Nov 04, 2021

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Categories: Radio

How Far Will 2 Way Radios Work

The simple answer to how far will 2 way radios work is; it depends on several factors including the environment they’re used in, any obstacles in the line of sight, whether or not the radio is licenced, the power output and frequency used, and if an extender is used.

Whether using 2-way radios for emergency communications, work, or leisure, one of the most frequently asked questions that buyers have, is what range their radio will perform over, or how an existing radio’s range can be improved.

Factors Affecting Radio Range:

  • Line of sight and obstacles
  • Frequency used
  • Interference from weather or other radio users
  • Power output
  • Licencing

NRC radios sell professional licenced, and unlicensed 2-way radios as well as extenders that will increase the range on the radios. From handheld VHF’s (very high frequency), mounted VHF and lots of accessories, our friendly team can offer professional advice, competitive pricing, and options to hire or purchase market-leading 2-way radio models, whatever range you need them to perform at.

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Learn more about radio coverage:

Watch video | call 0151 263 9993 | send an enquiry.

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2-way radios are brilliant bits of kit for when you need to communicate quickly, easily and reliably with other people that are not physically standing next to you. They can also be particularly useful when you don’t have the luxury of being able to rely on mobile data or wi-fi signals such as in remote areas or complex buildings with thick walls or underground areas.

Read on to find out more about what affects the range of 2-way radios and how to use this information to find the right model for your needs. 


Radio Range

Radio range indicates the maximum distance that a radio signal can travel and be used for communications before the signal deteriorates and clear communications are lost. The range is usually measured in miles or kilometres and all 2-way radios will be sold with an advertised range.

2-way radios can have a range of many miles in open and unobstructed rural locations, but when using the same device in an urban, populated area with lots of steel and concrete buildings, the range is likely to be significantly reduced.

For this reason, the advertised range is usually the range that can be achieved in optimum conditions with a clear line of sight, and should not be taken as a guarantee of how far away from each other users can be. This is because the actual range that can be achieved will greatly depend on the environment that the radios will be used.

The good news is that there are repeater devices available to boost the range of your 2-way radio whether you need reliable communications across cities and built-up areas or heavily wooded areas outside.

Understanding the range of 2-way radios, and how this can be reduced or increased, is important for all radio users to ensure they’re using the right make, model and accessories for their needs so they don’t find themselves in the position of being without comms when they need them.


What Affects The Range?

There are plenty of factors that affect the range of 2-way radios and we’ve covered the key ones in more detail below.

Line Of Sight And Obstacles 

Pins in map How Far Will 2 Way Radios Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Line of sight’ refers to the direct, obstacle-free space between two points that 2-way radios rely on to transmit clearly between the receivers or antennas on each device.

When obstacles such as buildings, mountains or trees obstruct a clear line of sight, then they interfere with the signal between the radios. Depending on the level of this obstruction and the power and frequency of the radio, the signal can be made weaker or can be blocked entirely.

Knowing the distance and terrain of the likely line of sight where you will be using the radios is, therefore, a critical factor in choosing the right 2-way radio for your needs.

Frequencies Used 

Radio signals are transmitted in waves and travel in the same way as light does. The radio signal travels from the source device in a straight line until it hits an object, at which point the signal is reduced.

Radio frequencies also affect how far a 2-way radio will successfully transmit. Ultra-high frequency (UHF) and Very-high frequency (VHF) radios both offer effective 2-way radio communications, but which one you choose will depend on how and when you need to use the radio.

  • VHF frequencies range from 30kHz and 300MHz.
  • UHF frequencies range from 300MHz up to 3000MHz or higher.

Very High Frequency (VHF) signals don’t lose their strength as easily as Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radios. This means they are generally better suited to radio communications over longer distances as they remain strong when bouncing off obstacles in the line of sight.

In contrast, UHF radio signals are unable to penetrate solid objects and fade quickly over longer distances. This means that if you’re using a UHF radio, you will need a clearer line of sight than if using VHF.

What does this mean for the range? 

  • Shorter wavelengths have a greater range than longer ones because they reflect off objects or fade at a slower rate when travelling long distances.
  • UHF is typically used in more “line of sight” scenarios than VHF, meaning it doesn’t reflect well off walls and other objects.

 

In summary, there is no one rule for all when it comes to choosing between UHF and VHF and the best advice we can offer here is to speak to a professional radio supplier about your needs so they can present suitable options to you. As a general rule of thumb though, if you’re using 2-way radios inside buildings then UHF models will likely be the best solution for you, but VHF could still work too if being used over fairly short distances. If using 2-way radio communications mainly outside, then VHF is likely to be the best choice unless there are lots of obstacles such as forests or buildings obstructing the signal.

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Talk to our radio experts 

Call 0151 263 9993 | send an enquiry.

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Radio Power Output 

Power dial How Far Will 2 Way Radios Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generally speaking, the more watts a radio has, the longer the distance it can transmit.

