Young, beautiful, tattooed woman sits corss-legged with her laptop

Let’s Be Clear: RV Cell Boosters Are Overrated

Not all RVers are looking to disconnect from the rest of the world while camping. For many campers, staying connected is more important than ever. They need to stay connected to work, school, and loved ones.

Some RVers turn to cell boosters to help them stay connected, which has earned these devices a reputation for being the magical internet solution for RVers. However, they’re often not worth the hype. Let’s see why.

RVers weigh in on whether or not cell phone boosters worth it.

What Is an RV Cell Booster?

An RV cell booster increases the signal quality from cellular networks in the area. These devices typically improve the user’s phone and hotspot signal quality inside the RV by using antennas and an amplifier.

These devices can be beneficial in campgrounds or when camping in remote locations. They’re typically not carrier-specific and often work across all major cell network providers.

How Does an RV Cell Booster Work?

RV cell boosters use an omnidirectional or directional antenna to pull in a cell signal. The signal travels through the cabling to a booster inside the RV.

The booster will amplify the signal and then send the boosted signal to an interior antenna. The result is a more robust and more reliable connection inside the RV.

Young, beautiful, tattooed woman sits corss-legged with her laptop

What Is the Range of a Cell Booster?

You measure cell signal in dB or decibels. The Federal Communications Commission typically limits multi-carrier boosters to a maximum boost of 64 dB to 72 dB, depending on which band of cellular signal. However, the gain can be no more than 100 dB for carrier-specific boosters.

A booster’s ability to amplify the signal is also dependent on the exterior antenna’s ability to pull in a signal. If there’s zero signal available in the area, the device has nothing to boost.

Exterior antennas can pull cellular signals from miles away and send them to the booster. A cell booster can have a tremendous impact, even if the nearest cell tower is miles away.

Do Cell Boosters Make a Notable Difference?

Cell boosters can make a notable difference, but not always. There are a tremendous amount of factors to consider when it comes to the effectiveness of a cell booster. Changes in the landscape like forests, mountains, and other obstacles can block signals from cell towers, which can render your cell booster useless.

Given the right circumstances, a cell booster can make a tremendous difference in your life as an RVer. It can turn a low-quality signal into a stable and reliable connection. They won’t create a signal if there’s none available, but they can often make a notable difference if the conditions are right.

A young man wearing a bun in his hair uses his laptop on a stand out the back of his camper van.

Do You Need a Cell Booster to Work From Your RV?

No, you don’t need a cell booster to work from your RV. Plenty of RVers travel the country and work remotely from their RVs without cell boosters. Having a cell booster opens up the possibilities of where you can work, but it’s not required. 

The advantage RVers have when it comes to cell signals is that they can be mobile. If you’re not satisfied with the quality of the signal, you can move on to another site or area with a better connection. Resources like Campendium and iOverlander are great for checking out coverage in campsites.

Is a Cell Booster Worth the Money?

If we’re honest, cell boosters aren’t worth it for most RVers. They can be costly, challenging to store, and unreliable. If you’re reliant on access to the internet, it’s best to find campsites that have a history of providing a solid connection to guests. Be wary, as many campgrounds will claim to offer free Wi-Fi, but the signal will be sub-par when everyone there tries to connect at the same time.

Many RVers expect that they can camp anywhere they want because they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a cell booster. That’s simply just not the case. If that’s your expectation, it might be wise to prepare to be disappointed.

Boosters can only boost; they can’t create a good signal out of thin air. And even if there is a signal, sometimes it’s so bad that it doesn’t improve much, even with a booster. The best internet setup is robust and doesn’t rely solely on cell boosters as some sort of magic bullet.

A man uses his cell phone while it charges from his back pack while on a hike.

Stay Connected on the Road

Whether it’s posting a picture of your epic adventures or video conferencing for work, technology plays a larger part in camping today than it did in the past.

Having a cell booster can be beneficial, but you’ll want to lower your expectations if you think it’s magic or the answer to your internet woes. Don’t buy into the hype, and you can save yourself from having a bit of buyer’s remorse when it comes to a cell booster in your RV.

Do you prefer to rely on a cell booster in your RV or only camp where there’s a quality signal?

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