The 7 Best RV Cell Phone Signal Boosters in 2018
Comparisons + Buying Guide + Specific Reviews
The RV cell phone booster, also known as an RV cell phone signal booster, cell phone amplifier or cell phone repeater, probably isn’t necessary if you’re traveling along major highways or staying in urban areas.
However, if you’re staying in national parks, camping in remote sites or simply parked in a canyon or mountain valley, you’ll appreciate the value of a cell phone signal booster.
But what exactly is an RV cell phone booster? And what are the benefits of owning one?
Top 7 Best RV Cell Phone Booster - Comparison
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What's an RV Cell Phone Booster?
An RV cell phone booster is designed to offset the poor cell phone reception many people experience when they are located far from cell phone towers.
They can amplify a weak signal so that you can receive calls, and they likewise boost cell phone signals from the person off the grid so that they can connect with the broader communication network.
Any cell phone booster will contain a donor antenna that receives and amplifies signals from nearby cell phone towers better than the antenna in your cell phone could. Think of it as adding a couple bars to your reception.
The same booster will amplify the cell phone signals so that someone who otherwise couldn’t make a call or would risk being disconnected due to a poor connection could complete the call.
For the best reception
An RV cell phone booster will differ from one installed in a remote cabin by being designed to run off solar power, house batteries or another power source available to someone in an RV. T
hey may or may not have an omnidirectional antenna to broadcast the signal in all directions so that you can access whichever cell phone site gives you the best reception.
Cell phone boosters exist for markets other than RV owners, and that makes the RV cell phone repeater a specific devices. For example, RV cell phone boosters will be designed for the average user, whereas signal boosters permanently installed in very large buildings or rural homes won’t be.
You may be able to pack up an RV cell phone booster to take on your hike along with portable solar panels so that you have communication services as you walk even further away from the RV.
For average suburban
Cell phone boosters for the average suburban home may be designed to connect to one’s router or plug into the wall, simply existing so that the cell phone signal doesn’t suffer interference from wifi routers, wireless controllers and wireless sensors in one’s own home.
Because they are less likely to be within someone’s home, RV cell phone boosters periodically have built in lightning surge protectors. Most RV cell phone boosters work with all cellular carriers.
One in a private home may only work with one or two major cell phone services.
What're the Benefits of Using A Cell Phone Booster in the RV/Motorhome?
What are the benefits of owning a cell phone booster designed for RV owners? Why would you want to have an RV cell phone repeater?
Perhaps the biggest advantage of owning an RV cell phone booster is knowing that you’ll almost always be able to reach emergency services. You don’t have to worry about staying in a rural location, unable to call 911 or another form of assistance.
It won’t work in every situation. If you’re parked in a building that acts like a Faraday cage, you still may not have cell phone service. If you’re parked in a deep canyon, it may not be able to make a connection.
However, you’ve dramatically increased the number of locations you can travel and still be able to call for help as required.
It is amazing how often we rely on our cell phones for data and information that we used to have in our heads. We’re forgetting how to navigate because we rely on map apps so much. If you have a cell phone repeater, you’re less likely to end up lost without your digital map, unable to get back to the RV and/or civilization.
The repeater increases the odds
A cell phone repeater also increases the odds you can use the cell phone to determine your location even if the GPS was lost, damaged or died.
A cell phone signal booster can probably pick up more than one cell phone site though you’re far from them and use that to give you information as to your whereabouts, though it won’t be as accurate as local navigation in a target rich environment.
RV cell phone boosters are designed for portability. Whether you leave it in the RV or choose to take it with you in another vehicle, it is versatile.
Another variation of this is the improved signal you’ll get with a cell phone booster. If signals are weak, you may be able to send text messages but voice calls are too garbled to be understandable. With a cell phone booster, you can talk to people as easily as you could on the grid without asking if they could hear you.
