Nov 05, 2021


Categories: Radio

Long-Range 2-Way Radios – Read This Before You Buy

When choosing two-way radios (or walkie talkies as they are also called), their range is an important factor that you will need to consider. Range means the distance over which the two-way radios can communicate. Making sure you choose long-range 2-way radios means you will need to understand the factors that issues that can negatively affect range, how to mitigate these issues and which devices can help you to maximise the range of your communication.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about 2-way radio range and give you our top recommendations for the best radios and accessories.

To discuss range or for advice on the best devices for your personal or business use, contact us here or call 0151 263 9993.

What is Two-Way Radio Range?

When using two-way radios, the range is how far the two devices can be apart and still work without the signal being affected. The range is dependant on various factors such as the landscape, weather conditions and any obstacles between the two radios. It is crucial to understand how these different factors affect signal so that you can make the right choice of two-way radios and purchase any additional equipment that will help to maximise the range.

How do Walkie Talkie Radio Signals Work?

Walkie talkie radio signals work in a very similar way to light. The radio signals travel in straight lines until their path is blocked by an object. Some radio signals are better than others at penetrating obstacles while others tend to reflect off the surface of objects. In addition, as radio waves travel further, their strength begins to diminish. This means that over very long distances the signal will weaken making communication less reliable or even impossible. Choosing two-way radios with the right type of radio waves that can both penetrate obstacles and travel a long way without weakening significantly is vital for clear communication over long-range distances.

using long range 2 way radio walkie talkie in forestWhat Issues Can Affect Two-Way Radio Range?

Various issues can affect both the range capabilities of two-way radios and the audio quality. These include:

  • The frequency range – Two-way radios use either UHF (Ultra High Frequency) or VHF (Very High Frequency) radio bands. These frequency ranges have radio waves with different characteristics so it is important to choose the right one (see below).
  • How many channels are available within the UHF and VHF ranges
  • The radio signal’s wavelength – This is important because shorter wavelengths usually have a greater transmission range because they weaken more slowly over longer distances.
  • The power of the transmission – In simple terms, the more powerful the transmission, the greater the signal range.
  • Obstacles in the signal’s path – These may be natural features like trees or mountains or man-made obstacles like buildings or radio towers. All of these can obstruct the radio signal.
  • Environmental issues – This means any weather conditions which are adverse to signal transmissions such as storms, rain, heavy winds, snow and rain. All of these can affect both signal range and quality.
  • Other communication devices nearby – Signals from other devices on the same frequency can cause major disruptions and affect communication.
  • Sunspots and solar flares – These atmospheric issues can also seriously hamper transmissions.

To discuss range or for advice on the best devices for your personal or business use, contact us here or call 0151 263 9993.

What is the Difference Between UHF and VHF?

As noted above, choosing between UHF frequency ranges and VHF frequency ranges is very important for ensuring long-range, undisrupted communication. This is how the two options compare:

UHF frequency ranges are usually between 300MHz and 3,000MHz, with the exact frequency dependence on where you are using your two-way radios. VHF frequency ranges are usually from 30kHz to 300 MHz. These numbers may seem somewhat arbitrary but the important thing to note is that signals sent over different frequency ranges have different characteristics.

For example, radio signals in the UHF frequency band tend to be absorbed by solid obstacles so you need a clearer line of sight (see below) when using a UHF range. On the other hand, radio waves in the UHF range have shorter wavelengths so the signal retains its strength more over longer distances.

In contrast, radio waves in the VHF frequency range have longer wavelengths so they weaken more quickly over longer ranges. However, there are more communication channels available to two-way radio users in the VHF range so there will be less potential signal disruption from other devices nearby.

What is “Line of Sight”?

The meaning of “line of sight” is exactly how it sounds; a straight line between two walkie talkies with no obstacles or objects that could interfere with the signal transmission.

Generally speaking, when using two-way radios, the device that is receiving the signal must have a clear line of sight to the antenna of the device that is transmitting the signal. If the line of sight is not clear, then the obstacles in the way could seriously disrupt or even block the signal. Over longer ranges, the chances of there being a clear line of sight are reduced, particularly if you are using the radios outside where there are likely to be various obstacles in the way.

As noted above, signals sent in UHF frequency ranges are less able to penetrate obstructions and so two-way radios being used within the UHF range usually need a clearer line of sight for effective, uninterrupted communication. This means that two-way radios with VHF frequency ranges are usually better for long-distance communication or in situations where there is not a clear line of sight.

hiking walkie talkie long rangeTo discuss range or for advice on the best devices for your personal or business use, contact us here or call 0151 263 9993.

How do Repeater Extenders Increase Range?

As well as choosing the right walkie talkies and setting them up within the optimum frequency range, there are supplementary devices you can use to boost the transmission. Repeater extenders amplify two-way radio signals so that they can travel over greater distances. Not only that, but they also increase the strength of the signal so that it can pass through obstacles more effectively and will not weaken as quickly.

