Is it hard to install a cell phone signal booster?

Quick question: what’s your most prized possession? What is it that you touch more than anything else? What is it that you would go back for if you left it at home? What gives you the most anxiety if you lose it? Go ahead, tell me it’s your wedding ring or your wallet. Believe that if you will, but I have a feeling that your most prized possession is your phone.

We love our phones. They’re the way we connect to everything in our lives. We reach out to friends, we shop, we pay for food, and we entertain ourselves. Our phones are little black glass miracles… except when they don’t work.

Don’t blame the cell companies

Honestly, cell phone carriers have done a remarkable job of blanketing the country with cell signal. There are gaps to be sure, but considering that you need roughly one cell tower per carrier for every single square mile of the US (3,797,000 square miles) that’s pretty amazing.

The problem isn’t the service outside the house, it’s generally the service inside the house. Energy-efficient homes do an amazing jobs of intentionally blocking cell signals. Building materials from brick to copper block them even better. Assuming that signal gets in the house, it then has to contend with walls, plumbing, and appliances. Folks, I work with this stuff all the time and I’m amazed that any cell signal gets inside at all.

How to fix the problem

You probably know what the solution is, because you probably googled the question at the top of this article. Cell phone signal boosters take signal from outside, bring it inside, and massively amplify it. They do the opposite, too: take signals from your phone, bring them outside, and blast them at the closest tower. All this magic happens so fast you don’t even notice the difference, other than great cell service.

A lot of folks worry about installing their own cell boosters, though, and I’m here to tell you that it’s not hard at all. If you’re handy and healthy, you won’t have a problem at all. Let’s run down what you’ll need to do in order to install a cell phone signal booster.

Step 1: Outdoor installation

You’ll need to mount the outdoor antenna. Ideally, you’ll want to use an app on your phone to figure out where the towers are. If you don’t want to try one of the many free ones, you can still do a decent job. Just keep an eye on your phone and run speed tests (I use myself) to see where data speeds are fastest. Data speeds are a more reliable indicator of what you’ll get than bars.

The outdoor antenna can be mounted on the roof on an existing vertical pipe, or you can use a J-Mount to mount the antenna. J-mounts attach to virtually any surface and adjust to let you mount the antenna vertically.

You’ll also need to get that wire inside. A lot of times you can feed it through an existing attic vent. If not, you’ll need to drill a hole in the wall to fish the cable through. You can use a wall bushing and some caulk or construction adhesive to make sure the seal is tight.

Step 2: Indoor installation

In order to finish the job, you’ll need to find a good place for the amplifier itself. You can wall-mount it or hide it any way you like, as long as it has good ventilation and a source of power. You’ll also need to mount the indoor antenna. Many cell booster antennas can be mounted on a wall or just put on a horizontal surface. Some are designed for ceiling mounting. If you can hang a picture, you can mount an antenna. Just like picture hanging, you may need to use a toggle bolt or drywall anchor if you can’t get to a stud.

Really that’s it

If you are ok going up on a ladder and using a drill, you will be able to install a cell phone signal booster. If you’re not, pretty much any handy person or contractor can do it for you. If you’re not sure which booster to buy, call us at 888-233-7563. If you’d rather shop for yourself, check out 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 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.