VHF & UHF Radios Buying Guide

A VHF radio, also known as a two-way radio is something that requires some knowledge about in order to choose properly. For example, VHF radios are not the only type of two-way radios - there are also UHF and 800 MHz two-way radios as well. The reason to select the VHF would be due to the type of use you intend to put that radio to. For example, a simple comparison of the three types listed above would show that the VHF is great for long distances and good lines of sight (meaning nothing is impeding the line between the two people using the radios). The UHF is good for distance and signal penetration, and the 800 MHz radios are good for getting their signals through solid materials.


This tells us that anyone looking to choose a VHF radio will have understood that it is ideal for long distances that are not broken with solid objects - such as conditions on open water or flat plains.


Consider the Distance

Of course, all VHF radio signals do have a limit, and it is important to understand the wattage of any device in order to gauge just how far it might send its signals. For example, a VHF radio with four-watt capacity could send an uninterrupted signal roughly three to four kilometres away.


Naturally, the wattage can be supported by the size of the antenna too, and the larger this is, the greater the range of dispersion for the signal.



VHF radios may also be selected for the ways that they communicate with one another. There are only two commonly used technologies, and these include simplex and repeater.


The simplex is popular and simply sends the signal into the air and to the other radios within range. If two radios are set to the same channels and within reach of one another, communication occurs.


The repeater method is not as common and it uses a special receiving antenna to capture and send the signal even farther than already possible.


Clearly, this tells us that all types of VHF radios have to use frequencies or bands upon which to send their signals and messages. VHF radios have only the 49.250 to 174 MHz bands available for their use. As long as two radios have common frequency banding they can talk to one another and do not have to be the same brand or part of a matching set.



Choosing your VHF radio also requires you to consider the various features and functions that might make it an ideal option. For instance, because almost all VHF radios are put to use near bodies of water, you will want to consider if investing in a waterproof model. There are some designed to float, vibrate water from their inner workings, and more.


You may also want to consider such features as the display screen that will help those who will use the devices in lower light situations or after dark.  There are also some models that feature noise canceling microphones to make messages clearer and easier to understand.


Consider too the range of channels that any VHF radio will be able to scan. It is important that you are able to scan all available channels - including emergency channels - with only a few clicks or commands. It is also nice to be able to scan all of the channels to find any conversations in progress too. 


The best models will have memories that will capture favourite channels rather than forcing you to scan through available channels at any given time.


Where displays are concerned, in addition to a lit display screen, you may want to have options for viewing the strength of the signal, watching multiple channels all at once, battery life indicators, and illuminated keys.


The ability to charge a unit is also extremely handy, and a spare battery is a real bonus when purchasing a VHF radio as well.


Keep in mind that some models are designed as single handsets and come with clickable speakers connected to their base units as well. Be sure to select a portable if you are hoping to use the radio while on the move or in different parts of a ship, boat, or building. The base units are also found as waterproof models because they so frequently appear on marine vessels.PricingThe prices for VHF radios vary according to the technologies they contain. It is not unusual to find handheld models in the same range as the mounted units, and some of the top brands include Uniden, Cobra, GME, and Fusion among others.