How to Split a Cable TV Line

By J.T. Barett

A step-by-step guide to adding a splitter to an existing cable TV installation. Also compares different types of splitters.

Things You'll Need

  • Two- or three-way splitter

A cable TV splitter is an electronic device that turns one connection outlet into two or more outlets, allowing you to add television sets to your existing home entertainment system. Although splitting the line is relatively simple, some thought is required for choosing what type of splitter device will work best for your setup.

Step 1

A simple splitter is a passive, unpowered device that has one input and two output connectors; this type is useful for adding one television to a system of one or two existing TVs and when the cable signal is strong. A strong input is necessary because each output of a passive splitter has only one-half the original signal. An amplified splitter is a powered device with two to eight outputs, useful for small apartment buildings or larger homes. A typical amplified splitter boosts the signal by about 30 times, so the resulting signal remains strong even divided among several outputs.

Step 2

Find a location for the cable splitter. Good locations allow easy access to the splitter itself as well as incoming and outgoing cables, but avoid areas where cables would be unsightly or present a trip hazard. An amplified splitter needs a standard household power outlet within a few feet. As an alternative, you can use a device called a power inserter, which plugs into the wall at another location and feeds electrical power to the splitter. When you go this route, buy a splitter that is designed to work with a power inserter.

Step 3

Disconnect the cable that feeds your original television or set-top box. The connectors have a threaded screw fitting that unscrews with moderate finger pressure.

Step 4

Orient the splitter so the input faces the incoming cable line. Fasten the splitter to a sturdy, appropriate wall or other structure using the correct screws or nails for the material.

Step 5

Connect the cable you previously disconnected from your TV to the splitter’s input connector. This line should be the incoming signal from the cable TV service.

Step 6

Connect one of the new cables to one of the splitter’s outputs. It doesn’t matter which output, because they are identical. Connect the cable’s other end to your original television or set-top box.

Step 7

Connect another new cable to another of the splitter’s outputs. Connect the other end of the cable to a new television or set-top box. Repeat this step for all new TVs or set-top boxes. For an amplified splitter, connect the power plug to a nearby standard electrical outlet, or install a power inserter and connect it to the outlet.

Tip

Your TV receives no signal when the cable is disconnected from it. Your digital video recorder and other devices cannot record shows while the service is disconnected. Plan your installation work around any sporting events or other shows you want to see.

Warning

When you use a power inserter, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. One side connects to the cable going to the splitter amplifier, the other connects to the TV. Because the output going to the splitter carries DC electric power, damage to the TV could result if misconnected.