How to choose the right two – way radio for you
H o w to choose?
WHAT WILL I BE USING THE WALKIE- TALKIE FOR?
Two-way radios have a great range of applications in the professional environment. In industries such as construction, hospitality, security, retail and schools, where quick and clear instructions and communication is important, walkie-talkies can be extremely useful. Keeping in contact with your colleagues can increase efficiency and safety at work.
Leisure and sporting activities are also good opportunities to get the most out of a two-way radio. If you’re hiking, skiing, camping or fishing, having a two-way radio allows you to communicate with your group. It can also give you piece of mind that you are in constant contact with your group in case of emergency.
WHAT RANGE DO I NEED?
This is dependent on the environment you will be using your walkie-talkie in. Whether it is indoor or outdoor, anything that will cause an obstruction will reduce transmission distance. The general rule of thumb is 1 WATT = 1 MILE. Most unlicensed radios free of obstruction will transmit up to 2Km.* If you require a longer range, you are required to purchase a licensed radio and this will give you a range of up to 10Km.
*In ideal conditions: from hilltop to hilltop with clear weather, but the range diminishes if you are in a built up area. Trees, walls, hills and even the weather can affect the range of your walkie-talkie.
LICENSED OR UNLICENSED?
If you work in a smaller area, and don’t need a large amount of coverage, you should consider buying license free radios. Depending on surroundings, license-free radios should provide about 1 mile of coverage.
Disadvantages of choosing a license free radio is that other users can transmit on the same frequency, and you may have unwanted traffic and interference. You may also be able to hear other peoples conversations and vice-versa, they may be able to hear yours. Therefore, they aren’t really suitable for users who share sensitive information over the radio.
A radio license provides you with a unique frequency on which you can operate your radios securely. The basic license costs £75 and lasts for 5 years.
Licensed radios are around 8x more powerful than their unlicensed counterparts, and in open territory can cover up to 2.5 miles. If you work in a particularly challenging environment, you can use repeaters to increase this range. This type of radio is the best option for users who need secure conversations, and for those who need a better range with less interference.
WHAT CONDITIONS WILL I BE USING MY RADIO IN?
When choosing your Walkie-talkie you need to consider the conditions under which you are using the radio.
If you are using your Walkie-talkie indoors, IP ratings and robustness may not be important, but will need to be taken into consideration if it is UHF as you will need a stronger transmission for potential obstruction.
However, if you are using the Walkie-talkie outdoors in a tougher environment that includes water or dust, you will need to select the Walkie-talkie with a higher IP rating.
4 WHAT I S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VHF AND UHF?
VHF (Very High Frequency) ranges from 150MHz to 175MHz and needs a clear pathway free of obstruction for optimum communication conditions. An advantage of VHF is that the extended wavelength can cover greater distances. VHF radios are ideal for outdoor activities. Also, they are utilised for marine or aviation communication where the signal is sent over open water or sky to ground.
UHF (Ultra High Frequency) ranges from 400MHz to 475MHz. These waves are shorter and more effective in urban areas. Ideal for anyone working in the construction, agricultural, security or hospitality industries as they are more efficient indoors where there may be the possibility of obstruction from thick walls. For both indoors and outdoors, UHF is the best choice as it will penetrate through dense forests as well as built up areas.
HOW MANY CHANNELS DO I NEED?
Walkie-talkies are generally manufactured to deliver multiple channels. Some unlicensed radios offer between 8-16 channels, many of these will include sub-codes to provide more privacy.
Licensed walkie-talkies typically provide up to 16 channels. You should take into consideration how many people will be communicating with one another and if you have more than one group, it would be easier if they each have their own channel to avoid unnecessary interference.
ARE ALL WALKIE- TALKIES COMPATIBLE?
Compatibility often depends on the make, model and frequency programming. Most models of one brand will communicate with one another (providing that they are on the same frequency) but this is not always the case.
However, please remember that UHF radios are not compatible with VHF radios.
If you are unsure about compatibility for your two-way radios please contact our experts on 0333 123 3050.
WHAT ARE PTT AND VOX FUNCTIONS?
A typical Walkie-talkie will generally feature a PTT (Push to Talk) button where the speaker will need to press it in order to activate the transmitter. The user can immediately start to talk and release the button to listen to others in your group.
VOX mode provides completely hands free communication. It is sound activated so it will start transmitting the moment you speak. Bear in mind the environment you plan to use the walkie-talkie in, as the VOX mode is sensitive to background noise.
WHAT ARE PRIVACY CODES?
Privacy codes, also known as interference elimination codes, greatly reduce the risk of someone else intruding on your conversation, although this is not guaranteed.
They prevent you from hearing other conversations that are on the same frequency but they may be able to hear you if they are operating without codes.
You and the person you are speaking to will need to be on the same frequency and the same privacy code for communication.
I P RATINGS EXPLAINED
Ingress Protection (IP) ratings, measure how resistant a device is to dust and water. Here’s how it works: