What is a Coaxial Cable Used For?

By Charles Alex Miller

The coaxial cable is a popular wire used for audio and visual purposes, especially televisions and VCRs. It isn’t perfect, but the fact it is compatible with so many products makes it the best cable of its type on the electronic market. Users should understand how the coaxial cable works before installing it.

Coaxial Cable

The coaxial cable is a copper-based wire cable. It is composed of four separate layers. The center of the cable has a thin wire conductor. Surrounding the copper wire is a layer of plastic insulation. On top of this layer is a wire mesh providing another layer of insulation and a shield from outside interference. The final and outermost layer of the coaxial cable is another rubber layer, providing the last means of insulation. Each end of the cable has a thin layer of copper that can be screwed into the receiving electronics.

Coaxial Cable Uses

The coaxial cable is primarily used for audio and visual purposes. Modern homes are typically equipped with at least one coaxial cable outlet in each room. This is because cable companies primarily use coaxial cables to bring cable television to their customers. Coaxial cables can be connected from the wall outlet directly to the customer’s television or cable box. A second use for coaxial cables is connecting VCRs to a television. A final use of the coaxial cable is attaching a personal antenna to a television set or digital converter box.

Benefits

The main benefit of using a coaxial cable is that it is the default cable of its type. This means that most electronics you use will already be compatible with coaxial. Other benefits of the coaxial cable include its ability to shield your television from outside interference. This can maximize picture quality and help avoid static. Finally, coaxial cables are typically cheap, costing as little as $1.45 on Amazon.com, as of June 2010.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, coaxial cables are not perfect. For one, the cables are bulky and cannot be made smaller. When shopping for cables, only one size may be available. If you are shopping for a six-foot cable and you can only find a 30-foot cable, you are going to have 26 extra feet of spare cable. Besides bulkiness, coaxial cables can be difficult to install. The cable has to be screwed onto the receiving electronic unit. When installing it, users have to make sure the coaxial screw tracking matches the receiving unit. Taking off the cable can also be a hassle and takes a fair amount of brawn and occasionally requires a tool such as a wrench.

Coaxial Cable Versus Alternatives

Composite video and audio are very popular for audio and visual purposes, but it is not compatible with all electronics. However, its emergence is slowly replacing the coaxial cable. It is currently being regularly used to connect cable boxes and DVD players to television sets. Despite its disadvantages, the coaxial cable is the best cable of its type available on the market and should be used over composite video and audio and other competitor cables.