There are a lot of things that can affect your cell phone signal. With so many people at home or living and working remotely, communications via the cell phone network are more important than ever.
Matt and I have dealt with a lot of communication signal issues over the years at our property. Matt has spent many hours fine-tuning our wireless internet. One thing that we still struggle with at times is our cell phone signal. We have a metal roof and live on the side of a mountain. Even though more towers have gone up over the years, our cell signal has always been much weaker inside our house. Like any property, there are places where there are simply more bars of coverage.
For us, it is not too big of a deal to just step outside or take our calls downstairs rather than upstairs where the signal will drop more often. Lack of good reception in various parts of your home or property may be more of a problem and less easy to just adapt to.
If your main source of the internet is via the cell phone towers then boosting your signal maybe even more important to you. The first internet connection we had up here on the mountain was a little USB stick that ran off the 3G towers. It was ok but it definitely wasn’t a connection we could both use for a lot of things.
Nowadays there are 4G hotspots and a variety of cell phone-based internet options. As you might imagine there is also a plentiful supply of boosters that can help extend your range and eliminate any dead zones on your property. This is important for security as well. If you have acreage out in the country or a bug out property perhaps you use handheld radios? However, if you use cell phones or plan on using them, a booster will decrease the chances that a call is not received. This can be very important in terms of safety and security during a long emergency.
What is a cell phone booster?
A cell phone booster has three main components. When you buy a kit you get an external antenna, amplifier, and an interior antenna. These components work to boost a cell phone signal in areas where coverage is less than great. A booster may be useful if you regularly experience 3 bars or less of service in an area.
The outside antenna receives and transmits a signal to the nearest cell phone tower but with greater power. A coaxial cable runs from the exterior antenna to the amplifier and indoor antenna. The greater the length of the cable the more signal loss you will experience. A 10-foot cable is going to offer a stronger signal than if you have to run a 25 ft cable for example.
Here are a few questions that you need to answer before shopping for a cell phone booster.
This will help ensure that you don’t buy more or less than you need. Costs can vary a lot and there is no use spending exponentially more for something that is overkill.
- How many square feet are you trying to boost the signal to? Do you have a ten-acre property? Are you just trying to get a better signal in the suburbs?
- Do you want this to be installed outdoors?
- Would it be better for you to have a cell booster for your car or RV? Do you need a booster for both the home and your vehicle?
- What is your budget?
- Is your employer providing any support for those working from home?
If you are in your car or RV a lot then you may want a booster that goes with you. This can help you avoid dead zones out on the highway. For those that travel it can be a little unnerving to hit long stretches of road where the cell service is either nonexistent or spotty.
What type of cell phone do you have? What is your carrier?
Have you actually considered what provider has the best coverage for the area you are in the most or did you just pick out a carrier that claims to have service in your area and has a really low price per line?
While there is something to be said for having a name brand phone that you can trust, I think that a lot of people get super expensive cell phones that they don’t need and that don’t offer good battery life. A Samsung that is under a $100 is way more practical than latching on to an iPhone.
Since electronics manufacturing is in a bit of a weird place right now, it may be a good idea to pick up a cheaper phone for back up or at least get a good case to keep yours in to prevent breakage and scratches. Otter Cases or ones that are similar to them are a good bet. Remember that you may not be able to easily replace your phone if you break it so even if you spend as much on the case as you did your phone, it is probably still a good idea.
Cell phone signal boosters do potentially expose you to more radiation. As stated by the National Cancer Institute, “there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk in humans”.
A lot of people disagree with the statement above. I think that it is a good idea to take some precautions to protect yourself from higher than average levels of radiation. A few things you can do is make sure that your signal booster is a least 10 feet away from where you sleep or spend a lot of time and make sure that you only buy a booster that is designed for the coverage you really need. You are going to expose yourself to a lot more radiation if you get a signal booster designed for a 20,000 sq ft warehouse when all you need it is one for a 5,000 sq ft space.
I find it hard to believe that radiation is not really a concern when plenty of computer routers and equipment have warnings that it should be kept 6 feet away from where you spend a lot of time.
Here are a few options for cell phone signal boosters. I have included the area that they are rated to cover so you can be sure to get the right size booster instead of spending more than you need to and exposing yourself to extra non-ionizing radiation.
Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters To Consider
This kit utilizes an outdoor antenna and a signal booster that runs into your house. It is rated for 1500 square feet so it is useful for single-family homes or apartments. This is one of the more budget-friendly options on the list. It is assembled in the USA and is very easy to set up and install.
For those that have a phone on the Verizon network and no plans to change providers, this is a very affordable cell phone signal booster for the private home. This shows that sometimes you can get a bargain if you get a carrier-specific signal booster. Considering that a lot people have kept the same provider for many years, it is worthwhile to check out these options and save a few dollars. This signal booster is rated for 1,500-2,000 square feet and works on the Verizon 4G network but is capable of 5G where available.
