NICE AND EASY: When you shouldn’t use “home store” cables

I know, it sounds like we’re trying to put one over on you. I get that. But please, please don’t go to the local “big box” home store for your antenna or satellite cable. Why? Because sometimes it will work and sometimes it won’t. Just that simple.

The cable you get at the home store may look ok, but there are two problems. First of all, the molded ends. Molded ends, in other words ends made out of plastic, usually hide bad workmanship. Solid Signal’s cables are hand crafted and built-to-order, then every single one is tested. A molded plastic end isn’t necessarily the sign of a bad cable, but it’s usually a sign of one made in a factory and not tested.

Then, the big problem – the center wire in most home-store cables is steel, with a thin copper plating. (You’ll even see the words “copper-coated steel” or “CCS” somewhere on the box. That’s actually ok in some cases, but anytime the cable has to carry power, that center wire needs to be solid copper. All of our made-to-order cables are solid copper in the center. That’s important, because amplified antennas and preamps won’t work without that solid copper center.

Home store cables aren’t all bad, and if I were putting up an antenna for temporary use I’d probably be ok with them. The same for a cell booster installation — cellular boosters tend to work just fine with less expensive cables usually because of the short distances. Of course cell boosters usually come with their own cables.

Our cables are genuine dual-shielded RG6, made to the same specifications as the ones used by DISH, DIRECTV, and cable companies. This is professional quality cable and it’s worth the few extra pennies to make sure you have the right stuff.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.