Often, we find ourselves needing the internet despite wanting to be off-grid, however when you’re away from civilization it can be extremely difficult establishing a connection with the internet.
The use of the internet may be required for personal reasons such as the need to communicate with those on the outside world. It may also be required for business reasons such as receiving important emails. Many people require the use of the internet and this can be an extreme inconvenience whilst camping with friends and family.
There are a multitude of solutions for this problem, whether it be a permanent solution or a temporary one. One solution would be a wireless signal amplifier. A wireless 3G/4G signal amplifier can be a very cheap yet solid solution. However, for the amplifier to function effectively, you’ll need to manage to get some signal to your device.
Cannot get even a little bit of signal to your device? That’s fine because I’ve found four ways in which you’ll be able to connect to the internet even when your off-grid.
It is possible to discover the how strong of a cell signal which your off-grid property is capable of supplying. To do this, you’ll not need anything other than your mobile device. I’ll be explaining how you can complete this process with an Iphone and with an Android.
- Go into your phones settings
- Locate the “About Phone” option
- Select the “Status” option (This could also be a “Network” option)
- Locate the “Signal strength” option (May be slightly different but something along those lines)
From there you’ll be able to find out how strong of a signal you can receive. These instructions may differ depending on your model of phone however use my steps as a guideline. Common differences have been noted in brackets however there are many more.
IOS Users (Iphone)
- Dial the following number “3001#12345#*”
- Hold the power button until the Power Off option is available (Do not power off)
- Hold the home button for 6-8 Seconds until you are in field test mode
- Read the signal strength in the top left
You should now have a number which represents how strong of a signal you can obtain. Your number may or may not be negative however the number is actually a negative, but some phones will show it as a positive.
The more negative the number is, the weaker the signal is.
Example: -60 is weaker than -50
A question you may or may not be asking yourself right now is “Why do I see two numbers?” If you’re not asking yourself this then you have nothing to worry about, but if you are then one number represents 3G/4G whilst the other one represents 1x. You’ll only need the 3G/4G signal number.
Great, but how does this help me?
Basically, if you have a signal number of less than -90 then you stand a very slim chance of getting any service at all. Essentially, without any signal at all, a cell booster will not work for you.
But what if your signal number stronger than -90 then you’ll be able to hold a strong enough service to not need a cell booster.
Why should I use a 3G/4G signal booster?
Cell boosters can be a little bit expensive (Costing over $200) however once you’ve purchased one, the only other cost you’ll need to fork out is on data for your mobile. But apart from this there are no hidden fees or monthly subscriptions you’ll have to pay for.
Another reason you’d use one is due to its reliability. Top cellular companies produce these devices to provide an extremely reliable connection, which will allow you to have constant access to the internet from your phone. Poor weather does not often affect these very much, if at all.
Lastly, why would you not want access to the internet? Without a signal booster, your chances of connecting to the internet whilst being off-grid are very slim and even if you do manage to get connected to the internet without one, your connection will not be constant nor reliable.
- Solid Connection
If you’re unable to get any cell signal at all then a signal booster won’t work for you, however satellite Internet will work. The only thing required for satellite internet is a power source. Although satellite is typically slower than 4G, there are services that can now provide up to 30 Mbps which is very impressive for satellite internet.
Don’t like paying monthly costs and would prefer to pay a one-time fee only? Ham Radio may just be what you’re looking for. Keep in mind, this is often not the best option however is a good alternative to satellite internet.
Ham Radios allow users to browse the internet and complete simple tasks such as sending and receiving emails however they do not support full access to the web. Internet connection created using this method is limited.
An advantage of a Ham Radio is that it doesn’t rely on a bunch of cables and proprietary network of cell towers as radio signals are sent through the air.
A disadvantage of Ham radio is that is can be very slow, due to the fact that the radio waves are transmitted through the air which is not a very quick data transfer method. This means that internet access is restricted to simple functions.
A major disadvantage of Ham radio is the fact that data transfer is not completely secure. This is because signals are transmitted through the air and can easily be intercepted. Any who utilizes the same frequency could steal your data. Because of this, you should be careful what you do whilst using Ham radio.
An advantage of Ham Radio is the cost of one is fairly low and only a one-time cost. Using one does not come with any on-going service fees or monthly costs.
- Low cost
- Can provide a stable connection without signal
- Very slow
- Not Secure
- Limited accessibility
Another alternative to 3/4G is using 1x Cell Signal.
Cell service can be referred to as outdated as 3G/4G has taken over the market however cell service stills works well and can sometimes be your only option when you need to connect to the internet whilst Off-Grid. Cell Service is not always a last choice, some people prefer it as they don’t want to pay for expensive 4G data cellular data plans.
One important thing to keep in mind is that if you’re not located close enough to a cell tower then you’ll need the cell booster which I talked about earlier on in the post to boost your service.
Stay connected to the internet whilst being Off-Grid
I hope I’ve been successful in providing you with valuable information which you’ll need to stay connected to the internet from your off-grid location. Being able to access the internet off-grid has never been easier with the development of technology such as Signal boosters. It’s also never been so important to be able to have access to the internet no matter your location.
My name is Eugene Thornhill. I'm an outdoor enthusiast who loves nothing more than being one with nature. I've lived in numerous outdoor homes and even constructed my own. Living off-grid is something I'm very familiar with, more so than living in the city. For many years I've dealt with the many problems of living off-grid. It's time to pass on my knowledge through Cabinguides.