Throughout the last couple of years AIC has noticed the growing use of inferior low voltage wiring in residential homes. The problem is that this cable is being distributed widely through the local electrical warehouses and your typical electrician is not aware of the differences in the cable that they are purchasing. This inferior cable causes significant transmission issues when dealing with Satellite television and high speed bandwidth connectivity. Low quality coaxial cable issues can be a disaster in new home construction.
AIC recommends the use of coax cable with a solid copper conductor.
The frequencies used in Satellite television (DirecTV and Dish Network) travel on the utter edge of the center conductor. If you are using cheap copper clad steel, and the copper cladding or plating is scored at all during the cable installation, you will lose the ability to properly pass low voltage and the RF frequency as the steel portion of the center conductor will NOT properly pass the signal. The steel center conductor will also be susceptible to corrosion. This corrosion could potentially damage other components in the system. The major problem when contractors use copper clad steel coax is that the cable will continue to corrode over time. So an installation that originally worked, well, could start to fail and cause problems over time.
Satellite television distribution also involves sending low voltage over the coax for proper TV signal distribution.
The longer the distance that a coax cable has to run, the more voltage that is lost. Solid copper is a much better conductor than copper clad steel. Copper clad steel will have more than twice the voltage drop than solid copper. So if you are installing a system in a larger home, or utilizing longer runs, you will want to use wire with a solid copper center conductor to handle the potential voltage loss.
Many of the local electricians and electrical contractors use wire that does not meet the standards for satellite installation during the construction process. To determine the type, look at the end of the center conductor. Copper clad cable will be silver looking in the center instead of copper all the way through. You can also look for a label on the wiring itself that says CCS – (Copper Clad Steel). If you find that you home is wired with inferior cable, it is better to use the proper wire than to hope that a problem does not develop.
Solid copper is also more flexible than copper clad steel. This will reduce installation time and also diminish the chance of the cable being damaged during wall fishes and in tight spaces.
It is important to note, that not all problems associated with inferior cable show up immediately. Problems can arise over time due to weather, type of equipment used, and original installation practices.