Smart signal boosters will clean the signal as much as possible before relaying what you said. You’ll reduce the odds that you have to call them back because a connection was dropped. There will be fewer message errors or delays sending messages because of a poor cell phone connection.
You’re at a campsite but realize that you forgot a key item for dinner. Where is the nearest general store? You could try looking at a map or hiking or driving to the nearest intersection while hoping there is a store there.
Or you could pull out the cell phone and look up the nearest service providers. If you have the working cell phone service and can receive enough data to make the apps work, you can look up where grocery stores are. Or you could research gas stations that sell propane tanks and service shops that repair RVs.
Faster / More Advanced Media Service
There are jokes that the numbers in front of the “G” go down the farther you are from civilization. While 5G is being rolled out in a few urban areas, 4G is normal in many large cities. Smaller cities and suburbs have 3G coverage. And many rural areas have 2G coverage if they have cell phone coverage at all.
If you have a cell phone booster, you may be able to access 3G or 4G service though the nearest cell phone towers could only handle poor quality voice calls or text messages.
Gain the ability to video chat or stream videos farther away from cell phone towers. Upload and backup photos from your phone to the cloud faster, saving your phone battery in the process.
3 Popular Types of the RV Cell Phone Boosters
01) Cradle Booster
Cradle boosters are the easiest signal booster to use. One cell phone sits in the booster all the time, receiving the increased signal. The wireless signal is boosted by an antenna mounted to the outside of the RV.
The cradle booster can be used inside of an RV or a car. This is the best choice if you’re constantly taking a separate, smaller car or RV since the cradle booster is portable.
The downside of cradle boosters is that they don’t always support 4G and LTE signals, though some do. With any cradle booster, you’ll be able to make a basic call for help or send and receive text messages, but streaming media and running apps will crawl if not stall.
Then there’s the fact that a cradle booster only boosts the connected device. Sorry, there’s no multi-user option unless you buy more than one cradle booster.
02) 4G and LTE Cell Phone Booster
A 4G and LTE cell phone booster gives you access to 4G (or better) signals. This is the type of booster you want if you’re downloading movies to a laptop to watch later or uploading tons of pictures to your online cloud account for safe keeping.
A 4G booster won’t give you a 4G connection if you are in a rural area with 2G or 3G capability.
However, if the campsite off the highway only has 2G or 3G and the town a modest distance over has 4G, you may be able to utilize the 4G network speeds.
A 4G and LTE cell phone booster requires a permanent mounting of the antennas to the RV. Depending on the length of the RV, you may need relay units to handle multiple wireless connections be them cell phones, tablets or laptop computers.
This type of cell phone booster is the best choice for those who want to have multiple phones or devices utilizing the cell phone booster.
03) Wireless Cell Phone Booster
Wireless cell phone boosters skip the cable and connect everything wirelessly. The upside is that you don’t have to deal with cable. The downside is that the connection to the booster is subject to interference. If you’re shopping for a wireless cell phone booster, make sure it can cover the length of the RV before you buy it.
How to Install a Cell Phone Booster on an RV?
Most RV cell phone booster devices consist of two antennas, one internal, one external, along with an amplifier. The internal antenna sits inside the RV, receiving signals from your cell phones or wireless devices. The battery or power plug for this device is usually paired with the amplifier. The external or tower antenna is located outside of the RV.
The First Step
The first step is determining where you want the internal antenna to be located along with a rough idea of where you want the external antenna to be.
Check the user’s manual to determine what that ideal range will be, such as between 10 and 30 feet. There has to be enough distance between the cradle or interior antenna and the external antenna for the system to work properly. If they’re too close, you will see a feedback loop that reduces the signal amplification or kills the system altogether. (This is a common problem in teardrop trailers.) If they’re too far apart, you won’t be able to get a good connection between the two antennas.
Using the recommended distance information to determine where you want the internal antenna to be, roughly speaking.
