Even with the advent of smartphones, a citizen’s band or CB radio remains a popular mode of communication, especially amongst motorists. It is still common to see them being used by truck drivers these days.
While it can offer many benefits, one of the shortcomings of a CB radio is its limited range. It’s common to wonder “How far does a CB radio reach?”
It reaches 15 to 30 miles, which is limited by the maximum wattage allowed. Realistically, most will cover 5 miles.
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What is a CB Radio?
Before we talk about the CB radio range, we’ll give you a primer on what exactly it is. In a nutshell, a CB radio is a land mobile communication system that belongs under the Personal Radio Service category. It is designed to be used for both personal and business purposes.
A CB radio has a 40-channel frequency band with CB frequencies of 26.965 MHz to 27.407 MHz. Whether it is for sending or receiving, this radio will use similar frequencies. Hence, it also means that there is only one person that can talk at a time.
The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows the use of a CB radio without a license. But ut is limited to places where FCC is operating. Every radio comes with a label, which proves that it has a certification from the FCC.
Range of a CB Radio
In understanding the range of CB radio, one of the most important things to note is that the FCC imposes a power transmission limit of 4 watts. As a result, it restricts the range to approximately 15 miles in motor vehicles and 30 miles for fixed locations.
However, a realistic average would be five miles, especially given the FCC limitations.
Different factors influence CB radio distance, including those that we’ll be talking about below.
The range will depend on the antenna that you are using. Different types exist, each with its pros and cons. The overall quality will have a huge impact on the range of your radio.
Dual fiberglass antennas are some of the best. They can increase the coverage by up to 25%, given that the direction of travel is the same.
Another great option is a magnetic antenna. At a height of three feet, the average range is anywhere from 2 to 4 miles. If you make it five feet, you can extend the coverage to 5 to 7 miles.
For commercial users, a base station antenna is a great option. If you choose one with exceptional quality and impressive technical specifications, it is unsurprising that it reaches a range of up to 50 miles.
More than the type of antenna, its quality is crucial. A well-built antenna will always deliver a better range compared to one made of cheap materials. So, buy an antenna only from a reliable manufacturer.
Going Beyond Your Choice of Antenna
Your choice of antenna is not the only thing that matters. Even if you have the best antenna for the longest range CB radio, other factors will come into play, making the range higher or lower.
One that will have the biggest impact is the placement of the antenna. If you want to increase its range, the best thing that you can do is mount the antenna in the highest possible location. It should be higher than most objects in its surroundings.
To obtain the maximum range that your antenna can deliver, tuning is vital. You will need a standing wave ratio meter to do this. The goal is for the SWR reading of the antenna to be low, which will prevent the power from being reflected in a feedline.
Your location is another factor to think about when thinking about how short or long a CB radio will transmit. For instance, a portable CB radio range will be shorter indoors than outdoors.
On the road, several factors will come into play. For instance, if you are in an open area, then you can expect a longer range. Meanwhile, the range in mountains, buildings, and other physical obstructions will be shorter.
3. Type of CB Radio
The specific type of CB radio that you are using is also a crucial consideration. If you want a long-range CB radio, then you should go for one that comes with a fixed installation. They have more powerful technical specifications, and they are also more expensive.
On the other hand, a handheld CB range will have a significantly shorter range. Most will only cover up to two miles. If you are using them indoors, the coverage is shorter, with some covering only up to 100 yards.
You can use different accessories if you want a longer range for your CB radio. You can use a booster to increase the power of the radio, which is also what is responsible for having a longer range.
Nonetheless, while the idea can be tempting, you might want to think twice. You can increase the range with an amplifier, but its use may be illegal. In the United States, the FCC mandates the power should be limited to 4 watts for the legal operation of a CB radio.
How far does a CB radio reach? As noted above, it depends on many factors. Most will reach up to five miles, while some say that it can reach 15 to 30 miles, depending on whether it is in a motor vehicle or fixed location.
If you want a long-distance CB radio, there are improvements that you can make beyond choosing a high-quality radio. You can amplify the power by picking the right antenna and mounting it properly.
Hi, I am Amaro Frank – the Wind Up Radio’s content editor and writer. Working with Adam is so much fun, as his stories and experiences enrich my knowledge about radio communications and radio accessories. My main tasks in Wind Up Radio are building content and generating great articles on different topics around radio accessories.