It is important to note that repeater extenders work only by boosting your walkie talkie signal, not by transmitting a signal of their own, which means as long as you are transmitting on a clear channel, they should be no interference from other devices in the area.

The best way to maximise the effectiveness of a repeater extender is to put it as high up as possible. Depending on where you need to use your walkie talkies, this may be on top of a mountain, on the roof of a tall building or on a purpose-built radio tower. The important thing is that both the device transmitting the signal to the repeater extender and the devices receiving the signal have clear lines of sight to the repeater.

What are the Other Benefits of Using a Repeater Extender?

As well as increasing range and improving signal strength, repeater extenders can also:

  • Facilitate communication between devices on different frequencies – For example, if you are sending a transmission in the UHF frequency range but it is being received by a device in the VHF range, you will need a repeater extender that can split your signal into channels across both ranges. This is known as cross-banding and it can be a very useful way of optimising the signal quality and range in different environments.
  • Ensure your privacy – Splitting the signal across different frequency ranges in this way also means that nobody will be able to tune into your channel and overhear what is being said. This is very important for security or law enforcement personnel who are some of the biggest users of two-way radio technology.
  • Provide encryption – You can also use a repeater extender to provide your radio devices with extra levels of security and privacy using digital encryption.

Things to Consider When Setting Up Your Repeater Extender

  • Make sure you avoid setting up your device near sources of potential signal disruption. These may include transformers, satellite dishes and power lines.
  • Do not put your repeated extender in a place where there is an increased chance of it being struck by lighting as this could destroy the device or affect your signal.
  • Ensure that the device’s antenna is fully upright and that no objects are touching it that could interfere with the signal.
  • Use your repeater with high powered two-way radios as this will produce the strongest signal possible.

Our Top 3 Long-Range Walkie Talkies

1. DigiX Neo

DigiX NeoThe DigiX Neo is a dual-mode, UHF/VHF radio with many advanced features. It offers superior voice quality and high performance for any application. The DigiX Neo Walkie Talkie provides 16 hours of battery life on a single charge, IP67 water and dust protection and is compatible with all DMR devices including repeater extenders. The Neo’s compact design and 220g weight make it the perfect companion for all outdoor activities including hiking, camping, hunting or for outdoor, long-range commercial uses.

Click here for more information about the DigiX Neo or get in touch to discuss its features.

2. DigiX Link

DigiX Link DMR Digital Portable Radio FrontThe DigiX Link is a high-end professional digital and analogue dual-mode walkie talkie. It is packed with advanced features has an ultra-slim design and is IP68 dust and water protected. The DigiX Link weighs only 280g and has both Bluetooth and GPS options making it ideal for outside use over large distances. This device can operate in both UHF and VHF frequencies between ranges of UHF: 400-470MHz; VHF: 136-174MHz. The Link is compatible with all DMR devices and extenders for optimal communication.

Click here for more information about the DigiX Link or get in touch to discuss its features.

3. DigiX Halo

DigiX Halo KeypadThe DigiX Halo is a long-range two-way radio that delivers superior voice quality and range. The Halo operates on both UHF and VHF frequencies with ranges of 400-470Mhz/136-174Mhz and also features dual-mode operation for analogue and digital transmissions. The device has IP54 water and dust protection and with a total weight of 278.8g, it is ideal for all-day personal and commercial use.

Click here for more information about the DigiX Halo or get in touch to discuss its features.

Our Top 2 Repeater Extenders

1. DigiX Bravo

DIGIX BRAVOThe DigiX Bravo is a high-performance, rack-mountable repeater that provides two channels of communication for all DMR devices. The Bravo repeater can be used as a base station or as a dispatcher to extend the range of your existing radio system. It works with any DMR device and includes IP network connectivity and 4G/DMR talk through module function.

With its compact size and multiple networking options, the DigiX Bravo is a convenient, reliable repeater extender that can maximise your two-way radio system’s range.

Please call 0151 263 9993 to order the DigiX Bravo or to discuss the device with one of our experts.

2. DigiX Max

DIGIX MAXThe DigiX Max is a high-performance extender that offers all the features of the top devices on the market at a notably cheaper price. The device is effective in any environment and has a long-life lithium battery that can last up to 10 hours of continuous use. You can also connect the Max to both 12V or 240V power sources with its compact design making it easy to install for both indoor and outdoor use. 

The DigiX Max has a clear audio output and is compatible with other DMR radios so there’s no need to worry about any connection issues, even with devices from other manufacturers.

Please call 0151 263 9993 to order the DigiX Max or to discuss the device with one of our experts.

Final Thoughts

Ensuring that you have sufficient range capabilities for your communication requirements means considering the best long-range 2-way radios, the terrain and environment you intend to use them and whether you need any extra devices to boost the signal. You will need to decide between UHF and VHF frequencies and also ensure that you use channels where there won’t be any interruption from other nearby devices.

To discuss range or for advice on the best devices for your personal or business use, contact us here or call 0151 263 9993.