The basics of two-way radios apply across the board, so let’s start with frequencies:
UHF or VHF?
UHF or VHF: Avoid a Costly Mistake
that aren’t toys, are not cheap. Whether you’re buying a set of 4 for
your Deli or a fleet of 40 for your distribution center, you’ll want to
spend wisely to avoid having to live with a mistake. A critical point in
choosing the right two-way radio is knowing that UHF is going to be
your best bet in most circumstances. Note: UHF radios will never be able to communicate with VHF radios! So, if you already
have radios and are looking to purchase additional units to use with
them, be sure to select the same band.
(Ultra High Frequency) operate on frequencies from 400 to 512 Megahertz
(MHz). UHF radios work best for most two-way radio users because the
waves are shorter and can get around or penetrate areas of interference
found in buildings, thickly wooded or hilly areas and urban outdoor
settings. UHF walkie-talkies with a good-sized antenna and enough power
will reach further into a building and push through and around steel,
concrete, wood and earth. If your two-way radios are going to be used
exclusively indoors or if they’ll need to go indoors and outdoors, UHF
is hands down your best choice.
VHF radios (Very High
Frequency) operate between 136-174 MHz. The advantage to a VHF
walkie-talkie is that it can cover more distance with less power because
VHF waves are longer and remain closer to the ground. Two-way VHF radios work best when there’s a clear line-of-sight between the sender and the
receiver with little obstruction. VHF radios are used exclusively in
aviation and marine communications where signals are sent across open
bodies of water or between the sky and the ground. VHF band
walkie-talkies are also great for open fields, golf courses, landscaping
and for outdoor security situations with few obstacles.
VHF antennas are longer than those built into UHF radios because they
need to facilitate transmission over longer distances and accommodate
the VHF frequency range. Another benefit of VHF waves is that they will
penetrate trees and foliage better than UHF radios. However, you will
be better served with UHF radios, if you have any plans to use the
radios indoors or indoors to outdoors.
FRS/GMRS or Business Radios?
Thinking about FRS/GMRS instead of UHF or VHF?
(Family Radio Service) and GMRS radio are covered below in detail.
However, you will want to make one important decision early on: if you
are purchasing radios for a business, definitely buy Business Radios. Motorola FRS/GMRS radios are basically one step above toys. They’re built for occasional,
recreational family use and do a great job for what they’re intended,
but they’re not built to endure the hardships inherent to business
usage. FRS/GMRS radios used on a regular basis for business-type
purposes will typically break within a relatively short time. Business
Radios, on the other hand, will generally last years.
line? Over a 5 year period, you’ll spend less on quality Business Radios
versus what you’d spend replacing lower cost, but less durable Family
Radios. Also, use of Family Radios for business purposes voids their
What is a Real World Range for a Two-way Radio?
radio manufacturers boast a coverage range of 25 miles or more on their
packaging. They can legally claim that because that’s the best possible
range attainable under the best possible conditions: a clear day with an
unobstructed line of sight. But really, will you be broadcasting from
the top of a mountain down an obstacle free line of sight to your kids
or employees in a valley? Didn’t think so.
Outside of optimal
test conditions, realistic ranges for handheld Business Radios vary from
1-4 miles depending on the power capabilities of the unit, weather
conditions and obstructions along the way. In a nutshell, the more power
(wattage) the radio puts out, the stronger the signal. The stronger the
signal, the more reliable the reception at greater distances and with
Businesses or municipalities in need of longer range communications can
boost their signal with repeaters or work using a trunking system system. Repeaters and trunking systems significantly increase the cost
of radio setup versus handheld-to-handheld communication; however, they
are necessary for large scale, emergency communication operations such
as fire and police departments.
Power: What’s in a Watt?
two-way radios use between .5 watts to 5 watts of power to broadcast a
signal. Business Radios run between 1 – 5 watts depending on the model.
Usually, a higher wattage allows for greater range and commands a higher
price. Current FRS models broadcast at .5 watts. Many of those also
broadcast in GMRS frequencies at 1 watt. FRS/GMRS radio users will need
an FCC license, if their radios are used on the GMRS band.
You may see something labeled ‘peak wattage’ on the packaging of some two-way radios.
Peak wattage refers to the highest possible wattage for that radio, but
may not reflect its actual, consistent operating power. A radio running
at 1 consistent watt will, in some circumstances, perform better than a
radio rated to 5 watts of peak power. All radios listed on
TechWholesale.com are discussed in terms of consistent operating power.
a 1 Watt walkie-talkie with an average number of obstructions in its
path yields about a mile of coverage. Range increases by approximately
30-50% if you double power. So, a 2 Watt walkie-talkie might broadcast
within a range of 1.5 miles. 3 watts = 2 miles. 4 watts = 2.5 miles. 5
watts = 3 miles. Actual distances may vary widely based on weather, UHF
vs. VHF, etc. But these are good, general rules of thumb.
a 1 watt walkie-talkie broadcasting from a high vantage point (think
radio tower on the top of a hill) could easily broadcast 10 miles if
unobstructed. A lot lies in the lay of the land.
