Everyone who buys a home cell phone signal booster wants to know how many square feet it will cover in their home. Most people want their entire home covered. Almost everyone in the US understands the term "square footage" which is the measurement used to define the size of space in homes and offices. Cell signal booster manufacturers have the difficult job of relating information and specifications to buyers concerning how big their boosters are and how much space they will cover. Square foot coverage has settled in as one of the main measurements used by manufacturers to help define the coverage capabilities of their cellular amplifiers.
So let me tell you the truth about cell signal booster coverage and some of the problems and inaccurate information presented to the buyer.
So what is inaccurate?
Setting the coverage expectations is the main problem in cell signal booster advertising. There are many variables that effect the broadcast ability of a cellular booster system. Below is a partial list of some of the variables that need to be considered.
- Outside signal strength
- Carrier frequency
- Type of coax
- Length of coax
- Type of antennas
- Amplifier gain (power)
- Number of interior walls
- Concrete, metal, stone, obstacles
- Interior building materials
As you can see, there are a good handful of variables that need to be taken into consideration when determining the amount of coverage a cell signal booster will be able to handle. Because of these variables and also others not listed, manufacturers have to come up with a way to present their cellular amplifier coverage capabilities to buyers.
Manufacturers remove almost all the variables from their coverage calculation. The coverage presented for a kit is based upon a perfect world with no obstacles, just wide open space. Also, an optimum frequency such as 800MHz is usually used in the calculation. Other frequencies such as 1900MHz and 2100MHz usually travel less then half the distance of 800MHz.
How should I determine which system to buy?
First, never use the square footage rating from the manufacturer unless you have perfect cell signal outside your building and you have total open space inside with no obstacles. Very few situations have these conditions.
Second, consult an expert that has experience with the products you are considering. A good dealer should ask you a lot of questions about your building and signal environment so the right product can be matched to your building.
Third, If you have a home that is about 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, you should probably be considering something that is rated for around 10,000 to 15,000 square feet if you expect full coverage. There are many signal blocking obstacles in a home. Depending upon the shape of your home, you may even need to use a multi-antenna system. Offices usually have a bit more open space than homes and in some cases are easier to cover if it is an open-office environment.
There are many good systems on the market offered by excellent manufacturers. Consumer cell signal booster technology has been maturing for over a decade and the technology from reputable manufacturers is solid. There are fly-by-night options available for $100. These are usually not FCC certified and of poor quality. I would never recommend this type of equipment. A good residential kit system is going to coast in the area of $400 to $1,000 depending upon what size of area needs to be covered. You can expect larger custom homes with professional installation to cost from $4,000 up.
Below are some ideas for small, medium, and larger homes.