RG-6 vs RG-59: What is the Difference Between Them?

FACTS CHECKED BY  Jose George​

Most equipment around you might be working on coaxial cables since they can handle high-speed data transfer. Although they look the same, there are still many variations in coaxial cables as the conductor size changes. Two of the common types of it are RG59 and RG6. Often mistaken as one, RG6 and RG59 work on impedance values of 75 Ohm. Moreover, both of them use some connector, the F-type one. However, the question arises can you use them interchangeably? Also, do they have specific properties that you need to consider while choosing RG-6 vs. RG-59

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Construction of RG-6 vs RG-59

RG6 and RG59 cables mostly have similar construction. They both have a center conductor, a dielectric, a shield, and an outer jacket. However, these parts have few differences in them. 

Conductor

CCS, an acronym for copper-clad steel, is the most common material used for the center conductor. RG6 cables, on the other hand, are significantly thicker than RG59 cables. The center conductor of an RG6 cable is typically 18 AWG in size, but the center conductor of an RG59 cable is 20 AWG in size.

Insulation

One thing that all coaxial cables have is how you categorize their insulation. The typical coaxial cable is rated MIL-C-17, the standard grade needed to protect the insides from damage from environmental causes. Since these cables are often outside, you must consider rain, snow, and other weather conditions.

Other coaxial cables, like those used in harsher environments, have the military-grade heavy-duty rating of M17/74. M17/74 insulation breaks down much more slowly than MIL-C-17 insulation, so it protects the signal better. Such insulations are also good for running the cables underground.

Usually, RG 6 has thinker insulation than RG 59.

Shielding

Shielding keeps ‘noise’ out of your transmission, preserving the quality of your signal. Braid and foil shielding are the most common choices for coaxial cable manufacturers. Most coaxial cables are equipped with a pair of conductors (although few RG-59 cables use a single shield). Most cables function better over long distances if they are shielded. However, there are exceptions depending on the type of data being transmitted. 

A Mylar or aluminum foil connects to a dielectric, and a metal braiding surrounds a foil shield. Also, strong electromagnetic interference or EMF can be effectively shielded by foil. Many tiny wire strands are braided around the dielectric (and foil). The braid can block low signal interference. Copper braiding is used in RG 59 cable, while you can use copper or aluminum braid in RG 6.

You can find a cable with an additional layer of metal and braided shielding called “quad-shielded” that can provide superior protection. However, some coaxial cables perform better, even without the additional thickness and mass of quad cables, using a 95 percent braid.

Cable Jacket

 RG 59 and RG 6 can have different jackets and may or may not be rated for your chosen installation.

Plenum Rating

Plenums are air-circulating areas above or below the ceiling. Because they have higher oxygen gas and fewer fire barriers, these spaces are vital for airflow in office spaces.

Improper cabling in the plenum space can cause fire, and smoke spreads quickly. Therefore, you must use plenum cables since they are flame-retardant and have special plastics. Moreover, it doesn’t release harmful gases or smoke like regular plastics. Thus, any cable used in plenum spaces must have a plenum rating.

Direct or Outdoor Burial Coax

If you run wire outside, it requires weatherproofing, so outer cables are weather resistant. Also, Polyethylene (PE) jackets replace UV-resistant PVC  in outdoor cables. Thus, the cable’s outer jacket resists cold, dampness, chemicals, cuts, and abrasion.

Moisture becomes a bigger problem when burying coaxial cable. Without shielding, moisture and impurities can corrode the shields and conducting material. Direct burial cable contains the same PE jacket as outdoor coax and a gel-type material that prevents water from eroding the metal and harming the signal.

Difference between RG6 and RG59

Caption: Difference between RG6 and RG59

Performance of Rg-6 vs RG-59

The difference in construction leads to different performances.

Bandwidth

In RG6 cables, there is a larger conducting wire inside the shielding than in RG59. It means the RG6 has higher bandwidth, and thus, it can transmit more data at a higher rate.

Attenuation

Even though shielding keeps outside signals from influencing the actual one, there will be some frequency loss as a cable gets longer. Here is signal loss (attenuation) in decibels for a 100-foot cable. Remember that signal loss will get worse as the cable gets longer. Because of this, you should keep the installation lengths as short as possible.


RG 59 vs RG 6 Signal Loss (in dB) per 100 ft

                    Caption: RG 59 vs RG 6 Signal Loss (in dB) per 100 ft

Frequency Range

RG6 cables work best frequencies at 1 to 5 GHz. However, it does not work efficiently with MHz frequencies. RG59 cables do not transmit GHz frequencies. But it is good at transmitting signals at 50 MHz or lower.

Application RG-6 vs RG-59

RG59 was a common go-to option for most applications, but as the RG6 came, it took over the market. Following are some highlighted applications of RG6 vs. RG59.

The main deal is the size of the conductor, where RG6 is significantly better than the RG59. Higher frequency means superior quality pictures for the televisions. With such quality, there is an increase in conductive capacity of 50MHz or higher as the RG6 can work up to 1.5 GHz. Thus, the RG6 is better for high-frequency applications. In addition, it supports speedy internet, so RG6 is often preferred for such applications.

However, some high-definition systems can run at 37 MHz signals, so to cut the price, you can use the RG59 as it handles the frequency better than the RG6. Also, in some applications, bigger can be useless. Some applications require certain frequencies that you can send in specific sizes.

Moreover, RG6 can be too large for the information transmitted through it and face many undesirable effects. These effects include Ghosting or image creation that is doubling up. Therefore, you need to specify both cables on some of the uses. For example, you should use RG6 for higher frequency projection and RG59 for normal uses.

So, it would help if you used RG6 for

  • Broadband Internet
  • CATV
  • TV antennas Hook up
  • Satellite DSS applications

Also, use RG59 for

  • Analog CCTV
  • Baseband video applications
  • Analog video signal transmission etc.  
Coaxial Cable connection with multi-connector

Caption: Coaxial Cable connection with multi-connector

The price difference in RG-6 vs. RG-59

RG6 coax cable is generally pricier than the RG59.

Conclusion

As you see, the applications of RG6 and RG59 differ, and you cannot use them interchangeably. However, RG6 still works better in most cases, which you can see in their price differences. Thus, you have to consider the budget before choosing a suitable cable. Here at Cloom, we offer types of coax cables to make your connection with attention to detail.

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