How to Choose the Right IR Extender
What is an IR Extender?
Imagine you have just built your dream theater with the latest cable box, a new Blu Ray player, and a great sound system. Obviously, you don’t want it all directly under your TV because it is too clunky and the wires are always messy. So you move it into a cabinet either nearby or in a different room.
Problem: since you moved your devices, your remote isn’t able to control your cable box, your Blu Ray player, or your great sound system. Remotes use IR (Infrared) signals to communicate, these signals only work through line of sight and can fail when something is disrupting that line of sight.
Solution: An IR Extender can route the IR signal from your remote control so you are still able to control your theater even though it is out of the line of sight.
Choosing an IR Extender
There are 2 questions that you need to have answered to know if the IR extender is right for you.
- 1. Will the IR extender work with my devices?
- 2. Is the IR extender best for my setup?
1. Will the IR extender work with my devices?
You can typically answer this question very easily by looking to see if the IR extender is Single Band or Dual Band. Dual Band typically is able to extend IR for the most common products like Blu Ray players and projectors, and if it has RC-MM protocol then it should be able to control majority of cable boxes.
What is the difference between dual band or single band?
Every IR signal has a distinct frequency. These frequencies are measured in kilohertz (kHz). There are two general frequency ranges that all devices use. These ranges are called bands. The first band includes the frequencies ranging from 33-43 kHz, while the second band ranges from 44-60 kHz. In order for you to be able to control your device (like the TV), your remote and TV must work on the same frequency.
Single Band IR Extenders: Those only compatible with one frequency are called Single Band IR extender. Typically, Single Band frequencies are only 33-43 kHz which works with most DVD and Blu Ray Players.
Dual Band Extenders: Dual band extenders work on both frequencies (33-43 kHz and 44-60 kHz), making them work with most all devices. See Sewell’s list of Dual Band IR Extenders.
Remember: If an IR extender is not compatible with If the frequencies, it will not pass the signal and you will not be able to control your device. Be sure to check the frequencies.
RC-MM is a newer IR protocol that was developed to be used with wireless keyboards and mice. The protocol uses much shorter waves than a typical IR signal and uses less power. Due to the shorter wave lengths and lower power some IR sensors are unable to process the signal.
RC-MM protocol is becoming more prevalent with major brands. It is used on AT&T U-verse cable box, Cisco Explorer 4642HDC, IPN 4320, IPN 330HD and the Motorola VIP series and a growing number of products.
2. Which IR Extender is best for my Setup?
Extending IR signal is only half of the problem. At Sewell we have designed multiple IR extenders for a variety of different set-ups. All of our IR Extenders are dual band and should work for most devices. Here are some questions you should be asking and a few recommendations for those key factors in setups.
Questions to ask about your Setup:
How far do I need to go?
Distance can be conquered both with cables and wirelessly. Our extenders can be extended via ethernet cable (phoenix adapters) or 3.5 mm cables (IR extension cables) up to at least 75 feet and our BlastIR Wireless can work up to 500 feet.
What are the obstacles?
How many devices do I need to control?
If you only need to control 1 or 2 devices, stick with the BlastIR USB or BlastIR Wireless. But if you are needing to control 3 devices or more: our recommended choice is the BlastIR Pro. The BlastIR Pro can control up to 12 devices and has RC-MM protocol, making it our most versatile IR extender for devices. See also BlastIR Pro Multizone, BlastIR
How many receivers do I need?
When you are trying to control from multiple points things can get a little more complicated with interference. Recommended: BlastIR Pro Multizone. When you are trying to control from multiple points, the BlastIR Multizone can have 3 different receivers, control 12 devices, and protect from interference. See also BlastIR Pro
Do I have enough power outlets?
An often overlooked problem is that people don’t have access to power when using an IR extender. If you don’t have any outlets, that is not a problem. We recommend the InjectIR- IR over HDMI. The Inject IR takes power from the HDMI and needs no external power source. Just plug and play over your already installed HDMI cable.