How Long Can HDMI Cables Run? (What’s the Standard?)

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How Long Can HDMI Cables Run

With all of the different technology these days, it’s no wonder, when it comes to HDMI cables, you will have to start using longer cables, as most of these devices might not be as close to each other as you would like.

I know from my own experience that I have TV’s, Blu-rays, Laptops and other devices all sitting in separate areas. Yet, I want them connected. 

How Long Can HDMI Cables Run?

HDMI cables can run as far as the cables allow. The standard answer to this question in the electronics industry is 50’ and is the recommended maximum length HDMI cables should run. After 50’, picture and sound quality decreases because of the HDMI length. 

Of course, it isn’t as simple as keep the HDMI cables under 50’ and you will be fine.

There are other questions to answer, such as is one 50’ HDMI cable better than 2 or more HDMI cables attached together to make up that length? Or, does it matter on what kind of HDMI cables you use, and can they be used together?

I asked the same questions and thought it would be a great idea to share the answers with you to help you make the choices you need to make for your next HDMI purchases. 

Standard HDMI Cable Lengths

Firstly, it’s probably best to get this question out of the way. Knowing what the standard lengths are helps you plan how many cables you will need to purchase for your current setup.

It also allows you to plan how to set up new equipment when you know how long the cables are and how far apart everything can be from each other. 

What makes a standard length a standard length?

The industry will start off manufacturing what they feel are the lengths most people will end up purchasing based on their studies and knowing how specific equipment will be situated in a typical setup. 

For the most part, these lengths become the standard however, consumer demand often ends up dictating what the standard will be.

You can identify these instances by the odd lengths of HDMI cables that start showing up on the market. For example, I found HDMI cables on Amazon in the lengths of 15’, 20’ & 100’. To me, these lengths do not fit the standard mold. 

Standard HDMI lengths you will recognize are 3’, 6’, 10’ & 25’. The 3’ lengths are typically provided when you purchase a new Blu-ray, Stereo receiver or other device that transmits video and or audio via this technology. I know this because I am usually scrambling for longer lengths, especially when I need to feed a longer HDMI cable up the wall to my LED TV. 

Does the Length of HDMI Cable Affect Quality?

If you were to compare the quality of a 3’ HDMI signal versus a 10’, you probably wouldn’t notice a difference however, comparing a 3’ to a 50’+ length, you might notice a slight lag in sound or the quality of the video signal.

Of course, you would need to have two identical setups running to test this out and honestly, who does this? Well, manufacturers and professional testing facilities do indeed run similar tests and the result is that anything over 50’ will start to lose quality. I guess we’ll take their word for it!

Let’s face it, most home-owners will not need to run 50’ of HDMI. The only time I can see myself wanting to do this is if I was to run a cable out to the backyard to setup a TV for a game or movie night and in this situation, the quality probably won’t matter as much. 

There must be a way however, to run HDMI cables and keep the quality high and there is? Read on to find out more.  

Use Cat6 Cable to lengthen an HDMI Signal

Cat6 Cables
Cat6 Cables

If requested, new home builders are installing Cat6 wire in the walls before the walls are drywalled.  This means you only need an HDMI cable to be long enough to span from the device to the wall connection. Another good thing about using Cat6 is the cable can be up to 100 meters (328’).

If you haven’t heard of Cat6 before, it is a twisted cable used for ethernet and other network physical layers such as HDMI. When the Cat6 is hooked up, the technician will install an HDMI ethernet wall plate, which is where you insert the HDMI cable. 

These cables do not require an electrician to install so you can go ahead and fish Cat6 cables through your wall, if you want to modernize your networking system. 

Also Read: The 9 Cables You Need For Home Theater Installations

Do Long HDMI Cables Cause Lag?

There is conflicting information online regarding when and why lag appears when using long HDMI cables.

What I can tell you from my own experiences is that most times, you either won’t really notice any lag, as it will be so insignificant or it’s not the long cable causing the lag but something else. 

If you are noticing there is lag in your audio or video, try checking the HDMI cable first. I have had cables just stop working.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out for the longest time why suddenly the signal went out because I hadn’t touched anything but when I changed out the cable, everything worked fine.

Now, that is an extreme case and there are a couple other things you can check as well. 

  • Make sure you don’t have any dimming features set to on as this can affect lag. 
  • Do you have power saving settings set to on? Try turning those off. 
  • If it’s the internet driving your signal, check to make sure the internet is working properly. Have your internet upgraded if you have multiple devices drawing from it. Try unplugging the modem for a few minutes to see if that works. 
  • If it’s gaming that is lagging, make sure you are in gaming mode. 
  • Using the speakers on your TV will sometimes cause lag. Hook up external speakers to your stereo instead. 

That’s just a few ideas to check. As you can see, many things can cause a lag with your video or audio when using HDMI cables and it might not even be the cables fault.

To troubleshoot the issue, start at the beginning source checking settings and cables as you move down the line to the end source. This has always helped me weed out the problem. 

Up next, I am going to cover some questions we might have touched lightly on or I found online while researching for this article. I feel they will help you in the long run if we go over them quickly. 

Does Cable Length Affect Sound Quality?

The industry does recommend that HDMI lengths not exceed 50’ to avoid any lag. It is difficult to identify if there is lag unless you can perform a side by side test with duplicate equipment and cables. 

