Buying Guide: How Do I Choose A Two-Way Radio

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social distancing radio

A two-way radio is imperative for roles where individuals need to communicate on a regular basis. With just a push of a button, a two-way radio allows a whole team to talk freely. Whilst also being convenient, these pieces of equipment are highly cost effective and are usually a lot more robust in dangerous working environments. 

In this article, we will be giving you the top things to consider when purchasing or renting out two-way radios for your business, including what range you should look for, which batteries are best and everything about handsets.

 

What is Your Working Environment Like?

When it comes to purchasing a two-way radio, knowing the environment where this piece of technology will be used is very important. For construction, security, events management and other, similar roles, a two-way radio can be extremely essential. However, each role requires something different when it comes to their communication device.

For example, if you’re working on a construction site, this environment can be dangerous, leaving valuable pieces of equipment in danger of being broken or damaged. Looking at how hard wearing your two-way radio is can be really important in this situation. Opting for a shock-proof model will mean that the radios will be more resistant to breakages when dropped or knocked. 

Will You Need to License Your Two-Way Radio? 

Considering the licensing part of your radio hire or purchase is crucial. According to the Government Agency Ofcom, licensed frequencies are allocated on a case by case basis.

You will need a license to operate your two-way radio, unless it operates on a pre-programmed, licence free frequency approved by Ofcom. This is within the band 446.0 to 446.1 MHz, however, this doesn’t usually provide the overall coverage a business would require and we recommend getting your communication devices licensed. 

When purchasing or hiring with Wall To Wall Communications, we can help you with this process. Our team of communications specialists can aid you in utilizing your two-way radio to the best of its abilities and getting you all the information you will require about the licensing process. 

What Range Do You Need?

Next to consider would be the range you require. The maximum range capable on a consumer two-way radio using the PMR446 frequency on a transmit power of 0.5w, according to Ofcom, is up to 10km.

Whilst this is quite a distance for a communication device, it’s important to consider obstacles that may prevent your two-way radio reaching its full potential range. 

If your working environment has a lot of dense or solid objects, this can dramatically reduce the range of your two-way radio. Walkie-talkies can struggle to communicate in certain situations, such as in lifts, tunnels or underground. These spaces are called ‘dead spots’ and it can be a massive problem for construction, mining and even densely packed shopping centres. 

For example, when working underground, you may have to add a Leaky Feeder System to your radio. A Leaky Feeder otherwise known as Radiating Cable, is an antenna technology that our team is able to install that allows you to get sufficient coverage in dead spots. Effectively, a Leaky Feeder is a long antenna, which is made from a coaxial cable that has small sections of copper shielding. This shielding has been stripped away and allows for the radio frequency signals to escape more efficiently.  When these Leaky Feeders are mounted either permanently or for a temporary time in an emergency situation. 

How many radios will be required?

When it comes to either buying or renting your two-way radios, it’s always best to consider how many people in your employment will be requiring a handset. 

Our team of experts can always help with this. With our wealth of experience, we are always on hand to offer advice or insight to aid you in making a decision on what would be best.  Whilst getting a twin set may be enough for personal use, when it comes to facilitating a business, you could find yourself needing many more. A busy warehouse will require multiple two-way radios is a good example of this. When you have a large team, it can be easy for information to get lost in broken communication. Having a reliable and dependable method of talking can be essential for many businesses. 

What Battery Type Will I Require in My Two-Way Radio?

Batteries are another important part of purchasing a two-way radio. Some two-way radios are powered by alkaline batteries or even lithium batteries. You will regularly see lithium batteries in a two-way radio as they are lighter and offer a better energy to weight ratio, making them more effective. 

Some walkie-talkies come with rechargeable batteries, which when plugged into the dock, will recharge for you. This is great if you don’t have regular access to a power outlet, when working outside or across open waters.  When renting or purchasing a two-way radio, we always recommend looking into which battery type would suit your needs, as this can be an additional maintenance cost that comes with running this piece of equipment.