Is this splitter a combiner, or not?

The other day I had a long and passionate discussion with a customer. He asked me a simple question:

Why do you say this is a combiner? It says splitter on it, and your part description says it’s a splitter.

Look I get what you’re saying

Yep, it says splitter. It doesn’t say combiner. And you would think that if it were a combiner, it would say combiner. But you have to realize that something designed to be a splitter is generally also a combiner. You would need to specifically design it not to be a combiner.

Think of it this way

A splitter is a very simple device. While there are a few things inside like steering diodes and insulation, really there’s not much difference between a splitter and one of these connectors that you might have on your sprinkler system.

This tee connector is about the simplest form of splitter there is. And really, it could just as easily be used to combine two water sources as it is used to split one water source. The thing is, no one uses a tee that way. It’s just not how people think of it.

But, the point is, you could.

Key points to consider when combining

Most of the time when you are using a combiner, you’re taking into account that it isn’t a very smart device. These are some things you’ll need to consider when combining:

Make sure there’s no interference

Because a combiner usually is a very simple device, it’s up to you to make sure you’re not feeding it interfering signals. Ideally you would want one set of frequencies on one line and one set of frequencies on another line. Typically this is easy when you’re trying to get signals from two different directions. Just aim the antennas at 180 degrees to each other if that’s at all possible.

If you’re using a combiner in a headend system you generally won’t have problems because each modulator only puts out signal on one channel

Avoid phasing problems

When you’re combining antennas, it’s best to make sure the cables are the same length from each antennas. This is important, in order to avoid phasing problems. See, each signal is on a sine wave. If the two waves overlap, they can cancel each other out. The best way to make sure you don’t have this problem is simply to make each cable exactly the same length. And I mean, as close as possible.

This is less of an issue when you know for sure that the same signal isn’t on both lines, but it’s still a good practice.

Do your research

Let’s say you’re trying to combine signals from cell antennas. You may want to take your Verizon signal from one tower and your AT&T signal from another tower. You owe it to yourself to figure out where all the cell towers are and take that into account. You may be getting unwanted signals and that could be a real problem.

The same thing is true with TV antennas. You may be getting strong local signals while you’re trying to get weaker distant signals. Use the wrong amplifiers, antennas, and combiners, and you’ll end up with worse results than you would have without that second antenna.

Get everything you need from Solid Signal

Of course, there’s one other thing that you’ll need to do, in order to guarantee success.  Shop at Solid Signal for everything you’ll need, or call us at 888-233-7563 if you have any questions. We’ll take great care of you!

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 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.