Just over a month ago, my daughter and her family moved from Pennsylvania to a black hole, aka the genteel city of Augusta, Georgia. They soon discovered two things: First, that “genteel” is another way of saying “it’s too damn hot to get overly excited about anything.” Second, that cell reception on her T-Mobile iPhone was, putting it charitably, horrible. She likes her phone, and didn’t want to switch to another carrier. She operates her own business, though, and having a reliable phone to communicate with is a must. With little to no available service as the norm, she was ready to make the move to Verizon, which has somewhat more reliable coverage in her area. When the folks at Wilson Electronics offered the opportunity to evaluate their new weBoost Home Complete Cell Phone Signal Booster, she was happy to see if it could boost her out of their cellular black hole.
Wilson Electronics has been designing and producing cell phone signal booster technology in the USA for over 20 years, and bills itself as the industry leader in cellular signal booster technology. They have several signal-boosting products to choose from. While most are aimed at home or office use, they also offer vehicle-mounted models for those who need to gab and go, particularly to places where cell signals are scarce.
The weBoost Home Complete cell signal booster, which was just introduced at the end of August 2019, is the most powerful booster in the weBoost (pronounced “we boost”) lineup. It’s capable of providing coverage in an area of up to 7,500 square feet, and can support multiple users.
For those with puny 5,000 square foot spaces to fill, Wilson also introduced the weBoost Home MultiRoom cell signal booster. Both units are compatible with all mobile devices and wireless carriers in North America. Here are some specs and features for the weBoost Home Complete cell phone signal booster, followed by a short video:
• Max Room Size (Sq. Ft.): 7500
• Network Speed: 3G, 4G LTE
• Number of Users: Multi-users
• Max Gain: 72dB
• Antenna: Directional
• Up to 24 dBm uplink-output power for unparalleled range
• Set of wall-mount brackets for booster & inside antenna
• Anodized aluminum booster and fabric-covered inside antenna
• Home Complete booster includes Band 25 optimization
• Reaches towers up to 26% farther away than Home MultiRoom
• Allows for secure, versatile install using 3M Command™ Strips*
• Stylish modern design looks at home with contemporary décor
• Improves performance of LTE signal for Sprint customers
• Includes power supply, cables, and cable mounting clips
A Quick Cell Phone Signal Booster Primer
How do cell signal boosters work, you may be wondering…? It’s a pretty straightforward process. Most systems consist of three components. A tower antenna mounts outside your home or office, and sucks in whatever signal it can find from the provider’s cell tower. It feeds the signal through a cable into the booster, which, in the case of the weBoost Home Complete, amplifies each of the supported frequency bands simultaneously for all carriers.
The amplified signal then travels through another length of cable to an indoor antenna, which beams the signal out to whatever cellular devices you’re using. The device also uses this stronger signal to transmit calls and data back through the booster to the cellular network. The weBoost web site has a lot more information, and several helpful videos are available on their YouTube channel.
A Box Full Of Booster
When I first opened the box containing the weBoost Home Complete signal booster, it was a little intimidating. There were several boxes inside, along with two coils of cable. Everything is very clearly labeled, though, and once I took a look at the installation overview, it was clear that the setup was pretty simple.
All of the boxes were labeled with their contents, and their step numbers for the installation process. The quality of all the components seems very good; the RG11 cable is very beefy, and the cell phone signal booster is built like a tank. We unpacked everything, and got ready to hit the heights.
Location, Location, Location: Finding The Sweet Spot For The weBoost Home Complete Tower Antenna
Choosing the location for the outdoor antenna is the most critical part of the installation process. Use a phone app like OpenSignal, or web app such as AntennaSearch or CellReception to locate the cell tower or antenna closest to your location. This will give you an idea of the direction most likely to provide a usable signal. Like all cell phone signal boosters, the weBoost Home Complete has to have something to work with.
Note: The makers of the weBoost Home Complete recommend doing a “soft install” first. We heartily boost that recommendation. A soft install involves choosing a location for the outdoor antenna, and connecting all the components together, but not doing all the final routing of cables and so forth until you’re sure your chosen location provides a good signal to boost.
Our preferred mounting location was the upper roof. Unfortunately, the only pipes available for mounting up there were old 4” cast iron vent pipes, typical for older homes. Since the instructions say the antenna’s clamp is only good for diameters up to 3”, that wouldn’t work. We decided to lower our sights a bit, and mount the weBoost Home Complete antenna on the side of the house. This can be done by removing part of the clamping bracket from the antenna, as illustrated in the instructions.
Unfortunately, if pole mounting isn’t a good option, and you have to mount the antenna on your fascia or other flat surface, you lose all ability to fine-tune the direction for the antenna. The antenna can be tilted up or down, but not from side to side, and the instructions say not to mount it horizontally. We mounted the antenna temporarily, and got no improvement in signal strength at all. On to Plan B.
Yipes, Pipes – Giving The weBoost Home Complete Some Direction
After a bit of pondering, our solution was to go for the galvanized. We picked up two floor flanges, two elbows, and three 6” pipe nipples, and assembled a U-shaped bracket. To help it blend better with the house trim, we spray-painted everything white, including the mounting bracket.
I screwed the assembly to the trim between a couple of windows a few feet below the soffit, and mounted the outside antenna to the vertical piece of pipe. Next, we went through the optimization process. This involves connecting the cable to the outside antenna and to the signal booster, and connecting the other length of cable between the booster and the indoor antenna. After everything is connected, the booster gets plugged in, and you can start checking signal strength.