For consistent coverage, if you anticipate using your walkie-talkies
within a single building with an average number of obstructions or solid
walls, or just need an outdoor coverage of a mile or less, then a 1
watt radio should be just fine. If you’ll be talking between buildings
or for up to 2 miles outdoors, then you’ll want to buy 2 watt radios.
Four and five watt radios cover still greater distances outdoors and
between 350,000 sq.ft or 30 floors indoors. Beyond that, you’ll need the
help of a repeater repeater, a mobile unit mobile unit or a base station base station to communicate further.
to keep in mind that there may be ‘soft spots’ in coverage. Meaning,
that you may get great coverage in a building complex with a 1 watt UHF
radio, but there may be trouble between the basements of building A and
building C. If this is the case, and those locations are important,
increasing your wattage may help. Considering the relatively low
incremental cost of stepping up your wattage, it is generally best to
purchase a little more wattage than you think you will actually need.
communication may happen at much greater distances, but not on a
consistent basis due to obstructions, weather changes, etc. The key is
to find the proper power level for your needs and get as close to 100%
coverage as possible in your setting.
When Size Matters
an office or the middle of a hectic event, you’ve got enough to juggle
without throwing in a big, bulky walkie-talkie. Fortunately, traditional
two-way radios come in sizes as small as 5.8” by 4.6 oz and the surprisingly small Motorola CLP series radios weigh in at a mere 2.38 oz and stand 3.5 x 2.0 x .75! How do they make a
radio so small? They embed the antenna inside the device. This cuts
down on the range of this particular model, but in a setting with
typical use of this type of radio, the range will be more than
That’s the catch with the smaller models: reducing
antenna and transmitter size requires some compromises in range. If
you’re working in a medical or dental office, a restaurant, retail
store, hotel, on a photo shoot or catering an event where you don’t
require a lot of range; small two-way radios offer the perfect solution.
Durability Does It
Some two-way radios get into more trouble than others. Employees drop
‘em onto concrete warehouse floors, into mud at job sites and you can’t
take a ski trip without snow!
When durable radios are a concern, look for two-way radios in “brick” form that don’t
feature a digital display. Brick format is usually the best choice when
you know the radios will be treated roughly. Please note that brick
format radios may still be used with similar radios that use a display.
Often, construction workers and forklift drivers, for instance, might
get a brick format radio, while the supervisor might use a digital
display for channel-changing convenience. The brick format also makes
the radio simpler to use as there are no displays or additional
Radios built to military specifications military specifications are rated for dust, shock and moisture and can
handle their business under harsh conditions. Two-way radios that are intrinsically safe rated ‘intrinsically safe’ are designed not to ignite in combustible environments.
Most radios come with a belt holster. To increase the life of any walkie-talkie, consider carrying it in a high-endprotective case.
Clearing Up Confusion: Channels, Frequencies and “Privacy Codes”
The terms channel and frequency are often used interchangeably, even by
the FCC. This can get confusing. Be sure to read the sections below for
clear definitions that will ensure you make the right choice and that
you understand how to use your new two-way radios.
What is a Frequency?
technical terms, a frequency is the rate at which a switch, called an
oscillator, inside a radio turns on and off. To learn more on
frequencies and early radios check out: The Evolution of Radio.
had your first exposure to choosing a radio frequency, when you tuned
to a specific number on your radio dial like 530 AM (530 kHz) or 103.3
FM (103.3 MHz). Two-way radios operate using frequencies also. When you
buy a radio, you can tune the channels of your radio to the different
frequencies permitted for that type of radio and your FCC license, if
you have one. Not all radios require an FCC license FCC license information.
To learn more about FCC license requirements, see the sections on FCC licensing and radio service bands available to the public FCC licensing information, or you may call 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).
For more on the science behind two way radios, clicktwo-way radio science.
What is a Channel?
are a way to partition a two-way radio, so that its user can
communicate with multiple people without everyone talking over each
other and having to worry about who talks when. Imagine the chaos if
there were no phone numbers and everyone just picked up the phone and
Of course, there aren’t as many two-way radio channels or frequencies as
there are phone numbers, so walkie-talkie users have to make some
adjustments, but there are dozens and dozens of possible frequencies
from which to choose.
Users select their choice, from the frequencies available to them, and
lock it into partitions called “Channels.” In a typical 4-channel two-way radio two-way radio, the user has 4 possible channels to tune to frequencies
for the radios in that group. Once clear frequencies are selected, all
radios in the group would choose the same frequencies for the same
For instance, in a restaurant, the kitchen staff would be on Channel 1,
the waiters on Channel 2, the car valets on Channel 3 and maintenance on
Channel 4. The manager could scan between all channels to hear all that
is going on. But, the waiters could set the radios to only tune to
Channels 1 and 2; so that they only hear other waiters and the kitchen
staff, but not the unneeded talk from the valets or maintenance staff.
shipping, all radios of a brand and model are typically set to the same
frequencies and channels in the factory. A common issue with new radio
users is that they often use their radios right out of the box with the
factory settings for frequency and channel on Channel 1 unchanged.
