HDMI is no doubt a convenient technology. However, it’s not the cheapest or best option when you need to run it over long distances, say, for instance, between floors, ceilings, or through walls.
For distances over 50 feet, the preferable cable to run is the ethernet cable.
Ethernet cables are easier to work with, more affordable, and more reliable when sending video and audio signals over long distances.
So given the advantages of Ethernet over an HDMI, is it possible to run HDMI over ethernet cables to extend HDMI cables? Let’s find out in a bit.
Can I Run HDMI over an Ethernet Cable?
Running an HDMI over an Ethernet cable is way more economical. It also makes your setup neater and organized since you only need one ethernet cable to run all HDMI signals.
Running HDMI over Ethernet, also known as running HDMI over IP, uses the existing ethernet cables to transmit video and audio signals between devices. This can be from a source device like Blu-ray discs, gaming console, or PC to a display device like a TV or projector.
There are two significant instances where you would need to run an HDMI signal over Ethernet.
The first instance is when you need to run a cable over long distances. HDMI cables are great for short-distance connections. Perhaps this is why the standard HDMI size is between three to six feet.
Even though you can get extra long HDMI cables , the maximum you would ever come across is 50 feet.
This is because longer HDMI cables are unreliable as they tend to lose signal strength over long distances.
Ethernet cables, specifically the Cat 5e, Cat6, or Cat7, are the most preferred when transmitting signals over hundreds of feet.
In addition, Ethernet cables are more affordable than HDMI cables.
To run the HDMI signals through to the ethernet cables, you will need an HDMI over Ethernet extenders . These extenders are adapters that connect the HDMI cables to the Ethernet cables.
The cables are plugged in on both ends of the converter as shown in the setup below.
The other instance where you need to run HDMI over Ethernet is when you have mounted your TV on the wall and still have to run cables from the TV to DVR, Blu-ray Player, or gaming consoles.
Since all of those devices are likely placed close to each other, there is a very high chance that your TV area is full of cables running across. And what an eyesore that must be!
Running an HDMI over Ethernet cable would help clear the mess and clutter created by these cables leaving you with a simpler, cleaner, neater living room.
Running HDMI over Ethernet can be employed in various setups.
- Point-to-point extensions
- One-to-many distributions
- Video wall processing where numerous screens are displayed as one large image
HDMI over Ethernet is preferred over other HDMI extending options since there is zero signal interference and there is no limit to what length you can run. The extensions can run up to hundreds of feet.
How to Run HDMI Over Ethernet for Long Run Connections
As we’ve already established, you can use the same Ethernet cables to connect devices to an internet router or a home/office network to transmit the audio and video signals in a home theater setup.
This is done by running an a-Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, or Cat7 cable over a converter kit. The converter kit, either an HDBaseT HDMI Extender or the popular Balun kit , comes with both a transmitter and receiver, all of which will be connected to AC power.
Below is the step by step guide on how to run HDMI over Ethernet;
- Place the transmitter next to the source device and the receiver close to the display device as shown in the set up above.
- Link your HDMI source to the HDMI input on the transmitter.
- Connect one end of the Cat cable to the Ethernet output of the transmitter.
- Connect the opposite end of the Cat cable to the Ethernet input on the receiver.
- Connect the HDMI output of the receiver to your TV or video output device.
- After connecting all devices, plug in your transmitter and receiver to a power source and verify that the setup works.
- If the setup does not work, overhaul the connection setup. If you still aren’t successful, contact tech support for your particular converter kits.
Check out this video tutorial as well for a practical illustration of how to run HDMI over Ethernet.
What Ethernet cable can I use for HDMI over Ethernet cable?
Ideally, you can use the Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, Cat7, or the newer kid in the bloc, Cat8. Most people still prefer the Cat 5. However, the wires are not twisted as tightly as those in the more recent categories.
Running HDMI over Ethernet poses a higher risk of signal interference with every increase in distance.
As a result, Cat5 cables may not be the best cable to use for this purpose.
The best ethernet cables for our scenario would be the Cat 6 or the Cat7. Cat8 is still relatively new and may not be readily available.
And since having a set up where you run HDMI over Ethernet is probably going to be permanent, investing in Cat6 or Cat7 Ethernet cables will ensure you future-proof your setup and experience HD and 4k quality video without lag.
HDMI is the primary connection used in most video output devices, and it’s going to be around for a while. HDMI still provides the ability to transfer HD video, 4K video, and required audio formats from source components to home theater receivers, gaming consoles, and video displays.
However, despite its extensive adoption, HDMI isn’t perfect yet. One of its drawbacks is its incapability to transmit signals over long distances without additional support. This brings the need for alternative solutions that are cheaper and more reliable.
Even though wireless alternatives do exist, wired alternatives are the most reliable when using HDMI combined with Ethernet. They are also more reliable when transmitting HD or 4k video.
This is not to mean that wireless alternatives are not great, just not as great as wired alternatives as far as home use and short distances are concerned.
Consider running your HDMI over Ethernet, if you are setting up a home entertainment system with long distances between your HDMI-connected devices.
The costs to implement this setup can vary, so take into account your specific needs while choosing an Ethernet Cable and converter kit, choose one that meets your needs. However, the more advanced cables are always the better option.