Two-Way Radios and Range

rln6491-operations-critical-wireless-heavy-duty-headsetThe most obvious (and most frequent) question: “How far will I be able to reach with this radio?”. Honestly, there is no simple, straight-forward answer. The factors affecting the range of a two-way radio are: the radio’s antenna and power, and the terrain. Some insight on how each of these factors impacts your ability to transmit and receive over distance is below.


You knownar6591a the higher you go, the greater the range. Having a tall antenna means having maximum range. Motorola two-way radios have removable antennas, so upgrading your antenna is a low-cost (around $20) easy way to improve range performance.

Mobile radio antennas are mounted on the outside of a vehicle, preferably on the roof, so the antenna as high as possible, providing maximum range.


Operating at maximum power will also help to improve range. Using fully charged batteries allows transmitting and receiving at the highest power level possible


The average li-ion battery contains 1.2V of power, and the average alkaline battery pack produces 1.5V. That makes battery packs worth looking into. Motorola IMPRES batteries too. Having the right battery may mean the difference in getting the message out or not.


Terrain has more affect than any other factor. Using a high perch, over flat terrain a two-way radio can transmit and receive up to 30 miles. On the ground with no obstacles to interfering, the curvature of the earth limits communications to about 6.5 miles. Adding obstructions such as trees, hills, valleys, and buildings may decrease a radio’s range to under a half mile.

Know your terrain before you buy. If you are needing radios for use in a fairly open area, then VHF model radios are best. The longer radio waves of a VHF radio give a greater range over open spaces. UHF the best choice for use around structures and in dense areas.

Just out of Range?

When you are on the edge of your range there are a several things to try to increase your range just enough to hear or talk when you need it.

  • Climb. Get to the highest point you can so your radio will have a greater line-of-sight.
  • Stand Up. Standing can increase your range over 1 mile!
  • Use High Power Mod, if you have it. This significantly boosts your signal, improving range in dense areas.

If there’s a need to improve system-wide range, you can consider Motorola Two-Way Radio Repeaters or Bi-Directional Amplification (BDA).slr5700_02

Repeaters receive weak radio signals and transmit them with greater power, providing up to twice the range. Repeaters are great for large outdoor areas that have many hills and valleys that would normally cut the radio signal short (think ski or vacation resort). They are typically installed with a large antenna in the highest area possible to get the maximum line-of-sight and range.

BDA’s are ideal for increasing range within buildings and down into basements. Concrete and metal strongly affect radio signals and limit range. Adding a BDA can amplify a radio’s transmit and receive strength and help get through those barriers.

If you’d like to learn more about improving your range through repeater systems or BDA’s, contact your 2-Way Communications Account Manager today. We’d be glad to assist you in getting the range you need to drive your business forward.

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