Much of the information and research in this article was contributed by Jill Wills at UberSignal.com. Ubersignal.com is a retailer and subject matter expert in cell phone signal booster technology.
Traveling by RV can be one of the greatest ways to see the world. It allows you to travel in comfort while still being able to venture into areas where your only other sleeping option would be a tent. Although RVs allow access to remote locations, this off-grid travel often comes with a price – poor cell phone reception. While some consider poor cell phone reception an unavoidable result of traveling, there are options for improving your cell signal so you can stay connected, even when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Causes of Poor Cell Phone Reception in RVs
There are two main reasons why people experience poor cell phone service while RVing:
- distance from the nearest cell tower
- objects that obstruct the signal
When dealing with RVs, the main cause of poor service is the first: distance from the closest cell tower. Also terrain, such as mountains, hills, and trees can cause further interference. The metal and composite materials that an RV is constructed of also degrades the cell signal.
When you combine all of these factors, it’s no wonder cell signals have a tough time making it to your phone.
How to Boost Your Cell Signal
A cell phone signal booster is designed to improve the cell signal in your RV. A cell phone signal booster works by receiving a weak cell signal, amplifying it, and then broadcasting the amplified signal to the surrounding area.
Cell phone signal boosters are comprised of a few main elements: an external antenna, a signal amplifier, an internal antenna, and cabling to connect all of the components together.
To learn more read How Do Cell Phone Boosters Work from ehow.com.
Cell Phone Signal Booster: Types
When it comes to the different cell phone signal booster options for RVs, there are three main categories you’ll want to know about.
The first type is called a cradle cell phone signal booster, and is meant for boosting the signal of one phone at a time.
As the name suggests, it employs a cradle that the phone has to sit in the entire time it is being used in order to receive a boosted signal.
The cradle has a magnetically mounted external antenna that you must place outside of the RV.
A cradle type booster is a good option if you routinely travel by yourself, or only need to boost the signal of one device at a time. It’s also very portable, so you can use it in your vehicle on a daily basis, and then move it to your RV when it comes time to travel.
3G RV Signal Booster Kit
Another type of cell phone signal booster is an RV signal booster kit, which is a more permanent solution that you install in your RV.
This type of system provides a boosted signal throughout the RV, so you can use your cell phone or mobile device normally, without having to place it in a cradle.
Multiple people can use their devices at the same time and all receive the boosted signal. These RV cell signal booster kits typically only support 3G carrier networks.
3G & 4G RV Signal Booster Kit
This kit offers the same voice and 3G data signal boosting as the previous option, but also includes the opportunity to boost the 4G network for the carrier of your choice.
With the wide-scale roll-out of 4G LTE by most major carriers over the next couple of years, this kit will ensure that you can boost whichever network is available at your location, including high-speed 4G LTE, for the foreseeable future.
Learn more about the differences between 3G and 4G wireless technology.
Cell Phone Signal Booster Options
Below you will find a table outlining the options available for each individual wireless carrier. It’s organized so that you can easily identify the most current signal booster model available for your particular wireless carrier and situation. Ubersignal has provided us with a list of the most appropriate and best selling brands of RV cell phone signal boosters. For your convenience a link to UberSignal.com and Amazon.com are shown for your comparison shopping needs. If an item shows a blank space for your carrier that means that device is not available.
About UberSignal.com – We have partnered with UberSignal.com on this article to leverage their expertise. Given the relatively complex nature of cell phone signal boosters we chose to rely on them given their all-encompassing support and customer service policy. They are the only RV phone signal booster retailer we could find that offers not only good customer service but installation support. They don’t just work with you through email, you can live chat on their website, or you can actually call and talk to a real life person that will help you. If you are cost conscious like many of us are, you may notice that some retailers offer cell phone signal boosters at slightly lower prices. But, will they be willing to help you when you are up on top of your RV roof installing the booster antenna? UberSignal will, consider them if support after the sale is something that’s important to you.
Founded in 2012, and with offices in New York City and San Francisco, UberSignal is an industry leader in the design and supply of cell phone signal booster solutions. Customers from all walks of life, including individuals, small & medium businesses, major corporations, government entities, and educational institutions all trust UberSignal to provide the most complete and effective solutions for their reception shortfalls.
