Which is better: a splitter or an active SWM expander?

It’s almost a David vs. Goliath kind of thing. If you need more than one SWM multiswitch, you have two options, and they couldn’t possibly be more different.

Option 1: Splitters

If you want to split the signal from a dish, you would use a splitter like this one. This is different from the normal green-labeled splitter that you use for DIRECTV systems or the stacking splitters used for DISH hybrid system.

The key with these splitters is that you need to make sure they are connected to the same ports on each multiswitch, or else there will be problems as the multiswitches compete with each other. Here’s a typical installation:


This is a great low-cost solution and it’s been out there for decades. You won’t pay a lot, but you will have to do a lot of wiring. It’s not as clean of an install but it works really well.

Option 2:  Active SWM Expander

AT&T offers a solution in the form of the SWM Expander. This is a device that’s even smaller than a single SWM and lets you put four SWM modules in with plenty of ventilation space between them. You can support four SWM modules with only one power supply, meaning that it’s easy to have 104 tuner capacity in an amount of wall space smaller than a single 8-tuner SWM. It’s such a compact installation that it’s almost impossible to diagram:

4-SWM30 Expander

But which one is better for you?

Here’s the dirty little secret: neither of these solutions offers better signal quality than the other. And, one of them is a lot less expensive. If that’s what’s driving you, you’re definitely going to want to choose the splitters.

But, I do hope you’ll consider the SWM Expander. It’s not because it makes Solid Signal more money. Although I’ll be honest, it does. It’s the AT&T preferred solution because it really is better. By keeping the back of the SWMs exposed, it helps heat dissipate better. It also limits the number of cables you have to make and that saves you time.

No matter what you choose, you’ll get the best DIRECTV equipment, the very same things the experts use, by shopping at Solid Signal.

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 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.