You’ve finally decided to become a cord cutter and have hit the brakes on that over-priced cable TV subscription. You’ve just bought a brand-new TV antenna (or are in the market to buy one), and you’re contemplating how you’re going to install it.
Now, however, some questions are cabling are immediately coming to mind…
Can you use your old cable TVs existing wiring for your antenna? Is it optimal or should you run new RG6 cable? What are the potential issues you should know about before doing so?
In this guide, we will answer all of those questions, and more, so you can make the best decision on whether or not using your old cable wiring for your antenna is a good idea.
Without further ado, let us begin.
RG59 vs RG6 Cable
Your old cable or satellite wiring is typically using coaxial cables, but coax cables actually come in different types, or to be exact, different RG numbers.
The RG number is a classification used to define different varieties of coaxial cable. The RG term actually stands for Radio Guide, which is actually an old specification term used in the military.
There are many different types of coaxial cables, but there are two most commonly used ones: RG6 and RG59.
The main noticeable difference between RG59 and RG6 cables is the size/diameter of the cable themselves.
A typical RG59 cable uses a 20 AWG (American Wire Gauge) copper center conductor, while an RG6 cable uses a larger 18 AWG copper center conductor.
With its bigger size, an RG6 cable offers a higher bandwidth and longer range capacity.
More about RG59 Cables
RG59 cables actually have been around for quite some time and used to be the default coaxial cable for most Cable TV services in the U.S. So, RG59 cables are very commonly installed in older buildings (both residential and commercial).
However, as we’ve discussed, RG59 features a smaller conductor than the newer RG6, so it is simply worse in terms of signal quality, bandwidth, and range.
Also, RG59 is constructed so that it cannot keep GHz-level signals inside its conductor very well: RG59 offers a braided shielding that was designed to block relatively long MHz-level interference.
RG59, however, is actually better for any lower-frequency signals below 50 MHz and is commonly used for component or composite video signals. RG59 is also great for CCTV systems.
More about RG6 Cables
RG6 cables were designed to accommodate satellite and internet signals, that run at much higher frequencies than analog signals (including traditional TV signals).
As we know, most TV broadcasts have made the switch from analog to digital, as with many cable TV companies, so most of them require the use of RG6 cables.
RG6 has a larger copper conductor, allowing a much better signal quality and higher bandwidth.
It also features thicker dielectric insulation with different kinds of shielding, which allows it to protect itself better from GHz-level interferences.
You can check out our article on the best RG6 cables to buy after you’re done here.
Benefits of Connecting Antenna To Existing Wiring
There are a number of benefits to reusing existing cables in your home. For instance, it’s obvious that it’s going to save your money you would otherwise use to purchase a new set of cable.
Yet, there are also other benefits you will get, including:
- No installation cost: when installing a new cable, it’s not only the cost of buying the cables itself that is significant, but you might also need to spend additional expenses for installing new conduits, cable supports, removal of existing cables, and so on. These cabling costs can be significant, and you might need to spend more than the cost of the cable itself.
- Faster deployment: you can use your TV and watch your favorite shows right away, while it might take hours and even days to install a new cable.
- Minimal to no interruptions: there won’t be any interruptions to your daily activities due to ladders, open ceilings, and so on. Not to forget the clean-up process after the installation is done and risks for property damages.
- Optimized: if the cable comes from a reputable cable/satellite TV company, then it’s likely the installation is already optimized according to your home/commercial building’s condition, so you don’t need to figure out the correct length, whether you’ll need a preamplifier, splitter, extender, and so on.
Drawbacks of Connecting Antenna To Existing Wiring
Although as you can see, there are many potential advantages to using your existing cable for your antenna, that’s not saying it’s the perfect option without any disadvantages.
With that being said, here are some important drawbacks to consider:
- Compatibility: your antenna might only support RG6 cables while your existing cable is RG59 or vice versa. In this case, you’ll need to get another antenna or install a new cable instead.
- Cable testing: there’s the potential that your existing cable is no longer in good condition, and you might need to test the whole existing cabling to ensure it’s functioning properly. The testing process, however, can be a major hassle, and if there are only some sections of the cable that needs replacement, you might as well install a new set of cable instead.
- Warranty: home inspectors and security integrators might not warranty existing cabling, while with new cabling you’ll get these benefits.
- Aesthetics: older, exposed coax cable might be unsightly and might not fit with your overall decor.
Best RG6 Cable Recommendations
There are plenty of RG6 cables to choose from on the market and on Amazon. To ensure you’re choosing the best quality cable and connectors, we recommend you check out the following articles here on the site:
Both of these articles provide a comprehensive guide to help you install your new antenna. If you haven’t yet purchased your antenna, be sure to check out our top performing antenna guides as well here:
Is using your existing cable wiring for your antenna a good idea?
The answer will ultimately depend on three things:
- The quality of the existing cable. If it’s still in decent condition, then by all means you can use it.
- Compatibility. If your antenna needs to use RG6 cable but your existing cable is RG59, then there’s no way around it besides getting another antenna or using a brand new RG6 cable.
- Aesthetics and optimizations. Whether your existing cable is installed and optimized properly. If not, you might as well ‘upgrade’ with a new cable.