Using your new radio without changing the factory set channel
frequencies greatly increases the possibility of nearby, similar radios
interfering with each other because those users also probably didn’t
change their factory settings. Your best bet: set your channels to
frequencies that are clear of other users in your area as part of your
initial radio setup.
In short: Channels are partitions of your radio that you can and should tune to different frequencies.
Besides surfing around for a chatter-free frequency, another way to filter out other people’s broadcasts uses “privacy codes.”
Codes? More like Interference Elimination Codes
Privacy Line Codes (PL), Tone, Squelch Codes, Quiet Talk Codes (QT),
Interference Elimination Codes. There are more than a few names for them
in the two-way radio industry. Privacy codes is the most common name,
but interference elimination codes would be more accurate. Though they
greatly reduce the odds of your conversation getting stepped on by
someone else’s broadcasts; they don’t guarantee privacy. For more
detailed information on how privacy codes work visit privacy codesTo communicate using privacy codes, you and the person you’re talking
with must have your radios set to the same frequency and the same
privacy code e.g. both radios set to Frequency 462.5625, Privacy 13.
Depending on the type of radio you buy (analogue or digital) you may
have access to between 38 and 121 privacy codes.
number of privacy codes available for your radio, by the number of
frequencies allotted to the type of radio service you use and you’ll
have anywhere from 500 to 3,000 or more chances to have an uninterrupted
Just remember that privacy codes increase your odds of not being
interrupted, but they don’t guarantee it. If someone within range has
their walkie-talkie set to the same frequency and the same privacy code
as yours, they could hear and join in your conversation. With so many
frequencies and privacy codes the odds are slim, but still present.
If someone has their radio set to the same frequency, but not the same
privacy code they will be able to hear your conversation, but they won’t
be able to join in.
Analogue two-way radio privacy codes range from 1-38. In general,
manufacturers use them in a standardized way allowing for radio compatibility across brands.
two-way radio privacy codes are numbered from 39 and can go as high as
99, 121 or higher. However, digital privacy codes don’t always map
across manufacturers, so your digital two-way radios, with digital
codes, may not be able to communicate using privacy codes with radios
made by other manufacturers.
Quick Summary: Channels are
partitions of your radio that you tune to different frequencies which
you can then subdivide, for more potential lines of communication, by
using privacy codes.
Selecting a Clear Channel
All two-way radios come with a monitor function. When activated, it
overrides all programmed code settings and allows the receiver to hear
what’s happening on any frequency. On a clear frequency, you’ll hear
hiss. If a frequency is in use, you’ll hear what’s being broadcast. It’s
important to check the frequency and privacy code you intend to use and
select clear frequencies to set your channels. You don’t want to risk
missed messages or radio interference.
How Many Channels Do You Need?
sure to think ahead. A critical consideration for an enduring
investment in quality two-way radios is anticipating how many people or
groups of people will need to communicate now and in the future.
popular models only have one or two channels; as that can be plenty for
smaller businesses who are likely to only ever assign one or two groups
of people to a channel. The average commercial grade radio offers 2-16
channels, which is typically more than enough for most
handheld-to-handheld operations. Heavy duty radios heavy duty radios used by fire and police departments, may have up to 256 different
To cut down on confusion in a commercial setting, it’s a good idea to
divide your employees into groups who use their own channels. For
instance in a nursing home, you might make Channel 1 an “All Call”
channel that reaches all groups. You could assign the Nursing Staff to
Channel 2. Put the Front Desk Staff on Channel 3 and add the Maintenance
Staff on Channel 4. Groups might be set up according to location,
department, type of work or anything that drives your operations. You’d
set up which groups hear and talk to other groups using your walkie talkie’s scanning feature. In our nursing home, anyone with a radio could use
Channel 1 to call everyone in an emergency. To cut down on excess
chatter, the Nursing Staff would communicate with only other nurses by
using Channel 2. That way, other departments don’t have to be bothered
with calls that don’t involve them. Our nursing home managers can set
their radios to scan; so they’re able to hear all communications over
When making your decision on which model to
purchase, be sure to look ahead. You’ll want to buy radios now that will
accommodate your business 3-5 years down the road. Buying now for later
means you won’t have to repeat the exercise and expense of replacing
equipment, because your initial purchase didn’t anticipate the correct
number of channels you’d need as your business grew. Sure, it’s slightly
more expensive to buy radios with more channels now, but it will be
much less expensive than replacing your radios, if they can’t handle
your communication requirements in the coming years.
Channel Scanning and Communicating
see how to maximize efficiency using your two-way radio’s scanning
feature, let’s take a look at a hotel with the following channel
1. All Call – Anyone can speak and hear everyone on all channels.
3. Front Desk
6. Bell Staff
this scenario, you’d program all staff radios to scan Channel 1 (All
Call) and their own channel. So, Housekeeping radios would scan Channel 1
and Channel 5. Front Desk radios would scan Channel 1 and Channel 3 and
so on. The Manager might program their radio to scan all channels, so
they can oversee general operations.
