RF Equipment: A Buyer’s Guide
With so many different products, brands and model numbers out there, it can be difficult to shop for RF equipment. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be impossible, especially if you plan ahead! Whether you’re looking for a directional coupler or hybrid combiner, here are just a few tips for making sure that you buy the right products.
1. Know Your Specs
Think about height, width, weight and diameter. Think about frequency, insertion loss and power wattage. Even if you have some wiggle room in terms of the specs that you require, it’s always good to figure out your baseline when shopping for RF equipment. You’re less likely to be overwhelmed by all of your choices if you can say, “I need something with a VSWR of at least 1.30:1.”
2. Be Flexible With Your Budget
Instead of limiting yourself to a specific dollar amount, try to create a budget that emphasizes value over price. For example, even if you’re in the market for 90-degree couplers, don’t write off the possibility of upgrading to 180-degree models if they’re on sale. You want to make a financial decision that’s smart in the long-term as well as the short term, and this might mean spending a little more upfront.
3. Double-Check the Warranty
Most RF equipment is covered by a warranty as a matter of course, but it pays to read the fine print. Maybe the warranty only lasts six months unless you purchase extended protection, or maybe it doesn’t cover return shipping costs if you discover a product defect. Always be on the lookout for these kinds of loopholes. You don’t want an unpleasant surprise down the line!
4. Read Customer Reviews
Last but certainly not least, make sure to read customer reviews before committing to the purchase of a particular RF device. Will it fall apart after strenuous use? Is the company’s tech support substandard? Is it really mismatch-tolerant, or is that an exaggeration from the manufacturers? Customer reviews can tell you if the product really works and functions as advertised, so don’t disregard them.
RF equipment comes in all shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to know what you’re looking at when you go to the website of a manufacturer or supplier. Use this buyer’s guide to make sense of the madness and find the products that you truly need.