Where can I find product manuals?
Product Manuals, if available, are found by selecting the “Downloads tab” on that particular radio's web page.
How do I return a product under warranty in for repair?
Warranty repairs are handled directly through the product manufacturer. We provide a list of contacts for the manufacturers we carry in our Warranty Repairs section.
Ordering and Shipping
How safe is it to shop on this site?
Will you sell my information to others?
What is your return policy?
We offer a 30 day return policy. Please read our Returns Policy for details.
When will my order ship?
We are committed to providing same day shipping on all in-stock orders placed before 3:00 PM, EST Monday through Thursday. Friday orders generally ship the following Monday. More details are available in our Shipping Policy.
Where is my tracking number?
When your product ships an email is sent to the email address you provided during the checkout process. If a tracking number is available we will include it in the e-mail. Automatically generated emails are sometimes flagged as spam by email programs, so check your spam folder.
I don't like to use my credit card on-line. Can I mail my payment?
At this time we only accept payment by credit card or purchase order. Purchase orders must have prior credit approval.
Do you accept purchase orders?
Yes. We do accept purchase orders. Purchase orders must have prior credit approval. Contact us if you would like to apply for purchase order approval.
Are you selling refurbished products?
Everything we sell is new and under full factory warranty. We do not sell refurbished or ‘knock-off’ merchandise.
Which shipping carrier do you use?
Most shipments within the United States are sent by UPS or FedEx . Occassionally we use other carriers.
Do you ship to addresses outside of the United States?
No, we currently ship only to locations within the United States.
Choosing a Radio and Understanding Radio Technology
Which radio works best in each environment?
- UHF radios perform well both indoors and outdoors. If you are using your two way radio inside or near buildings, in a city environment, we recommend you use UHF or digital radios since the signal will penetrate through walls far better. UHF radios are also used outdoors where there are trees, or other obstacles.
- VHF radios are best for outdoor use where there are few obstacles and clear line-of-sight. VHF signals will travel further than UHF, but you need to have a clear line-of-site. VHF signals do not penetrate obstacles as well as UHF signals.
- Digital radios perform much like UHF radios.
Why is wattage important?
Wattage is one key factor that determines the strength of your radio signal. Therefore, the more wattage a radio has, generally the longer distance it’s signal can travel and the clearer the transmission will be. The larger the job-site, the more watts you should purchase.
What are channels used for?
Channels are used to send the actual communications. Each channel in an analog radio is tied to a particular frequency. You can assign a different channel to separate work groups within your organization. This way each work group can have their own channel to reduce disruptions to other departments. Digital radios provide the added benefit of allowing each worker to have an individual channel as well as a channel for their work group.
How many channels do I need?
Think about which groups of employees need to communicate with each other on a regular basis. Divide these employees into groups who will be assigned a specific channel. For instance in a small hotel, you might make the following channel assignments:
Channel 1 - ‘All Call’ channel that talks to all groups
Channel 2 - Housekeeping Staff
Channel 3 - Front Desk Staff
Channel 4 - Maintenance Staff
Channel 5 –Valet Parking
To cut down on excess chatter, the Housekeeping Staff would communicate with other Housekeeping Staff by using Channel 2. That way, other departments don’t hear calls that don’t involve them. Your groups might be set up according to location, department, or type of work. Each department would leave their radios turned to their own channel and communicate amongst themselves by using the Push to Talk button (PTT).
You can use the scanning feature to set up which groups hear and talk to other groups. In our hotel example, you’d program all staff radios to scan Channel 1 (All Call) and their own channel. So, Housekeeping radios would scan Channel 1 and Channel 2. Front Desk radios would scan Channel 1 and Channel 3 and so on. The Manager might program their radio to scan all channels, so they can oversee general operations.
When one group needs to talk to another group, they simply turn their radios to that group’s channel to speak with them. For example, when the Front Desk wants to talk to Housekeeping they would temporarily turn their radios to Channel 2. Anyone who wants to talk to Maintenance would turn their radios to Channel 4. Anyone who wants to talk to the whole group would turn their radios to Channel 1 where everyone would hear their message because all radios have been programmed to scan Channel 1.
It’s important to plan ahead. Think about how many people and groups of people will need to communicate now and in the future. You’ll want to buy radios that can accommodate your business growth 3-5 years in the future. You might spend a little more now, but it will be much less expensive than replacing all your radios if they can’t handle your communication requirements in the immediate future.
Commercial grade handheld radios can have between 2 and 512 channels. As you can see this is quite a range!
How far can a handheld radio communicate?
The distance a handheld radio can communicate depends several factors. The most important factors for you to consider are: band (VHF or UHF), wattage, antenna type, and environment.
