Install Cable Outlet in 6 complete steps

In this article we are going to outline this process from start to finish, we’ve included a video as well.

Because many people want to install a cable outlet for a variety of different reasons and in a variety of different types of constructed buildings, in this article we are going to show you step by step how to install a cable outlet in many situations. We are going to identify the tools and parts you will need in order to complete the job.

Step 1 Make a plan – It’s important to first have a plan.

One of the 1st things you should do in making this plan is deciding where in your home you want to “tap into” your existing cable lines, what is the exact reason you want to add the cable outlet (the reasons are more diverse then one might think), and then gather up the tools you need for the project.

Why Step 1 could be the most important Step in installing a cable outlet?

Let’s start with why Step 1 might not be important; the more cable outlets you add, or add incorrectly, will weaken your other existing cable outlets. Here’s what that means, the amount of cable signal strength that will flow throughout a home will be diluted over the number of cable outlets. In other words, the more outlets – the weaker the signal. It would be similar in concept to a car battery, the battery starts one car reliably but when you try to start several cars off the same battery at some point the battery simply can’t do it, it’s just not strong enough. So by adding cable outlets you weaken the signal.

Yes you can buy a signal strength measuring device but that won’t strengthen the signal and you can buy a cable amplifier but it needs to be the correct type in order to correctly amplify certain types of cable signals. For more information on the difference in cable amplifiers read this article.

Step 2 Decide on whether you plan for a professional looking cable outlet or one cheap & fast?

You will need different tools and different parts depending on your answer to this question. Usually most of the parts used in adding a fast & cheap cable outlet are also used in a more professional installation. Generally a professional cable outlet requires the use of good quality coaxial cable and fittings and is concealed behind walls, home-run back to the main splitter point.

Step 3 Locate the main splitter point of your cable system.

If you are doing a fast & cheap cable outlet and the more simplistic your existing cable wiring system is in your home the more it is OK to just tap into at any old point with a cable splitter. The more wise approach however is to install your new cable outlet wire from the main cable splitter to the new cable outlet you plan to install. This main splitter is often located outside the house; do take some time to locate the main splitter. (in might be hidden inside a small surface mounted box and can be identified because coaxial cable is visble (usually) just outside the box)

 

Step 4 Make a Parts & Tools list

We recommend you consider purchasing these parts from a retailer who specializes in selling these parts because if you have any questions often the sales clerk can give you general information. Nothing is more frustrating than having to wait and go back back several times to buy something else because you bought the wrong parts. At minimum we recommend you buy the following parts:

Coaxial Cable  – Sometimes you can buy the coaxial cable premade with the fittings on both ends, the question is will it be long enough? Coax cable labeled as RJ59 will work but we don’t recommend this cable, we recommend RG6 coax because of the electrical interference shielding built into the cable. And, because you can’t see or feel electrical interference, trust us…its out there everywhere and in every home. RG6 Quad shield coax is even better but it’s a bit more pricey and RG6 should do the job just fine, just avoid running the new coax parallel to electrical wiring.

Coax fittings – You can buy compression fittings (pictured above) or crimp on. We use compression fittings because they work well, are quick to install and reliable. But, compression fittings require a special costly tool. In either case, compression fittings or crimp on will do the trick just make sure you buy the type specific for the wire you buy or you’ll be making a trip back to the store.  Consider having a couple extra on hand in case you damage, lose, or need more.

Click here to find out more on Coaxial cable and tool fittings.

Barrel Connector – This piece, pictured above, allows you to join two shorter pieces of coaxial cable together to make one long piece. This piece also allows you to reconnect a cut coaxial cable in the event you’ve made a mistake somewhere in the process, it costs very little but can save you a lot of frustration in the long run.

Splitter – If you are “tapping” into a cable or if the main splitter in the house doesn’t have enough room you need a splitter.  Check here for information on cable amplifiers.

Wallplate – For a professional looking cable outlet you need a wall plate and supporting electrical box. Here is what we mean by electrical box, the wall plate fastens to a box. Such a box comes in 3 basic designs:

in wall box,     in wall ring,     on wall. In wall looks the best but on wall is the easiest. Our recommendation would depend upon the type of construction of your walls. Concrete walls call for a surface box whereas sheetrock calls for an in-wall ring or box where you can cut off the back of the plastic box. Lat and plaster walls call for a great deal of care that only you can decide (on-wall, surface-mount might prove the smartest in this case)

Drill and Drill bit – your drill bit should be able to drill a hole at least ½” in diameter in wall studs and a slightly larger hole can make working with the coax wire all the more easy. Double check to make sure you dont risk hitting electrical wires of nails before you drill.

Electrical Fish Tape or Glow Rod(s) – If you are installing the coax inside walls the fish tape might help in this process. Another tool would be what are called glow rods. Look at both tools before you decide. When in doubt get glow rods. Flash light & Electrical tape Plyers – You might want or need small pliers to tighten or loosen the cable fittings to a connector on the splitter or wall plate

Step 5 – Decide what path inside and/or along your walls to install your coaxial cable between the new wall plate and the splitter.

This step is critical. Sometimes what might seem like an easy location to install the wiring isn’t easy at all. For example, tall walls might prove hard to push or pull the coaxial cable behind the wall board. Figure out if you have horizontal blocking inside your walls (or insulation) before you begin work. Because, when you are actually performing the work of installing the wiring any obstacles you could run into will be there so its better to plan this out before you begin the work so you can reduce the chance of running into an obstacle and having to start over. Thinking through where and how you plan to run the wiring will save you alot of time in the long run.

Step 6 – Drill your holes and install your wiring.

First, turn off all appropriate electrical breakers.

After you’ve completed step 5 drill your holes and install your wiring. Mount your faceplate to the newly installed coax and wall box. Connect the coax wiring to the splitter and this should complete installing a cable outlet.