Knowledge Base

How do I choose the right signal booster for my boat?

Top Signal HiBoost 4K Marine Cabin TS542611 setup diagram The Top Signal HiBoost 4K Marine Cabin cell signal booster improves reception in cabin cruisers, motor yachts, tugboats, and similar-size vessels. (Click to learn more.)

Whether you’re spending vacation time out on the lake or your boat is your business, you need to stay connected. Powerful Signal offers a wide selection of cell signal booster solutions that fix poor cellular reception on boats, yachts, and working vessels.

A cell signal booster will improve your reception in areas where cellular service is poor. Boats on lakes and rivers will especially benefit from a booster system, and ocean-going vessels will see improved service if they are close to shore. Remote waterways and the open sea, however, are unlikely to have enough existing signal to amplify.

One place where a cellular repeater shines is in port or at the marina. When your boat or ship is docked, you’ll have access to local cell towers, where your booster system can improve the voice and data signal on your vessel.

Before buying a cell signal booster for your vessel, first consider the following:

  • Objectives for the system.
  • Exterior antenna placement.
  • Interior antenna placement.
  • Separation between the antennas.

System objectives

Marine weBoost Drive Reach Cell Signal Booster 470154 The Marine weBoost Drive Reach system improves cellular reception in boats that are underway. (Click to learn more.)

What problem do you want a cell signal booster to solve? Do you need better reception in just one small area, like at the helm? Or do you need to improve signal throughout one or more entire compartments?

A small mobile booster that can be used while you’re underway is a cost-effective solution. These systems are designed for automobile use, but Powerful Signal has added a high-gain marine antenna for use on boats and ships. They typically provide increased signal strength within a few feet of the inside antenna, so they work well for one or two phones at the helm or in a berth. You can increase their range by placing a cellular hotspot next to the booster’s inside antenna, letting the hotspot fill the cabin with cell signal.

A home booster system can be used on a boat while docked or at anchor. We’ve added our omnidirectional marine antenna to a small-area cell signal booster so it can be used to fill a cabin, saloon, or other compartment strong, usable cell signal.

Larger vessels may require stronger booster systems and multiple interior antennas to cover all the compartments where you need better signal. These systems should be professionally designed and configured to meet your requirements and your vessel’s specific design. Please call us at 866‑912‑3444, and one of our design engineers will be happy to help you find the right solution.

Exterior antenna placement

A marine antenna collects the available cell signal from a cell tower and sends it to the amplifier inside your boat.

For best performance, the outside donor antenna should be mounted as high as possible (within reason), clear of any metal objects or other antennas. Mounting options on sailboats and motorboats will differ significantly; please contact us for advice on the best setup for your boat.

Interior antenna placement

You have a wide range of choices for the inside broadcast antenna that will direct signal to your cell phones and cellular devices. Mobile systems typically use a small, thin antenna that’s mounted on a flat surface with adhesive. Larger, dockside systems can use a wall-mounted panel antenna, ceiling-mounted dome antenna, or free-standing desktop antenna; each of these have their own performance characteristics and mounting options.

Antenna separation

Placement of the inside antenna depends on your boat’s construction materials. Cellular signals pass through fiberglass with little attenuation, which may allow you to cover multiple compartments with a single antenna; however, this requires you to have adequate separation between the exterior and interior antennas so they don’t oscillate and cause the booster to shut down. Steel effectively blocks cellular reception, so you don’t have to worry about antenna separation, but you’ll need multiple antennas—one antenna for each compartment—if you want to cover more area inside your boat or ship.

What’s next?

Contact Powerful Signal at 866‑912‑3444 for help finding the right system for your boat, or check out our boat and marine signal booster kits.