Does a multiswitch need power?

If you’re still using a traditional (non-SWM multiswitch) for your satellite TV system, I have to give you respect at this point. I guess we’ll agree to disagree, because I feel really strongly that there’s never been a better time to leave that technology behind. DIRECTV SWM is very mature and all of the company’s future products will require this new multiswitch technology, even standard-definition ones. But if you’re trying to keep an older system going, you might be tempted to stay with a traditional multiswitch like the one in the picture above.

In the past, you saw a lot of these that were powered and an equal number that were not. This particular model uses an optional power supply. So what’s the deal? Is a power supply needed or isn’t it?

When you’re talking about a traditional multiswitch, you do not need a power supply as long as your system is set up properly. Power is supplied by the receivers. A lot of people bought a powered switch thinking it was needed and honestly, it never was. There are only two situations when you really “need” a power supply:

(1) If all the runs are really long. Our product page says that you need a power supply for runs over 100 feet, but that’s very conservative. Really you just need a power supply for runs over about 200 feet, and every run needs to be that long before you really have a problem.

(2) If you are using cable that doesn’t have a solid copper center conductor. Cheaper cables use a copper-coated steel center conductor that won’t carry power from the receivers.

If you do need a powered multiswitch, there are a few options: This one will give you four outputs, and this one will give you eight. Beyond that you’re into some very expensive territory occupied by Spaun multiswitches and if you’re going to spend that kind of money, you really ought to be considering upgrading to SWM.

By the way, SWM multiswitches do always need power and they also require runs under 250′ (150′ if you want to share programs) and at least one line must have a solid copper center conductor, so unfortunately if your setup doesn’t meet that criteria it’s getting harder and harder to recommend options that don’t include a large amount of rewiring.

If you’re replacing a powered multiswitch, of course the natural tendency would be to replace it with another powered multiswitch but if your cable runs are short and your cable is up to par, you really shouldn’t worry about it.