What’s the best substitute for antenna rotator wire?

Antenna rotators have been around forever. Or at least it seems like it. I remember my home having one when I was a kid. So we’re talking about well over half a century. During that time, they’ve helped people get signal from different areas. They’re popular in areas served by different cities. For example, if you live in central New Jersey, you may get signals from Philadelphia and New York. But you’ll need a long range antenna to do it, and unless you put up two antennas, you’ll need to point that antenna different ways to get different signals.

Rotators in the 2020s

Today, the rotator has become a bit of a niche item. Unlike the 1960s when well over 90% of TV viewers used only an over-the-air antenna, today under 15% do. And it looks like that number may be shrinking as pay-TV stays strong and streaming continues to be more attractive. That’s meant a small and shrinking market for over-the-air antenna rotators. It’s meant that we’ve had to work a little harder to serve this need, too.

This is RCA’s VH226F rotator. It’s programmable, computer controlled, and solidly built. It’s the best solution out there right now, in a market where few companies are still building rotators. And of course you can get it from SolidSignal.com. But, as with all rotators, there’s something else you’ll need. The rotator requires a separate low-voltage connection cable. You can’t just use the antenna cable.

Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find dedicated rotator wire anymore. Because the demand is so low, and especially given the higher price for copper, it’s just not made. So what can you do?

My choice: irrigation system wire

Really, you can use any wire that’s designed for outdoor low-voltage applications and has at least three separate connections. I find that 4-conductor irrigation wire does the trick. It’s designed to be weatherproof, it’s flexible and it’s easy to get at most home stores. Typically it’s a little more expensive since there’s a bit more copper than you need, but you’ll know it’s going to hold up. Sprinkler wire is also available in long lengths and it’s easy to splice together if you need to connect more than one section of it.

Your local big box home store probably has irrigation wire. If you live in the south, or anywhere that buried sprinklers are common, it’s easy to find. If you live in a part of the country that sprinklers aren’t so common, it’s available online. We don’t offer it at Solid Signal at this time but it’s something we’re looking into. If we can offer the wire competitively, we’ll do so. That will make it easier for our customers.

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.