How do I install a cell signal booster in my home?
Most signal booster systems require the installation of four components:
- Outside antenna. Powerful Signal recommends mounting this antenna on your roof. We include an adjustable roof antenna mount with many of our custom booster kits; you can also purchase one separately.
If the outside antenna is a directional antenna (an LPDA or Yagi), it’s best to have a direct line of sight to the cell tower, clear of any obstructions, for optimal performance. A directional antenna will also need to be adjusted (tuned) until it’s receiving the strongest signal. (Omnidirectional antennas do not require line-of-sight or tuning.)
The outside antenna needs enough separation from the inside antenna so that the two antennas don’t feed back on each other (a condition called oscillation). We recommend that you have at least 20 vertical feet or 50 horizontal feet between the two antennas.
- Amplifier. The booster unit will normally be mounted on a wall inside your home. We recommend mounting it in your garage, a utility closet, the attic, or another location where it’s inconspicuous but still easy to get to.
Mounting requires either two or four screws, depending on the booster model. Screws drilled into drywall should use anchors or toggle bolts appropriate to the weight of the amplifier (typically less than 5 pounds for home booster units).
The booster is plugged into a standard 120-volt wall outlet, so you’ll need to have an electrical outlet near the location where you mount the booster unit. You’ll also want to use a surge protector with at least a 1,000-Joule rating, as required by booster manufacturers’ warranties.
- Inside antenna(s). Your cell signal booster kit will contain one to four inside antennas. These will either be ceiling-mounted dome antennas or wall-mounted panel antennas.
Installing a dome antenna requires that you have access above the ceiling via an attic or crawlspace. If you prefer, you can mount the dome in a centrally-located closet to avoid seeing the antenna in the ceiling of a living area. Cut a hole in the ceiling large enough for the antenna’s mounting post (about ¾-inch or 6.4 mm in diameter), then screw the nylon nut onto the threads on the mounting post above the ceiling and attach the cable.
Installing a wall-mounted panel antenna can be simple or complicated, depending on if you want the antenna and/or its cable to be concealed inside the wall. Simply hanging the antenna on the wall is quick and easy; cutting a hole in the wall, mounting it inside, covering the hole with drywall, and patching and painting the seam require planning and know-how.
- Coax cables. The amplifier connects to the outside antenna and inside antenna(s) with coax cable. Running cable through your home’s walls and ceiling is probably the most challenging part of setting up a cell signal booster system; fortunately, there are many websites and online videos that can show you how to do this. You can also easily run cables through attics and crawl spaces.
Smaller home cell signal booster systems use RG6 coax, the same kind used by cable and satellite TV systems. RG6 is ¼-inch (6.3 mm) in diameter, with ½-inch (12 mm) F connectors at each end.
More robust home boosters use 400-type coax cable. 400 coax is ⁵⁄₁₆-inch (7.4 mm) in diameter, with ⅞-inch (23 mm) N connectors at each end.
If you’d prefer to have someone install your home signal booster for you, we typically recommend that you contact a local cable or satellite TV installer; the installation requirements are nearly identical (securing an outside antenna, pulling cable inside the house, etc.). An electrician or handyman could also do the job. It should take them one to two hours.