Well, my tendency would be to say, “never.” But that would be one mighty short article. So let’s delve in, and talk about some of the reasons you might actually need to adjust a cell booster.
A little bit of what it does
A cell phone signal booster is a system, not just one thing. At the heart are three components. An outdoor antenna pulls in as much cell signal as it can from outside, and strongly broadcasts your signal coming from inside. An indoor antenna rebroadcasts that strong outdoor signal and also acts as a mini-cell tower, receiving your phone’s transmissions and sending them outside. And in the middle, a super-smart amplifier. That amplifier pumps up the signal by a factor of up to 10,000,000 and sends it out through one of the two antennas. The amplifier also checks to make sure it’s not overamplifying, and keeps the whole system from failing by automatically reducing power when it needs to.
Most of the time, that cell booster system is going to work, day in and day out. You’ll only end up replacing it when new technology makes it obsolete, which happens every 5-7 years on average. You know, like when LTE gives over to 5G and new frequencies open up.
Why a cell booster might need adjusting
There are two types of outdoor antennas. Most lower-priced systems come with an omnidirectional antenna like this one:
These antennas are very useful and popular because you just sort of put them up there. You don’t have to know where cell towers are, you don’t have to do any measurement. However, real pro-grade booster systems come with antennas that look more like this:
These wedge-shaped antennas are designed to be pointed straight at the closest cell tower. They offer a lot better performance, but of course you do need to know where the closest cell tower is. Using a pro-grade cell signal meter will help you, but for consumers, it’s just as easy to use an Android app to get good results.
Why your choice of antenna may make a difference
If you have an omni antenna, it’s never going to need re-aiming. That’s kind of the point of that kind of antenna. But, if you choose the Yagi kind, the wedge shaped kind, you may want to look at re-aiming it every few years.
Cell towers are privately owned, and they can be reconfigured or shut down whenever the owner wants. Of course there’s some paperwork, there’s always paperwork, but they don’t have to notify average folks like you.
So, with this sort of antennas it’s not a bad idea to check the antenna every so often to see if there’s a better location to aim it. There may be a closer tower, or a tower with the signals you want (for example 5G as opposed to just LTE.) You can get free apps that will tell you where the towers are if you want.
One thing you should try, every year or so
Once a year, it’s not a bad idea to just unplug your cell booster. You bought it because you had bad cell service. There may be closer towers now, or some other problems may have been addressed. If you unplug your cell booster and your service doesn’t get worse, you may just be able to do without it.
However for most folks, bad cell service indoors is a real problem. That’s why we ask people to shop the great selection of cell boosters available now at Solid Signal.