The Second Step
The amplifier needs to be within reach of a power source and the antenna cables. Put the amplifier where it will probably be located. This step for wireless phone boosters is simply plugging in the amplifier in its final resting place. Conversely, if your RV needs secondary antennas, this is a good time to figure out where they’d go.
Now that you have all of the components in place with a “soft installation”, test it and verify that you can receive a good signal without the antennas interfering with each other. If it works, you can start permanently mounting the hardware. If there is feedback or reception issues, move the interior or exterior antennas until it improves.
The Third Step
The next step is deciding exactly where you want the external antenna. The best place to put it is above the roof line on the driver’s side. Just be sure that the entire antenna is higher than the roof line of the recreational vehicle. If part of the antenna is below the top of the AC unit, this will interfere with the signal it can receive.
A side benefit of putting the antenna over the driver’s side is that it is less likely to be hit by tree branches.
Once you decide exactly where the external antenna is going, attach it to the top or side of the RV. It is typically suction cupped to the outside of the vehicle, though it may be mechanically mounted.
The Last Step
The next issue is the cable between the antennas. Try to fix it to the walls so that it doesn’t flap around in the wind. When the wire is located inside of the RV, make certain it doesn’t become a trip hazard. This step isn’t necessary if you have a wireless RV cell phone booster. ... And now your RV cell phone booster has been installed. 🙂
Things to Consider for the Perfect RV Cell Phone Booster?
If you intend to boost your laptop’s ability to connect with a campground wi-fi network, you need the best rv cell phone booster that is designed to handle wi-fi as well as cell phone signals. If your family uses multiple wireless devices, you’ll need to pick out a cell phone booster that can handle multiple incoming signals; that isn’t going to be a cradle signal booster.
If the goal is to gain access to the cell phone network wherever you are, whether in an RV or hiking on the trails near the RV, then a portable cradle cell phone booster is probably right for you.
02) Performance of the Signal Boosting
Not every cell phone booster has the same range, whether you’re talking about the range of the external antenna or the internal antenna’s range.
The internal and external antenna must be within a certain range of each other. If they’re too close, they won’t work well due to interference. If they’re too far, the external antenna may not be able to receive the signals from the internal antenna, defeating the purpose of owning the system.
Don’t buy cell phone boosters that will fail to work when used in a small trailer. Check the range of the internal and external antennas before you put them at the far ends of a long RV.
Another different issue
Another issue is the connection speed the cell phone booster of RV can support. Every cell phone booster can relay 2G and 3G data transfers. Not all models can support 4G and LTE signals. If you want to stream media and use apps with real time data, you probably want a 4G / 4G LTE compatible signal booster.
Note that uplink and downlink signal strength may not be equally good. The uplink signal quality will determine how well others hear you in voice calls and the speed by which you can upload pictures to the cloud.
The downlink signal affects how well you can hear others and the quality of data downloads to your device. If the signal performance is weak but serviceable, this could cause the device to draw more power than otherwise necessary as it retries to connect to the network and send your messages.
03) How Easy It Is to Install
RV cell phone boosters vary in how hard they are to install. A few wireless systems simply require suction cupping external antenna to the top of the RV, placing the interior antenna somewhere inside the RV and plugging in the amplifier to a power source.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the external antenna is mechanically attached to the top of the RV via screws, the interior antenna is mounted in a utility box or the wall of the RV, and a cable is run between them.
The more complex installations give you stability and certainty, since nothing is going to fall off the wall when you take a hard turn.
Conversely, you better be sure you like where you put the antennas because changing the location is a pain. And always verify the length of the cables in these cases before you mount the antenna, since you have to find something to do with the cable slack and compatible extension cables are hard to find.
Another Important question
An issue many RV owners overlook is how hard it is to connect the cell phone booster for RV users to power. If it relies on AC power, you could plug it into any power outlet in the RV but it only runs if you’re running the generator or connected to shore power, unless the RV engine is running and delivering AC power to the rest of the trailer.
