How to Connect HDMI Over Long Distances

Wired and wireless solutions for extending HDMI connection distance

What to Know

  • Wired solution: use Ethernet cables to connect devices to an internet router.
  • Wireless solution: connect an HDMI cable to the output of the device and to an external transmitter.

This article explains different ways to connect HDMI over long distances.

HDMI: The Advantages and Disadvantages

A great thing about HDMI is that you can pass both audio and video from a source (such as a Blu-ray Disc player) to a destination (such as a home theater receiver or TV) using a single cable.

However, HDMI has issues, such as occasional problems arising from its handshake requirements (both the source and TV or video projector need to recognize each other for the connection to take).

One additional problem with HDMI is its effectiveness over long distances. It is recommended that HDMI source and destination devices be no farther than 15 feet apart for the best result. However, HDMI cables can extend this reliably to about 30 feet. Also, if well constructed (and that doesn't necessarily mean ultra-expensive), some HDMI cables can extend signal integrity up to 50 feet.

Extending this distance can be tricky. You may see an effect known as the sparkles, and you may encounter increased handshake problems. Still, you may encounter those issues with short HDMI cable lengths.

So, what do you do if you want to extend that distance beyond 50 feet, as far as 100 to 300 feet, or your entire house so that HDMI devices can be sourced and destined in multiple locations?


How to Troubleshoot HDMI Connection Problems

Wired Solution: HDMI Over Cat

One way to extend HDMI is with Ethernet cables. The same type of Ethernet Cat5, 5e, 6, and Cat7 cables used to connect devices to an internet router or home/office network can also transfer the audio and video signals used in a home theater setup.

J-Tech - HDMI to Cat-5e Extender - Connection Example

J-Tech /

This is done by using an HDMI-to-Cat5 (5e, 6, 7) converter kit. These kits are available from brands such as Gofanco and Monoprice. This type of kit comes with a transmitter and receiver, both of which connect to AC power.

Here are the steps to set this up.

  1. Place the transmitter and receiver where you want each device.

  2. Connect an HDMI source (DVD/Blu-ray Disc player, cable/satellite box, media streamer, game console, or the HDMI output from a home theater receiver if it is located a long distance from your TV or video projector) to the HDMI input on the transmitter.

  3. Connect one end of a Cat5e, 6, 7 cable to the Ethernet output of the transmitter.

  4. Connect the other end of the Cat cable to the Ethernet input on the receiver.

  5. Connect the HDMI output of the receiver to the TV or video projector.

  6. Plug in the transmitter and receiver to power and verify that the setup works.

  7. If the setup doesn't work, redo the connection setup or refer to our HDMI troubleshooting tips. If you aren't successful, contact tech support for your converters.

In addition to extending HDMI using Cat5e, 6, or 7 cables, similar transmitters/receiver options transfer HDMI using Fiber or RF Coax. Fiber can extend HDMI over long distances (such as a mile or more).

The physical layout and setup are the same as with extenders that use Cat cables. The HDMI source is connected to a transmitter, which converts the HDMI signal to Fiber or Coax, which, in turn, is connected to a receiver that converts the signal coming in over Fiber or Coax back to HDMI.

Optical HDMI Cable

Using converters to extend HDMI over Cat, Fiber, or Coax works. However, there is also the option of using HDMI cables with Fiber Optic converters built-in to the HDMI connectors. These cables work like any other HDMI cable. Plug one end into the source, the other end to a TV or video projector, and you are set to go.

FIBBR Optical HDMI Connector Example
FIBBR and Amazon

These cables come in various lengths. Depending on the manufacturer, you may be able to order custom lengths. Optical HDMI cable technology supports lengths of 300 feet or more.

Optical HDMI cables are available from brands such as FIBBR, Gofanco, Monoprice, and Sewell Direct.

Wireless HDMI Solutions

Another way to connect HDMI devices is wirelessly. This solution can eliminate the need for a long HDMI cable within a large room, usually at a distance of 30 to 60 feet. Some units may provide up to 150 feet or more of coverage.

Iogear GWHDKIT11 Wireless HDMI Kit Setup

Iogear / Amazon

The way wireless HDMI connectivity works is similar to the steps used with Cat, Fiber, and Coax converters. You connect a short HDMI cable to the HDMI output of a source device (Blu-ray player, media streamer, or cable/satellite box) to an external transmitter, The transmitter sends the audio/video signal wirelessly to a receiver, that, in turn, is connected to a TV or video projector using a short HDMI cable.

Wireless HDMI has mostly fallen out of favor. You can still find devices that support it, but there's no agreed-upon standard. The companies that produce the devices are doing so entirely on their own.

There were two major competing wireless HDMI formats, each supporting their own products: WHDI and Wireless HD (WiHD). Both of these formats have fallen out of favor, with both failing to gain traction as the standard. In their place, the companies that previously adopted these formats continue to produce their own devices based on the potential standards.

WHDI transmits HDMI signals using the 5 GHz frequency band. The transmission range can be up to 100 feet or more (depending on the product). Examples of brands that offer Wireless HDMI products using WHDI technology include ActionTec, IOGEAR, and Nyrius.

WiHD transmits HDMI signals using the 60 GHz frequency band. The transmission range tops out at about 60 feet but decreases or becomes non-effective when transmitting through walls. Results are best if the transmitter and receiver are within line-of-sight. Some brands that offer wireless HDMI products using WiHD technology include DVDO and Monoprice.

Both of these options make it more convenient to connect HDMI sources and TVs or video projectors without an unsightly cable.

However, as with traditional wired HDMI connectivity, there can be quirks such as distance, line-of-site issues, and interference when located near a wireless router or similar device (depending on whether you use WHDI or WiHD).

There are also differences in how both methods may be implemented on a brand and model level, such as whether some surround sound formats and 3D can be accommodated. Many wireless HDMI transmitters and receivers aren't 4K compatible but are available on a growing number of units. If you need 4K compatibility, check product features and specs to make sure it is provided.

The Bottom Line

HDMI is the main connection used in home theater, and it is not going away anytime soon.

On the positive side, HDMI provides the ability to transfer HD (and 4K) video and required audio formats from source components to home theater receivers and video displays. Even the PC world has come on board with HDMI connectivity, a standard feature on both desktops and laptops.

However, despite its widespread adoption, HDMI isn't trouble-free. One of its weaknesses is its inability to transfer video signals over long distances without additional support.

Wired-based options are the most stable when using HDMI combined with Ethernet, Fiber, Coax, or using Optical HDMI cables. Still, wireless alternatives are viable for home use.

If you set up a home theater system with a long distance between the HDMI connected components, and the components don't work, consider the options discussed above as possible solutions.

Costs to implement each solution can vary, so take stock of your specific needs and which option will meet those needs within your budget.

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