If the signal isn’t all you hoped it would be, you unplug the booster, rotate the antenna 1/8th of a turn, plug the booster back in, and re-check the signal. The process is repeated until you discover the sweet spot, where the signal is strongest. The process actually goes pretty quickly, and you’ll definitely want a helper.
We slowly rotated the antenna through every position on the south side of the house. After all that finagling, we STILL didn’t have a signal. Even though the online tower finders indicated the nearest tower was to the south, after mounting the external antenna and slowly adjusting the angle, there was absolutely no improvement in the signal, in any position.
The failure was extra frustrating, because fetching the pipe had required a 40-minute round trip to the store. It was a bit of hassle that could be resolved by a re-designed mounting bracket, capable of rotating the antenna in the horizontal plane.
Taking A Peek At The Peak
Our last hope was the upper roof. Again, this would have been our first choice, but the only pipe penetrating the upper roof was a 4” vent stack, and the clamp on the weBoost Home Complete can only handle pipes up to 3”. Sort of.
After another 40 minute round trip, we had a piece of 3” Schedule 40 PVC and a 4” to 3” Fernco reduction fitting. Turns out the bracket on the weBoost Home Complete won’t fit on a piece of 3” pipe, which is a very common size for vent stacks in residential construction. The 3” designation for the pipe refers to the inside diameter, and the bolts holding the clamp are exactly 3” apart, so once again we were stymied.
Our final solution was to take a piece of ¾” galvanized pipe and strap it to the 4” vent pipe on the highest point of the upper roof. Before making it permanent, we duct-taped it to the vent pipe, and attached the exterior antenna.
With the cables connected, we went through the optimization process, again starting with the antenna facing south. After a couple of incremental adjustments, Eureka – our target phone had a 3-bar signal!!
Making A Permanent Home For The weBoost Home Complete Cell Phone Signal Booster
Once we verified that we had apparently found the cellular sweet spot, I disconnected all the cabling. Although this step was necessary to be able to route the cable, I was reluctant to do it. It had taken a lot of finagling to get that %$#&!$& signal, and I sure didn’t want to lose it!
To give the tower antenna the best survival odds, I wrapped the pipes together with a very sturdy, rubberized adhesive tape. To further secure the connection, I added a couple of large stainless-steel hose clamps around everything, and made sure the antenna bracket was good and snug.
I drilled a hole in the gable end and routed the cable through the attic, and drilled another hole in the soffit, roughly overhead of where the cable would enter the house. I fed the cable through the soffit, and clipped it with the provided clips to a window frame on the way down to the first floor. Finally, I fed the cable in through another hole drilled above a window in my daughter’s office.
The RG11 cable that comes as part of the weBoost Home Complete kit is very robust stuff, and should hold up well. Be prepared to drill a 5/8” hole to get it through any penetrations, and even that is a tad snug. The 75’ cable provided was plenty to get from the peak of the roof, through the attic, down the outer wall, and into the office, with enough to spare to get to the floor and make the connection to the signal booster.
After reconnecting everything, and making sure the indoor antenna was pointed in the opposite direction of the outdoor antenna, we fired it up and…THREE BARS! Harmony had been restored to the universe. Or at least the ability to yak on the phone.
Although the weBoost Home Complete has several options for mounting the booster unit and indoor antenna, we left them tucked out of the way temporarily. The booster is resting comfortably on the floor, and the inside antenna is parked on its kickstand.
My daughter and her family have only been in the house a short time, and are still settling in and deciding on final landing spots for much of their “stuff.” When they decide on an optimal spot for everything, they can easily use the included mounting strips or brackets to mount the booster and antenna on the wall. Meanwhile, they’re very happy to be able to make – and complete – calls on their cell phones.
Are You In Need Of A Boost?
We installed the weBoost Home Complete cell phone signal booster just over a week ago. Since we got it up and running, signal strength has stayed fairly consistently at three bars, although it occasionally dips briefly to one or two, or soars up to four. Most importantly, there have been no dropped calls since the unit was installed.
All the components in the kit seem to be of very good quality, and everything fit together perfectly. The weBoost Home Complete cell signal booster did a very good job of taking a very weak signal and making it usable. The only quibble I have is with the mounting bracket; on many homes, the only available pipes to mount the unit on are the plumbing vent pipes, which are routinely either 3″ or 4″ INSIDE diameter, and a bit wider overall. A bracket capable of clamping on to those pipes without modification should be a standard feature for any pole-mounted antenna.
The weBoost Home Complete is touted as providing coverage up to 7,500 square feet, but there are some caveats. As their instructions explain, any walls or other obstructions can weaken or block the signal. The home we installed the booster in is 100 years old, with very thick plaster, lath and wire mesh walls. The amplified signal is very good in the room where the antenna is installed, and in the two adjacent rooms, but is fairly spotty in most of the rest of the house. It’s a major improvement over what they had before, though, and they’re very happy to now have access to reliable cell service.
Unless you really love your cell provider, if your cell service is crap, and an alternate carrier has reliable service, your most economical option would probably be to change providers. On the other hand, if alternate providers are significantly pricier, making the one-time investment of $550 – $1,000 might not be so crazy, especially if there are multiple users in the house.
Getting a cell signal booster is a no-brainer if you live in an area where NOBODY provides a good signal. To give you a no-risk chance to see if a boosted signal will work with your phone, weBoost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on the weBoost Home Complete, as well as their other cell phone signal boosters.
Certified by the FCC and pre-approved by all carriers, the weBoost Home MultiRoom and weBoost Home Complete are available for purchase online directly from weBoost, or through authorized resellers. The Home MultiRoom is priced at $549.99 and the Home Complete is priced at $999.99. Designed and assembled in the U.S., all boosters feature a two-year manufacturer’s warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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