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Cell Phones and Aluminum Siding and Metal Framed Homes

Updated on July 24, 2016
Aluminum siding in mobile homes blocks cell phone signals, causing problems with reception in many areas where overall signals are weak.
Aluminum siding in mobile homes blocks cell phone signals, causing problems with reception in many areas where overall signals are weak.

Cell Phone reception in steel frame homes and ones with Aluminum Siding

If you have a home with aluminum siding you may already know that it can affect your cell phone reception. The same problems with cell phone reception also applies to homes that have a metal frame or tin or metal roof. Steel framed homes are notorious for having bad cell phone reception. Your steel home builder will not tell you this, but as someone who has lived in three steel - framed homes, I can tell you that steel framing and siding do affect cell phone signals.

Why Cell Phone Reception Is A Problem In Homes With Metal Roofs and Aluminum Siding

The reason for poor cell phone reception in steel frame homes and homes with aluminum siding is that the metal exterior or frame blocks incoming cell phone signals in the same way that the metal shield across your microwave's glass door keeps you from getting cooked when you look inside.

Cell phones are essentially microwaves and any kind of metal will block the signal. It may be that the only place where cell phone signals are coming into your house is through the glass windows and if you have metal screens, maybe not even there. There are a couple of options to solve the problem. One is attaching an antenna to your phone that is mounted outside the window. This method works pretty well, but means that you must keep a wire attached to your phone and always keep your phone at the same spot in the house. Furthermore, few, if any, modern cell phones even have an external antenna jack these days.

Radiant Barrier Insulation Causes Cell Phone Reception Problems

Many new types of insulation, including "R-Max" and foil bubble wrap type insulation, will cause cell phone signal problems when they are installed in walls and attics. The same properties which help radiant barrier block heat, also cause it to reflect cell phone signals. In most cases, you will live in an area where the ambient cell phone signal power is very high, and radiant barrier insulation won't cause cellular phone problems such as dropped calls. If however, you live in a rural area, a few miles from the tower, or even in an urban area where signals are less than optimal, radiant barrier insulation may cause dropped calls. The only solutions for this problem is either walk outside to make your calls, call a contractor and have them rip out all the radiant barrier insulation, or install a cell phone booster in your home.

Create A Cell Phone Signal Hotspot In The Home

A better alternative to getting better cell phone reception in a steel frame home is a cell phone extender or booster. Cell Phone extenders have an inside and an outside antenna. They pick up signals from your phone inside the house (multiple phones at the same time are OK) and then rebroadcast the signal, amplified many times, to an antenna mounted just outside the window. Think of them as sort of a "cell phone signal hotspot," or "mini cell phone tower"

In many cases a cell phone booster will solve all of your cell phone problems in a steel frame home or home with aluminum siding, such as dropped calls and zero bars on your signal indicator.

Indoor cell phone wireless extenders come in two varieties, dual band Cell / PCS and PCS only. For most people, except those with PCS only service like T-Mobile you will want to get a dual band PCS / Cell model since most new phones use both bands at some time or another.

Cell phone range extenders are legal in all states. They won't harm your phone or interfere with household entertainment devices, as long as you don't place them right next to a stereo etc. You can solve the problem of poor cell phone reception in a steel fame home and enjoy your strong house and cell phone too.

Avoiding Problems With Repeater Type Cell Phone Boosters

The most common problem with repeater type cell phone boosters is that there is not enough spacing between the inside and outside antenna. Models such as Digital Antenna and Wilson require that you keep the inside pickup antenna and outside transmitting antenna a certain space from each other. This varies with wall type, antenna height, etc. The Digital Antenna cell phone boosters have a warning light that will turn yellow if the spacing between the two antennas is too close.

Things such as steel framing, foil backed insulation, metal roofs and aluminum clad radiant barrier insulation can all cause cell phone signal reception problems.
Things such as steel framing, foil backed insulation, metal roofs and aluminum clad radiant barrier insulation can all cause cell phone signal reception problems.

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