Despite the emergence of digital platforms, Commercial 2 way radios remain to be an effective communications tool for different organizations. They are simple to use, flexible, and extremely durable. But one constant point of concern about them is their range — how far can you effectively use these devices to communicate?
A quick scan on the web will lead you to answers that range from two to 40 miles. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that there is no definite answer because there are different factors that need to be considered.
Signal type. Today, most radios operate under these two common frequency ranges: VHF (very high frequency/ 130-174MHz) and UHF (ultra high frequency/ 400-520MHz). UHF wavelengths are shorter compared to VHF’s, and this makes them more effective in penetrating obstacles like concrete, metal, and wood. VHF, on the other hand, can travel greater distances but can be ineffective if there are many obstructions.
Wattage. The general rule here is that the greater the signal strength, the more your communication 2 way radios can withstand the obstacles that their signal needs to pass through. Typically, handheld radios use .5 to 5 watts (as a point of comparison, commercial radio stations broadcast at 50,000 to 100,000 watts). If you are to avail radios with higher signal power, make sure to have more durable batteries. Great batteries are needed to support radios with high wattage.
Obstructions. First and foremost, it’s important to know that radio signals can travel through several non-metallic objects — ranging from human bodies to furniture and drywall. Nonetheless, as they pass through many objects, their signal strength is inevitably reduced, subsequently limiting your radio’s range. Another “obstruction” is the presence of other objects that radio signals find it hard to penetrate. As mentioned, these include metals, woods, concretes, and even landscapes like hills.
Improving Your Two-Way Radio Range
If you want to further the range of your communication 2 way radios, here are tried-and-tested tips to help you out.
Improve your antenna. In theory, when two people who are around 6 feet tall use a typical 5-watt handheld radio (with no obstacles, and granted that they are standing on flat ground), their maximum range is about 6 miles. If you want to reach this threshold, the most fundamental thing you can is to improve your antenna. The added height provided by the antenna will also increase the distance the radio signal can travel.
Use a repeater. A repeater is a device that receives radio signals and re-transmits them with increased signal power. Entities that need a wider range — like first responder agencies — make use of this gadget to improve their communication. To make the most of it, a repeater should be installed in a tower or any tall building.
Invest in good batteries. As mentioned above, durable batteries are needed to operate radios with high wattage. Before using any handheld radios, make sure to inspect the condition of their batteries. If they’re near depletion, you might not be able to send and receive radio signals effectively. You can also use a battery tester to gauge the power level of your batteries.
Commercial 2 way radios offer a ton of benefits to businesses. If you are looking for affordable yet effective communication tools, check out Tidewater Communications today.