Coaxial cables are some of the most well-built, rigid wires. They’ve been around for decades, primarily used in cable TV and commercial radio applications all along, besides having other uses.
The name “coaxial” stems from the cable’s external shield and inner conductor component sharing a geometric axis. Coaxial cables aren’t the only cords to have the design but are considered the default of their types.
Coaxial cables were invented in 1880, and the original cross-continental coaxial communication framework was deployed in 1940. Optical fiber and twisted-pair copper cables are some coaxial cable alternatives.
There are different types of coaxial cables and connectors. “Hard-line”, “triaxial”, “rigid-line”, and “radiating” are some cable types. The connector variations include BNC (Bayonet Neil-Concelman), TNC (Threaded Neil-Concelman), and SMA (SubMiniature version A), among others.
Our focus today is on two specific types: “RG6” and “RG11”. So, what are they? How do they differ from each other? Read on to find the answers to the questions and more.
- The Coaxial Cable Makeup and Working Mechanism
- What is “RG” in Coaxial Cable Terminology?
- What is an RG6 Coaxial Cable?
- What is an RG11 Coaxial Cable?
- Comparing RG6 and RG11 Coaxial Cables
The Coaxial Cable Makeup and Working Mechanism
Before discussing RG6 and RG11 coax cables, let’s get familiar with a coax’s makeup. Equipped with the knowledge, you’ll be able to appreciate the differences between an RG6 and RG11 better.
A coaxial cable usually has four components: innermost thin copper wire, internal insulation, copper mesh, and outside insulation.
The concentric insulating material and electrical conductor layers ensure transmission signals remain within the cord and electrical noises do not interfere with the signal.
The conducting center wire is usually a braided or solid copper, with an insulation sheath over it. A braided copper mesh or metal foil envelops the dielectric (insulating) layer. The entire assembly is covered in one insulating jacket.
The external metal protection layer is grounded in connectors at the cable’s two ends to safeguard the signals and dissipate interference signals at the ends. The line also has a fastening nut on its two ends, allowing the cord to be secured to its destination.
Coaxial cables vary by impedance and gauge. “Gauge” denotes the cord’s thickness, measured by the RG (radio guide) number.
What is “RG” in Coaxial Cable Terminology?
The abbreviation “RG” (Radio Guide) is a coaxial cable specification for telecom system transmission solutions, including mobile, satellite, marine, radar communication, video, etc.
RG coax cables could be used both outdoors and indoors. The line must have extra insulation for outdoor use, safeguarding them from the rain and sun.
RG cables are assigned a numerical value denoting unique characteristics and specifications, like RG6 and RG11. A greater RG number means a thinner central conductor core and some other changes to the cable’s design and construction.
What is an RG6 Coaxial Cable?
Also called RG-6/ U (Utility), RG6 is a coaxial cable type commonly used for broadband internet, cable television, satellite signal transmission, etc.
RG-6 cables are relatively thin, flexible cords that bend easily for residential applications and are cut out for networking uses. They suit high-frequency (more than 50 MHz) applications quite well.
The cable sports an 18 AWG (American wire gauge) core conductor for increased signal quality. It also ensures heavy dielectric insulation and excellent shielding to safeguard sensitive devices from electric current damage.
RG6 Cable Types
RG6 cable comes in a few different variants depending on its application:
- House or plain wire RG6 made for external house or indoor wiring.
- Flooded RG6 cable has water-blocking gel treatment to render it suitable for direct burial or an underground conduit.
- Aerial or messenger cable has waterproofing and a steel wire along its entire length to transmit the tension associated with a fall from a utility post.
- Plenum wire features an LSZH (low smoke zero halogen) jacket that burns without producing toxic smoke. It is irradiated (exposed to radiation) PVC, which means increased heat resistance.
The above types could be used interchangeably, but the efficacy could take a hit.
What is an RG11 Coaxial Cable?
An RG11 coaxial cable is a type of coax made for longer runs or can preserve the transmission signal at length. For example, the line can be 50 to 100 feet long, and the signal quality or level will remain good.
The long signal range of an RG11 can be attributed to its build and design.
The inner dielectric or insulation (the white component) is almost two times thicker than the component in an RG6. Also, the cable is accompanied by thicker outer jackets, heavy-duty connectors, and better-quality materials are used overall.
The cable, as a result, isn’t very flexible and could be challenging to use in short-range applications. The increased quality of materials used also means increased costs.