General Information – The recommendations of products in the “Cell Phone Signal Booster Options:” chart above come from the experts at UberSignal.com. Though every effort was made by DoItYourselfRV to ensure accuracy, it’s possible that elapsed time since this article was written, typographical errors, or unknown competitive products could make this chart inaccurate. At the time of this writing the cell phone signal boosters above are the most appropriate and best selling for RVers as provided by UberSignal.com.
Cradle Signal Booster by Wilson – The cradle cell phone signal booster model you choose varies by carrier. The above chart is designed so you can choose according to your wireless carrier. Simply click the link on the vendor you prefer and it will take you to the product page. If you do not require 4G Signal Boosting then regardless of carrier you can purchase this lower cost Wilson cradle represented by X in the above table.
3G RV Signal Booster Kit by Wilson - This cell phone signal booster is designed with RV’s in mind. It offers all the installation components necessary to professionally install the booster. It supports multiple users and is a permanent solution for poor wireless reception while on the road. Be sure not to purchase an RV kit based solely on price. For example, the UberSignal kit linked above is a custom kit that is designed specifically for RV’s and not the stock one from Wilson that is available through Amazon. That was done specifically because of feedback from RV owners indicating they did not want to be drilling through their RV’s to mount the external antenna. The company designed a new kit which has a different antenna and mounting system, making the installation easier and RV owners happier.
3G & 4G LTE RV Signal Booster By SureCall - This cell phone signal booster kit from SureCall is the newest and top of the line RV booster kit available today. It is a custom kit designed by UberSignal, they aren’t available from SureCall directly. It offers the both 4G and 3G boosting capabilities for the wireless carriers it supports. If cost is no object and your looking for the best possible reception from your wireless carrier for multiple users, then this is the way to go.
Information for Canadian Wireless Carriers - If you happen to need a cell phone signal booster for Canadian wireless companies then you will find the appropriate versions below:
- Cradle – Wilson Sleek 4G-C
- 3G RV Booster Kit – Wilson RV Signal Booster Kit
- 3G & 4G Booster Kit – SureCall 3G & 4G LTE RV Kit
The installation for this type of system involves permanently mounting an external omni-antenna outside of the vehicle. Depending on the antenna design, installation will either involve mounting the antenna to a pole, such as the ladder on the back of an RV, or drilling a hole through the RV exterior, which potentially requires a professional installer.
Once the external antenna is mounted, a cable is run into the RV and attached to the signal amplifier. Another cable is run from the amplifier and attached to an inside panel antenna, which is mounted to the back wall of the RV, facing forward. Once the amplifier is powered on, the RV should immediately experience a boosted cell signal.
While the RV signal booster kits available should cover most scenarios, different components can be changed depending on the size of the RV and the anticipated weakness of the outside signal. With the planned roll-out of 4G LTE to most areas of the United States in the next couple of years, it’s possible to upgrade the current RV signal booster systems from a dual-band to a tri-band amplifier capable of boosting voice, 3G data and 4G LTE.
Poor cell phone signal while traveling can be improved – and in some cases eliminated – by a simple cell signal booster. A cell phone signal booster system can improve your weak cell signal, boost your reception and help eliminate dropped calls and slow data.
Remember that if there is no signal where you are, then there isn’t technology available to boost a non-existent cell signal. Be sure to check with your wireless carrier to ensure that coverage extends into the areas you travel.
If you’re interested in getting started with a cell phone signal booster or would like to discuss your options, we encourage you to reach out to our friends at UberSignal. As mentioned above in the “About Ubersignal.com” section, they offer full service and comprehensive installation support on all the products they sell. An offer we intend to take them up on when we make the move from our cradle system to the fully integrated RV cell phone signal booster shown above. Many of the units and components shown above can be purchased at other online or big box retailers.
DoItYourselfRV.com is not affiliated with Ubersignal.com. Their team served as a subject matter expert only to improve the accuracy and content of this article. They are featured because they offer a unique customer service model that we think many of our readers would find useful.