Coaxial Cables 101

Coaxial CablesCoaxial cables have become a thing of the present. They are commonly used in residences across the US to enable high speed internet access, support cable television and surveillance video systems. They do so by carrying high frequency signals while protecting the signals from electromagnetic interference (EMI) from external sources.

To achieve best results, selecting the appropriate cable per application is crucial, since not all coaxial cables are made the same. Baseband applications (ex. CCTV) and broadband applications (CATV) call for different cable composition and performance requirements.

Coaxial Cables – Types

Coaxial cables differ by their RG (Radio Guide) rating. The different RG ratings distinguish each cable’s distinct characteristics and specifications per their applications. It is important to distinguish that the RG rating does not indicate quality, and therefore purchasing a known brand is recommended.

RG59

A popular cable in residential settings, the RG59 has the thinnest center conductor available. It can easily be coiled or bent for in wall or ceiling installations. Its thinner center conductor renders the RG59 the best choice for short runs and low frequency transmissions within a home. Otherwise it is inferior to the RG6 in other applications. RG59 is used for distances up to 750 feet.

RG6

This is the industry standard for cable and satellite signal transmission, the RG-6 cable is thin and can easily be coiled or bent for residential installation within a wall or ceiling. Its larger diameter allows for transmission distances of up to 1500 feet. It is used for both residential and commercial applications for high definition signals.

RG-6 cable is available in three different construction types. Dual-shield (an aluminum foil and 60% aluminum braid), tri-shield (an aluminum foil and 80% aluminum braid), and quad-shield (aluminum foil, 60% aluminum braid, aluminum foil, and 40% aluminum braid). The foil is used in order to minimize high-frequency RF signal leakage. The braid minimizes leakage of low-frequency RF signals. Dual shield RG6 cable is sufficient for locations with little RF interference such as rural areas. Urban environments with higher RF interference require tri/quad shield RG6 cable.

RG11

This thick, inflexible cable is used to minimize signal loss in long runs. This 14 gauge wire allows more room to transfer signal, and provides 3Ghz frequency for CATV, HDTV, TV antenna and video distribution.

RG-11 is typically used for outdoor or underground runs. RG-11 is used for long runs for its high speeds, excellent attenuation feature, and low signal loss.