Can you bend an HDMI cable and get away with it? Long story short is no. You shouldn’t or the bending should be minimal. Don’t bend the cable. You’ll damage it. Sure, unlike fiber optic cables that are more sensitive than coaxials or HDMI, you have more leeway with the bending. However, when push comes to shove and you bend the HDMI cable too sharply, it will break just like with anything else. It’s not made out of Wolverine’s fictional adamantium metal that covers his entire mutant skeleton, making them unbreakable. HDMI cables can be sensitive enough to lose audio or visual transmission abilities with sufficient bending. HDMI has its bending limits.
Even better, you should practice cable management and have your HDMI cable installation hidden away in wall panels and whatnot to prevent rodents or children from bending, putting kinks, or otherwise tearing these somewhat vulnerable cables apart.
Should You Bend The HDMI Cable or Not?
A cable exists to be bendable somewhat. The whole point of them being cables is that you can place media devices above, below, beside, or near the display with the right amount of cable length. You’re not limited to your placement of devices when using such cables. They should allow you a bit of leeway when connecting two devices together. Sure, you can opt for wireless connections that are becoming more and more advanced as the decades pass. However, nothing beats the speeds of connecting devices together via wires, whether it’s HDMI or Ethernet.
The thing with HDMI cables, as with fiber optic cables, is that they have parts in them that shouldn’t be bent or shouldn’t have kinks or else the connection will be compromised. What’s worse is that it’s possible to damage the devices connected together by a faulty HDMI cable through things like power surges and careless DIY repair. To wit:
- HDMI Cables Shouldn’t Be Bent: You’re given an allowance for bending an HDMI cable. A 28 AWG allows you a 2-inch bend radius while a 24 AWG allows a 3-inch radius instead. However, for the most part, you should absolutely avoid bending or changing the direction with a bend radius that’s less than 10 times the outside diameter of your given HDMI cable. It’s part of the many things that you should do in order to ensure HDMI cable maintenance for the sake of longevity. HDMI cables aren’t as sensitive as fiber optic audio cables but they share quite a number of the same limitations.
- Protecting HDMI Cables from Bending: Your HDMI cables should be supported, fixed, or routed in a manner that prevents any chances of stretching, kinking, or crushing. Also, the thicker the insulation the harder it is to bend them. Always read up or ask questions on the bending limits of your purchased HDMI cables. Some are more sensitive than others because they contain more components inside, particularly the ultra high-speed ones that work on transmitting 4K or 8K data over HDMI 2.0 and above. You’ll save yourself loads of kinks on cables by following such guidelines.
- Using Fixed with Velcro Tape: One of the ways you can fix or properly bundle up HDMI cables cleanly for cable management purposes without risking bends or kinks is by using Velcro tape. This tape is better than cable ties or plastic holders in bundling up cables for your matrix splitter or switcher setup or even for a simple DVD to HDTV connection without messing up anything. The plastic cable holders necessitate you to either hammer it into the way or clip the cable bundle together. It’s easier to tie up, remove, and readjust Velcro over a cable loop or spool without bending them apart, after all. You’re given more leeway and anyone can use Velcro. Tie-wraps are also a no-no for HDMI cables.
- Cable Management of HDMI Cables: HDMI cable management can get quite tricky that some homeowners might opt to buy the more expensive but also more convenient wireless solution that transmits HDMI signals through a receiver and transceiver. However, the cost-effectiveness and quality of an ultra-high-speed HDMI cable cannot be denied, especially in light of transmissions being slower over wireless signals and having to deal with interferences like walls, doors, windows, and the like. You might also have to read up on how to use wall plates, joiners, and patch panels in order to hide your cables from plain sight to protect them from being stepped on or eaten by rodents.
Fixing a Broken HDMI Cable
As a rule of thumb, if a cable is damaged you should buy a new one since it’s cheap. However, certain cable types, like the high-speed ones, aren’t so cheap. Therefore, you should practice carefulness and caution in taking care of your HDMI cables. However, accidents do happen. It’s not unusual for a delivery guy, neighbor, or family member to accidentally step on the HDMI connector of the cable, leading it to go kaput. Does that mean you should throw it away and get another cable spool? Not necessarily.
- Soldering Connectors to the Cable: You also have the option to solder a new connector to the cable option. It’s not a recommended option for novice DIY homeowners, of course. Only do it if you’re well-versed in cable soldering or otherwise have an expert handle it. Do go for the soldering option, you’ll need tools such as a second HDMI cable, a soldering wire, a soldering iron, an HDMI to HDMI connector, an HDMI connector, tie-wraps, scissors, extra power cables, multi-meter to check if the connection works, aluminum, and crocodile clamp.
- Check with the Multi-Meter Wire-to-Pin Connections: You should first learn which connection is going where. The internal connections of an HDMI are the same, thankfully. You won’t have to deal with twisted wires like in the case of Ethernet patch cables, for example. Also, the pinout of the cable is thankfully straightforward. Once you’ve cut the cable, you can’t measure which wire comes from which pin. You’ll need a multi-meter to check the wire to pin connections. This ensures that when you solder the connector, every wire connects correctly to the corresponding pin. You can use electrical tape to hold it temporarily in place.
- Search for an HDMI Connector or Cannibalize an Existing One: You can either solder an HDMI connector from any extra cables you have lying around or search for HDMI connectors on the Internet. Using your knowledge of which pins go to which wire, solder on the contacts with the wires. You can hold them together and push them into place while heating up the contact on the connector. You can use a 25-watt soldering iron for the job. Work from either left to right or right to left. This prevents you from putting in too much soldering wire that forms into messy clumps. You can desolder and clean it up with a desoldering wire, though.
- Let the Professionals Handle It: If you’re not exactly a handyman of the house who’s used to DIY work, you might find some difficulty in breaking apart the wall where the HDMI cable is hidden to get it out. You might also find it tedious to pull a new cable through the walls with the old one, particularly if you’re dealing with corners and whatnot. Therefore, on top of getting a new cable set, you might have to also invest in having a technician pull out cables from your wall to fix everything, which can be problematic for your budget. Let him decide which option of fixing your bent HDMI cables are the best for you.
- Dos and Don’ts with HDMI Cables: As usual, prevention is better than the cure. As much as possible, HDMI cable placement should be bent-free. The cable can be as sensitive as fiber optic cables but not quite, so you should not subject it to too much bending. Once you’ve bent it at the right radius, don’t go further than that or bend it at the other direction. Doing so can lead to it snapping or breaking. Don’t bend it beyond the bend radius of fewer than 10 times the outside diameter of your HDMI cable. The first 20 meters or 66 feet of the cable shouldn’t be pinstriped or combed. The equipment cords and path should be separated for that same cable length.
Summarizing The Limits of Bending
Manufacturers allow a minimum of a 3-inch bend radius for a 24 AWG cable. As for a 28 AWG cable, it has a 2-inch minimum instead. You can make a 90-degree turn with the cable but a sharp bend on that angle can result from it in cutting off your transmission depending on the extensiveness of the damage. You don’t want to end up with a cable ink. Bending the cable sharply can induce changes in the relationship between the pairs, which defeats some of the crosstalk and noise cancellations they provide.
To be more specific, the wire pairs within the cable are coiled around each other to allow for more bending action from the cable without breakage, but even that amount of slack has limits. There are manufacturers who’ll put the bend limitations in writing through the user manual or by listing it on their website. At any rate, fixing a bent wire or damaged connector is usually more trouble than its worth so prevention and replacement is usually your best bet, particularly since your standard HDMI cable is cheap, to begin with.