Here at the radio repair center we occasionally get questions about the range of a 2-way radio. Below are some simple answers to basic two-way radio range questions:
Handheld radios generally will talk “radio-to-radio”, “line-of-sight” up to 2 miles. Once you start putting obstacles in between the radios you will shorten your range. Even the body fluid of the person wearing the radio on their hip will absorb some of the range. Higher wattage radios will have a slight increase in range and a significant increase in clarity of transmission on the outer fringes of your range.
Mobile radios, such as those mounted in vehicles, will generally talk “radio-to-radio” 8-10 miles depending upon the obstacles and the terrain.
Base stations will generally talk approx. 8-12 miles. (referencing a simple base station where you use a mobile radio, power supply and outside antenna, aka a control station.)Contrary to popular belief wattage does not determine distance. Antenna height and placement determines distance.
1) Hold your radio perpendicular to the ground, not slanted like you would hold a phone. This problem alone could decrease your range 30-50%.
2) Don’t shout CB-style, shouting reduces talk-range on industrial-type radios.
3) Be certain you are using a good, fully-charged battery.
4) Check your antenna. Any exposed copper coil or weather checks which expose the coil when bending are a sign your antenna needs replaced. Also, keep in mind, use of a stubby antenna will reduce your range. The best antenna for a radio is generally the standard antenna it came with.
5) And the guys in the shop will tell you… have your radios serviced every two years to maintain peak performance.
Looking for even more range? You might be in the market for a repeater, or have need to connect with a local repeater or trunking system which is already in place. But first, try bringing your radios to optimum range by following the above tips.