NICE AND EASY: Tuners, splitters, MoCA

At some point, I’ll get around to doing a whole white paper on this stuff. But in the meantime here’s a very quick primer on what you need to know about expanding your DIRECTV system, what you can and can’t do.

Think of a tuner as something you can watch or record. So a regular receiver has 1, a regular DVR has 2. A Genie has 5, but a client has zero, because it gets its TV signal from the Genie DVR.

You can have an unlimited number of tuners, if you follow simple rules:

  • With the 3D2 LNB, you can have 21 tuners coming from a single line connected to the dish.
  • With the SWM-13 LNB, you can have 13 tuners coming from a single line connected to the dish.
  • With a regular SWM LNB, you can have 8 tuners coming from a single line connected to the dish.

If you need more flexibility, you can use an external multiswitch. A SWM-8 multiswitch gives you 8 tuners, while a SWM-16 multiswitch gives you 16. You can have as many SWM multiswitches as you want.

Splitters are used to make sure everything gets its own line. Don’t confuse tuners with splitters. Each port on a splitter can feed as many tuners as it needs. For example, you can hook up a Genie DVR, three clients, and 5 H25s to one 8-port splitter. If you do the math, though, that’s 10 tuners so you would need a SWM-13 or 3D2 LNB. Why? Because SWM-16’s can only have 8 tuners per output. They’re more like 2 SWM-8s stuck together.)

You can connect one splitter to another if you want, but remember each time you split a signal it gets weaker. A weak signal doesn’t travel as far. In general, each 1×2 splitter cuts down the range by 30 feet, each 1×4 cuts it down by 60, and each 1×8 cuts the signal range by 120 feet. (that’s kind of oversimplifying but it’s good for quick calculations.

MoCA is the technology that lets you share programs between DVRs and makes the Genie Clients work. The most important thing you need to know is that there’s a hard limit of 16 devices for one MoCA “cloud” and that includes whatever device you’re using to connect to the internet. Each thing counts as one… a DVR, receiver, client, DECA, and Wireless Video Bridge all count as one. If you get above 10 DVRs there might be some problems sharing.

So, armed with that information, you can start to plan your next big DIRECTV project!

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 7,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.