Product Type: Philex Amplifiers
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Philex SLx8 8 Way Signal Distribution Amplifier
Member Name: grahamt
Philex SLx8 8 Way Signal Distribution Amplifier
Date: 29/10/09, updated on 29/10/09 (778 review reads)
Advantages: Reliable signal to all TVs, no matter how many
Disadvantages: Needs a local power socket ; Indoor use only ; a bit expensive
Some time ago I erected a Freeview digital aerial on the roof. I did this mostly as a back-up for cable TV as we were then (this was in :ntl days) experiencing an unreliable service and wanted to be sure that we would not be entirely deprived of TV if the service went off again. To be honest, most of the programmes we watch are those available from Freeview. The signal from the aerial was fed just to the same TV that displayed the cable service so that we could switch between services at the click of a button.
Gradually the number of TVs in the house started to expand, starting with the kitchen and then expanding to include our bedroom, each of the kid's bedrooms, the family room and so on. The problem was, how to feed the Freeview signal from a single aerial to multiple TVs.
Initially I tried the standard, cheap splitters that you can get from places like Maplins. This worked OK for a couple of TVs but once you've tried to split the signal more than a couple of times the signal strength received by the TV becomes so weak that it's hit and miss whether or not there is enough signal to produce a picture. Some TVs and set-top Freeview boxes are very tolerant of weak signals whilst other won't work at all or will show some channels OK but not others.
I first tried putting a signal booster in the line before the splitters and that made an improvement but eventually even that didn't have the desired effect once the signal was being split out to five or more TVs. This clearly wasn't a permanent solution. What I needed was a signal booster that could directly feed all of the TVs from a single aerial without additional splitters.
I wanted to locate the booster/splitter in the loft but, of course, lofts don't usually have power sockets. Ideally I would have liked to have used what is called a Masthead Splitter. These are usually mounted on the aerial pole and take the signal directly from the aerial and split it to multiple feeds. They are powered back up one of the feed wires from a 12V power source close to one of the TVs. However, I couldn't find one that had enough feed sockets at anything like a reasonable price: I was looking for one with about eight feeds, to allow for future expansion.
Finally, I bit the bullet and bought a Philex 8 Way Signal Distribution Amplifier from Maplins for about £35. This is intended for indoor use only and has a mains lead and so has to have a power source close to where it is mounted. I extended a power socket into the loft and set about installing the amplifier. The Philex has two inputs, one for TV aerial and one for an FM or DAB radio aerial. Both can be fed to the same outlet cables, boosted by 12db at each socket. One additional socket provides an 18db boost so that these devices can be daisy-chained together if eight output sockets isn't enough!
The Philex uses F Type connectors. These screw directly onto the aerial lead, trapping the outer screen braid wires between the connector and the outer insulation. The central wire pokes out of the middle of the connector. The connector screws directly onto the socket on the amplifier and so provides a much better connection with less loss of signal strength. The only problem is that older aerial wire is too thick for these connectors and would have to be replaced with newer thinner cable. I was lucky not to need to have to do so.
The result has been perfect reception at every TV. Some of the aerial leads have quite long runs but the signal hasn't been degraded at all no matter how far the signal has to travel to it's destination TV. We now have no problems with TVs not producing a picture or not displaying certain problem channels, such as Five in the London area.
The only concern I have is what effect heat in the loft may have on the amplifier, at the height of Summer. So far, on the few days we have had when the temperature in the loft rises to uncomfortable levels, it has continued to work perfectly.
So, if you have a similar problem then I can recommend the Philex. If eight outputs are too many for your needs then they do make the same device in four and six socket versions. I found it easy to install although I would recommend an electrician if you don't have a local power socket where you need it and don't feel comfortable working with the mains wiring to provide one for the device.
Summary: The solution to providing a signal to multiple TVs from a single aerial
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