- The more wattage a radio has, the longer distance it’s signal can travel. Manufacturers claims of long distances are based on what might be achieved under near perfect conditions. Some radios may work a mile or so away, but most are designed to work primarily within a single location. For example, in a city environment the most powerful UHF radio (4 watts) will give you approximately a range of 2 city blocks. Obstacles such as buildings, hills, etc. will reduce the range of communications. Out in the open with no obstacles you can expect more distance. If you are standing on a hill your distance could be even further.
- Longer antennas provide better signal reception; a short (or stubby) antenna cuts your range by roughly 30%.
- Repeaters can extend the range of communication. A repeater basically does as the name suggests, it 'boosts' the signal and sends it out again. Repeaters have much more wattage than handheld radios, generally between 25 and 100 watts, so the repeated signal will travel much farther than the original signal from the radio.
What are the different types of radios?
Each of the following types of radios come in VHF, UHF, and Digital varieties.
- Handheld or Portable radios are the two-way radios that most people use. As the name suggests you hold them in your hand and can be carried them with you.
- Mobile radios are used in vehicles and are permanently mounted. They can have up to 100 watts of power, need special licensing and setup, and you can expect more range with these types of radios.
- Base stations are placed on a desk or counter. They pug into a standard electrical wall socket, and use a antenna usually located on the highest point of the building where they are located. They also can have up to 100 watts of power, need special licensing and setup, and you can expect more range with these types of radios.
- Repeaters can extend the range of a radio by boosting the signal where the repeater is located so the signal may continue traveling. It can help you get ‘around’ obstacles, or simply extend the range of communication beyond what is possible with your handheld or mobile radio alone.
- Trunking systems manage communications of more complex systems. In conventional radios a frequency is assigned to a channel through programming, one frequency per channel. Channel assignments in a conventional radio can only be changed by re-programming the channel. In a Trunked radio system all frequencies are in a 'pool', the pool is managed by another device. Frequencies are allocated to a radio's channel dynamically as they are needed. Once the transmission is complete the frequency is released back into the 'pool'. This is a much more efficient use of frequencies but requires more sophisticated equipment. Generally systems with a large number of users require trunking systems. There are several types of trunking protocols; LTR®, PassPort®, SmartTrunk®.
- Radio Over Internet Protocol (ROIP) can enable you to connect your radio system to the internet, thus allowing you to communicate anywhere in the world.
How many radios can I use at one location?
There is no limit to the number of radios that can be used at a location. However, to manage communications better we recommend that you limit the number of users on each channel to approximately ten.
Do radios of one brand communicate with other brands?
Many radios of one brand can communicate with other radio brands provided they are all programmed to the same frequencies and codes. You should check with the dealer or manufacturer on specific models.
It is important to remember that you must be on the same frequency to communicate. UHF and VHF radios do not communicate with each other. They use difference frequency ranges or 'bands'. VHF uses frequency ranges between 30 – 300 MHz (MHz stands for mega hertz). UHF uses frequency ranges between 300 MHz – 3 GHz (GHz stands for giga hertz).
Always check with your dealer to make sure the different radios will work together.
What are the advantages of digital radios?
Most digital radios allow for both group and individual communication. The clarity of the signal is generally better with digital radios due to digital error correction technology. Although once you get to the outer range of communication and the signal gets very weak, you will get no reception with digital, where you might still get some faint signal with analog. Text messaging and the ability to add other types of data to the transmitted signal are possible with digital radios. Digital technology in two-way radios is relatively new and still evolving.
Digital transmissions operate on the 900MHz ISM unlicensed frequencies so no FCC license is required to operate them on the digital channels. Today most digital two-way radios used in business also have analog transmission capability (either UHF or VHF can be ordered). This makes communication between older analog radios and newer digital radios possible for a customer who already owns an analog fleet of radios, and wants to migrate to digital technology over time.
Can I use the same charger between different radio types?
No. Each radio model requires a charger designed specifically for that radio model and battery. This is due to different battery chemistry, sizes, and charge times between radio models.
What is the difference between a short and long antenna?
A short (or stubby) antenna cuts your range by approximately 30%. The short antenna sometimes makes the radio easier to carry, and works well in locations like small hotels, schools, small construction sites, where distance is not an issue.
What is a PL tone and a PL code (also known as CTCSS)?
This is a sub-frequency that filters out other transmissions on the same frequency. This allows channels in the same vicinity to be shared by different user groups. Each group will not hear the other if they are using different privacy tones. Think of it as lanes on a highway; people can share the same highway (frequency), and PL tones are the lanes that prevent them from running into each other (hearing each other). PL codes are the codes associated with each PL Tone.
