Why is antenna height so important with cell boosters?

You’ve probably looked at cell boosters and if you’ve checked the fine print…. many of them say that the antenna should be fifteen feet above the height of the booster. Maybe you thought that was just to get a better cell signal, but there’s a much more important reason than that.

Deep dive into cell booster antennas

Cell booster antennas are different from most antennas on your home because they go both ways (insert joke here.) TV antennas and satellite dishes are receive-only. They don’t do any broadcasting of their own. On the other hand, cell booster antennas actually broadcast back to the cell tower. That makes a difference.

The broadcast power of a cell booster, or a cell phone for that matter, is really pretty weak. This is to preserve battery life, and also to make sure there isn’t a ton of radiation coming out of your phone. Today, people use Bluetooth headsets and hold their phones in their hands, but for most of the cell phone’s history, it was held up to the head. Radiation right by your head is… bad.

And, powerful antennas were bad for another reason

When the first cell boosters came out, they actually caused damage to local cell towers because of feedback loops. The booster’s own indoor antenna would register on the booster’s outdoor antenna and too much power would get sent back to the tower. To help this, cell booster makers put anti-feedback devices into their systems. If the system detects feedback it will cut the power of the indoor antenna until the feedback stops. It happens quickly and automatically.

The problem is that if the system is operating at reduced power, it’s not giving you the indoor range you paid for. You could have one half or less of the power you paid for simply to keep the system from overloading. Obviously you don’t want that, right?

The answer

If you want the best results, put the outdoor antenna at least fifteen feet higher than the indoor one. This usually means putting the outdoor antenna as high up as possible on your roof. Of course there’s also some benefit from having that antenna up high because it will pull in more signal anyway, but it’s most important you don’t trip that anti-feedback circuitry because it will seriously cut the power of the booster.

Some newer boosters use more advanced antennas. That way they make sure you can put the outdoor antenna a little closer to the roof line. The antennas are designed to be more directional and not pick up signals from below. Boosters like the weBoost Home Complete and Home Multiroom fall into this category. That’s one of the reasons we recommend them.

If you use a panel antenna like our weBoost 314473, it’s best to mount it on the ceiling on on a wall facing away from the external antenna. Never, ever mount a panel antenna facing upwards toward the outdoor antenna. It will turn that panel antenna into an expensive waste of money.

When you’re ready to forget the days of poor service and get a cellular signal booster, remember to shop the great selection at Solid Signal!

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.