You’ve just set up your new home phone (which claims to be a long range cordless), hoping the range issue you’ve always had with your old set, will disappear and you’ll now be able to use your phone in all the places you couldn’t before. Much to your disappointment, the range is still the same. The good news is, there is a solution to this. It’s not very cheap, but unlike the false promises made by some products, this actually works and will as a guide, double your range. But let’s start with the basics.
The range quoted by all phones in the UK is always up to 50meters indoors and up to 300metres outdoors. The key words being ‘up to’. If we want to exaggerate, ‘up to 50m’ can be 1m or at best 50m. In our testing, we have yet to find a phone which has achieved the top end of its quoted range.
The range of a phone is determined by:
a. The signal strength/quality of the phone
b. The property its being installed in
The later has far more of a bearing as most phone in the UK operate on 1.9GHZ. Whilst you will notice an improved reception with a better quality phone, this will not be a significant improvement.
As a general rule, if you’re thinking of changing your phone for a newer model, you should expect the range to be very similar (or at best, marginally better). However, it should be noted, that a number of customers have reported a more substantial increase in range with the new range of Siemens Gigaset cordless phones, in particular the E495.
What affects the range of a cordless?
As we have already found out, the property the cordless phone is being installed in, is the biggest factor. In older properties which tend to have a solid construction with thick walls, the range will be the greatest affected.
The base unit of the cordless phone (the unit plugged into the phone point) sends the signal to the handset(s). It is therefore important that it is located somewhere that has the least amount of obstruction to the signal. Unfortunately for most, experimenting with the base unit in a different location of the house is an not an option due to having only one phone point. (Note: you can extend your phone point wirelessly and cheaply with the new wireless phone jack here).
However, if you can, a good first step is to try placing the base station of your phone in different areas of the property to find out which location gives you the best range.
Boosters, otherwise known as repeaters
If you’re still suffering from poor reception, then the next option is to purchase a booster for your home phone or better known as in the industry as a repeater.
A repeater is a small black box that requires only a power supply. They can usually be wall mountable and are small in size (approx 13cm by 13cm typically). This unit should be located in an area as far away from the base (but still within range). It will receive the signal from your home phone’s base unit, boost it to the original level and re-send it from that point on thus effectively doubling the range in that direction as illustrated below.
Before repeater is installed:
With a repeater installed:
Installation & compatibility of a repeater
Repeaters are fairly simple to install and usually only take a few minutes to set up. You can buy more than one repeater – most systems will accept up to four. However, note that these cannot be daisy chained. So one repeater cannot repeat the signal of another one.
The benefit of having more than one repeater is that you can place each one in a different direction. E.g. one in the west and the other in the east of the property thus giving you improved range and reception in both directions.
Repeaters do not work with every phone. In fact, there are few models that are repeater compatible so please call or email before purchasing a repeater. However, all Panasonic and Siemens phones can accept a repeater so you can safely purchase an appropriate repeater for these. The Panasonic or RTX repeaters are both designed to work with the Panasonic and Siemens Gigaset range of cordless phones. Siemens make their repeater (the ingeniously named Siemens repeater). Some of the BT Diverse range of cordless phones will be able to accept a repeater too.
If you’re suffering from poor range, you can of course either purchase a repeater to go with your phone, assuming there is one which is compatible, or if you’re looking for a whole new set, always best to buy a product pack which comes with a repeater. This will ensure that you will save a lot of money rather than buying the phone and the repeater separately. Typically we noted savings of around £60 when a repeater and phone were purchased as a bundle.
Below are links to all the repeaters currently available and some of the top current packages on the market if you’re looking for a phone with extended range.
Extended and long range cordless phone packages
RTX repeater (identical to the more expensive Panasonic repeater) designed to work with Panasonic phones only
Siemens repeaters for the Siemens Gigaset range of home phones
BT repeater for the BT Diverse range of phones