Each department would leave
their walkie-talkies turned to their own channel and communicate amongst
themselves by using the Push to Talk button.
If a department
wants to talk to another department, they simply turn their radios to
that department’s channel to communicate with them. For example, when
the Front Desk wants to talk to Housekeeping they would temporarily turn
their radios to Channel 5. Anyone who wants to talk to Facilities,
would turn their radios to Channel 4. Anyone who wants to talk to the
whole group would turn their radios to Channel 1 where everyone would
hear their message because all radios have been programmed to scan
Channel 1; as well as their own channel.
This setup allows
everyone in the operation to speak with any group, but eliminates the
distraction of unnecessary chatter that would occur if all radios were
set to the same channel.
Radio Service Bands and FCC Licensing
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent government
agency charged with managing public use of the radio spectrum. As it
applies to two-way radios, the FCC allocates certain bands of
frequencies to particular types of users and regulates the equipment
that may be used to transmit and receive radio communications. Widely
used two-way radio service bands are FRS (Family Radio Service), GMRS
(General Mobile Radio Service), BRS (Business Radio Service), eXRS
(Extreme Radio Service), and MURS (Multi-use Radio Service).
The GMRS and BRS radio service bands require a license granted by the FCC license granted by the FCC. To get more information or apply online visit their website FCC online.
for FCC licenses for GMRS and BRS are one of the reasons that, while
required, more than 90% of users do not register their radios with the
FCC. Fees vary widely depending on the number of frequencies, location,
use of repeaters, etc. It is typically best to request your rate from
the FCC based on your particular radio usage needs.
FRS: Family Radio Service
important to note that FRS radios are intended and designed for family
recreational use only. These radios are basically one step beyond toys.
They won’t hold up to the rigors of regular business use and are very
likely to break after weeks or months, if used daily. If you’re using
radios in any business setting, it’s more cost effective in the long run
to purchase durable Motorola Business Radios.
to the FCC, the Family Radio Service may be “used by family, friends
and associates to communicate within a neighborhood and while on group
outings with a communications range of less than one mile.” No license
is required. You can use your FRS unit within the US, Mexico and Canada.
using these radios in other countries may present a legal issue. The
radios will always work together anywhere on the planet. However, you’ll
want to check first with the equivalent of the FCC for any country in
which you plan to travel with your radios. Frequency allocations for
other destinations may, for instance, have our FRS frequencies
designated for a local fire department or business band.
FRS operates on 14 dedicated frequencies between 462.5625 – 467.7125
MHz. FRS radios and radios broadcasting on FRS frequencies are not
allowed to broadcast above .5 watts (500 milliwatts). FRS radios may not
use a detachable antenna or a repeater station. If you’d like to see
more details on this subject, click here for more FRS radio information.
radios frequently have GMRS channels, as well, and can communicate with
GMRS radios on the frequencies they share.
GMRS: General Mobile Radio Service
The FCC states that General Mobile Radio Service is also intended for
family use. GMRS radios are “available for short-distance two-way
communications to facilitate the activities of an adult individual and
his or her immediate family members, including a spouse, children,
parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and in-laws” to
“communicate among yourselves over the general area of your residence or
during recreational group outings, such as camping or hiking.”
operates on 23 frequencies between 462.5625 – 467.7250 MHz. Seven of
these frequencies are shared with the FRS frequencies. They may not and
will not broadcast using more than the .5 watts of power allotted for
FRS use. Handheld units generally transmit 1 – 5 watts of power. GMRS radios may use detachable antennas and repeater stations. You can use any
approved GMRS unit in the US and handheld GMRS units only in Canada. If
you’d like more details on GMRS band use, click here for more GMRS InformationTo use GMRS frequencies you must buy a license from the FCC. The FCC
grants the GMRS license to an adult (18 years old) for five years. Their
family members (described above) are eligible to use the radio under
their license. Luckily, there is no test required. It’s simply a matter
of submitting the paperwork and paying the $85 fee. Click GMRS license
for more details. GMRS licenseGMRS radios can communicate with FRS radios on the frequencies they share.
FRS/GMRS Hybrid Radios
walkie-talkies are dual-service radios that allow users to communicate
using either FRS or GMRS frequencies: 462.5625 – 467.7125 MHz
Users are still required to have an FCC license to transmit over the
GMRS band. Though it’s not regularly policed, if you’re caught using the
GMRS band without a license you would be subject to FCC fines
enforceable by law.
However, no license is necessary if you only use the FRS frequencies.
FRS/GMRS radios with a higher wattage potential are designed to power
down to the .5 watt maximum when broadcasting on the 7 FRS frequencies.
FRS/GMRS hybrid radios are able to communicate with FRS, GMRS and other FRS/GMRS hybrid radios.
