When you're out in the middle of nowhere it can be hard to get a cell signal. This is most often a result of being both far away from the towers and surrounded by large blockages, such as trees. Having a signal is important not only so you can stay connected, but also in the event of an emergency. If you have a teenager camping with you, a weak signal is a disaster that will surely end their social life for the few days you're gone. Which, of course, is just catastrophic! So here's how to improve cell phone reception in an RV!
What Is A Signal Booster
A cell signal booster has an antenna outside and one inside. Both antennas are set to receive and boost the signal. Basically, it works by receiving the signal from the tower with the outside antenna. This antenna is connected to another inside. The inside antenna then boosts the weak signal so your phone can pick it up. Then the inside takes the outgoing signal from your phone, sends it to the outside antenna, which then boosts it and sends it back to the tower. There are two different kinds of boosters out there. The cradle type is meant for one phone and you have to have the phone connected to it while you use it. The others are wireless 3G and 4G boosters that boost the named type of signal as well as normal cell signals. These can be used by any phone you have in the RV and are better used if you have multiple devices.
We've found that the best devices with good reviews have all been from weBoost. They make a range of devices to choose from starting from a 3G cradle and going up to 4G wireless units that can be installed directly in your RV! Here are a few that we feel are great units for RVers!
The Drive 3G-S
is a cradle unit that boosts voice and 3G signal. This allows you to talk, text, stream music, use a GPS, and more. The kit comes with the cradle itself, a DC power supply, mounting bracket for the cradle, and an outside antenna. It has a max gain of 23 dB and works on bands two and five to get you an amplified voice and 3G signal you can depend on!
Much like the previous unit, the Drive 4-G
is a cradle unit. It also comes with the cradle, DC power supply, antenna, and mounting bracket but is a bit more powerful. This unit also has a max gain of 23 dB but works on bands two, four, five, thirteen, and twelve. This will amplify your voice, 3G, and 4G signals.
The Drive 3G-X
is a wireless unit that can be used by multiple devices. This unit includes both the inside and outside antennas and the AC power source. Installation is fairly simple and they even offer a video on the page on how to do it. The 3G-X has a max gain of 50 dB, making it stronger than the 3G cradle device, and it works on bands two and five. It boosts both voice and 3G signals just as the cradle unit does, but you don't have to have your device connected to anything the way you do with the cradle.
The Drive 4G-X
is basically the same as the 3G-X but it boosts 4G signals as well. This unit also comes with two antennas and a power supply. It has a max gain of 50 dB but works on bands two, four, five, twelve, and thirteen. Just like the 3G-X, this is a wireless unit so you don't have to have your device connected to anything like the cradle, and this unit can also be used by multiple devices. There are less expensive units out there but they do not have the review to back them up the way the weBoost units do. When selecting an option, ensure you read all of the features and descriptions. When researching, we came across a few that work well, but only when the vehicle is parked. If you plan to only use your device when parked then this is a less expensive, yet effective alternative, but if you want to be able to use your GPS, talk, or stream music on the trip, you will want to ensure that it works while in motion. And woe be to the person who gets one that only works when parked, and then takes a tech-obsessed teen along on the road trip!