Standard HDMI cables, also known as passive HDMI cables, have length limitations. They can only fit a certain number of times before risking performance issues. So what can you do to extend the length of your HDMI connection?
HDMI Cable Length Limitations
High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is very helpful in reducing cable clutter by allowing one device to send audio and video signals over a single cable. As a result, it has been widely adopted by televisions, computers, projectors, digital signage, and various other devices. But as quality capabilities have increased over the years, so has the demand for longer HDMI cables.
But like USB and Ethernet cables, standard HDMI cables have practical length limitations. For example, a passive Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable might only be around five meters. Similarly, passive premium high-speed HDMI cables have a maximum length of about 25 meters.
Fortunately for you, there are ways to bypass these cable length limitations and extend HDMI connections over longer distances without performance issues.
HDMI extenders are the most common way to extend the length of an HDMI connection without losing audio or video quality. An extender has three main parts: a transmitter, a receiver, and a cable. Many extenders use Category 5 or 6 Ethernet cables, while others use fiber optic cables.
HDMI over Ethernet extenders can typically support HDMI 2.0 (18Gbps) bandwidth and up to 100 meters in length. But if you want to go even further, an HDMI over fiber optic extender is your best bet. These will allow you to extend your HDMI connection up to 1000 meters or even more in some cases, although this will be more of a disadvantage for most people.
HDMI repeaters or boosters are most helpful in extending an HDMI connection when you need a little extra length but not the length of a football field. A repeater amplifies the HDMI signal to compensate for the increased length of the connection. It’s a small device with two female HDMI ports that allow you to connect two HDMI cables to expand the overall HDMI connection.
An HDMI repeater is usually placed about halfway along the run, and it helps to roughly double the connection length with a passive HDMI cable. However, some repeaters may require external power to amplify the HDMI signal.
Wireless HDMI Extenders
A wireless HDMI extender is a relatively less popular way to extend the length of an HDMI connection, but it’s helpful when running a cable between the source and the display is difficult. It consists of two parts – one connects to the source and the other to the display. The two parts communicate via radio wave signals, usually on the 5GHz or 60GHz bands.
Unfortunately, most wireless HDMI extenders on the market are only able to successfully carry a 1080p 60Hz signal. There are a few rare options like the Monoprice Blackbird Pro, which can upscale a 4K 30Hz signal across a room.
Active and Optical HDMI Cables
HDMI extenders and repeaters are great for extending the length of the HDMI cable you already have. But if you don’t want to extend an existing cable and instead buy a new one that’s longer than a standard HDMI cable, you have two options: active and optical HDMI cables.
Active and optical cables are different from the typical passive HDMI cables you find in the market. Active cables use electronic circuits to amplify HDMI signals to travel longer distances, while fiber optic or optical cables change the data transmission medium entirely.
Unlike passive and active HDMI cables, which use copper wiring, optical cables use glass wires to transfer data using light. There is less risk of light resistance and signal degradation, as a result, optical HDMI cables can be significantly longer than both active and passive HDMI cables.
You can find active HDMI cables of 25 meters in length and fiber optic HDMI cables of 50 meters in length in the market. Note, however, that cables supporting the latest generation of HDMI features, such as Ultra High-Speed HDMI cables, are generally available in shorter lengths than older generation HDMI cables.
Multiple Ways to Get Around Cable Length Limits
HDMI is more popular than ever. It’s in almost all popular home entertainment devices these days and has been widely adopted on the PC front as well. So while passive HDMI cables can be of limited length, you have several ways to bypass these limitations. You can either opt for an HDMI repeater extending the connection across the room or go for an extender to wire your entire home. Finally, you can also use a wireless HDMI kit when you don’t need to push a 4K signal.