Note: If you click on the link in the product name above you will be taken to the description for the Verizon version but you can pick options for other carriers and the cost is about the same.
Note: This is for a very large space. It is rated for 15,000 sq ft! Unless you really need that much coverage, it is too powerful and costly. If you do need that much coverage, it is a good choice.
I could see buying this booster if you have a business that is still in operation and doing mail order or want better coverage throughout a larger lot or property. It is FCC approved and can enhance your signal up to 2000x! It works well for homes that have 2-3 stories as well.
WeBoost offers high-quality cell phone signal boosters. This particular model is made for those that drive a lot or have RVs. If you travel then this might be just what you need to avoid dead zones when driving through remote areas or just places where your provider has very little coverage. This kit is FCC approved and ready for 5G when or if it comes to your area.
This kit is the most powerful mobile option offered by weBoost. They claim that it offers a 74% further range than the weBoost Drive X. It installs without any special tools as well.
Another advantage is that the weBoost system works with all carriers so you have the freedom to change providers whenever you choose without making your signal booster obsolete.
This cell phone signal booster provides a solid signal for up to a 4,000 sq ft space. I read a few reports from those that have used this at remote locations and have metal roofs. It appears that this booster really can take your signal from one bar to 2-3 and make it so that you can actually use your cell phone for internet and streaming services if desired. That is a big difference and a real game changer for those at remote locations. Like I said before, I love having a metal roof and would not change that but it does make using a cell phone more challenging. While this is not a cheap solution, it would be better than dealing with bad signals for years.
This cell phone booster is supposed to only be available on Amazon. It is one of the more budget-priced signal boosters in the weBoost line-up. This version works exclusively with phones on the Verizon or AT&T network. It claims to boost signals up to 60dB and they claim that this booster will give you a decade of boosting ability at least since it is ready to use on 5 G networks. weBoost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on this booster and a 2-year warranty against defects.
What about the cell phone stickers that claim to boost signal?
Some of you may have seen the little futuristic looking stickers that are sold for a few dollars that claim to boost your signal. These are just a gimmick to make a few bucks from what I can tell. Unless some fantastic new sticker technology has been invented, it is best to just save your money.
Mounting your outdoor antenna doesn’t have to be hard.
Outdoor antennas do need to be secured well to avoid damage and for best reception. It can take some time to figure out where your booster gives you the best signal so you want to dedicate a little time to that task before securing it in place. If you don’t secure an antenna it will move out of place and that will affect your signal and the performance of your booster. Some people buy poles and mounts to secure antennas in place. A deck railing or similar is a fine place to secure an antenna.
Your data plan and network matter. A signal booster can help but it cannot make up for everything lacking with your provider.
If your cell phone coverage is too poor to do what you need to do you may want to just go ahead and change providers before even getting a booster unless you have a contract that is extremely cost prohibitive to get out of. Also, consider what it would cost to upgrade your plan. A cell phone signal booster can be a major help but even the best is limited by what type of service you are paying for. It might be worth it to compare coverage maps of various providers and see if another provider is better.
Some people may have decided to stay at their bug-out location or second home during the COVID-19 pandemic and discover that their cell phone or 4 G internet doesn’t work so well. In that case, you may want to just get a separate service that is temporary and pay as you go. You will have to do the math and see if that is a better deal for you
Find the nearest towers so you know what direction to mount your external booster antenna.
You can look up tower locations online. This can help you determine where to mount booster that are being used in place. This is very helpful for permanent installations. If you have an RV you travel in then you may still want to look up where towers are if you are going to be staying in a particular area for a bit of time.
Warranty and Guarantees
Basically any booster is going to offer a time period where you can return it if it doesn’t work. Make sure to test it out shortly after buying and try to troubleshoot before returning. Sometimes the problem is just a matter of where the antenna is positioned.
Help With Internet During COVID-19
For those that are experiencing financial difficulty or that are being forced to work from home, there are a lot of programs in place to help out with internet connection speeds and taking care of your bill. Currently, providers are not allowed to disconnect for lack of payment for 60 days and cannot charge late fees. If you have kids that need internet for school you may be eligible for reduced costs or even a free connection for the duration of the pandemic. Check out my article on this topic for more info.
I have to say that since I wrote the post I just linked to there have been signs that connection speeds have been significantly reduced in many areas despite any precautions that providers have taken. Purchasing a better plan may help. You can always try out a better plan for a month and then go back to your old one if you don’t notice a difference.
Remember that using cell phone-based internet can also help keep your home connection from being slower. You don’t need your home connection to talk and text for example or check Facebook. Unfortunately during this time, people may have to play around to see what works best for their family when it comes to cell usage and internet usage.
Are you experiencing poor cell phone service or slow internet? Have you found anything that has helped that is not discussed in this post?