The Best Performance Coax Cabling Types: RG6 vs. RG6Q
Common uses and attributes of coax cable. Coax cable is often used for television and high-speed internet signals, and it was prevalent in older analog camera systems. Coax cabling is sometimes referred to as coaxial cabling or Radio Guide cabling—with RG cabling dating back to military standards for WWII. Coax, coaxial, and RG cables consist of an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer which is again surrounded by a tubular conducting shield. Coax, coaxial, and RG cabling contains a single silver pin, usually at one end of the cable, which is encased in a screw-on bracket. The term coaxial reflects that the inner conductor and outer shield share a geometric axis.
How to tell types of coax cabling apart. Usually, markings on the screw-on end bracket distinguish one type of coax, coaxial, or RG cable from another.
Considerations in selecting one coax cable over another. Although wire weights and sizes in coax cabling vary only slightly, choosing the right coaxial cable or RG cable can greatly improve performance. Some key considerations in coax cable selection are as follows:
- The location in which you will be running the coax cabling.
- The grade of insulation in the coaxial cable.
- The diameter of the RG cable’s inner conductor.
- The space available for the voltage and signal.
- The amount of electricity required to “power on” your desired device.
- The need to avoid “ghosting” and other unintended consequences of “cable overkill.”
How to research coax cable. Coax cabling goes by many names so, when you’re researching a type of coaxial cable or RG cable, be sure to search on multiple names. For example, RG6—a thin and easily coiled or bent cable that serves as the industry standard for cable and satellite signal transmission—is also known as RG-6 and RG 6.
Basic Components of an RG Cable
RG cables have the following characteristics and work in the following way:
- A copper foil and encased in black or white plastic shields an insulated inner conductor (usually copper or aluminum).
- The conductor carries the signal, while the insulation and shield maintain the conductor’s integrity.
- The insulation comes in various gauges or thickness, which increases the diameter, size, and weight of the cable (usually at microscopic scale).
Main Differences Between RG6 and RG6Q Cables
Quality of Insulation
One aspect of coax cable quality has to do with insulation. Coaxial or RG cabling is may be deployed outdoors or underground, so you’ll want to ensure your cable insulation is designed to stand up to the environment, e.g., rain, snow, wind, and heat.
Coaxial cable with the classification “MIL-C-17” is the standard grade needed to protect the inner communications from typical environmental damage. Other coax or RG cables—especially those used in extreme environments—boast the heavy-duty classification of “M17/74.” This is a preferred military grade standard that degrades at a much slower rate than MIL-C-17 and therefore more effectively protects the signal.
RG69 vs. RG60 vs. RG6 vs. RH6Q
RG59 cables used to be an industry standard for common applications, however RG6 has slowly been gaining traction. Although they sound similar, RG6 is not the same at RG60. The latter is a rare type of coax cable—one that’s especially difficult to find.
The main difference in coax cabling is conductor size. The thicker diameter of RG6 increases conductivity at frequencies of 50 megahertz up to 1.5 gigahertz. Better signals support higher internet speeds and better picture quality. RG6 and RG6Q can be preferred for High-Definition (HD) and higher frequency broadcasts. Standard HD runs at a 37-megahertz signal so RG59 can easily handle it, but RG6 is better. (The RG6 signal doesn’t degrade as much.)
In some instances, however, larger cabling isn’t better. For example, some cabling is intended for specific voltages and broadcast frequencies. A conductor can be so big that information flow isn’t efficient and “ghosting” occurs (e.g., an image stutters or doubles up on itself). RG6, for example, runs at too high of a frequency for transmitting video projector or composite connections. Using powerful cable for television won’t necessarily improve picture quality. Coax cable choice should be application specific.
RG6 vs. RG6Q vs. RG11
Knowing how RG6, RG6Q, and RG11 cabling differ is important. RG6 cables are adequate for many uses, e.g., setting up home-quality entertainment systems. In comparison to RG6 cabling, RG6Q cabling has superior inner shielding and better insulates delicate interior wires. RG6Q also has a larger diameter than RG6. This allows for increased voltage throughput. The superior “quad” shielding helps minimize outside signal disturbances and results in RG6Q cabling’s maintaining a higher signal integrity than is achievable with RG6 cables.
Highly insulated options are preferred as the airwaves become cluttered with more signals and as technologies like 4K increase signaling performance demands and expectations.
RG11 cables function much like RG6 cables, but RG11, too, offer better insulation and a larger diameter.
RG8 and RG213
RG8 and RG213 coaxial cables can be a great choice for high voltage applications. This type of coax cabling supports higher voltage than RG6 cables support. The higher voltage RG8 and RG213 cables can carry signals from an antenna to a device—e.g., supporting a two-way radio tower—and they’re often used to broadcast VHF and UHF signals. RG8 and RG213 cables are effective for data and picture transmission, too.
In these cases, high voltage increases the chance of signal loss, so the strength and width of the cable must be amended accordingly. The RG8 cables max out a 4,000 Volts between conductor and insulation, while RG213 can withstand 5,000 Volts. Compared to RG8 cables, RG213 cables are wider, slightly heavier (around 10.6 lbs vs. 10.5 lbs), and more fragile in higher temperatures. At the same time, RG213 cables offer higher quality insulation. So—heat aside—RG213 cables tend to be sturdier and less prone to degradation.
What Coax Cabling Is Best for Each Application?
- RG59 can handle older television frequencies and is sufficient for older security camera networks that use analog technology.
- RG6 coax cabling is reasonably effective for most in-home uses, e.g., television.
- RG11 coaxial cabling works even better for in-home uses, e.g., HD devices.
- RG6Q is the best for consumer-grade telecommunications applications.
- RG8 and RG213 work best for antenna radio signals like VHF and UHF—and they can be a good choice for data transmission and picture quality, too.