I am going to go out on a limb and say that if your cables are in good shape and you have a reliable source for your audio. you shouldn’t notice any lag. If you do happen to notice audio lag, then start by checking the HDMI and the source to make sure all settings are where they should be.

How Do I Extend My HDMI Cable?

There are a few easy ways to do this. 

  • Use an HDMI adapter to connect more than one HDMI cable to another. 
  • Exchange the shorter HDMI with a longer one. 
  • Install Cat6 cable in your walls. This method is explained more in a section above and is a really good selection, if you have the time and money. When using Cat6, you can also have ethernet hooked up to it not just HDMI cables. 

Is There an Adapter to Extend 2 HDMI Cables?

Yes, as I just mentioned above you can attach 2 HDMI cables together if necessary. The adapter is called a female to female coupler HDMI adapter.

You can purchase these on Amazon or your local home electronics store such as Best Buy, etc. Here is one on Amazon.com, just to make things easier for you. 

HDMI Female to Female Coupler Adapter
HDMI Female to Female Coupler Adapter

Do Expensive HDMI Cables Make a Difference?

I know some will disagree with me here but from what I have experienced and what I have read online, expensive cables do not make a difference in video and audio quality or lag.

If the cable is constructed right and the ends are secure, you will get a video and audio signal based on what the source provides and what the outsource plays. 

As an example, if your receiver is pumping out 4k video from a 4k Blu-ray to a 4k TV, then the video and audio quality should be 4k. If one of these components is not 4k, then you can’t expect a 4k result. This is what makes the difference not expensive cables. 

I know you have probably been approached by a worker in a home electronics store preaching how you need to buy the monster HDMI cables because if you don’t, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Luckily, back when I didn’t know any better, I couldn’t afford the extra $50 for a 6’ set of HDMI cables or I would have fallen for this as well.  

These employees are told to promote the peripherals, as the store is in the business of making money. I

have noticed over the last few years that these types of conversations are becoming less and less frequent, as people are becoming more educated and also have the option of asking our friend Google for the answer!

Do Gold HDMI Cables Make a Difference?

Well, now we are talking, gold HDMI cables must make a difference, right? 

The fact of the matter is no, they do not make a difference. Even though gold is a fantastic conductor, it doesn’t really matter in this application. 

Gold HDMI cables are more for people who don’t really know any better or they have the money available to purchase these so-called high-end cables. They do look good, I must say! 

How long Can HDMI Cable Be For 4K?

My short answer, whatever length you need it to be. I know the question is implying how long can a 4k HDMI cable be to transmit that specific signal successfully. 

There is mixed information everywhere you look on this subject. If you want to purchase higher speed cables, go for it, but it’s not necessary. 

What I would recommend however, when transferring a 4k signal, to keep the HDMI cable as short as possible, just to be safe. 

If you want to be sure you are getting the best possible signal from your 4k devices, you could invest in active HDMI cables.

Active HDMI cables have a processing chip that ensures the signal entering the cable is the same as that leaving the cable. Again, not absolutely necessary, but if you would rather be safe than sorry, you should give these a try. 

Summation

For such a straightforward question and answer, there really is a lot of information to consider here. In conclusion, I will summarize the key points of this article to help you better determine what action you need to take.

  • HDMI standard cables come in lengths of 3’, 6’, 10’, 25’.
  • There are non-standard lengths available as well. These lengths include but not limited to are 9’, 15’, 50, 100 and so on. I have seen 20’ lengths and all sorts of random lengths. I feel it is companies trying to get their foot in door of the market, so they come up with these random lengths. Typically, these cables are not very expensive, to entice you to purchase them even though you might not need an extra few feet. 
  • HDMI cables can run as long as you need however, it is not recommended to have lengths over 50’. Let’s face it though, a typical home should not need an HDMI longer than 50’ and if so, it’s usually for temporary use and the video and audio quality doesn’t matter as much. An example of this would be running a cord to the backyard so the kids can watch a movie outdoors on a summer night.  
  • More than one HDMI can be attached to another using an adapter. I would recommend you check the price on a longer HDMI cable compared to the cost of an adapter as sometimes you might get a cheaper costing cable for the same price instead of using an adapter. 
  • HDMI cables can be extended by installing Cat6 cable in the walls. Technically, it’s not the HDMI cable itself being extended but the signal. Cat6 also transfers ethernet signals. 
  • Expensive cables are not necessary. Retailers stand to make a large profit on overpriced HDMI cables, so they tout as necessary to provide you with the signals you deserve. The fact is that most cables do just fine. The only reason currently to purchase these “higher end” cables is for appearance sake. I must admit, a nice set of gold cables does look great! 
  • When it comes to 4k signals, you should worry more about the devices providing and receiving the signals than the cables being used. Try to keep the cables as short as possible and make sure you have high speed cables. Most are high speed however, so you really have nothing to worry about, unless you are still using HDMI cables that came out over a decade ago. 

Well, there you have it, I hope I was able to help you better understand how long HDMI cables can run as well as give you some options regarding what you can do to extend their length. Good luck!

Also read: HDMI vs. Optical Cables

Jason

I am the owner and founder of Home Theater Academy, a trustworthy and reliable source on home theater set ups. Through years of research and experience, I have put forth authentic information in this website. Read More About Me..