Last fall I installed and reviewed a cellular signal booster kit put out by a company called weBoost. The package is called the Drive 4G-X OTR and came with a large spring mounted trucker antenna. We’ve used it dozens of times over the last five months while RVing all around the southwestern US and up and down the west coast. The weBoost system has proved a godsend by keeping us connected even camped in fringe signal reception areas.
Both Anne and myself run popular blogs, plus I maintain an online RVing community site and of course the Love Your RV! YouTube channel. We are always busy online answering comments, emails, publishing articles and uploading photos/videos. A strong cell data signal is critical. But we also love to boondock and visit rural areas; thankfully the weBoost has helped extend our off-grid travel choices.
Last month the weBoost company contacted me asking if I’d like to review their latest cell booster kit designed specifically for us RVers. I jumped at the chance and fair disclosure I have also signed up to be an affiliate earning a sales commission for referrals. (Note: This article contains affiliate links)
Disclaimer: Although I’ve received no monetary compensation for my review, I did receive a free review sample of the Drive 4G-X RV courtesy of weBoost.com – Ray
Unboxing the weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Cell Booster
The kit arrived in a box about the size of a case of beer. It was stuffed with smaller boxes labeled with numbers. The numbers corresponded to the sequence to open each as you stepped through the installed process. Also, inside was a user manual that walks you through each step. I give weBoost high marks for the packaging and uncomplicated to follow DIY directions. The manual is easy to read with large text, and it contains diagrams illustrating each of 8 installation steps.
In the weBoost 4G-X RV kit you’ll find two antennas, one for inside the rig and one for outside, plus the hookup cabling and mounting hardware. The heart of the system is the Drive 4G-X cellular booster which can amplify all US carrier signals, voice and data and multiple users simultaneously. To power the booster there is a choice of AC or DC power adapters. As a big fan of dry camping, I was pleased to see the 12VDC supply included.
Installing the weBoost RV Cell Booster Kit
Steps 1, 2, 3
The first three steps get the outside antenna mounted up on the RV roof, a 20-foot long RG6 cable connected to it and routed into the rig. For the outside antenna, you want a mounting location above the roof line and clear of obstacles. I elected to go with the RV ladder railing. This is where I found my first dislike with the kit. The antenna mounting hardware was too large in my opinion for the diameter of the typical RV ladder. I got around this by drilling a pair of holes through my top ladder railing and running the U clamp through it. Made for a solid mount.
Next was to determine a pathway for the cabling into the RV. The instructions say to drill a 1-inch hole on a sidewall and feed it inside. Here is where I parted ways with the install guide. I already had a path into my trailer from a previous install of the weBoost OTR kit and my wireless backup camera. I choose to follow that same route rather than drill a new hole. My pathway is through a weatherproof plastic electrical junction box screwed to the roof and sealed with Dicor.
Steps 4 and 5
Mount and connect the Drive 4G-X amplifier box. Super easy since the amp comes with a snap mount plate. Simply screw or Velcro the plate onto a suitable wall, I decided to hide it in a storage cabinet above my computer desk.
To finish up the outside cable feed the entry whole needs to be covered up and the loose cable secured. The kit comes with an entry hole gasket and cover, plus cable ties. Like I said earlier I changed things up with my rooftop entry box and used a strip of 4″ wide Eternabond Roof repair tape to hold my cable run in place.
Step 7 and 8
Finally, you need to thread on the antenna wires on the amps input and output connectors and plug in power. If you always have live AC outlets in the RV when camping or traveling, then you just plug the AC adapter into one, and you’re done.
But if you’re like me and choose to wire into the RVs 12 volt DC battery power you’ll need to find somewhere to tap into a circuit.
I mounted the 4G-X amp close to my RV accessory control panel. Inside was an easy to find a 12-volt DC circuit to splice into. I picked the power wire supplying the trailers outside porch light. Since I upgraded the porch light to a much less power hungry LED bulb, I knew that line had extra capacity. The spec sheet lists the amps power requirement at 6 VDC 2A so it should draw 1A at 12 VDC.
To finish up the weBoost DC adapters install I added a new power switch to my RVs accessory control panel so I could turn the weBoost on and off from there. Once complete I flipped the switch, and the weboost Drive 4G-X fired up with a solid green indicator lamp meaning the system was working correctly. I was ready to boost!
Testing the weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Real World
I installed this weBoost kit almost three weeks ago, and since then we have RVed over 1000 miles using the cell signal booster in numerous locations. Signal conditions have varied from super strong to almost non-existent. Anytime I needed to boost a signal I consistently saw an increase of 20 – 30 dB (decibel-milliwatts) or 2 -3 bars. Several times it meant the difference between getting a call or text out or not. The system does provide a significant boost to weak cell signals.
Comparing Outside weBoost Antennas
Since I also have the weBoost OTR kit I was able to do some head to head comparisons between inside and outside weBoost antenna combinations. (Keep in mind though these are far from scientific tests, but I did try things out in a number of areas and with three different cell carriers and devices) For the outside antenna, the big OTR trucker was slightly better than the smaller white RV kit antenna, and the RV kit antenna was a little better than the even smaller magnetic mount antenna.
Comparing Inside weBoost Antennas
As far as inside weBoost antennas go, all three were pretty equal when the phone or data hotspot device was right beside them. Then, as the distance was increased, the new desktop antenna performed the best, slightly better than the small square (aka chocolate bar) antenna. Surprisingly the large white wall mount antenna performed the worse.
Unfortunately, all the inside antennas had signal boost range limited to just a few feet. At 2 feet away the dBm increase dropped in half and by 5 feet away it was almost entirely gone. Keep in mind though I’m testing in a fifth wheel trailer with aluminum stud walls and fiberglass. Results in another style of RV could vary dramatically. For instance using the booster inside my pickup truck gives a little better overall performance than inside the trailer. I assume the metal body allows for better separation between inside and outside antennas.
Speeds, Web Page Load Time and Streaming
For the most part (85% of the time) the booster made for snappier web page loads, increased file download/upload speeds, fewer disconnections, and better video streaming.
However, there were actually a number of times I witnessed the opposite. I’m not sure why but I know there are many variables to consider like the weather, electrical interference or how many users are on the cell tower. A few times I had a solid full bars connection, however, speeds were crawling. I’d unplug the booster and drop to 1-2 bars but better speeds!
weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Kit – Likes and Dislikes
- Ability to boost even extremely weak signals to usable levels
- Increased our phone and MiFi battery life
- Easy installation and no setup programming required
- Clear instructions and well packaged
- Comes with cabling and mounting hardware included
- Includes 120 VAC and 12 Volt DC power adapters
- Indoor antenna has weighted base so doesn’t fall over
- Hardware has a quality feel to it
- Pleasing looking design
- Outside antenna pole mount was too oversized for RV ladder
- Inside antenna signal range limited to a few feet
weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Install and Review Video
I highly recommend this kit for fellow RVers seeking to improve cell phone and data connections inside their camper. The kit comes with all the installation parts required and simple, straightforward documentation. It’s easily installable by any semi-skilled do-it-yourselfer. The antennas blend well into the RV, I love the visually appealing designs.
weBoost formally was known as Wilson has been the de facto standard in mobile cell amplifiers and antennas for a many of years. I’ve always been pleased with their products and find them great to deal with. The weBoost Drive 4G-X RV kit comes with a 2-year warranty. Two thumbs up from Love Your RV!