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What is the Range of a CB Radio? (According to FCC, Antenna,…)

Writen by Edwin Jones

Fact checked by Andrew Wright

what is the range of a cb radio

If you’re new to CB radios, you probably have a lot of questions. Among others, one thing that most people ask is what is the range of a CB radio?

The specific range of a CB radio depends on many things. For instance, the type of radio and environmental conditions are some important factors that come into play.

On average, it can range from 1 to 20 miles. The type of antenna and environmental conditions are some of the factors that can influence the specific range.

Read on to learn more about the distance that a citizens band radio can cover. More importantly, I will also discuss the factors that will influence such and tips on how you can optimize its coverage for the best performance.

What is the Average Range of a CB Radio?

A CB radio has 40 channels in the frequency range of 27 MHz. The FCC governs its use, so you must look for a label that shows its certification.

When choosing a CB radio, one of the most important considerations is its range. It has a direct impact on performance. Luckily, you don’t need to manually do a CB radio range test. Below, we’ll give you an idea of its potential coverage.

1. According to the FCC


The FCC necessitates the CB radio’s transmission power should not be over 4 watts. More so, they note that the range of the said radio will range from 1 to 5 miles. Nonetheless, experiences shared by many people highlight that the range could be greater and can reach 6 miles.

More so, FCC also emphasizes that some users may opt to use certain modifications for enhancing the coverage of the radios. Examples of such include high-output amplifiers and peak and tune. Nonetheless, take note that they are illegal.

2. According to Radio Type


One of the most common types is a portable CB radio, which can have a range of only 100 yards. These are common in walkie-talkies. Meanwhile, a mobile or portable CB radio in a vehicle has a range of 1 mile. It is possible to extend it by a few miles, but you’ll need to choose a more powerful antenna.

On the other hand, base station CB radio is more powerful. On average, the range can be 15 to 50 miles. Although, like in the case of portable CBs, the environment is a major consideration when it comes to CB radio distance.

3. According to Antenna


The antenna has a major influence on CB radio’s distance coverage. No wonder, many people are investing in aftermarket antennas to create a long range CB radio.

If you have a single fiberglass antenna, the range can be 2 to 10 miles. It will depend on the length of the antenna.

For CB radios in vehicles with antennas that mount on the roof through a magnet, the range is usually 2 to 7 miles.

On the other hand, if the CB radio comes with a stainless steel whip antenna, you can expect an average distance of 8 to 10 miles.

Lastly, if you’re looking for the longest range CB radio, you might need one that comes with a base station antenna. The range can be as high as 50 miles.

Factors Affecting CB Rang


As you know by now, it’s almost impossible to have a definite answer when it comes to the range miles of CB radios. It can vary as various factors can be influential, including those briefly mentioned below.

1. Antenna

As earlier mentioned, the antenna has an important role in the coverage of CB radios. Stainless steel antennas with a length of up to 102 inches are known for being some of the most powerful.

Meanwhile, no-ground plane antennas are known for being some with the shortest range. Such an antenna with a length of 1 to 2 feet will cover only 1 to 2 miles.

2. Power Rating

It’s crucial to look at the technical details of CB radios when determining their range. One of the first things to consider is the power rating, which the manufacturer expresses in watts. The higher the wattage, the more distance the radio can cover.

However, note that the legal requirement is to have a maximum power rating of 4 watts. Nonetheless, you can find single-sideband (SSB) models, which are more powerful. It can transmit more power by broadcasting only using audio waves.

3. Radio Sensitivity

Speaking of technical specifications, it’s also crucial to consider the sensitivity of the CB radio you’re using. Using a radio with high sensitivity will make it more prone to coverage problems. It increases the likelihood of picking up the background noise.

Meanwhile, a CB radio with low sensitivity can be less prone to suffering from background noise. As a result, the range can be better.

4. Radio Accessories

Using different radio accessories can also influence the range. For instance, a CB radio with amplifier might perform better than a radio that does not have one. It can increase the power output, and hence, improve the overall performance.

 5. Environmental Conditions

Your surroundings will also be highly influential in the CB radio range. For instance, the terrain can increase or decrease the coverage. If you are perched up with an open view, then you can have better transmission power.

On the other hand, if you are in a city with tall buildings and other physical structures, the range can be limited. The range in mountains might also be not so stellar, especially if there are lots of tall trees and rocks that could block signals.



Can a CB Radio Reach 50 Miles?

A CB radio can have a 50 mile range. The CB radio base station range can be as high as 50 miles, which makes it one of the most powerful. More than the antenna, however, you must also factor in the operations in determining its distance.

How Do I Increase the Range of My CB Radio?

Several solutions can promise a long distance CB radio, including the following:

  • Use one that comes with low sensitivity. As earlier mentioned, it does not have too much background noise, which can also help improve clarity.
  • Invest in a top-tier antenna. You can choose from a variety of aftermarket antennas that are designed to optimize range.
  • Ensure a good environment, especially one that is free of physical obstructions and metal objects. By using CBs in open areas, the range can be higher.
  • Install the radio correctly, including the antenna to boost CB range. Read the manual and religiously follow the instructions from the manufacturer.
  • Installing a range booster is another great way to optimize the radio’s distance. It will help you connect to more people without being limited to a few miles.

How Far Does a CB Radio Reach?

The CB radio can reach up to 50 miles. This is the case if it comes with a base station antenna. Aside from having a powerful antenna, it must also have favorable conditions, such as an area without physical obstructions that can limit transmission.


So, what is the range of a CB radio? As noted, it depends. It can be as short as 1 mile to as long as 50 miles. Various factors will influence distance, such as the choice of antenna, radio sensitivity, and surrounding conditions. The notable thing is, you can try to improve the range of your CB radio with the guide above. Enjoy the clear signal.

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