The reduced signal fluctuation and ability to preserve signal authenticity better than an RG6 are reasons RG11 cords are primarily used outdoors.
Comparing RG6 and RG11 Coaxial Cables
RG6 and RG11 are some of the standard coaxial cable sizes. RG-59 is another one. Below is a snapshot of the key technical differences between the RG6 and RG11 standards.
|Outer diameter (inch/mm)||0.275/6.98||0.405/10.30|
- “PE” stands for “polyethylene.”
- “MIL-Spec” denotes “military specification,” signifying how resistant the cables are to harsh external environments (extreme temperatures, chemicals, abrasive substances, etc.).
- American Wire Gauge denotes wire size. The smaller the AWG number, the greater the wire thickness and diameter, which means better electrical conductivity.
The following are some areas in which RG6 and RG11 cables differ:
- Connectors: RG6 and RG11 cables use the F-type connector, which bodes well for signal strength. Unlike the BNC or RCA connectors, F-type is not named after its creator but denotes the construction or size.
- Build: An RG11 coax cable is nearly 33% thicker than a standard RG6 cord. Depending on the manufacturer, the thickness could be more or less. The relative thinness, however, makes RG6 cables more flexible and easier to use inside the house or in compact spaces.
- Range: The stiffness of an RG11 makes the cable more adept at transferring signals further than an RG6 line. Data signals with an RG6 fluctuate over a long range. An amplifier can overcome the RG6’s short range, provided the ends of the two cables have provisions for the signal booster.
- Application: Since both cables have an Ohms rating of above 75, they are ideal for cable TV installation. But because RG11 wires have a higher gauge (thickness), they are best suited for transferring strong HDTV signals. For indoor applications, RG6 is usually the coax of choice. RG11 is not the best type for general residential connections.
- Cost: RG6 cables are comparatively inexpensive. There’s a slight premium attached to an RG11’s thick outer sheath and increased signal range. An RG11 cable’s manufacturing costs are also higher, which reflects its price. An RG11 cord can cost two times an RG6 cable’s price.
RG6 and RG11 are used for the same purposes—to connect devices that transport video and audio signals to a display from a transmitter. But how long and sturdy the cable must be, cord flexibility and range, etc., determine which fits requirements better.
1. Can I Use RG11 Cables Over Short Distances?
You can use RG11 cables for short-range connections, but it’s not a sensible ploy, particularly with a relatively inexpensive and bend-friendly RG6 around. The RG11 cable’s connectors could be much longer than standard RG6 compression connectors, hindering installations in a compact space.
If you require a line shorter than 50 feet, consider an RG6. The need for an RG11 arises only when the cable length needed is close to 100 feet.
2. Can I Use RG6 and RG11 Cables in the Same Line?
Yes, you can employ RG6 and RG11 cables for a specific installation. It’s, in fact, not rare to see an RG11 being used for extended runs and the RG6 for shorter lengths in the same connection.
The cable switching happens at an intermediate point where the RG11 cord goes into an amplifier, with the RG6 cable attached to the other end.
Kindly note that it’s best to use either of the two types for a particular installation. Employ the two-cable approach only when there’s no other go.
3. Is an RG6 Cable Less Durable?
No, RG6 cables are sturdy and durable enough to withstand signal interference and external environmental concerns. It’s just that they pale in comparison on that front to an RG11. You can run an RG6 underground and up a building’s side to connect to satellite dishes and antennas.
RG6 and RG11 cables are coaxial cable types with the same goals but different implementations.
Although the higher numerical value of the RG11 seems like an upgrade, it doesn’t supplant an RG6. The RG6 and RG11 coexist.
The RG6 is most suited inside the house and also for short-distance outdoor connections. An RG11 cord, on the other hand, is ideal for outdoor applications spanning a distance.
RG6 cables struggle when the connection needs to run beyond a certain distance, mainly more than 100 feet.
If protection from outdoor elements is not a concern and the connection length is within range, you can safely use an RG6 outdoors too.
Since the RG6 is more flexible or easy to work with and comparatively affordable, get an RG11 only when you can truly appreciate the long range and more robust cable build.
Catherine Tramell has been covering technology as a freelance writer for over a decade. She has been writing for Pointer Clicker for over a year, further expanding her expertise as a tech columnist. Catherine likes spending time with her family and friends and her pastimes are reading books and news articles.