For a representation of how watts affect the range of a 2-way radio, you can imagine turning on a tap at one end of a pipe.

The water in the pipe nearest the end by the tap will have a higher pressure than the water further away from the tap as the water will lose pressure the further along the pipe that it travels. Just like this, radio waves will also suffer a loss of signal the further away from the source radio it is.

By increasing the power rating on the 2-way radio, you can keep the signal stronger for longer.

One note to consider when using battery-powered radios is that they will run down more quickly with higher watt use so it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons and understand if more power is the best way to achieve a boost to the distance that you want your 2-way radio to work over or if a repeater might be a better option.

Licencing

Licenced radios are more powerful and therefore have greater ranges than unlicensed radios. This is because licenced radios are most often used in professional or commercial settings or particularly difficult environments that require more robust features and connectivity than unlicenced leisure walkie talkies.

Licenced radios will boast longer ranges and can be set up to work with repeaters for even longer ranges in difficult terrain.

When you purchase a radio licence from Ofcom in the UK or ComReg in the Republic of Ireland, you are awarded a unique frequency to operate your radios on securely. There are further types of licences available depending on your need, and licenced radios need to be specially programmed.

Due to this, we always recommend talking through your requirements with an experienced radio engineer, like those in the technical team here at NRC. We can take care of the licencing you need on your behalf and set up your radios correctly.


How To Boost Radio Distance

Upwards trending graph How Far Will 2 Way Radios Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that you know some of the key limiting factors to look out for when it comes to 2-way radio range, the next step is to consider the options you have for boosting radio range.

By using strategically placed repeaters, 2-way radios can communicate over longer distances than they usually could, or when there are obstructions to the line of sight.

Repeaters work by magnifying the signal received so that the radios can be used over a longer distance without losing their signal.

A repeater device is a great option when interference from other radio users may be an issue or when the sender and receiver units are in the same area, so they don’t have to split frequencies between them. Some repeaters come with a cross-banding function that enables users to communicate across different zones (such as UHF and VHF). It allows users to split signals to multiple channels so they can reach both groups allowing for effective communications in challenging environments.

We now have our acclaimed MAX Repeater Enhancer that together with our LINK radio can provide wide-area communications from a single frequency without the loss of signal that would normally occur with duplex systems. Find Out More 

Repeaters To Boost Radio Range

DIGIX BRAVO

DIGIX BRAVO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bravo repeater enhancer is a heavy-duty high-performance DMR Digital rack-mountable professional Repeater providing two-channel simultaneous communications. We give you an overview of the product in this video and the BRAVO is compatible to work with all DigiX products and all other DMR manufacturers equipment.

Visit the product page to view full specifications and call our technical team on 0151 263 9993 for details on prices and availability for both hire and purchase options

DIGIX MAX

DIGIX MAX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Max repeater enhancer consistently outperforms duplex repeaters at a competitive cost. Relied on time and time again for demanding situations with a need for immediate wide-area communications in difficult environments. The Max can be used 240v or12v and is now available as the Max Manpack with a built-in lithium battery giving many hours of use.

Visit the product page to view full specifications and call our technical team on 0151 263 9993 for details on prices and availability for both hire and purchase options


Summary

In this article, we’ve covered how far will 2-way radios work and what affects the distance that they can successfully operate over. To recap, the distance that a 2-way radio will operate is affected by factors including;

  • Line of sight and obstacles
  • Frequencies used
  • Interference from weather conditions or other radio signals from nearby devices
  • Power output
  • Licencing

If an extended, reliable range is an important factor to you when using a 2-way radio then there are several things that you can try to get the most range to ensure uninterrupted communications including;

  • Using a repeater
  • Keep radios away from sources of interference such as power lines
  • Choose a radio with a higher wattage to give a stronger signal (but take spare batteries as more watts equals quicker battery drain)
  • Ensure antennas are straight when using the radio for optimal effectiveness

If you’re looking for a 2-way radio solution for business, pleasure or reliable emergency comms, the range that you are likely to need will affect which model you purchase.

DigiX, Motorola, Hytera, ICOM and Kenwood 2-way radios offer some of the best functionality and reliability available for a wide range of commercial and domestic uses, and our team can secure excellent pricing for our customers on these models.

To discuss your needs and the options available to you, please contact NRC Radio. Our friendly team will help you find the right 2-way radio to ensure you have access to clear, reliable communications whenever, and wherever you need them.

Founded in 1989, Northwest Radio Communications provides professional communications solutions and excellent customer service to its clients spanning hundreds of industries throughout the UK. From farming, catering, hospitality, leisure, construction and many more, as an approved dealer for DigiX, Motorola, Hytera, ICOM and Kenwood 2-way radios, the team can find the best purchase, hire and maintenance options available for you and your business when it comes to choosing the right communication tools to use.