Is Bending An HDMI Cable OK? (Explained & Solved)

HDMI cables are essential when it comes to connecting our devices and experiencing the multimedia entertainment we desire.

Whether you’re setting up your home cinema or getting geared up for gaming, you’ll need a trusty HDMI cable to get the job done.

However, these cables need to meet your needs, often working themselves around the environment where your devices are placed.

With that in mind, you may have asked yourself whether it’s OK to bend your HDMI cable into the position you want and whether doing so will be in your (or your cable’s) best interest.

Here’s If Bending HDMI Cables Is OK:

HDMI cables have a certain degree of flexibility and resistance that prevent them from suffering damage that would lead to cable failure. However, HDMI cables have a limit to what they can withstand Understanding the limitations of your specific HDMI cable is essential to avoid damage.

hdmi cable on a white background

By purchasing HDMI cables that are durable, have 90-degree connectors, or ‘swivel plugs’ the risks are reduced.

Preventative cable management practices are essential to avoid kinks and excessive bends. 

Does Bending HDMI Cables Affect The Signal Performance?

Let’s start with the good news first – HDMI cables are resistant to a fair amount of bending, these cables are flexible after all.

Within your cable are copper wires and each one of them is insulated individually, not to mention that they’re all housed inside a layer of fairly forgiving plastic.

This all equates to a durable cable, but nevertheless, HDMI cables will have a limit when it comes to how far you can bend them.

If an HDMI cable is pushed too far it may lead to the following symptoms:

  • Complete lack of visuals and audio
  • Intermittent signals
  • Fuzziness or blurriness
  • Discolourisation
  • Low resolution
  • Crackling sound

These issues are not limited to overbending your cable and could be the result of other damage to your cables, such as damage to the connector pins or simply a cheap, faulty cable.

It’s important to understand that simply slightly bending an HDMI cable does not mean that it will result in the loss of performance noted above.

Instead, you should learn exactly what the limits of your cable are and how best to care for it to avoid breakage from bending.

Will Bending An HDMI Cable Cause It To Break?

So after hearing the horror stories of what may happen if your HDMI cable is bent too far you could be worried about curving your cable round to connect your Blu-ray player.

Don’t panic just yet. Remember, HDMI cables were designed so that you can connect your source devices to your TV.

That design keeps in mind that those devices don’t necessarily have their HDMI ports facing each other. In fact, it’s rarely the case.

More often than not, we have our game console or Blu-ray player tucked in underneath a TV or placed next to it, or even above.

It stands to reason then that HDMI cables allow for a little flexibility to make the connections happen without breaking.

However, HDMI cables do have elements within them that cannot withstand extreme bends.

If kinks are present in the cable, or a severe twist or bend has occurred, it can hamper the cable’s ability to send the signals passing through it.

Furthermore, a damaged cable could be vulnerable to a power surge and may cause damage to a device that it is connected to.

With this in mind, it is clearly prudent to get to grips with how to prevent your cables from suffering this cruel fate.

How To Protect Your HDMI Cables From Breaking

Take a look at our top tips to ensure that your HDMI cables don’t accidentally become so bent that they break.

  1. When you purchase a new HDMI cable always check what the bending limit is for your specific model.
    • Keep that limit in mind when deciding on your setup for the devices you want to connect.
  2. Remember, a thick insulated cable will be harder to bend or kink. Resistance is your friend here.
  3. Try to ensure that your HDMI cables have some support and that there is no weight on them.
    • Try fixing them to a surface so that they don’t find themselves under unnecessary strain which could cause them to bend out of shape or begin to kink.
  4. Use Velcro tape to securely hold together bundles of HDMI cable without putting strain on them and bending them.
    • Many users swear by this tried and tested cable management technique.

The bottom line here is that prevention is your protection against a broken HDMI cable.

A kink can spell disaster for your viewing pleasure so always try to keep bending to a minimum and follow best practice cable management procedures.

Can You Bend An HDMI Cable 90 Degrees?

As we’ve explored, bending your HDMI cable should be avoided or kept to low levels.

A 90-degree bend would not be a good idea.

However, if you’ve found that you need to get your HMDI cable into a tight space, say between a wall and the TV, then you may be wondering how on Earth you can achieve the connection without bending it 90 degrees.

