Can you use a cell booster in an electric car?

Ah, what a world we live in. Anyone who thinks their lives haven’t changed in the last generation merely needs to look at the cars on the road today. Each packs more computing power than a high-end professional computer rig from 2000. They can identify obstacles in the road and avoid them, and keep their speed constant using nothing but artificial intelligence.

Of course cars aren’t the only advances in technology. More than ever we are a connected culture and we rely on our mobile devices to keep us that way. Unfortunately, the basic laws of physics tend to conspire against us. It’s not merely enough that the whole cellular network must be designed to keep us online at 70 miles per hour, switching cell towers once every other minute. Cars themselves are the biggest problem with cell reception on the road.

How your car stops you from getting good cell service

Cars are so good at blocking cell signals it’s almost as if they were designed that way. Every surface of a car conspires to stop radio waves from coming in. Think about it:

  • The glass in your windows is tinted, usually with metal flakes that stop UV radiation. Those same flakes also block cell phone signals.
  • Metallic paint also has little flakes in it which block cell phone signals really well.
  • The clear coat over that paint blocks UV to keep the paint from fading, and that blocks cell signals too.
  • The body of your car (in almost every case) is metal which really does a great job of blocking signals.
  • Behind your dashboard are a variety of wires and harnesses that also scatter what’s left of those signals.

It’s kind of a wonder that any signal gets through at all!

But is your electric car the worst offender?

This is actually a really good question. Electric motors generate their own electromagnetic fields and those fields can produce interference. For the most part, FCC rules are suppose to make sure that none of that interference is really a problem. However, the rules say that in some cases there can be an “acceptable” amount of interference.

For example, if your microwave weren’t well shielded then your Wi-Fi would go out every time you made popcorn. It is well shielded, but your Wi-Fi speeds may go down sometimes while someone is heating up his kimchi. It’s the same with electric cars. A certain amount of interference is ok.

In fact the interference issue with electric cars is so bad that Tesla, who sold more electric vehicles than anyone, doesn’t include AM radios in their cars. The motors create interference in the AM band that makes them pretty much unusable. Instead, the company bundles in HD radio and prices their streaming radio very reasonably. Between HD radio and streaming most AM stations are well represented.

The good news is…

Having done some extensive testing myself comparing electric, hybrid-electric, and traditional gas-powered cars, I found no meaningful difference in the amount of signal they block. While the numbers for each car are different, I didn’t detect lower signal when the cars were powered on or off, and the EV didn’t show meaningfully lower signal numbers.

There are a few things to note, however. They’re not unique to electrics but as electric cars are still luxury items, they’re most common there.

  • Magnet antennas don’t stick to aluminum or glass. Many electrics have full glass roofs or aluminum bodies. If the booster manufacturer supplies an adhesive pad you can use that. If they don’t, you can get things like that online.
  • The most popular EV of the last year, Tesla’s Model 3, uses funky vents that don’t work with most vent mounted cell boosters.
  • Some EVs keep the utility socket (lighter socket) powered while the vehicle is off. This can increase battery drain. This isn’t really unique to EVs, but many EV drivers are more sensitive to draining the batteries since recharge times are longer than refueling gas-powered cars.

Shop now for a great mobile cell booster

The simple fact is, 100% of cars are going to benefit from a cellular signal booster. Don’t wait until you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire. Shop now for a top-quality mobile cellular signal booster from 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 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.