Walkie Talkie Buying Guide

Walkie talkies are designed to offer a variety of options for a number of channels. Some models offer just a couple of channels, while offers offer as many as twenty-two. The more channels a radio has, the higher the price tag. A wide range of channels will allow for more people to communicate either on different channels or the same channel. Isolating a certain channel is also a good way to prevent people from talking over each other.

The most basic models will feature only a few channels on a single frequency in order to make communication easy. These models can be used for simple purposes and don’t allow for a great distance apart for communicating. Systems that are more complex will offer a wide range of frequencies and several channels on each frequency. The user will pick the best frequency that will offer the clearest connection and will then select a channel on the frequency.

Because any walkie talkie user can operate on the same channel and frequency and listen in on your conversation, some radios also come with a lot of privacy codes. A privacy code works by scrambling a signal, minimizing the chances that someone can listen in on your conversation. This means that people who are not operating on the same privacy code will be unable to participate in your conversation. If keeping your conversation private is a major concern of your, then you should buy a set with extensive privacy setting options.

If you want to buy more radios for an existing set, then it’s important to keep in mind that UHF models are unable to communicate with VHF models. For most circumstances, UHF sets are the most practical.

UHF stands for ultra-high frequency and most models will operate on a frequency range of four hundred to five hundred. These radios are usually the most versatile choices because the waves they use are shorter, which in turn makes them more effective at penetrating or getting around obstacles. If you’re shopping for radios that will mainly be used indoors, UHF models are your best bet.

VHF stands for very high frequency and operates on 136 to 174MHz. when covering longer distances, this frequency is very advantageous. Marine and aviation communications mainly rely on this type of signal because the signal is traveling between the sky and ground or over large bodies of water. VHF models are much better at penetrating foliage and trees and usually feature a longer antenna compared to walkie talkies that use UHF.

As we have mentioned, VHF walkie talkies are not compatible with UHF radios. It’s important to check out the frequency first, before you buy, in order to ensure that the walkie talkies will be able to receive and transmit with each other. New consumer grade models will be able to work with each other regardless of the brand. When it comes to buying older models, always be sure you check out the frequencies between all types of radios in order to ensure they’re compatible.

Radios that are not VHF or UHF will either be GMRS or FRS or both. The FRS band of frequencies is a specific band that’s reserved by the FCC for recreational and family use. Because of this, there’s a limitation of frequency and power wattage. These models are not effective enough or durable enough for constant use. GMRS radios operate on twenty-three frequencies. Seven of these frequencies are shared with FRS. The GMRS models are intended for family use and work well over shorter distances in order to facilitate activities between users, but GMRS is best used for activities such as hiking, skiing, fishing, and camping. A license is required to use this type of walkie talkie.

Most models will have a limited range of one to two miles. That’s not to say that communication even at this distance will always be achieved, especially when there’s interference. Any radio that is able to extend beyond this distance will exceed the max wattage that’s allowed by the FCC and requires a license for use. The manufacturer will usually list the range and indicate if a license is required.

Some models will work with rechargeable batteries, while others will use double or triple A batteries. The specs should indicate an estimate of usage time per set of batteries or charge. In the battery life description, a company usually estimates about six percent of transmission time, six percent reception time and eighty-eight percent standby time.

Many higher end models will also feature access to weather channels. These channels provide information that’s broadcasted by the NOAA and can alert the user if hazards or bad weather is headed their way.

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