Difference Between RG59 and RG6 Cable

Coaxial cables are one of the most commonly used electrical cables. They have many different applications and uses, and buyers of these coaxial cables often get confused about which one to buy.

The most prominent of these confusions arise from the debates on RG6 cable Vs RG59 cables.

How do they differ? What are they used for? This article will seek to help you find those answers and give you more information on these two popular coaxial cable types. This includes how they differ in construction and their uses.

What Are RG Cables?

RG cables stand for Radio Guide cables. They first saw use in military communications but are now commonly used to provide broadband internet connection or television signals.

Since it is old, there have been many different versions of RG cables over the years. However, the most prominent ones are the RG6 and RG59 cables.

General Structure of RG Cables

Difference Between RG59 and RG6 Cable

There is a general structure for the RG cables with differently rated cables having alterations to the structure. This allows them to perform differently. The general structure is:

1. Inner Conductor

The first part of the cable is an inner conductor. This conductor is usually constructed out of copper, or copper-plated steel wires are used. This is what conducts the electrical signal.

2. Insulator

Over the inner conductor, an insulator is used to cover it. This is usually a dielectric insulator which serves to prevent leakage and increase the efficiency of the cable.

3. Shield

Covering the insulator is a metal shield. It consists of metallic braids, and some cables might have more than one layer. The purpose is to prevent outside interference.

4. Jacket

The whole wire is wrapped with a plastic jacket for protection.

This is the basic structure of all RG cables. We will first cover the RG6 cable and then the RG59 to see and understand their differences.

Overview of RG6 Cable

Overview of RG6 Cable

These cables are also denoted as RG6/U cables, where the U stands for Utility. As the name suggests, it is a general utility wire that sees use for broadband internet and satellite signal transmission. The RG6 cable has several alterations to it.

  • RG6 cables make use of much thicker copper conductors. They are usually rated at 18 AWG. This helps them to be more efficient at carrying signals through longer distances. The thicker copper conductors increase bandwidth (the amount of data it can transfer).
  • RG6 cables use braided aluminum shields. This improves their shielding capacity and makes them less susceptible to interference. Foil shields are also present to further increase shielding.
  • The cables make use of stronger insulation and so are safer to use. Its insulation is coated with flame retardants to minimize the risk of catching fire.

Frequency Range of RG6 Cable

RG6 cables can work with signals in the GigaHertz range. This is partly due to the high shielding capacity of RG6 cables as it prevents interference and distortion. They work best with frequencies of over 50 MegaHertz.

Advantages of Using RG6 Cables

RG6 cables work reliably with extremely high-frequency signals. They are built to have less attenuation (energy loss over time), which is common in high-frequency signals.

So, using RG6 cables will make sure you have high signal quality. They also tend to face much less signal loss issues.

Another advantage of their cables is that they can be made into long cables and used without issues. Usually, longer cables tend to have their signal quality disrupted, but that is not the case for RG6 cables.

So, if you need to make use of longer cables, RG6 cables are the way to go.

Applications of RG6 Cables

With the strong points of RG6 cables being their ability to carry extremely high-frequency signals without loss in quality over long distances, they have some important uses. The primary use of these cables is to provide broadband internet connection.

The other use is for satellite signal transmissions. These transmissions make use of very high-frequency signals (around 1-5 GigaHertz).

And these signals are susceptible to signal degradation but foil shielding (with some RG6 cables making use of quad shielding) helps prevent it – making transmission of these high-frequency signals feasible.

Overview of RG59 Cable

Overview of RG59 Cable

These cables are another commonly used RG cable. Their structure is detailed below:

  • The inner conductor is much thinner, especially compared to RG6 cables rated at 20 AWG. The diameter is smaller, but it still makes use of copper.
  • Its insulation is much less compared to RG6 cables. This makes RG59 cables more susceptible to outside interference.
  • The shields are made out of copper. This causes a decrease in shielding capacity and makes RG59 cables a bad pick if signals have frequencies in the GigaHertz range.

Frequency Range of RG59 Cable

Since RG59 cables use a thinner conducting copper wire and have weaker shields, they cannot be used to carry signals with very high frequencies. They are typically used for signals with a frequency of 50 MegaHertz or lower.

Advantages of Using RG59 Cables

The RG59 cable isn’t used as much as the other cables; it still has the advantage that it is very good at transmitting low-frequency signals.

If you need to transmit signals on the MegaHertz frequency range and need good signal quality, RG59 cables are one of the best options.

RG59 cables also tend to be cheaper. They are also much easier to install as they are often merged with a power cable to reduce installation time.

Applications of RG59 Cables

RG59 cables are susceptible to interference if long cables are used. Due to this limitation, they are often used in closed circuit settings and for composite video signals.

The most common application of RG59 cables is in CCTV cameras and surveillance. They are cheap and easy to set up, which makes them ideal for the job since CCTV cameras make use of lower frequency signals.

Aside from CCTV cameras, they also see use in video projectors and some television systems.

RG6 Cable Vs RG59 Comparison

Since you have a rundown of the basics of the two cables, let us compare the two.

Bandwidth

RG6 cables have larger conducting wires than RG59 cables. This means they have higher bandwidth and can transfer more data faster.

Shielding

RG6 cables make use of aluminum foil shields and quad shielding. RG59 cables make use of copper shielding. So, RG6 cables have better shielding and so are less susceptible to outside interference.

Frequency Range

RG6 cables can work with frequencies of 1 to 5 GHz but aren’t efficient at transmitting signals in the MHz range. RG59 cables cannot transmit signals in the GHz frequency range due to their lower shielding but are very good at transmitting signals at 50 MHz or lower.

Attenuation

RG6 cables have less attenuation. So, these cables can be made longer without signal loss problems. RG59 cables have greater attenuation. RG59 cables cannot be made too long and are usually kept short to prevent loss during signal transmission.

Application

RG6 cables are primarily used for satellite transmission cables and broadband internet connection due to their high bandwidth and great shielding. RG59 cables are used for CCTV surveillance and video projectors.

Price

RG6 cables are more expensive than RG59 cables of the same length. This is because of the better shielding and thicker conductor.

Which One Do I Pick?

The biggest deciding factor between these two cables is what you need the cable for. As you can see, there is very little to no overlap between their usages and no way you can substitute either of them for any purpose.

While RG59 cables are cheaper, they can’t be used in place of RG6 cables for radio transmission or broadband internet. Similarly, RG6 cables struggle to carry lower frequency signals with good quality, and you will need to use RG59 cables for that.

So, in the end, the most important thing you need to look at is what you need to use the cable for. Once you have the answer, picking the cable is easy.

Conclusion

The RG6 cable Vs RG59 cable debate is thrown around a lot, but I believe this article has given you some insight into how simple the whole thing is.

There are some key differences that help each cable perform differently. Whenever you need to decide between the two, always recall what you need the particular cable for.