Best coaxial cable connector -- crimp or compression?

FoxCitiesTV's picture
Green Bay

I'm currently in the process of wiring my new home. There were NO jacks of any type anywhere in the home. No cable. No phone. Nada. So since I'm going to need new wiring, I'm taking the opportunity to wire for the future. I've pulled brand new quad-shield RG6 coax and CAT6 ethernet to six rooms in my home and am installing new keystone wall plates to accommodate the new wiring.

As I haven't had tools for coax and ethernet termination before, I was looking at finding the best type of tool for terminating coaxial cable. Crimp-on connectors are cheaper, certainly. Is there any real "benefit" to using compression-type connectors instead of crimp-on?

Any suggestions for tools or brands or places to find them?

Posted August 10, 2009 9:37am in
Willscary's picture

I vote for compression. I

I vote for compression.

I used to use crimp-on and twist-on connectors and I always had problems. A few years ago I began doing more than just a patch cable here and there...I began wiring outlets when needed.

I read an article about how twist-on fittings were extremely unreliable and how crimp-on fittings could be easily ruined if not done absolutely correctly. In fact, the article said that crimp-on fittings were bad because you could crush the jacketing into the dielectric (white foam) and into the center conductor, causing a short.

Neither crimp or screw-on fittings are waterproof.

Compression fittings are pretty cool. You twist them onto the cable, then use a compression tool to squeeze a ring towards the main body of the fitting. In between the ring and the body is some fairly stiff, yet pliable plastic tubing. When you compress the ring towards the body, the plastic bends inwards towards the cable, creating a snug, watertight seal that holds the fitting in place.

I use Phillips RG6 quad shield with Paladin compression fittings. I also use the Paladin coax tool kit (a fully adjustable compression tool and a tool for cutting andtrimmings coax ends). The tools and fittings are at Menard's in the electrical area. The tools and fittings are in orange packaging. The tools are very high quality (I dropped mine 43' onto rocks with no problems).

Quad Shield is a touch tricky. Use the stripper tool to cut the coax to length and strip the center conductor and outer jacket. Be sure that you turn the tool the correct is shown with an arrow on the side. Once cut and trimmed, you must peel back the shielding like you would peel a banana, leaving the shielding rolled back, but still attrached to the cable. First, peel back the outer braid, then the outer foil. Then, peel back the inner braid, making ABSOLUTELY SURE that all of the braiding is peeled back. If one or two strands are left un-peeled, the fitting will not go into the jacket!!

Be sure the inner foil is left intact around the dielectric, then push the fitting onto the coax. Hold the coax firmly and twist the fitting while holding the body, NOT the plastic and ring!

Twist until the dielectic insulation is even with the hole in the body. At this point the center conductor will be at the perfect length outside the fitting. Put the cable into the compression tool and adjust the tool so that it does not over-compress. This takes a few tries, so I highly recommend that you set the tool way back, so it barely compresses at all, then adjust slightly and use the tool again. Repeat this process until you get the compression ring to be just a few 1000ths of an inch from touching the main body. Then lock down the tool's adjustments and it will be set forever.

I tell you this because the tool really doesn't come with instructions, and it took me some trial and error to finally "get it". Now it is quick and easy.

Oh, one more thing, I wear a leather glove on the hand that holds the fitting when twisting it takes a lot of pressure to get it on while twisting, and the center conductor tends to pierce the skin on my hand if I don't wear a thick leather glove for protection.

I also just bought a Paladin tool for Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 cable. I will see tonight how it works!


FoxCitiesTV's picture

Thanks for the info, Bill!

Thanks for the info, Bill! I tried a cut-strip-hex crimp tool last night with a cheap pack of crimp connectors and it took me about six or seven before I got them to stay on, and even then I wasn't sure if I was doing them right. I think I may swap that one for a compression tool instead. I'm going to be wiring six outlets to a splitter and making an assortment of cables beyond that (I do, after all, have about 750 ft of quad coax left over). Probably be worth it to go for the good stuff.


SeanM402's picture

I would agree with Bill.

I would agree with Bill. Compression are by far superior to anything else. Make sure you take the time to put the connector on right. Most of my experience with trouble calls in the TV business were resolved buy replacing a fitting or two. Either old or poorly installed. Also most companies that preform Quality Checks on their techs will fail the tech if they don't replace connectors with compression. I am sure some of what I am about to say will be a repeat from Bill but:

--Not only do compression fittings give you a weather tight seal they give you a signal tight seal. This includes interference getting into the cable.
--The quad shield coax should have two foil and two braid layers, once you use the coax strippers the first time, you can line up the strippers again in the same spot and remove the outermost layer (foil), sometimes this can make it easier to slide the fitting on sometimes.
--Make sure you don't have any shielding touching the center conductor or it will cause you problems. Just one little strand is all it takes.
--Make sure the white dielectric is flush with the bottom inside edge of the fitting. Once you have that, the center conductor should extend about the thickness of a nickel past the end of the fitting. You don't want it to be to long or to short. If it is too long you can trim it.
--Try to find Quad Shield Fittings, regular fittings work but will be much harder to get on the cable.

