IR extenders are a great addition to any home entertainment system, but to understand why they’re so necessary, it’s important to have a solid grasp on how infrared energy works. Most people haven’t given too much thought to IR emitter technology, despite the fact that it is almost vital for those who live in the modern world. Many things are based around infrared technology, and an IR Emitter is transmitter device that is designed to work with this sort of technology. It’s important to keep in mind that infrared radiation is still part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Though most people simply associate the infrared spectrum with heat, there’s more to it than that. Though IR emitter technology is definitely used in a certain way to produce heat, the type of IR emitter devices used for cable television remotes and other such devices are far different.
A bit of background about the spectrum would probably be relatively useful. While RF cable and similar devices work on wavelengths somewhere between 1 mm and 100,000 km, infrared can be divided into much smaller wavelengths.
Near Infrared Energy: 0.75-1.4 µm
Short Wavelength Infrared Energy: 1.4-3 µm
Mid-wavelength Infrared Energy: 3-8 µm
Long-wavelength Infrared Energy: 8–15 µm
Far Infrared Energy: 15 – 1,000 µm
This energy is usually invisible to the eye, and can be used to connect remotes with a cable box or DVD player. With an IR emitter installed on each of these devices, people can control an entire home entertainment system regardless of where they are. While infrared radiation doesn’t transfer through walls in the same way that pure radio waves do, one could use a system of cable connectors to extend the coverage of infrared devices. Theoretically, this means that regular wireless remotes can be used to operate just about anything in the house. Even stereo receivers that have infrared eyes could be wired into the system and receive commands from a remote location. This is great for anyone who wants to be able to listen to music from one room without having to travel to another to turn it on.
Perhaps the best use of an IR extender is the ability to hide devices that clutter up a home entertainment system. Since IR can’t travel in the same way that radio waves do, IR devices need an unobstructed view of each other. A cupboard or video closet along wall of the family room can be used to conceal digital video recorders, VCRs, DVD players and cable boxes. Then an IR extender can be configured to connect to the myriad machines with a cable so that these devices can be controlled even without being able to see them. Anyone who wants to clean up his or her den will certainly be able to appreciate this type of technology.