As one of the most prominent and popular digital connection technologies, HDMI has become a big part of our daily lives. Between HDTVs, smartphones, laptops, Blu-ray players and projectors, HDMI is all around us. HDMI’s popularity makes sense because it supports some of the highest quality audio formats and video resolutions available today at relatively low cost. However, there are a number of important things to consider when making decisions about transmitting or extending HDMI. Therefore, we created this blog to help guide your decision so you can find the most fitting solution for your system installation.
Distance and Length
Start with distance and determine the required cable length for your application. From there, you can narrow down the available extension choices. For distances of 30 feet or less, a high quality HDMI cable that you can pick up at your local big box store will do just fine. For applications requiring lengths from 30 to 330 feet, an HDMI extender, such as an HDMI over CAT5 or Coax extension, can be employed. An active fiber/copper hybrid cable like Opticomm-EMCORE’s AFC-HDMI2 can also be used for low-cost extension of lengths up to 330 feet. Finally, for lengths greater than 330 feet, there is optical fiber. Overall, the extension solution you end up choosing will change depending on the application and required features.
The Installation Scenario
The installation environment is another important factor that can affect which style of HDMI extension is optimal for your application. If you’re simply running a HDMI through an open area or room, any type of extension can be used. However, if your application requires that an extension solution be installed in a wall or tight space, be sure the rating of the extension solution aligns with local building codes in terms of its jacket rating. For example, at least a CL2 jacket rating is required for an in-wall installation. And if the extension must be installed in a shared air space like a vent or other potentially fire hazardous space, it usually must have plenum jacket rating.
You can find HDMI cables with no jacket rating, in-wall and plenum. Just keep in mind, extenders themselves are not rated for use in specific environments, but cable types are. For example, the AFC-HDMI2 is a plenum rated cable that may be used either with an extender or as a plug-and-play cable. This means that extenders are versatile and can fit into a variety of applications and spaces.
Your Application’s Unique Needs
Every application and scenario requires the support of different HDMI extension features. Depending on your project, you may need a highest resolution possible, which will influence which extension solution you end up choosing. With support for resolutions up to 4K/UHD, Opticomm-EMCORE’s AFC-HDMI2, a hybrid fiber/copper HDMI extension cable, is perfect for high-resolution applications. However, if you simply need an image to be displayed on a screen and don’t require the highest resolution, you may not need to buy such an advanced solution–a typical value priced HDMI will do. Although this may be the case, having a future proof, 4K/UHD solution may be desirable due to the labor costs and time associated with replacing the cable at a later date.
Another factor to consider is whether or not an external power source may be used. Some HDMI extension cables, like the AFC-HDMI2, can draw power directly from the source device and don’t require external power. Others may require an external source of power.
Knowing your application, environment and distance guidelines can help you save money in the long run because you’ll know exactly what you need and won’t end up buying unnecessary equipment. The easiest way to figure out which choice is best is by starting with your application’s needs and working backwards to narrow down the best solution for your system installation.