Maximizing the Range of Two-Way Radios: Upgrades, Tips, and Tricks

We are consistently asked the question “What is the range of this radio?”, but the answer is far from simple. The range of a two-way radio can vary depending on terrain, indoor or outdoor usage, the radio’s power, weather, and even the curvature of the Earth. As a result, It can be difficult to determine the real world range of handheld two-way radios.

Radio Range with the Curvature of Earth

Terrain

The single greatest factor that determines the range is the terrain the radio is being used in. If you have two radios with no obstacles to interfere with the signal, the curvature of the Earth cuts off the radio waves at a little under 7 miles. So, when you factor in terrain like trees, rocks, hills, valleys, buildings, etc., it’s easy to see how a radio’s range can be hard to accurately predict.

Knowing your terrain before you purchase a radio will help you ensure you’re getting the maximum range possible. If you plan on using your radio in fairly open spaces, then a VHF radio is best for you. VHF have longer radio waves which give a greater range over open spaces, like deserts and bodies of water, but they cannot penetrate through obstacles as well as the shorter, faster waves of UHF. UHF would be a better choice for use in and around buildings and dense areas, such as forests and hills. 


Ideal Terrain for UHF             Ideal Terrain for VHF
 

To learn more, check out: VHF and UHF Explained

Antennas

For range, the higher you go, the further your radio signal can travel. So, having a tall, properly tuned antenna will help you maximize your radio range. 

For mobile radios, having a properly installed antenna is crucial to getting the most out of your radio. We always recommend mounting your antenna as high as possible and in the center of a metal roof. Remember, obstructions block your signal! Keep your antenna away from light bars, racks, GPS antennas, etc.

For handheld radios, we have several antenna options to help you maximize your range. You can increase your handheld RH5R range up to 30% with our Long Range Antenna. This Dual Band (UHF/VHF) Ducky Antenna simply screws on and is ready to use. Radios within cars can receive a dramatic boost to their range using our Dual Band (UHF/VHF) Magnetic Mount Antenna.

Check out our options for mobile and handheld radio antennas.

Power

Your radio power will also affect your range and coverage. Fully charging your batteries before using your radio will help you transmit and receive with as much power and strength as possible. If you are finding yourself running low on power, we have multiple options to charge on the go and even have a higher capacity battery for extended use.

Check out our options for keeping you powered up.

Higher Ground 

If all else fails and you are struggling to communicate with other radios, get to higher ground. Positioning your radio where it can get the best signal will improve your range. Simply standing up with your radio can yield dramatically different results. To increase your range, get the antenna to an elevated spot and transmit and receive from there.

10-4, over and out!

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