Saturday, June 30, 2012

Does cable type matter for TV reception? You bet it does.

Bottom line is it is important to spend the money up front for good cable - and to ensure your installers don't skimp on you either.  Due to our rural location we cannot receive cable TV so we opted for Dish TV.  When the Dish installer came to set up the system he noted that the electricians had used differing types of cable for different parts of the house (e.g. RG 59U for some rooms, RG-6 for other parts).  Due to that they had to install the "Hopper" unit (their master unit) in a room downstairs while they installed the Joey (a slave to the master) in our family room which is where we typically spend most of our time.  The main unit requires a better signal so it requires RG-6 cable while the RG-59 cable will suffice for the Joey.  Over the last couple of months we've been having issues with the Dish TV dropping signal so I replaced the RG-59U cable feeding that family room.  Unfortunately I replaced it with cable we had purchased from a reuse store and I installed "easy on" connectors.  Unsure which was causing the problem today was he "replace all the cable and connectors" day - I bought a 100' length of high quality RG-6 cable with connectors attached and ran it from the distribution point to the TV. Voila! Things appear to be working much better than earlier in the day when the slave kept saying "trying to find the Hopper" and never was able to sync.  I ran a test by putting the Joey on a shorter cable near the distribution point and it synced up quickly. that told me the cable was the problem.

The lesson that I would pass along is to ensure when your electricians (or whomever does the install of the cable TV throughout the house) use high quality cable - e.g. at least RG-6 which is suited for satellite TV use.  Needless to say we were a bit disappointed in our electricians on a number of fronts and this just continued to highlight the fact they were not someone who is on my "hire these guys again" list!

As a side note - I did disconnect the surge suppressor from the cable TV lines to ensure it wasn't causing the problems.  The signal strength on the receiver didn't change at all from the before to the after so it was clear this wasn't causing the dropouts.

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