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How to install a cell phone signal booster in your car

Truck drives fast on a winding rural road

Every cell phone signal booster is different. But if you’ve purchased our Terrain Cell Phone Booster  – or if you’re thinking about it and just want to be prepared  – here’s how to install a cell phone signal booster in your car.

Your cell phone signal booster kit will include the booster with an outside antenna, as well an inside antenna, power adaptor, power feeder and an RG316 cable. We also enclose three metal stickers and air vent clips, which may be required for some installations (more on that below). Start by unpacking your kit and reading through the included instructions. If you have any questions, call us at 877-579-7878 for help with installation.

How Your Cell Phone Signal Booster Works

Your cell phone signal booster works because the outdoor booster catches the signal from your closest cell phone tower. It then amplifies the signal and transmits it through the RG316 cable into your vehicle. The indoor antenna rebroadcasts the boosted signal inside the vehicle to all mobile devices within range.

The system helps increase the cell phone signal your phone receives. It also works in reverse and increases the outgoing signal from your phone back to the cell phone tower.

Two key factors affect the size of the coverage area and the strength of the boosted signal:

  • The signal strength received by the outdoor antenna. If the outdoor booster receives a strong signal, it’ll amplify that signal more than if it receives a weak signal. That’s why it’s important to set up the outside booster where the signal is the strongest. The maximum coverage of a booster depends on the original power level of the signal captured by the outdoor unit. If your outside booster is receiving a strong signal, the coverage area around that antenna can be as much as 8 ft.
  • The distance between the outdoor booster and the indoor antenna. The closer the outdoor booster and the indoor antenna, the stronger the signal your phone receives. For this reason, it’s important to study your vehicle and choose the best places to install the booster and antenna.

Installing the Outdoor Booster and Indoor Antenna

1. Choose the best location for the outdoor booster

In order to get the best possible boost, there’s a certain distance requirement between the outdoor booster and the indoor antenna. The outdoor booster goes on the roof of the car. The exact placement depends on whether you have a car, SUV, van or truck. But, generally, the placement should be towards the rear of the roof in the center.

2. Get the outdoor booster ready for installation

Our outdoor booster comes with six wire antennas (two are 1.7 inches and four are 4 inches tall). Start by connecting these antennas to the booster. The short antennas – the 1.7 inch ones – are intended to be installed in the middle position. The four longer antennas – the 4 inch ones – are intended to be installed on the outside corners of the booster.

Next, connect the RG316 cable to the booster at the bottom.

3. Place the outdoor booster on the roof of your vehicle

Magnets hold the outside booster to the top of the vehicle. You’ll see three very powerful magnets at the bottom of the booster. If the roof of your vehicle is metal, the booster will attach firmly. If the roof of your vehicle is made from another material (which is very common), you’ll need to use three metal stickers that come with your kit. We recommend using a ruler to make sure that you’re placing these stickers in the exact right position on the top of your vehicle.

Put the stickers on the vehicle, and then place the outdoor booster on top of them. It should attach firmly. Note that, because the magnets are very strong, we designed the booster with a handle for setting it on the roof or removing it. The strong magnets give you peace of mind that the booster will stay firmly attached to the top of your car – no matter where you’re going or in what kind of weather.

4. Plan the best place for the cable

Next, determine where you want the cable to enter your vehicle. Most people choose between two options: passing the cable into the car through the back door or through the trunk and rear seats.

5. Connect the indoor antenna

Next, connect the indoor antenna to the DC Power Feeder at the OUTPUT port, and connect the end of the cable to the DC power feeder at the INPUT port. Plug in the power adaptor and connect it to the nearest power outlet.

There are two powerful magnets at the bottom of the DC power feeder, which we’ve designed to help the device stay in place in the vehicle. These are helpful if you’d like to attach the DC power feeder to the center console or armrest. We’ve also included air vent clips, which you can use to attach the DC power feeder to the air vent. No matter which option you choose, you’ll want to make sure that your indoor antenna stays parallel to the outdoor booster on the roof.

6. Check your cell phone signal and see the results

Now that all of the parts of your cell phone booster kit are in place, it’s time to check the performance y running a signal strength/speed check. Begin by testing the signal strength with the booster off, and then re-test the signal in the same location after you plug into the power supply. You should have a stronger signal.

But how can you tell if the signal is stronger? On most phones, you can see signal strength under your phone’s Settings menu. You can also download a speed test app. Remember that a stronger signal means the dBm is closer to zero.

When you plug in the power adaptor, the booster will run a self-diagnostic as it powers on. Use the LED light on the DC power feeder to interpret the results. If everything is connected the way it should be, the LED light should stay green.

Happy travels. Enjoy your new, increased cell phone signal strength and gain peace of mind that, no matter how far you travel, you can always call home.