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How to Improve Cell Signal for an EV Charger

Many commercial EV chargers require 4G LTE or 5G signal to operate. However, stable cell signal is often a challenge in deployments in garages and rural areas.

This guide outlines those challenges and how to mitigate them to allow for seamless deployments.

Have you ever had an important call drop as you drove into an underground garage?

You're not alone. Cell signal is ubiquitous, but so are gaps in cell coverage.

As EV chargers roll out across the country, deployment teams are quickly realizing that cell signal issues can cause long delays to turn-up plans.

Many integrators are learning that advanced planning is key: to avoid issues, the best option is to survey signal as early as possible to identify potential problems.

In this guide, we cover both how to test for coverage and how to fix coverage issues if you've identified a problem.

Why Do EV Chargers Need Reliable Cellular Signal?

A stable and reliable cellular signal is crucial for many commercial EV chargers to function. Chargers rely on signal for setting schedules, creating reports, processing payments, and downloading essential software updates.

As more garages install electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), it's critical to ensure that these chargers can connect to their network online. A cellular repeater can be a game-changer, instantly helping almost any location receive a stable and reliable signal.

The Hidden Hurdle for EV Chargers

Most parking garages are built with concrete, steel beams, bricks, and blocks, all of which rapidly degrade cellular signal. Even open lots can face unreliable cellular signal due to nearby structures or distance from a cell tower.

As networks transition towards 5G and deploy mid- and high-band technology, users enjoy greater speed and reliability at the cost of distance. Moreover, underground garages face additional challenges due to their subterranean location.

Even higher-end garages encased in glass suffer connectivity issues, as tinted low-E glass subtracts up to 40 dB from a cell phone signal. All these factors make most parking garages cellular dead zones, thereby affecting the functioning of EV chargers.

Surveying Signal for EV Charger Projects

We've helped a number of EV charger manufacturers and installers implement cellular site survey protocols. We can even perform detailed site surveys for larger garages if necessary. If you're interested in chatting to our team about either of these, please reach out.

There are two different approaches to testing cell signal:

Survey App Cellular Scanner
WalkTest Wilson Pro Signal Meter COMPASS XR
Capture signal metrics
Real-world speed tests
Requires SIM cards
Generate coverage maps

The best option is to use real handsets with an app like WalkTest to measure signal levels and perform a full site survey. The benefit here is that a real device is able to run speed and latency tests to verify real-world performance.

However, a big downside is that doing so requires three phones with SIM cards for each carrier. This can be cost prohibitive in some cases.

An alternative is to use a cellular "scanner" device like the Wilson Pro Cellular Network Scanner or the Nextivity COMPASS XR.

These devices can't test real-world performance, but they can capture basic signal metrics like RSRP and RSRQ that correlate with cell signal performance.

How to Boost Cell Signal for an EV Charger

If you’ve identified a signal problem, then the next step is to find a solution.

In most cases, the simplest way to resolve issues is to deploy a signal booster or, for larger spaces, a distributed antenna system.

Signal boosters operate in three simple steps:

  1. An outside antenna gathers an existing cellular signal
  2. An amplifier strengthens and boosts the signal
  3. Finally, one or more inside antennas rebroadcasts the amplified signal throughout the space.

Deploying a cell booster or DAS ensures that the EV chargers can communicate seamlessly with their host servers and ready to charge EVs as needed.

Choosing the Right Booster

Navigating the world of cellular signal boosters can be daunting. Two of our favorite options for smaller EV charger deployments are the weBoost Installed | Office 200 and the Cel Fi GO X.

While these are popular devices, they’re only well-suited to smaller deployments. We strongly why we recommend reaching out for a free consultation with one of our signal experts on the right solution for your deployment:

Signal Experts:

Our team can assess your situation, answer your questions, and recommend the best solution for your EV charging station.

Written and reviewed by:
Sina Khanifar

As CEO and cofounder of Waveform, Sina has been helping people boost their signal since 2006. He has personally tested and installed hundreds of signal boosters.