If the RV cell phone booster connects to 12 volt power, how exactly are you going to connect it? Also, If it runs off of its own battery, you don’t have to worry about how to connect it to the RV’s power lines, but now you have to check its battery levels and swap them out as necessary.
For complex systems, the solution is paying more for professional installation.
04) The Quality of the Antenna
Some external antennas for RV cell phone boosters reach several hundred feet, while others can tap into cell phone networks several thousand feet away. What is the coverage area for the best RV cell phone booster? The greater the service area, the more likely it is to need professional installation.
Another factor to consider is how good the antenna works in all directions. Yes, most RV cell phone boosters are omnidirectional. However, some antennas have inferior performance in certain directions.
Research the antenna’s reputation for performance in different conditions. Can it work when you’re driving? Some won’t. Will it work as well during a thunderstorm as it would on a clear day?
A final consideration is how rugged the antenna is. Will it break off if it hits a branch? How often do they blow off during a storm? If you accidentally hit it while loading the RV, will it break or stay in place?
05) Popular Brand
Cell phone boosters are made by small firms most people have never heard of to large electronics manufacturers. If you select a popular electronics brand, the odds that you can find replacement antennas, secondary booster antennas or compatible hardware for it is high. If you select an unpopular brand, you may get exceptional performance or a low price but struggle to find replacement parts.
An issue that is decreasing with time is the compatibility of the cell phone booster with cell phone networks. Newer models are compatible with every cell phone services, whereas older cell phone boosters would only work with one or two cell phone company’s towers.
Cell phone signal boosters come with safety concerns. The amplifiers and internal antenna need to be located somewhere with ventilation without posing a trip hazard. RV Cell phone boosters rarely contain the fast charge batteries that have posed a fire hazard or burned users, though you should check the safety record of the cell phone booster model.
Power draw is a factor to consider when shopping for an RV cell phone booster. Are you going to have to recharge the rechargeable batteries for the cell phone signal booster along with your smart phone batteries and house batteries? If it draws 12 volt power, how much power does it draw from the house batteries? If it relies on AC power, how many watts does it pull and will this impede your ability to run other appliances when running the generator?
How do decide which RV cell phone booster is best for you? The answer is that it depends on what you need. The best cell phone booster for RV owners is one that reliably carries the phone or phones that they have to the nearest network without drawing too much power.
It is easily set up by them or the person they hire in the RV without creating a fire hazard or electrical problems. And it delivers crisp audio and reliable, high speed data, depending on your intended application.
Here are the Top 7 Best Cell Phone Boosters & Kits for RV Full Reviews
How do decide which RV cell phone booster is best for you? The answer is that it depends on what you need. The best cell phone booster for RV owners is one that reliably carries the phone or phones that they have to the nearest network without drawing too much power. It is easily set up by them or the person they hire in the RV without creating a fire hazard or electrical problems. And it delivers crisp audio and reliable, high speed data, depending on your intended application.
01) weBoost Home 4G Model 470101 RV/ Trailer Cell Phone Signal Booster
Editor Rating: 4.7/5
This is a top selling 4G cell phone booster for RV owners. It comes with an average price tag given this type of product. You can pay extra to have it professionally installed.
This system is easy to install yourself. It is just as easy to operate, since it automatically adjusts the gain and signal output based on the distance to the nearest cell phone tower. It won’t waste power amplifying a signal that doesn’t need to be boosted up to 32 times.
This unit covers up to 1500 square feet. Expect this cell phone signal booster to cover the inside of a small RV and the immediate vicinity. The interior antenna coverage suffers interference from walls and hardware. If you want to make calls from the front of the RV, don’t put the antenna in the bedroom.
The weBoost cell phone signal booster works with all major cell phone carriers. The only potential issue is that Sprint doesn’t give the signal the highest priority, so you may get 3G instead of 4G coverage when connecting to a Sprint cell phone tower.