Thankfully there is an answer and one that doesn’t need you to damage a cable in the process.

Can You Get HDMI Cables That Are Bent 90 Degrees?

So for those difficult tight spaces, where the only option would result in a kinked or bent HDMI cable, there are HDMI cables that have their connector at a 90-degree angle.

  • A 90-degree angled connector can achieve access to HDMI ports that are in difficult locations.
  • This type of cable and connector will reduce the strain that would occur on a standard cable in the same situation.
  • Without this strain, and the ease of connecting the cable, it greatly reduces damage to both cable and ports.

There are also HDMI cables on the market that are fitted with a ‘swivel plug’ which can bend whenever necessary.

This additional feature can be particularly useful for swivel TVs as the HDMI cable can adapt to any change in the angle it experiences as the TV is adjusted – even 90-degree bends can be accommodated. 

Read our blog here about do HDMI cables carry different speeds?

How Much Can You Bend An HDMI Cable?

The American Wire Gauge standard (AWG) categorizes HDMI cables into 6 groups depending on their core size.

How far you can bend an HDMI cable depends on its AWG.

The 6 categories are:

  • 22 AWG cables with a radius of 0.644 mm
  • 24 AWG cables with a radius of 0.511 mm
  • 26 AWG cables with a radius of 0.405 mm
  • 28 AWG cables with a radius of 0.321 mm
  • 30 AWG cables with a radius of 0.255 mm
  • 32 AWG cables with a radius of 0.202 mm

The most common HDMI cables are the 24 and 28 AWG.

The folks at thetechnologyland.com have concisely summarised how much you can bend them:

“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.”

The bend radius is defined as the degree you can bend a cable before the directional strain damages the wire.

The smaller the AWG, the thicker the core diameter, therefore the bigger the bend radius.

How Fragile Or Sturdy Are HDMI Cables?

Whether HDMI cables are sturdy or fragile really depends on several things, such as proper handling and what part of the cable you are talking about.

One of the most fragile areas of an HDMI cable, or any cable for that matter, are the connectors.

As you may know, the connectors on an HDMI lead are fairly obvious as they are situated on either end of the HDMI cable.

These standard interfaces are both identical and are designed to plug into the HDMI ports on electrical devices such as TVs and gaming consoles.

There are 5 main types of HDMI connectors; Type A, B, C, D and E, each containing many intricate parts.

Depending on which type of connection you are using, there will be either 19 or 29 conductors inside, all wired to delicate internal pins that are crucial to the successful function of an HDMI cable.

These small pins are quite fragile, and if they become damaged or bent by rough handling you may not be able to see the high-quality visuals and audio that we have come to expect from HDMI cables.

Also, HDMI cables do not come with a locking mechanism to secure the connector once it is plugged into place, meaning if someone were to trip over the cable there is nothing stopping it from being forcefully tugged out of the port.

This can damage both the pins and also the wiring.

Therefore it is imperative that you treat the connectors with respect by ensuring you both plug your cable in and also remove it with care.

After all, I’m sure you would agree that there is absolutely no point in spending time researching the best, most advanced HDMI cable to truly enjoy your cinema experience, only to ruin the connectors with careless handling.

Now let’s take a look at the actual cable for an HDMI lead.

Most quality HDMI cables available to purchase come with a flexible coating that is designed to insulate and protect the inner copper wiring.

There are 2 main types of external protective layers on an HDMI cable, and these are:

  1. PVC plastic coating layer
  2. Nylon-braided layer

In general, PVC plastic cables do not tend to be as sturdy and durable as nylon-braided cables.

This is because of the woven nature of the nylon braids that provide extra protection for everyday wear and tear and are less prone to kinking.

However, it is worth noting all cables are susceptible to damage caused by improper use, such as tugging the cables out of their ports with force.

Therefore, the fragility of the cable will depend on how well it is treated and looked after by its owner.

As a general rule of thumb, the thicker the external protective layer of the HDMI cable, the more sturdy the cable will be.

So if you’re looking for a cable that will stand the test of time, opt for one with a thicker nylon-braided outer layer.

Read our blog here about do HDMI cables carry both audio & video?

Sources

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