He welcomes feedback via Twitter, LinkedIn, or by email to [email protected].

Need Help Finding the Best Signal Solution for Your EV Charger?
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Why Choose Waveform for Your EV Charger Signal Solution
We're the preferred vendor for multiple EV charging OEMs and have helped improve signal for hundreds of EV charger deployments. Our team is ready and able to walk you through the process of finding and deploying the right solution.
Trusted by 10,000+
SMBs and Enterprises:

Proven Experience
We've Helped Over 5,000 SMBs and Enterprises Improve Their Cell Signal
At Waveform, cell signal enhancement is all we do. Since our start over 15 years ago we've helped thousands of clients across the country fix their signal problems.
  • 150,000 sq ft residential building
  • Multi-Carrier Off-Air Distributed Antenna System deployment.
  • 150,000 sq ft residential building
  • Multi-Carrier QUATRA Distributed Antenna System deployment.
  • 25,000+ sq ft office and laboratory
  • Dual-Carrier Hybrid Distributed Antenna System

The Waveform team is clearly passionate about the work they do, and they're incredibly knowledgeable about cellular connectivity for the IoT devices in our EV chargers. It's always easy working with them because they go the extra mile to make it easy for us. Their solutions work as expected, and we've yet to experience any downtime.

Jeffery Moore
Infrastructure Solutions Engineer, Shell Recharge Solutions

Working with Waveform on cell coverage solutions for Rancho Mirage's City Hall was a refreshingly positive experience! Waveform's team worked closely with us to understand our needs. They went above and beyond by designing an excellent system, communicating well, and supplying all the materials promptly. If only more of my projects went as well as this!

Jason Jaurigue
Director Of Information Services, State of California

SemaConnect has partnered with Waveform to provide customers with world class support and expertise to deliver reliable cellular signal solutions for SemaConnect Charging Stations. Over the last year they have been faultlessly reliable and always professional. They know this stuff better than anyone we've worked with, and their solutions show it!

Peter Fisher
Senior Project Manager, SemaConnect/Blink Charging
Our Process
Boosting Cell Signal With Waveform
After deploying hundreds of booster and DAS systems for customers around the country, we’ve developed two deployment methodologies that we think best serve our customers.
For smaller deployments
Guided Self-Install
We'll walk you through installs in smaller buildings under 100,000 sq ft in size.

  • Remote Signal Survey
    We'll walk you through taking basic signal measurements.
  • Full System Design Including RF Propagation Analysis
    We'll analyze your building, design a full booster system, perform RF propagation analysis, and generate predicted coverage maps.
  • Guided System Install & Commissioning
    We'll ship you equipment and walk you through getting all the equipment installed and deployed.
  • Ongoing Support
    We'll provide ongoing technical support in case you any experience any issues down the line.
We'll handle everything
Turnkey Install
For buildings between 100,000 and 1M+ square feet

  • Fast Initial Quote
    We'll quickly give you an idea of typical costs for your building based on size & building materials.
  • On-Site Pre-Install Site Survey
    Our technicians will visit your site to take signal readings and make detailed deployment notes.
  • Complete Turnkey Install & Post-Install Testing
    Our deployment team will visit the site to complete all installation, commissioning, testing, and cleanup.
  • Maintenance and NOC Monitoring Plans
    We'll monitor and maintain your booster system to ensure uptime and performance.
Meet Our Team
Delivering Connectivity
Our team of 50+ signal experts is distributed across the country and ready and eager to help you achieve full bars, say goodbye to frustrating dropped calls, and say hello to blazing fast data rates. Here's a few of the faces you might encounter on your journey to better signal.
Jonathan Boucher
Commercial Solutions Lead
Jose Martinez
Commercial Solutions
John Farag
Commercial Solutions
Austen Hoover
Senior Account Executive
Tom Hernandez
VP, Enterprise
Andy Roberts
Director, Engineering
Josh Segelson
Director, Project Management
Sam Westwood
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Please check the coverage area as it's typically over 1,000 sq ft
In particular: are there any concrete or metal walls or other dense obstructions within the building?
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