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cb radio range

What is the Range Of A CB Radio?

If there’s one old school piece of technology that is still commonly used in the trucking industry, it’s a Citizens Band radio. Truckers commonly use them out on the road so what is the range of a CB radio?

Even though they may be considered low tech, even the best CB radios can reach out over substantial distances with some minor adjustments. CBs have remained in wide use because they are a cheap and efficient way to communicate. 

The rest of us forget;

Even in the age of the cell phone, professional OTR (over the road) drivers still use these radios on a day to day basis for weather reports and highway information. 

Citizens Band radios provide ultimate convenience to individuals that are looking to communicate from a short distance. They are still an integral part of how we communicate in a variety of industries.

Today we’ll talk a little about the range of a CB radio, and provide you with information on what to expect from a CB radio and give you a couple tips on how to improve your range.

Many variables can influence the range, and this article will give you a comprehensive guide on the range of a CB radio.

What is the range of a CB radio?

There are several variables that affect CB radio range. How many many miles a CB radio will reach will depend largely on antenna length. It’s possible to get two miles per foot of antenna length if the radio system is configured properly.

What can affect the range of a CB radio?

When Determining CB radio range, it’s important to know what variables directly affect the CB radios performance. CB radio range is affected by the following;

  • Location and surroundings
  • Sensitivity of the radio
  • The radios power output
  • Quality of how the unit was installed
  • CB radio antenna (length, type, height etc)
  • Is the unit a portable or base station CB? (base stations have more power)
  • CB radio settings (Squelch and RF gain)

Video: What CB Radio Range Can You Get

Your location and surroundings

The location of the radio is a critical factor in determining the range that they can operate.

Researchers have proven that if you’re in an area full of tall concrete buildings, it will directly impact the CB radios‘ range. The issue with being located in a built-up area is the walls reflect the signals instead of passing them through. 

However, if you’re in the desert where there are no walls or objects between the CB radios, there will be little impact on the range. The fact is that CB radios lose range when there are large objects in the way. These objects include skyscrapers, thick walls, and metal objects. 

The sensitivity of the CB radio

A critical influence on the range of the CB radio is the type that you decide to use.

If you have a high sensitivity CB radio, you are more likely to have issues with the range. High sensitivity CB radios are more likely to pick up background noise that will affect the signal’s quality and range.

Low sensitivity radios tend to have less background noise and are less prone to range issues. 

The power of the CB radio

A significant contributing factor that can affect the range is the power of the radio. Most CB radios come with 4 watts of power. That is a legal requirement to prevent the CB radio signals from interfering with TV’s, phones, and much more.

But there is an exception to this. A single side band model (SSB) can carry just the CB audio wave instead of the audio and the carrier waves. That allows a considerable increase in range and power. It’s known to increase the power by x4 and boost the range overall. 

The only issue that both parties must be using SSB models for any of this to work.

measuring volts

How do I increase the range on my CB radio? 

If you’re wondering What Is The Range Of A CB Radio, you are probably wondering how to increase it. There are many ways that you can improve the range of your CB radio. I will guide you through some.

Buy a low sensitivity CB radio.

It’s a great idea to get a CB radio that has a squelch. A squelch is excellent because it can change the sensitivity of the radio. If you operate your CB radio at a lower squelch setting, you can increase the CB radio range.

Use a top-quality antenna

The antenna is a critical factor in the range of a CB radio. If you have a good antenna, you can considerably improve the range. Some CB radios come with weak antennas, but you can change the antenna, which is excellent for range on some models.

Make sure you’re in a good environment

Often CB radio users are communicating between two moving vehicles at the same time. And in many circumstances, this provides no issues. However, if the cars are driving in different directions or driving far apart, you can have great difficulty with the range.

Try to avoid objects to will block the signal waves

The best range is where there aren’t any objects that will affect the signal waves. It can be difficult to avoid objects such as walls if you’re in a big city. But if possible, try to communicate in a place with as minimal objects as possible because this will improve your CB radio’s average range.

