Which is better for you, splitters or a SWM expander?

DIRECTV’s commercial installations have evolved over the years. Starting with the original MFH systems, it’s gotten easier and easier to scale DIRECTV systems to more and more receivers. It’s now possible to create DIRECTV systems for hotels and other institutions where hundreds of rooms are served by one dish.

Part of that initiative on DIRECTV’s side has been adding new equipment that makes it easier to do large installations. The old SWM-32 was replaced with a SWM-30, which is smaller and easier to implement. The HP version of the SWM-30 allows for longer runs as well. At the same time, DIRECTV has looked for ways to make installs both easier and more space-efficient.

The old way of using multiple multiswitches

For the last decade, using multiple multiswitches meant using splitters before the multiswitch. There were several devices that were designed to help stack multiswitches but the last DIRECTV-approved part was discontinued in 2013. That meant using special splitters like the one you see above. Unfortunately, with six lines coming from the dish, that means up to 30 individual cables that must be run to the right place. The installation looks something like this:

If that looks confusing to you, you’re not alone.

There’s a better way.

This is the DIRECTV SWM Expander. It takes up about the same amount of space on a backplane as a single SWM and allows 4 SWM-30s to be inserted and powered with two power inserters. It really simplifies the installation process and takes up a lot less space. Compare this diagram with the one above.

It’s plug-and-play and even lets you easily swap out one multiswitch in the rare case of failure.

If you’d like these diagrams and more in PDF format, click here.

Which is better?

It’s hands-down, not even a question. The new SWM Expander is better and easier than the old splitter-based system. There’s a lot less that can go wrong, it’s more energy-efficient, and it uses a lot less space. It installs much, much faster as well.

However, the splitters cost about one-quarter of the SWM Expander and if the budget is tight, that may be a consideration. Just be aware that the cost savings on parts will probably balance out with higher labor cost and cable costs.

If you’re not sure what you need, why not consult an expert? Call the installation professionals at 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours? We’re here to explain it all! We have folks on staff who are fully trained on large DIRECTV installations. We can speak your language and help you with everything you need for every sort of complex installation. If it’s after East Coast business hours, just fill out the form below. We’ll get back to you, usually within one business day.

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.