BRS: The Industrial/Business Radio Pool Service
two-way radio guides you’ll find on the Internet won’t cover this, so
be sure to keep reading and find out if your business is eligible for
access to the frequencies in this pool.
According to the FCC,
“licensees in the Industrial/Business Radio Pool use radio to support
business operations. Their communications systems are used for support
of day-to-day business activities, such as dispatching and diverting
personnel or work vehicles, coordinating the activities of workers and
machines on location, or remotely monitoring and controlling equipment.”
Use of these frequencies requires an FCC license.
Click to learn more about the Industrial/ Business Radio Service.
service “covers the radio communications of entities engaged in
commercial activities or clergy activities; operating educational,
philanthropic, or ecclesiastical institutions; or operating hospitals,
clinics, or medical associations.” For more information click Industrial/Business Pool license eligibility.
Film and Video Production
Detailed information on Industrial/Business bands and band farming is available here Industrial/Business bands and band farming.
EXRS (Extreme Radio Service)/ 900 MHz Two-Way Radios
two-way radio guides don’t cover eXrs either. So be sure to read on, to
learn more about this exciting new digital eXtreme radio service!
great features standout for this category: these radios require no FCC
license and they have the most private features of any band.
MHz two-way radios bring several advantages over traditional
walkie-talkies. They offer clear communications that are practically
interference free and eavesdrop proof. The eXrs radio band permits as many as 100,000 people to communicate within range of each other!
secret lurks in its advanced Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum
technology. Frequency hopping allows the unit to skip from frequency to
frequency creating a unique pseudo-random sequence among 50 frequencies.
Depending on the way your individual model works, you could have access
to over 10 billion different sub-channels – that’s why manufacturers
can claim secure, interference free communication!
better news? You don’t need a license to use one. 900 MHz two-way radios
can be used by any person, at any age, for any purpose.
advances in digital technology offer more flexible functionalities such
as text messaging, data cloning, caller ID and direct-dialing an
individual radio or group of radios using a contact list – instead of
channels. This is as close to an individual cell phone as you can get,
while still maintaining the advantages of group calling and no contract
or airtime fees for everyone on your site.
The range of a 900 MHz
walkie-talkie is similar to that of a UHF radio. They work well
indoors, but typically don’t cover as much ground outside.
MURS: Multi-Use Radio Service
in the business band, the FCC revised their regulations to add these 5
VHF frequencies to family radio. Since the end of 2000, users of the
MURS band are not required to have a license.
However, there are a few restrictions. MURS two-way radios may not transmit above 2 watts and may not be used with a repeater;
unless you got your license before they changed the rules, then you are
grandfathered in and may continue to use repeaters and higher powered
radios on this band.
The MURS band comprises 5 frequencies between 151.820 and 154.600 MHz
some of which include what are known to old school two-way radio
enthusiasts as belonging to the “Color-dot Series.”
are permitted to use this license-free range of frequencies. However,
the bandwidth is considered inside the VHF range. So, the communication
will not be as effective as UHF radios when used indoors.
Upcoming FCC Changes You Need to Know
As more two-way radio users crowd the public air waves, the FCC must
keep reworking their management strategies to make room for everyone on
the frequency spectrum. The size of a channel available for a single
voice path has been 25 kHz. To squeeze in more communications, the FCC
now mandates that manufacturers must downsize channels to 12.5 kHz.
Though there is no official deadline as of yet, the FCC is “strongly
urging” business to look ahead and migrate to the very narrow band
channel size of 6.25 kHz, which will likely be the future target of all
Don’t worry. Your gear isn’t going to become
un-useable overnight. If you bought your walkie-talkies from Motorola
after 1997, your two-way radios are narrowbanding capable. You may just
need to make some adjustments in programming. However, narrowbanding can
be a factor in compatibility with older radios. You’ll find lots of
good information here: FCC Narrow Band Frequencies.
short, if you have both older and newer model radios, you will want to
make some easy adjustments. Generally, older radios had both narrow and
wide band spacing. Change the bandwidth of your older model radios to
the narrow band spacing. Next, program your new radios to match their
narrow spacings. Doing this will allow older model radios to communicate
with newer model radios and still follow current FCC guidelines. If you
need assistance adjusting your older and newer model Motorola radios,
please call the help desk at 800-448-6686.
If you are currently
an FCC license holder, you’ll want to check the registration on your
license to see if your license covers the 12.5 kHz band. If it doesn’t,
you’ll need to modify your license before the deadline.
Narrowbanding applies to VHF and UHF frequencies, but not to 900 MHz
Compatibility Between Two-way Radios
There are very few things you can say across the board on compatibility;
as it often comes down to make and model and frequency programming.
However, one rule to keep in mind is that UHF radios will never work
with VHF radios.