Perform a correct installation

  • Before you install the product, make sure that you have all the correct components. Here are some things that you should look at.
  • If you’re connecting your CB radio to your vehicle, make sure it’s properly grounded to the vehicle chassis. A poorly fitted antenna can cause all kinds of issues with the range. 
  • It would be best if you had around 2/3 of your antenna above the vehicle. That will give CB radio the best opportunity to get an acceptable range.
  • Be sure to test your SWR settings. Before you drill any holes in your vehicle, check that the SWR can achieve optimal readings. 
  • It would be best if you also looked to see if your coax is in good condition. A damaged coax that has been bent or slightly.

What is the average range of a CB radio?

The average range depends on the type of CB radio that you have and your location. But I have done some research that will give you an idea.

A general rule of thumb is that CB radios have a range of around 3 miles to 20 miles depending on the model, antenna, and external factors that may affect the range.

The quality of the antenna generally determines the average range of a CB radio. I will give you some examples of average ranges depending on the antenna of the CB radio. 

Dual fiberglass antennas

Having a dual fiberglass antenna can drastically increase the average range by over 25 percent compared to a single antenna. Having a 5′ length can improve the average range by up to 6 – 9 miles.

Magnetic antennas

If you’re using a magnetic antenna, you can drastically improve the CB radio’s average range. A 5′ length can mean an average range of 5-7 miles. And a 3′ length is a range of around 2-4 miles.

Single fiberglass antennas

Using a single fiberglass antenna for your CB radio provides suitable average ranges. A single fiberglass antenna that is 5′ in length has an average range of around 5-7 miles.

Base Station Antennas

Base station antennas provide the best average ranges, but they can be challenging to estimate. The average range can vary from 15-50 miles depending on external factors. But you can expect an excellent average range of 15km at least.

Magnetic Antennas 

A prevalent option is a magnetic antenna. You can place these on the center of your roof, and they provide a large variety of average range from 2-7 miles.

It can be challenging to estimate the average range of a CB radio due to the many external factors mentioned throughout this article. 

But if you have performed a sound installation, all the correct checks and processes took into account. And you’re not surrounded by many objects; then you can expect these average estimates to be reasonably accurate.

What is the range of a handheld CB radio?

Due to the small antenna of a handheld CB radio, the CB radio range is far less. But you can expect a variety of different ranges depending on the model that you use. 

If you’re outside, a general average range for a handheld CB radio is 2 miles. However, this shrinks when you’re indoors. In a shopping mall, you might only get 100 yards of range due to interference. 

One of the most significant issues you will face if you use a handheld CB radio while traveling in a car is the metal frame blocking signals. It’s a good idea to hold the antenna towards the window to prevent low range. 

It’s a good idea to try to have an antenna added to the handheld CB radio to increase the range. You can buy these from many stores, and they will drastically improve the signal of a handheld CB radio that comes with a tiny antenna and has a range of 50m indoors.

Conclusion

The best way to get a practical range to meet your requirements is to purchase one with a great antenna. The antenna of a CB radio determines everything about the signal’s range, power, and quality. 

what is the range of a cb radio

It’s also essential to be aware of your surroundings and locations. It’s an excellent idea to prepare if you know that you’re going to be communicating through numerous objects. Signals struggle to pass through objects adequately, and this leads to a lack of range.

Another great idea is to make sure that you install the CB radio correctly. It’s not uncommon to see poor installations that can utterly hamper the range of a CB radio. Placing the antenna in a poor position on the car will impact the average range of your CB radio.

So What Is The Range Of A CB Radio? It’s difficult to predict the average range for certain because so many factors affect it. But I aimed to give you a reliable guide on what to expect. 

Just be sure to install the CB radio correctly, check your location for objects that could affect the range, and make sure you have a great antenna that gives you excellent added range. If you do all these, then the great technology of the CB radio will do the perfect job. 

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