I also happen to use Paladin tools for coax and Cat5/6. I would plan on spending at least $40-50 for each. Not exactly cheap but they will likely outlast you. Mine will do Coax fittings, RCA fittings and BNC fittings. The other does Ethernet (RJ45) and Phone (RJ11/RJ12). They do come with limited directions.

Mark, how familiar are you with the Cat6 part? I can give advice with that also.

FoxCitiesTV's picture

I did end up taking back the

I did end up taking back the all-in-one hex crimp tool I originally got and went with the Paladin DataShark satellite/digital cable compression tool kit. Tried doing one fitting and it worked like a charm. I think the 10 connectors that come with the kit aren't the quad-shield variety as they were hard to wiggle onto the cable but the compression tool worked great.

I'm looking at the Paladin kit for ethernet too. I've never terminated my own network cable before so any advice you have on that would be appreciated. I picked up some CAT6 toolless keystone jacks on Monoprice that I'm using for the wall plates.  After practicing on the first one, I wired a couple more without problem.  We'll see once I get everything installed if they work well or not.

Is there really a difference between "CAT5" and "CAT6" connectors?  Will the CAT5E connectors that come in the Paladin kit work on CAT6 cable?

SeanM402's picture

To be honest I haven't had

To be honest I haven't had the opportunity to work with CAT6 cable yet as the vast majority of people are still using CAT5. The cables are built in different fashions but their most basic parts are the same. I don't believe there is really any difference between CAT5/CAT6 connectors but supposedly the CAT6 connectors are designed to reduce crosstalk and other interference to a higher degree than CAT5 ones.

I see that the jacks you chose are toolless. Let me know how you like them as I have never used any. You may want to compare jacks at Menards. I know they sell the style you have chosen but they are not toolless. I believe you will spend around $40-50 for a full featured Punch Down Tool. If you would decided to buy a Punch Down Tool make sure it comes will a 110 Blade or you buy one.

Here is a website that will give you some background on CAT6. It also has wiring diagrams for plugs. You can pick either A or B just make sure you only use one.

If you are using the plugs one thing to keep in mind is always slide the wires in while holding the plug the same way. Example: If using standard (A) I always hold the wire so the green wires are to the left and the brown wires to the right with the pins on the plug facing up and the tab down. I prefer to have the pins facing up because it makes it easier to see if the wires are all the way into the plug and in the correct spot.

Something I learned while working for AT&T for remembering the order of the colors: (we used standard A for Uverse)

(Green) grass on the left, (Blue) Sky in the middle, (Brown) dirt on the right and the (Orange) sun warms the sky. Then just remember you always start with a striped wire and then alternate between solid color wires and striped wires.

FoxCitiesTV's picture

I have to tell you... my new

I have to tell you... my new compression tool kit is pretty darn slick. Much, much better than the hex crimp tool I just returned. Have been terminating wall jacks and making short cables like mad and they're all coming out great.

I just had my cable/internet hooked up with Time Warner at the new house. Was a little bit concerned because all the wiring I just pulled ended up in a furnace access room sort of in the center of the house, and the cable line that got pulled in from the pole entered through a corner laundry room. For the life of me, I couldn't find a good place to run a new line of coax from one room to the other, as all the rest of the basement is finished and the two rooms are not exactly adjacent. There was one existing cable going between those two rooms, but it was old and I wasn't sure how good it was. It did look like it was RG6 though.

Well two Time Warner techs came out and got me all set up, and they did use that existing line between the laundry room and the furnace room. They originally had one four-way splitter in place, but they said the signal coming into the house was TOO strong! Not a problem I've had before. We must be very very near an amplifier in the neighborhood. They ended up putting in a two way splitter to service the modem, then over to the four-way for the TVs. May have to change that out for a bigger one as I'll have six rooms with cable jacks soon.

Got the wireless router hooked up again and will work on the wired CAT6 network this weekend. I'll let you know how the toolless jacks are. Some said they had problems wiring them, but I found them really easy to use from the very first try.

Did look around online about using RJ45 Cat5e jacks on CAT6 cable. Apparently a no go, as the wire is a bit thicker and the spec calls for more shielding or something. The CAT6 jacks have their 8 wires staggered on top of each other to fit them in, so i'll have to track down some of those.


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