This unit can get hot, especially when carrying signals for multiple phones and working for extended periods of time at full power. Make sure this unit receives ample ventilation. I'll recommend this "One of the best RV cell phone boosters."
02) SureCall Model Fusion4Home RV/Trailer Cell Phone Signal Booster Kit
Editor Rating: 4.6/5
This cell phone signal booster kit is middle of the pack in terms of price. This RV cell phone booster can support high speed connections up to 4G LTE. And it works with all major cell phone carriers. It also works with all wireless system standards from GSM, EDGE, CDMA, WCDMA and LTE.
This system will pick up and relay signals equally well from a wireless internet connection to a cell phone call. And it will handle wifi hotspots generated by a cell phone without any issue.
The SureCall has a broad coverage area for the internal antenna up to 3000 square feet. It can support multiple wireless devices.
This system has an auto-sleep function that helps it save power, but it isn’t easy to wake it up. The solution in this case is to power cycle it, AKA, reboot it.
Indoor coverage depends on the outdoor signal strength. If you’re far from the tower, expect it to only cover phones a short distance from the RV’s internal antenna. Another downside of this unit is how hot it gets when working hard.
A common complaint regarding the warranty is how often the company requires you to pay for shipping, since it is hard to meet their specific instructions to get them to pay for defective items’ return. It's another best cell phone signal booster for RV owners.
03) weBoost Drive 4G-X Model 470410 RV/Trailer Cell Phone Signal Booster
Editor Rating: 4.5/5
This is another best cell phone booster capable of delivering 4G connections. It works with most major cell phone carriers. It is able to support multiple simultaneous users.
This unit is slightly more expensive than the others on this list. However, this unit stands out for working just as well when the RV is moving as when it is stationary. You can make phone calls while driving in remote areas. It can run off of 110 to 240 volts AC.
One potential issue with this RV cell phone booster is that it doesn’t always work with other manufacturer’s secondary antennas.
There are complaints that the manufacturer is hard to reach when there are problems. The signal booster antennas in this model suffer more interference from metal roof parts and trees being in the way.
You need to be careful to put the antenna at the peak of the RV to guarantee that it works. The antenna is easily bent but doesn’t break. That precludes putting this signal booster antenna on top of an RV when you’re probably going to drive under trees or hit it with luggage.
04) SolidRF RVForce 3G and 4G Cell Phone Signal Booster
Editor Rating: 4.4/5
The SolidRF cell phone signal booster reliably delivers 3G and 4G connections. This model stands out for supporting every major cell phone carrier.
This cell phone signal booster is one of the cheaper on our list. It has weaker antennas than average, but it also doesn’t draw as much power as others on this list.
The SolidRF can support more than one user at a time. Where this unit stands out is the intelligence in the signal processing. It can detect when there is too much interference between the internal and external antennas and shut down.
This signal booster can detect when cell phone towers are being overloaded and reduce its signal output. It can minimize interference and maximize the quality of your phone calls.
The downside of the signal intelligence is that it will kill the entire system if you put the internal and external antennas too close. If the “smart” sensors malfunction, it won’t work even if you swap out the antennas.
The antennas are rather flimsy. Take care to protect them from damage or know you’ll need to replace them if they are damaged. Another issue is the unusual connecting cables they use; they’re not industry standard and hard to replace. It's the cheapest rv cell phone booster.
05) weBoost Connect 65-471203 Cell Phone Signal Booster for Towable RV /Motorhome
Editor Rating: 4.3/5
This is the second weBoost cell phone booster on this list. This unit is expensive, both more expensive than its weBoost sibling and other brands. It costs around 50% more than the average price of items on this list.
An upside of this model is that it is easy to set up. This model supports 4G LTE signals, and it can do so when multiple people use it. It has standard maximum uplink gain but it has better than average maximum gain for the system as a whole.
The weBoost Connect model 65-781203 works with the major cell phone carriers. They outright state that they support Straight Talk and Sprint, networks other cell phone boosters don’t always connect with. It works with all brands of cell phones.
