2020 Edition: A cell booster for your apartment?

One of the biggest questions we get at Solid Signal on a regular basis is, “Can I use a cell booster in my apartment?” We’ve talked about it before. But, since the answers have changed, it seemed like a good time to revisit the question.

The problems with cell boosters and apartments

The first thing about an apartment is that you don’t own it. You rent, and that means you should be asking for permission to make permanent changes. So, you probably shouldn’t be drilling holes in the walls to fish antenna cable through. Landlords tend to look down on that sort of thing.

Second, it’s not always possible to put an outdoor antenna up on the roof even if you do have permission. Your apartment owner could make it easy and install a large DAS system to flood the entire building with great service. Chances are, they won’t.

Two options

Each of our two major cell phone booster manufacturers has taken a different approach to this issue. SureCall has created a booster that works completely indoors, while weBoost has a kit which does let you install an outdoor antenna without drilling holes. Let’s take a closer look.

SureCall EZ4G

SureCall’s EZ4G has been out for years. I reviewed it when it came out and that review’s still online. It installs easily: You put the large circular antenna up against a window or wall, and put the other antenna as far away from it as you can. I found that it worked well.

The choice of window or wall depends on your windows. Windows with UV coating often reflect back more cell signals than walls do. Remember just because you can see through it, doesn’t mean cell signals can come through. It takes some testing to know where best to put that circular antenna unit.

weBoost Home Multiroom

The weBoost Home Multiroom is a newer entry. I take you through the installation process in this article.  This is a more traditional cell booster with an antenna that you have to install outdoors. However, it’s better for apartment use than previous boosters. It comes with a flat RG6 cable like this one that snakes through the crack between windows or doors. This makes it possible to mount an antenna outside for best performance.

You could add a flat cable to any booster, but the antenna in the new Home MultiRoom is designed to perform better than previous generation antennas. That makes it easier to mount because you’ll probably get great performance mounting it on a railing rather than putting it up on the roof. That antenna also comes with an innovative mounting clamp that makes it easier to use any pole or post as a mounting point.

Which is better?

I have to say, of course, “your mileage may vary.” You really can’t go wrong here because I found that performance was excellent on both these boosters. The weBoost did have superior performance overall, though. You’d expect that with a truly outdoor antenna.

For an apartment both boosters are so strong that the biggest problem is trying to get the indoor antenna far enough from the outdoor antenna. It’s best to have 30 feet or more between the two and that can get a little difficult in an apartment. If the two antennas are too close, the power of the booster will be automatically reduced.

In this comparison, the weBoost unit does seem to edge out ahead because its indoor antenna is more directional than the SureCall. That means you’ll be able to direct the amplification more. If you can’t get enough distance between the two antennas, you can point the weBoost antenna away from the window and get better boost. Depending on your situation you may be able to still get great signal and aim the antennas so they don’t interfere.

Still, it’s your decision. Both are great choices for apartment dwellers and of course they are both available at SolidSignal.com.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.