What’s wrong with cables with molded ends?

You hear us saying it over and over again: If you’re hooking up cable or satellite, stay away from cables with molded ends. If an installer comes and sees you using them, he’ll replace them on the spot. When people come to our live chat or call us on the phone with problems, that’s one of the first things we’ll suggest replacing.

So why all the hatred for these cables? Could molded plastic really make that much of a difference? Yes and no… when you see cables with molded ends, you know they’re not designed to be used for high-bandwidth applications like cable and satellite. They may work for a little while, but eventually they’ll disappoint you. Often times it’s not even the molded end that will let you down… that’s just the easiest way to tell an inferior cable. Here are some reasons to avoid those pre-made cables from home stores:

The molded ends do actually give less shielding.
A proper compression connector is waterproof and provides a little extra shielding from stray RF signals. A molded end could crack and let water in, and that plastic isn’t going to help with interference.

In order to use satellite TV, you need really good cable.

Unlike antenna TV, the cables used for satellite carry a signal all the way up to 2150MHz frequencies, Not every cable is designed to give a clean transmission at those frequencies, and there are no satellite-approved cables with molded ends, so any cable with molded ends isn’t certified to work with satellite TV.

They probably have more loss than satellite-approved cables.
Most cables you get at home stores conform to the RG59 standard for how much shielding they have and the size of the dielectric foam inside them. That means you won’t be able to go as far without reception problems.

For satellite, you need a solid copper center conductor.
In order to use satellite TV or even to use an antenna amplifier, you need a solid copper center conductor. Only solid copper can carry the voltage needed for these systems, and most inexpensive cables use copper-clad steel for the center conductor. Even if that seems to work for a short time, it won’t work for long as the tiniest scratch in the center conductor can stop the flow of power.

At the end of the day, getting the right cable from Solid Signal isn’t a lot more expensive and it’s a sure way to make sure you’re getting the quality that you need.

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.