two in their home? In general, the RG-59 is better if the cable is going just a short distance. If you only need a four-foot or six-foot coaxial cable to get things connected, RG59 should work fine.

What if you’re using a coaxial cable that’s longer than a few feet? If you’re hooking up, say, a 25-foot coaxial cable, it’s worth considering an RG11. They generally handle distance better than the other types. They also work well for HD connections, So if you’re asking “How do I use coaxial cables for HDTV?,” start by finding an RG11.

The largest of inner conductors can be found inside an R6 coaxial cable. If getting an amazing signal quality is your top concern, then this is probably your best bet.