The unit comes with connecting hardware and cables, and the manufacturer makes it possible to buy replacement parts separately. That may be just what you need if the power supply dies or you simply want a second one, and that makes this the best system to buy if you are prone to ripping off your antennas as you go under the overpass. The unit comes with a two year warranty. Customer service is a mixed bag.
For use when stationary
This RV cell phone booster is only designed for use when stationary. It will work well when you’re parked, and the manufacturer outright warns you that it may not work when you’re driving. However, this model is specifically made for use in an RV, camper or motor-home.
Note that this system has a directional antenna; this may require some adjustment and trial and error to get a good connection. That isn’t an issue if you buy a 25 foot telescoping antenna. That may be available in the kit, or you can buy it separately.
06) SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Kit for 3G/4G LTE up to 2,000 Square Fit
Editor Rating: 4.2/5
This RV cell phone booster works with all major carriers. In fact, it works with the four biggest cell phone carriers and nearly a hundred regional carriers.
It can deliver 4G LTE speeds, the worldwide high speed standard. (Let’s be honest, few people have a true need for 5G, and that’s why it isn’t widespread.)
This unit’s internal antenna can cover up to 2000 square feet. This is a smaller coverage area than a number of RV cell phone boosters on this list, including the other SureCall model on our list.
One issue with this unit is that the limited power draw means there is a trade-off between coverage area and signal strength. If the outdoor antenna is far off, the internal antenna may only be able to cover several hundred square feet.
One the best middle of the pack
This unit is middle of the pack in terms of price, but when on sale, it ends up being the cheapest on this list. The manufacturer sells kits to let you extend the range, buy replacement parts or install extra secondary antennas to gain full coverage in a crowded interior.
The unit can support multiple users at the same time. And it does this while using less than 15 Watts of power itself. This unit stands out for the omnidirectional coverage from both the internal whip antenna and omnidirectional outdoor antenna.
Another benefit of this model is that the outdoor antenna can withstand significant abuse, and its performance doesn’t deteriorate in bad weather. The only issue is that its performance deteriorates when on a metal roof, especially if it is next to the AC.
Note that this RV cell phone signal booster is designed more for home use, so it may not work when you’re on the move.
07) HiBoost Home 4K RV Cell Phone Signal Booster - up to 4,000 Square Fit
This RV cell phone booster can cover up to a 4000 square foot area, and it services this large coverage area while supporting 4K cell phone signals. That’s why it is the only HiBoost model on our list.
It works with most major cell phone providers. It is somewhat light given its capacity. The unit stands out for coming with multiple cables and mounting hardware.
A cheapest booster
This is the cheapest cell phone signal booster on this list if you’re going off of its list price. It is rarely on sale because the model is so new. One of the benefits of this model is the multi-channel capability. It can handle up to a hundred simultaneous users, assuming it has the power.
These are the best cell phone boosters for RV users who want to support half a dozen wired devices tapping into the same cell phone booster. Interestingly, it is smart enough to route different calls through different carriers all at the same time. The unit has an LCD screen so that you can prioritize signals and tune the entire system.
Before installing it in an RV
This unit is designed for use in the home. If you install it in an RV, know that it may not work at all when you’re on the move. Another issue with this system is that it isn’t designed for exposure to rough outdoor conditions. The system may not work when it is 100°F outside or in the pouring rain. The outdoor antenna isn’t designed to be hit by tree branches or stay where it is during heavy rains.
The manufacturer has a three year warranty. That’s far better than average, but that warranty only applies if you’re using this in your home, not putting it in an RV that’s alternating between broiling and freezing. If you put this in your RV, don’t expect the warranty to apply.
Once you know the operating conditions the cell phone booster is designed for relative to what you intend to do, you can winnow down our list to the right cell phone booster for your needs. Factors like ease of installation, the availability of replacement parts and how well it handles the expected load matter more than price.