NICE AND EASY: What’s the best place to put your outdoor cellular antenna?

Talking about this one is easy. Actually taking our advice might seem a little harder.

How does a cellular signal booster work?

We talk a lot about cellular signal boosters here at Solid Signal. They’re incredibly useful technology yet most people don’t know about them. A cellular signal booster takes a strong signal from outside. It then rebroadcasts it inside. There’s a lot of complex tech involved, but that’s the important fact.

Cell boosters are important because our phones are important to us. It’s pretty obvious if you look around that people are simply attached to them. We touch them on average once every few minutes, and we feel a lot of stress if we lose connection. That’s why a cell booster is a great investment. For about half the price of a top-end phone you get a device that will work for you and your friends, and will probably outlast your next three phones.

This graphic from weBoost shows how it all works. With most boosters, you put an antenna on your roof somewhere and a base unit and antenna inside your home.

So about that outdoor antenna…

the major cell booster companies have all started suggesting that you use an existing chimney pipe on your house. Here’s a look at an average roof:

That thing in the center bottom is a chimney pipe for the home’s hot water heater. It’s been up there for about 50 years. In this case it’s made of steel and is pretty solid.

I know that the cell booster companies want to make it easy. They don’t want you canceling the sale or returning the product because it’s too hard to install. So I really do understand why they say what they say. The only problem is that this advice doesn’t work for everyone.

Some homes have chimney pipes that aren’t so sturdy. Mounting something to them could cause some other damage.  It’s not overall bad advice but there are better options.

Option 1: J-mount

Solid Signal’s J-mount is a great option for mounting a cell antenna to an eave or to the side of a home. Yes you will have to do some drilling but it’s really not that difficult. You’ll know that there is a strong, sturdy place to put that antenna. As you can see this J-mount can be configured so you mount it on the side of the house and it swings wide so you can clear the eave. Or, you can mount on the eave and still be able to adjust the antenna so it’s in the right position.

Option 2: A big pole

Cell booster antennas work best when the outdoor antenna is up at least 15 feet from the base unit. In order to do this on a single story house, you might need to get that antenna mounted up pretty high. Solid Signal has a selection of masts and chimney mounts that can help you. Another option is simply to get a long fencepost and mount it securely on the side of the house. Most home stores have this sort of thing. I know I should be trying to sell you parts from, but if you’re just looking for a long pole, going local probably will save you money.

Either way…

try to get that outdoor antenna up as high as possible, and don’t use your home’s chimney pipes unless you are really sure they’re secure. Of course you want great cell service but you want your house to stay in one piece too, right?

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.