If you stick with UHF radios, you’ll probably be
able to communicate using different radio models. For instance, the
Motorola CLS series, which are UHF radios, shares certain frequencies
with other Motorola UHF radios. So, the CLS series can communicate with
the new RDX models or older XTN models, as well as many other UHF models
from Motorola and other manufacturers, as long as both sets of radios
are tuned to the same, shared UHF frequency. Another rule is that 900
MHz radios only talk to other two-way radios using the 900 MHz
Consumer grade two-way radios built for the FRS, GMRS
and FRS/GMRS may communicate across manufacturers’ brands because they
often come pre-programmed to operate on the standard frequencies
allotted to those radio services.
For example, some radios come set to Channel 1, Code 1. If your new
walkie-talkie won’t talk to your old one, try setting them both to
Channel 1, Code 0. Using the same channel number and privacy code might
enable your two-way radios to talk to one another.
compatibility can be an issue is that older radios can’t understand or
produce some of the same tones the newer radios use to talk to one
another. With the more complex business radios, compatibility gets a bit
more complicated; especially in the higher power 4 and 5 watt models.
you’re looking to buy a newer model that will work with your older
business walkie-talkies, look for a model that uses the same
frequencies. If your old radio was pre-programmed, was it programmed
with custom frequencies? If so, it probably won’t work with other radios
out of the box, even if you choose the same model. So, your new radios
should be programmed to match the old radios by your dealer. The dealer
can program the radios using your frequency and privacy codes, which may
be given to the dealer or the dealer can “read” an old radio to obtain
Manufacturers or two-way radio dealers’ web pages are a great place to
get information on compatibility. Check out www.techwholesale.com for
clear, concise information on manufacturers and compatibility.
Batteries: Li-Ion, NiCad or NiMH?
end FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies might use AA or AAA batteries, but most
two-way radios use one of 3 types of batteries: NiCad, NiMH or Li-Ion.
or nickel-cadmium batteries have been around the longest. They have a
long life expectancy and are less prone to the problems associated with
overcharging. They are the cheapest battery chemistry of the three.
However, they are also the heaviest and tend to be susceptible to
Memory Burn occurs when a battery is recharged
before it’s fully discharged. The battery will ‘remember’ the partial
charge and only fill up that far the next time it is being recharged.
This shortens the power potential of the battery to that smaller,
partial amount. To avoid memory burn, it’s best to fully discharge your
batteries before recharging them. If proper care is taken, Ni-Cad
batteries can last 2 – 3 years.
Nickel Metal Hydride batteries
share some chemistry with Ni-Cad batteries, but don’t share their
vulnerability to memory burn. Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are a bit
more expensive and are more susceptible to overcharging issues, but they
are smaller and lighter. They typically last 1 – 2 years.
batteries are the most expensive of the three. They don’t get memory
burn and are the smallest and lightest of the bunch. However, they are
limited to a specific number of charging cycles and once that number is
reached (500, 750, 1000) they won’t take another charge. Also, their
advanced chemistry means they require a special type of charger, but it
can have them up and running in as little as an hour.
Batteries are built on a basic calculation of 5/5/90. Battery
manufacturers assume the battery will have a duty cycle of 5% talk-time,
5% listening time, 90% standby. References you may see as to the
battery duration of X number of hours are typically based on the 5/5/90
Battery Life: Stay Safe Out There!
hikers, workers in remote locations, workers using heavy talk-time, or
people working for more than an 8-hour shift should carefully consider
battery life when buying two-way radios. You don’t want to get cut-off
from communications if your battery dies. If you live and work in remote
and/or heavy battery use situations, you will want to have additional,
fully charged batteries handy. When things get crazy, waiting to charge
your only battery is not what you want to be doing.
important to note that the higher the wattage of your walkie-talkie, the
more quickly it drains power. Look for two-way radios that switch to a
power saver mode in between broadcasts. Most radios offer a battery
indicator light or meter to signal how much power is left. Some vibrate
or emit a low tone when battery levels drop. Another good feature to
look for if your walkie-talkie uses a Ni-Cad battery is a rapid
discharge button. Rapid discharge helps condition your battery, to avoid
memory burn and extends its life expectancy.
on a job site work well with built-in rechargeable batteries that are
charged overnight. An overnight charge usually allows the radio to run
for a full shift depending on the age of the battery.
Quality two-way radios, and all radios at TechWholesale.com, will come
packaged with an individual radio desktop charger. Chargers work either
as ‘trickle’ chargers that power up overnight for 12 – 16 hours or
rapid-rate chargers that replenish battery power in 2 – 3 hours.
offers multi-unit chargers, sometimes called ‘gang chargers’, that
charge 6 units at a time for almost every Business Radio model.
Multi-unit chargers cost more, but they help corral your radios; so you
can find them when you need them and they help keep the radios from
‘walking away’ since the manager can see them in one place at the end of
the day. Most multi-unit chargers offer data cloning to keep settings
consistent for the whole fleet. This helps save time by not having to
program every radio individually. Instead, all radios automatically
program themselves based on the settings of the ‘master radio.’ Using
multi-unit chargers also means it only takes one wall outlet to charge
If your two-way radio uses Ni-Cad or NiMh
batteries, but doesn’t offer a rapid discharge function you may be able
to get that in a charging unit instead. Conditioning your battery can
save you a lot of money by extending usage life.
