Andrew Steele

Television & Radio Hardware - Splitters and Taps


A splitter is used to take a single cable input and divide it to multiple outputs. This is most commonly used for houses that wish to use multiple televisions.

As with other portions of the aerial system, any splitter should be of good quality with screening to prevent interference. It is also important that the splitter be installed as close to the aerial as possible to prevent further interference being inserted onto the cable.

Being passive devices, splitters can be installed in locations where power is difficult or costly to run. In strong signal areas, a booster/amplifier will most likely not be needed as the signal level should be strong enough to support multiple splits.

Splitters tend to divide the signal in a particular way. For example, a two-way splitter will supply each leg with just less than fifty percent of the original signal (the splitter has a small loss itself). A three-way splitter however will divide the signal with one leg receiving just less than fifty percent, and the other two legs receiving just less than twenty-five percent.

Internal Splitters

An internal splitter is usually a two-to-eight-way device which splits the incoming signal to multiple outputs. They are best installed in a loft. The recommended type are screened and come in a robust metal case which should be affixed to a wall or beam for secure fitting.

External (Mast Head) Splitters

External splitters are generally installed on the aerial pole or exterior wall, and have a similar appearance to a mast-head amplifier. As with internal splitters, they come in a variety of outputs enclosed in a weatherproof box. They do have the negative that additional cables are more difficult to add, so attaching all cables at installation type is recommended.


Taps are generally used on larger systems which are supplied using a power amplifier. Rather than dividing the signal into large chunks, they siphon off a small portion of a very strong signal to supply a separate splitter or output. The remaining signal is passed on to the next tap which siphons off its own portion, and so on.

The use of taps is best suited to locations such as hotels or care homes where there is some control of the physical installation. Removal or interference with the tap can cause reception problems for users further down the line. It is not recommended to install taps in flats or on communal aerial systems due to the potential problems of a homeowner affecting the tap.