What is an IR repeater?

Sometimes you need to think differently. For most people who want to use a remote control to shoot through walls, our NextGen Remote Extender is the best bet. It turns any remote with an AA or AAA battery into a super-powered RF remote. For most people, it’s a good solution. It’s been around forever. It “just works.” But, sometimes, that’s not what you need.

Why not?

There are some very specific cases when an RF remote is a very bad idea. For example, if you’re trying to mount equipment in a home theater cabinet, but you don’t want the signal to go into other rooms. Think about it, if you have similar equipment in every room, you don’t want to accidentally control the equipment somewhere else. That could be a nightmare. I mean, imagine you’re sitting in a hotel room and suddenly the TV starts changing channels by itself. With all the reality shows about haunted hotels, it’s likely to seriously creep you out.

Enter the IR repeater

That’s where an IR repeater comes in. What it does is essentially move the infrared “eye” to a different location. A cable runs to the “IR Target” which is where the remote is pointed, then to a simple amplifier, then to an “IR Emitter” which sits in front of your equipment. The result is, infrared signals travel from outside your cabinet to inside.

The upside of this sort of solution is that it can be used with multiple remotes and there’s no risk of the remote signal controlling items in other rooms. The downside is that it’s not wireless — you will need a visible IR “eye” and it will need to run, via wire, to the inside of the cabinet. That isn’t as clean as an RF solution but it is an option when other solutions won’t work for you.

It’s also great for cases where you need to mount something to the back of a TV. This is a popular mounting solution for a lot of devices because you can do it with high strength Velcro® or some other hook-and-loop tape. No one really wants to see a big stack of equipment anymore. They want it to look smooth and simple. So, you hide stuff. And, using an IR repeater will give you back the remote functionality that’s lost in an install like that.

What’s the best IR repeater?

If you’re looking for a long-run solution, choose this one from Kramer. It will let you locate the device up to 250 feet from the remote. It uses regular Ethernet cable to connect the two points. It’s pricey, but it does the job that nothing else will do.

If you don’t need to go that far, choose something like this kit from Cables2Go. It will control up to four devices and it’s half the price of the Kramer kit.

If you need custom solutions for controlling more than one component or if you need something with more industrial quality, give us a call at 877.312.4547 and you’ll be connected to a consultant who can help you find the right solution for 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.