Learn more about chargers by clicking here for more information on models and features.
Useful Two-way Radio Features
Two-way radio manufacturers offer an avalanche of options when it comes
to bells and whistles on walkie-talkies. Naturally, different users need
different functionalities from their radios; so here are some of the
most popular choices. For a longer list, click two-way radio features.
latest two-way radios show vital information at a quick glance on a
display screen. Offerings may include: clocks, stop watches, timers, and
alarms; weather information including altimeters and barometers; a
digital compass; battery levels, transmit and receive signal indicators
and more. Look for an LCD (liquid crystal display) that’s backlit,
making it easier to read in diverse lighting conditions.
VOX Versus PTT Microphones
for wire-pullers, crane operators, hunters, skiers and workers who have
their hands full. VOX automatically sends the unit into transmit mode
when it detects speech in the direction of the microphone. No need to
push to talk! VOX definitely has its advantages, but can also cause
confusion, if it picks up conversation that is not meant to be
transmitted. Look for “VOX” in the microphone’s description, if
automatic transmission is a feature that interests you.
If you would prefer to transmit only when you specifically act to
communicate over the radio, which is the standard, look for PTT. This
stands for Push-to-Talk. Typically, the user presses a small button next
to the mic or a button on the radio to speak. Otherwise, no
conversation or noise is transmitted.
Some microphone models
offer both options that can be set to preference. With most Motorola
radios, when the microphone is plugged-in, a long press on the radio
talk button will put the mic into VOX mode and a tap on the talk button
will put the mic back into PTT mode.
walkie-talkie regularly walks a bumpy road, then you should choose this
handy feature that locks down your keypad to prevent unintended changes
to your channel settings.
Don’t let Mother Nature catch you off guard! Get the latest NOAA
(National Oceanic Atmospheric Association) weather information delivered
in real-time, direct to some models of FRS and VHF business two-way
Ring Tones and Silencers
Several two-way radio
models allow you to designate differing ring tones for members of your
party – just like a cell phone. You can also set the unit to vibrate,
illuminate or simply do nothing at all, if a call comes in when stealth
Out of Range Alerts
Set your walkie-talkies to alert you and your party when one of you wanders out of communication range.
Eavesdrop Reducer (Also Known as Scrambling)
feature on higher-end units, voice-inversion technology is used to
scramble communications transmitted by people on the same channel and
privacy code. Using the same eavesdrop reducer setting, channel and
privacy code can prevent other radio users from listening in on your
manufacturers and third parties make many products that expand the ease
and usability of your two-way radios. Be sure to double-check that the
accessories you buy will work with the two-way radios you own.
Techwholesale.com includes a sampling of popular accessory items under
each model displayed on the website, for a longer list and more
information click two-way radio accessories. Also note that many manufacturers’ warranties become void, if accessories from other companies are used.
Tap. Is this thing on? Speaker microphones, headsets and earpieces add a
big advantage in loud or low noise environments. Select your microphone
for your comfort using either PTT (Push-to-Talk) or VOX (Voice
Activated) capabilities. Handsfree mics allow you to – literally – keep
busy on the task at hand. They come in a few different configurations:
the secret-service style ear tubes, wired with over-the-ear hooks like
with many mp3 players or the shoulder models popular with firefighters
and police. Click for more on microphone models.
Holsters and Belt Clips
draw holsters and belt clips ensure you’re never fumbling around to
respond or communicate. Your two-way radio is at your side, right where
you left it. Radios come with basic holsters from some dealers and these
are typically fine for everyday use. If your radio does duty in a
rugged environment, a fully-enclosed leather or hard case can add years
to its life.
Programming Cables & PC Compatible Software
data and channel settings in a snap with cables that form a
radio-to-radio or radio-to-computer USB connection. PC compatible
software allows you to benefit from the full functionality of a computer
keyboard and mouse to configure your two-way radio settings and store
data with ease.
Antennas do the job of sending,
receiving and converting the radio waves required to communicate. They
come in different configurations and lengths and some have extensions
that can be placed on internal or outdoor surfaces. These antenna
extensions can boost range, but they are only practical for
fixed-position radios like base-units and are not usually meant for
handheld radios. Antennas are critical to penetration of obstacles and
materials in the environment. For an in-depth discussion of technology,
functionality and choices of antennas, click – two-way radio antennas for more information.
Beyond Handheld: Mobile Units and Base Stations
Mobile units are what you see in taxi cabs, police cars and municipal
vehicles. Mobile radios are mounted in the vehicle and run off of the
vehicle’s battery. Mobile two-way radios will use a separate antenna
attached to the roof, fender or other area on its exterior.
stations are placed on a counter top or desk. They get their power from a
standard wall outlet. They typically use an exterior antenna located on
the highest point of the building for maximum signal boost.
units and base stations can be more powerful and much more expensive
and complex than handheld two-way radios. They are able to broadcast
using as much as 100 watts of power, but need very special licensing and
require experts to configure their set-up. In operations such as fire
and police departments, mobile units, base stations and handheld
walkie-talkies are designed to work together to provide seamless
communications from the field to home base. Check out mobile units and base stations for more information.
