Nice and Easy: How high up should your outdoor cell antenna be?

If you’re putting up a cellular signal booster, you’re doing it because you want better signal inside. There are a lot of reasons that you might have bad cell signals indoors. Honestly most homes are really not very good at letting cell signals in. They’re almost designed to keep them out. Here’s what I mean.

Metal, stucco, and energy-efficient windows

These three things actually repel cell signals. Metal, whether it’s aluminum studs, flex conduit, ducting or just electrical wires, causes cell signals to bounce back. Stucco is placed over a metal mesh that’s very effective at blocking cell signals. Believe it or not the worst culprit is low-E glass. I’ve recently learned that as much as 99.9% of a cell signal is blocked by energy-efficient glass. That’s actually on purpose. The whole purpose of energy efficient windows is to stop radiation from coming in. It’s really for heat radiation but it works a bit to well with cell service too.

And then there are trees.

Trees are another big enemy of cell signals. They scatter signals and they’re often found between you and the cell tower. Of course trees also make our homes and workplaces more attractive and they give us oxygen to breathe. I think we all agree oxygen is one of the few things in this world more important than good cell service.

So how far up should the antenna go?

The whole trick to getting a good cell signal inside the building is to put the antenna where cell signals aren’t blocked by trees, other buildings, or anything else. It’s also important to put the outdoor antenna up high enough so it doesn’t interfere with the indoor antenna. I generally recommend that the outside antenna be 15 feet higher than the indoor one, which is usually enough to deal with issues from other rooftops and trees as well.

Is there such a thing as too high?

Yes absolutely. You can very easily put an antenna up too high if you’re dealing with commercial buildings. Most cell towers are up somewhere about 50′ high and they’re aimed so that they focus the most signal down below that level. After all, most people don’t need cell service higher than that. However, if you’re in a commercial building, you may actually need to get the outdoor antenna below where you are because you’ll notice once you get up higher than the fifth floor your cell service may begin to suffer.

How can you know for sure?

For a homeowner, I wouldn’t be too worried. The sweet spot is going to be 15-30 feet off the ground and most people are not going to put anything up higher than that. If you are an antenna enthusiast with a tower, you’ll find it best to put that cell booster antenna somewhere up in that 15-30 foot range.

For a commercial customer, you probably want to call an expert. Commercial cellular booster systems are much more complex than home ones. You probably want a certified installer to survey the property using a special meter, and then determine where to put all the antennas. Luckily you can count on the folks at Solid Signal to hook you up with the best commercial equipment and installation team. Give us a call now at 888-233-7563 and learn more!

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.