How to Hook Up an Extra TV to the Incoming Cable Service

by Michelle Carvo ; Updated September 29, 2017

Hooking up an extra TV to your incoming cable service doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to pay for a costly second cable box through your provider. To watch TV in multiple rooms, you can accomplish this with a relatively inexpensive RF splitter and coaxial cable.

About an RF Splitter and Coaxial Cable

The RF splitter is a transmission component that splits your cable signal multiple ways. This splitter is the most important piece of hardware for hooking up an extra TV to your incoming cable service, so it’s important to choose wisely, as it greatly influences the quality of the picture on your TV. Select a two-way RF splitter to hook up two TVs to one cable signal. Cable experts recommend that you select a splitter that is well-made, waterproof and has RFI shielding to shield the signal from noise. Good RF splitters may set you back $15-$20 depending on the store.

The second most important piece of the setup is your coaxial cable. Purchase a durable and well-shielded coaxial cable that is long enough to run from your RF splitter to your secondary TV set. Consider buying a cable that is a few feet longer than the actual distance between the two, so that you can tuck the cable in to make the setup look neater.

Connect TVs

  1. Take the coaxial cable from the back of your first TV and plug it into the “In” port of your RF splitter.
  2. Take another coaxial cable and hook one end to the first “Out” port of the splitter while plugging the other end of this cable into your first TV. 
  3. Plug another coaxial cable into the other “Out” port of the RF splitter and then plug the other end of this cable into your secondary TV. 
  4. Select the “RF” option from your TV sets’ input menus to view the content from your cable box. You can now watch TV on either set.      

Limitations

Unfortunately, this method enables you to watch TV on only one set at a time. If you’re not planning to have multiple TVs turned on at once, then this will be a sufficient setup. However, if you do want to use multiple TVs at onc,e you will need to contact your cable company to get a second cable box.

Each time you split a signal, the signal gets weaker and the picture quality may decline. You can combat this issue by purchasing signal amplifiers that make the signal stronger.

Tip

  • You can also buy wireless signal distribution kits. These work by connecting a transmitter to the back of your cable box and transmitters to the RF "In" ports on the back of your televisions.

Warnings

  • You'll only be able to view the output of your cable box on each set after you've split your connection. If you want to be able to watch different channels on each television, talk to your cable provider about the installation of a second cable box.
  • Splitting your cable signal can result in the loss of picture quality. You can buy signal amplifiers form most audio/visual stores to improve your viewing experience if you notice a marked drop in picture quality after splitting your signal.

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About the Author

Michelle Carvo has been writing professionally since 2006, contributing to a variety of websites. She is also a technical writer with extensive experience in Android/iPhone development and PC repair. Carvo holds a Bachelor of Science in computer information systems from the University of Michigan-Flint and works as an IT project manager.

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