Extending Range with Repeaters and Trunking
improve the quality and range of your two-way radio transmissions. They
work by receiving a signal on one frequency and rebroadcasting it on
another simultaneously. When placed in between parties who are out of
normal range they work to push the signal forward, so it can go the
Repeaters can be a literal, physical workaround for
obstacles and penetration issues. Position a repeater in a strategic
place in the line of sight – say on the top of a mountain that cuts
through a job site – and it can pick up a signal and push it up and over
the obstruction. Once set up, these are terrific tools, but are
significantly more expensive to purchase, license and maintain.
systems link 2 or more repeaters to add channels that serve more users
and increase range. They also manage signal resources in areas where
broadcast traffic is heavy. Click for a more in-depth discussion of repeaters or trunking systems.
ROIP: Radio Over Internet Protocol
two-way radio is going to pack a range of hundreds or even thousands of
miles – that would mean A LOT of repeaters. If you need to get
information from out in the field or in the wild, back to the mother
ship a long way away, Radio over Internet Protocol can make that happen.
Software centered solutions enable you to connect your two-way radio to
the Internet. Tapping into the Internet, lets you communicate with
anyone in the world!
Click RoIP for more details RoIP
Why Use Two-way Radios Over Cell Phones?
Location! Location! Cell phones just don’t work everywhere. Dead zones,
breaking up: No bars, means no talking. Not with two-way radios, as
long as you’re in range of your party, you’re in communication.
walkie-talkies there are no contracts, no fees, no monthly bill!
Two-way radios are easy to use and come with loads of handy features.
They also come with parts and labor warranties. Motorola offers a 1-year
replacement warranty for defects. Your typical cell phone warranty
lasts 90 days.
There’s no dialing individual numbers, with two-way radios you just Push
to Talk! You can reach everyone in an instant with a walkie-talkie and
that can be critical in an emergency. Using some two-way radio’s
‘selective calling’ features you’re able to choose to speak with certain
groups of people or even privately with one person. With
walkie-talkies, you get the best of both worlds.
Two-way radios rated to military specifications and/or intrinsically safe intrinsically safe go where cell phones can’t: dusty, dirty, wet or combustible environments.
disaster strikes, cell phone networks become overloaded fast. Two-way
radios ensure you have access to information and communication when
others don’t. Having two-way radios around can keep your family safe and
your business in operation when everything else goes south.
Benefits for Business
radio communication brings a whole host of benefits to businesses. When
your employees use walkie-talkies, you’re just a Push to Talk button
away from the ‘the back’ of the warehouse where you can instantly access
needed information or call-in an extra pair of hands. You’ll see:
Suddenly work becomes so much easier when you don’t have to make that
However, if you’re tempted to cut corners with a
consumer grade radio, you should think twice before spending your money.
Walkie-talkies tailored for business are built to take a heavier
beating than radios designed for ‘occasional use.’ Business
walkie-talkies broadcast on more channels, come with more advanced
features and are engineered for the higher sound quality needed in work
environments. Business grade radios typically last through years of
daily use. Durability is what makes Business Radios less expensive than
FRS radios in the long run, because they are built to last, while other
models (designed just a step above toys) wear out quickly with regular
Two-way radios streamline operations, so your business
builds its reputation on quick and convenient customer service. Booming
business means big bottom lines. When you reduce employee hours and
overhead, your bottom line grows even bigger.
TechWholesale.com help you choose the right two-way radios to make that
happen. Take 5 minutes to answer questions about your radio use and this
tool will show you the best radios for your setting: Which two-way radio is right for me?Radios for Recreation
Camping, hunting, fishing, boating, four-wheeling in dirt or snow;
two-way radios make outdoor fun easy! Walkie-talkies tailored to the
sporting life offer features like weather reports, compasses and stop
watches, making walkie-talkies more than just tools to talk.
radios work well indoors too! Teens on the hunt for the perfect prom
dress can radio back to mom for the plastic when the target has been
acquired. Parents can sit back and relax wherever they choose while the
kids tire themselves out.
Walkie-talkies help keep track of the
troops just about anywhere. They’re perfect for finding friends at jazz
festivals, ball games or amusement parks or rounding up the kids when
dinner is ready. Family Radios are so simple even the little ones can
use them; so you feel better knowing they’re within reach.
Techwholesale.com Trusted Vendors for Two-way RadiosTechwholesale.com is the largest online retailer of Motorola Business Radios in the US
and prices are guaranteed to be the lowest anywhere. The store’s website
uses the very latest in SSL technology to ensure your transaction is
safe and Tech Wholesale will never share your information with a third-party.
Orders ship the same business day and shipping is free when you order at least two radios. TechWholesale.com maintains a huge inventory of business and family radios so you get what you need – fast.