Generally speaking, the situation in which you need or plan on using your walkie-talkie set will very much affect which frequency you should use. That said, we will look at the various uses of walkie-talkies and what frequencies they can work on. This way, we can help you decide what frequency you should tune in to.
Understanding Radio Frequencies
Walkie-talkies are portable, two-way radios that can both transmit and receive messages via radio waves. Radio waves travel at the speed of light, which is approximately 300,000 kilometers per second, as they are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, so messages are received almost instantaneously by the second device.
When you talk into it, you are required to press and hold a button. The sound of your voice is then converted into radio waves that are beamed out on a selected channel and received as fluctuating electric currents, which are then converted back to reproduce the sound of your voice on the other end.
Since the same frequency is used for both talking and listening, only one person can talk at a time. This is the reason why many people use the terms “over” and “over and out” to signify that they have finished talking as well as letting the other person know it is their turn to speak or that the message or communication is finished.
CB radios operate on a 27Mhz frequency while cordless telephones and baby monitors operate on a 49MHz band. However, they both can suffer greatly from interferences. That said, frequencies used for walkie-talkies can generally be broken down into four main categories and vary wildly in their effectiveness in different situations.
The four frequency variations are called, very high frequency (VHF), ultra high frequency (UHF), 700 MHz and 900MHz. To understand them better, let’s now take a quick look at what each band is best used for.
Very High Frequency (VHF): 136 to 174 MHz
This frequency offers the greatest long-distance range of operation but won’t work so well in situations where there are obstructions such as walls, trees, and posts. It is most commonly used in rural locations and would be the ideal frequency for you to use if you live in the countryside, or while out camping and hiking. Also, due to the long range this frequency offers, it is often used by the agricultural industries and during long-haul trucking and field operations.
Ultra High Frequency (UHF): 403 to 470 MHz
Authorized for use in the USA in 1996, ultra-high frequencies are mostly used in indoor situations and should definitely be the frequency you should choose if you are using your walkie-talkies in the city or built-up areas. Although offering a lower distance range than VHF, ultra-high frequencies travel well through walls or environments with obstructions.
Thus, people who plan to use walkie-talkies in bars, hotels, colleges, and warehouses, should choose UHF or walkie-talkie models that work on UHF. It will also be the ideal default frequency if you need coverage both indoors and outdoors due to its versatility. That is the reason why this is the most common frequency on which walkie-talkies are used.
Mostly used for public safety and by emergency services, it is unlikely that a standard walkie-talkie set will allow you to tune in to this frequency. With its specific use, you shouldn’t use this frequency for personal use.
This frequency also isn’t generally available on standard walkie-talkie sets. It is mostly used by large businesses and organizations that depend on excellent indoor coverage.
Extremely handy for large education campuses, hotels, and common in the retail and manufacturing industries, unless you are buying walkie-talkies for business purposes, it is unlikely you will need to operate on this frequency.
What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?
So, what frequency do walkie talkies use? The answer is a wide range of frequencies with a wide range of purposes. You can choose the right frequency for you very easily by remembering that very high frequencies are better suited to outdoor, rural situations and you will be able to communicate effectively with others from a great distance. You can use VHF if you set your walkie-talkie to anywhere between the 136 MHz to 174 MHz range.
On the other hand, if you will be using your walkie-talkies indoors or in situations where you will have obstructions between you and the other party, then you should set your walkie-talkie to an ultra-high-frequency range between 403 MHz and 470 MHz. If you plan to rely heavily on your walkie-talkie system for business purposes, and then make sure you purchase a set that can operate on a frequency of 900 MHz for the best results.