Distribute HDMI High Definition Video Over Long Distances

How do you extend HDMI cables from one area in the home to another without spending a fortune or compromising signal loss? The answer is with HDMI baluns. The balun allows you to extend HDMI far beyond that of regular HDMI cables using standard Ethernet networking cables. We'll cover the basics and the options when deciding on which balun is right for HDMI distribution.

What is a Balun?

Direct from Wikipedia: A balun is a type of electrical transformer that can convert electrical signals that are balanced about ground (differential) to signals that are unbalanced (single-ended) and vice versa. They are also often used to connect lines of differing impedance. The origin of the word balun is bal(ance) + un(balance)

Well that clears it up doesn't it? The important thing to understand here is that for running HDMI over long distances you'll need a a balun on the transmitting end (to unbalance the signal) and one on the receiving end (to balance the signal back).

What You'll Need When Extending HDMI Signals

  • A balun kit made up of a transmitter and receiver. Some are sold only as kits but others are sold separately so be sure you're getting a transmitter and its corresponding receiver.
  • Two HDMI cables to connect both ends to their respective balun. These can be short, inexpensive cables.
  • A bundle or pre-terminated Cat-5 (or Cat-6) networking cable. No matter which one you go with you'll need to run two cables:
    • Bundle spools save you money if you're doing long runs but require terminating of the ends with RJ-45 connectors using a crimp tool.
    • Pre-terminated Ethernet networking cables - These are the easiest to use since they already have the connectors attached. The downside is that they may not have the length you require.

Important Note

The HDMI specification allows "handshaking" between devices that are connected to one another. This initial communication provides details about resolution, copy protection and other bits of information that are established between the devices (such as a Blu-ray player to A/V receiver to TV). Adding an HDMI extender may interfere with this handshaking process. An important factor in whether or not the HDMI extender will work depends mostly on your A/V receiver. There are two types of HDMI switching found in A/V receivers: "straight switching" and "switching with repeating". If your A/V receiver features the repeating type of switching you have a less chance of handshake failure.


Let's briefly go over some of the key features found among HDMI extenders

Form Factor

Before going too far into the decision making process you first need to determine the form factor of your balun. There are basically two types: free-standing or in-wall:

Free Standing

In-wall baluns look clean and professional while free standing baluns are quick to setup and use. Choose the one that's right for your application.

1080i or 1080p Support

You'll want to choose an HDMI extender that supports the resolution you plan on using. Most support both resolutions but the distance that is possible for 1080p will be less. Consult your A/V system specs to find out which one you'll be using.

3D Compatible

If you plan on watching 3D content make sure you pick a balun that can process the 3D signal.

IR Pass-through Support

IR pass-through is a convenient feature that allows you to send IR remote control signals from the TV location back to your gear location.

HDMI Over 2X Category 5e Cables Wall Plate Extender with IR Repeater

HDMI Extender Kit for Category 5e/6 Cables

HDMI Video and Audio Balun, 1080i (Pair)

HDMI Over 2x Cat5e Cables Wall Plate Extender
Form Factor In-Wall Free Standing Free Standing In-Wall
Display Resolution Up to 1080p Up to 1080p Up to 1080i Up to 1080p
3D Compatible No No No Yes
IR Pass-through Yes No No No
Advertised Distance 100ft (1080p)
200ft (up to 1080i)
100ft (1080p)
200ft (up to 1080i)
150ft 100ft (1080p)

New! Wireless HDMI Extender

Wireless Speakers

  • Wirelessly extend an HDMI signal up to 100 feet
  • Transmits through walls - no line of sight required
  • Auto tracking smart antenna
  • Real time, visually lossless HD compression

Need to extend an HDMI signal over a distance but can't run a cable? The Vanco International 280511 transmits HDMI audio/video signals up to 100 feet wirelessly. This unit transmits through walls - no line of sight necessary. This device is comprised of a transmitter and auto-tracking smart antenna that communicate realtime, visually lossless HD audio and video. Best of all, this extender is easy to install and simple to use.

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