Privacy codes go by many different names, so this can be confusing. Names such as QT, DQT, PL, PL-tone, PL-code, Privacy code or tone, or CTCSS/DCS, all basically mean the same thing. They are just terms that different manufacturers have used to describe the same function.
What does ‘Intrinsically Safe’ mean?
Intrinsic safety (IS) is a technology for safe operation of electronic equipment in locations where explosive gases may be present. Intrinsically safe radios are designed so the electrical energy in the radio is low enough that ignition of the explosive gases will not occur. Manufacturers must meet specific standards in order for a product to be certified as 'Intrinsically Safe'. Radios meeting this standard have the designation 'Intrinsically Safe' or 'FM Approved' on their documentation.
What is encryption?
Encryption scrambles the voice signal so other radios in your vicinity cannot listen in on your conversations. There are several different types of encryption. Some are simple types that offer basic protection from conversations being over heard. Others offer a higher level of protection and are not easily unscrambled by scanners or other surveillance devices. The common forms are:
- Voice Inversion Encryption is a simpler type of Voice Scrambler used to jumble communications to prevent other radio users in the vicinity from listening to your conversations.
- Rolling Code Encryption, a feature usually only available on higher-end units, is a more robust technology of encoding that is not as easily decoded as scrambling.
- DES 20 provides protection against more advanced types of listening technologies.
- Digital DES P25 secure 56 bit encryption (for public safety applications).
- Digital AES P25 provides the maximum security with 256 bit encryption (for public safety applications).
Are digital radios better at covering distances and obstacles?
In our experience, digital radios do not significantly outperform analog radios of the same wattage. Digital radios have the same power (4 Watts on UHF radios, 5 Watts on VHF radios) resulting in similar performance when it comes to distance and obstacles. Probably the main reason to purchase digital radios is for the added functions they have, not longer range.
What is P25?
P25 stands for ‘Project 25’ and refers to a set of standards for radio communications used in federal, state, and local public safety agencies (such as police and fire departments). P25 enables these agencies to communicate between each other in case of emergencies. These radios are not for businesses or personal use.
How should I care for my battery?
There are a number of things you should know that will prolong your battery life. Our website section Battery Basics will give you many tips to help prolong the life of your battery.
What is Narrowbanding, and what is the new FCC requirement?
In short, the frequency spectrum for two way radio communications is full. In order to add more users in the same spectrum, the FCC has mandated that the bandwidth of each radio channel be cut in half (from 25 KHz to 12.5 KHz). All radios below 512Mhz must meet the narrowband requirement by January 1st, 2013. Meeting the narrowband requirement can be as easy as a programming change, or may involve a system replacement. All of the radios we carry meet the new federal narrowband mandate.
Getting a License
Do I have to get an FCC License?
For two-way radios used in commercial settings, it is recommended that you use a radio type which requires a license. Think of the various FCC services as lanes on a highway, some lanes are open to all. Those lanes may become congested at times. Other services are much like an HOV lane on the highway, they are licensed and allocated to minimize interference on the channel. The different unlicensed FCC services are FRS & GMRS (for personal use only), MURS, or digital (ISM).
Please visit Getting a License in the ‘Resources’ section of our website to learn more.
How do I apply for a license?
Please visit Getting a Two-Way Radio License in the ‘Resources’ section of our website to learn more.
Do I need a license before I can buy a two way radio?
No. There is no requirement that you have a license before buying a two-way radio. You are responsible for insuring you have the proper license to operate your radios.
I don't want to pay for a license. What are my alternatives?
- FRS & GMRS
- FRS service can now be used for either personal or business usage, GMRS is still for personal use only. FRS can be used without a license, GMRS requires a license. Currently most GMRS radios also support both GMRS and FRS frequencies. On these combination radios channels 8-14 are limited to ½ watt, channels 1-7 and 15-22 are 2 watts. GMRS can have repeaters with up to 50 watts of power and there are 8 repeater frequencies.
- MURS is an unlicensed service and can be used for either business or personal operations, but since it is open to everyone you may find the lack of privacy and channel interference to be a problem in a business setting. Your radio must be MURS certified.
- ISM 900MHz
- These radios are usually referred to as "900MHz On-Site" and typically provide coverage within an area of between 325,000 - 350,000 sq ft, and transmit at 1 watt. 900MHz radios work well indoors, but have limited range outdoors. This band does not require a license. Some of these radios are marketed under the category 'eXRS', or ‘eXtreme Radio Service.' Despite the name, the eXRS system is a proprietary design, rather than an official FCC allocated service.
- CB (Citizan Band)
- Long used by truckers and hobbiest, CB radio is does not require a license and can be used for either personal or business operations. Again, since it is open to everyone you may find the lack of privacy and channel interference to be a problem in a business setting.