In life, it’s essential to keep in touch with others. While mobiles have come to dominate the way we communicate, 2-way radios are still incredibly useful in certain situations. What’s more, they are also highly cost-effective, and tend to be more reliable than mobiles while out in the wilderness. Whether you intend to use two-way radios for a skiing holiday, camping trip, at an event, or as a present for your children, this guide will help you to find the right model.
5 things you need to know about consumer 2-way radios
In general, two-way radios are incredibly user-friendly. However, there are a few features to bear in mind when choosing a new set of walkie talkies. Here are five things you’ll want to consider:
1. Maximum Range
One of the most important factors to consider when deciding what 2-way radio to buy is the range you need them to cover. The maximum range capable on consumer 2-way radios using the PMR446 frequency on a transmit power of 0.5W is up to 10km. However, that could only be achieved in ideal conditions: at a high altitude with no obstacles between the two radios. Unless you are using your walkie talkies to communicate between two mountain tops, it’s unlikely that you will achieve this sort of range. In a built-up urban environment, the maximum range is likely going to be a lot lower. However, a good quality radio should provide adequate range for the vast majority of users. If you need anything over and above that, then you will need to consider a more powerful two-way radio. These require a license, though, and are much more expensive than license-free models.
2. Number of Handsets
When purchasing a set of two-way radios, you will also need to think about the number of handsets you need. A twin set may be enough for a camping trip, but busy warehouses will likely need a lot more so that everyone can stay connected. Thankfully, though, the price of each handset comes down when you buy in bulk. We offer a wide range of two-way radio bundles to cater to every customer’s needs. We also stock single handsets if you want to expand your setup at a later date.
3. Channels & Privacy Codes
License-free two-way radios have a fixed frequency that they can transmit on: PMR446 Most license-free two-way radios have either 8 or 16 channels, which tune the frequency on which the handsets communicate with one another. In addition to the channels, there are typically a number of privacy codes. Contrary to what the name suggests, these do not guarantee the privacy of your transmissions. Rather, they allow users to chat freely without interference from others, which can be a problem if you are using them in an area like a ski resort where a lot of other two-way radios may be in use.
4. Battery Type
Some two radios are powered by regular alkaline batteries, whilst others come with rechargeable batteries (some of which include a charging dock). If you intend to use your two-way radios for more than a few days and won’t have regular access to a power outlet (eg. on a camping trip) then a model which takes regular batteries or both would be a better choice. On the other hand, we would recommend rechargeable 2-way radios for regular use. That’s because the cost of replacement batteries can quickly add up, and used batteries can be bad for the environment if not disposed properly.
5. VOX & Hands-Free
Voice Activated Transmit, or VOX, allows you to use your two-way radios hands-free, If you are mountain climbing, or part of a motorbike convoy, then this can be an extremely useful feature. With this mode activated, the radio’s microphone remains on at all times. When it picks up the sound of your voice, it will automatically start transmitting, and switch off when you stop speaking. These models will also come with a socket for a headset or throat mic. Not all two-way radios come with VOX, so be sure to check the product specs if this is something you’re looking for.