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The difference between walkie talkies vs VHF radios

We all know how important and widely used radio communication is in fact, and there are many occasions where it might come as crucial.

In times where mobile phones lose signal, like in dense forests, radio signal keeps you connected and ensure efficient communication with your interlocutor.

Moreover, one of the most popular communication devices you've heard of is walkies talkies and they found application in almost every segment of life. On the other side, we have VHF bands widely used for today's TV and radio transmissions. 

Now, we will compare these two and learn about the main differences between walkie talkies and VHF bands. Finally, the goal is to get a solid understanding of these two types of signals so you can make a smart pick when investing in devices that use them.

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Walkies talkies vs VHF radios

Now, we will cover a brief description of both devices and later, we’ll see where they differ when it comes to usage, accessibility, and purpose. To top it off here is some in detail info from waycooldigital.com which will give you an in-detail understanding of what you actually need.

Walkie talkie

These nifty devices are supposed to give you the ability to walk and talk and thus the name walkie talkie or to rephrase it talking while walking. Technically, their official name is handheld transceivers or HTs and their development begun during Second

World War with an intent to enhance communication among the infantry. Later, the design spread to artillery and tank units, and finally, they found use in public safety, job-site work, and personal needs.

Technically, walkie talkies are portable two-way radios with a microphone placed into one and a speaker on the other end, with an antenna on top. Simply said, you can use them to receive or transmit a voice message, but not simultaneously. 

VHF radio

VHF radio is “true” two-way radio, and like walkie talkies, it can both transmit and receive a radio signal. Now, VHF radios can work in half-duplex and full-duplex mode, but most are currently half-duplex.

Furthermore, VHF radio can pick up radio signals between 30-300megahertz, and in layman’s terms – they travel over the line of sight. Nonetheless, they are ideal for local communication of few kilometers but are highly terrain dependent.

Not to forget, walkie talkies are always two-way radios while two-way radios aren't necessarily walkie talkies. 

Now that we briefly described them and explained their “modus operandi” we can move to their features and see which benefits they bring.

  1. The number of frequencies 

A very important factor, when it comes to radio devices is the number of frequencies that device supports.

Unfortunately, plain walkie talkies are only limited to one frequency while true two way radios like VHF radio support a range of frequencies. In that light, VHF radios allow talking at the same time in private, making them ideal for military training exercises. 

  1. FCC Licensing Requirements

You probably wonder what is FCC and what licensing requirement do they impose, right? Well, FCC stands for The Federal Communication Commission which manages the public use of radio spectrum.

Next, FCC is also responsible for the expense every radio owner (which possesses the device subjected to FCC licensing) has. To be precise, to use your two-way radio, you’ll need to acquire a license granted by the FCC. In particular, FCC regulates these bands:

  1. The Family Radio Service (FRS channels)
  2. The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) 
  3. The Business Radio Service (BRS)
  4. The Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS)

Finally, BRS and GMRS are subject to FCC licensing fees.

So, let’s cut to the chase and see why is this important when looking at the difference between walkie talkies vs VHF radios!

The main difference in this feature is that single-channel walkie talkies don’t require FCC License while most of the VHF radios do. Therefore, no FCC License devices will keep the money in your pocket, a feature important to consider when deciding what to invest in.  

  1. Stationary Systems

While walkie talkies are always portable, VHF radios can be portable. Therefore, there are portable VHF radios and fixed VHF radios on the market. Because of the portable, lightweight design, portable options have transmission power of up to 6W as opposed to up to 25W for fixed solutions.

Nonetheless, more power means longer range, although VHF radios are more antenna dependent. 

  1. VHF and UHF waves

Walkie talkies can work with VHF or UHF waves while VHF radios only cover VHF waves range. Besides, some walkie talkies can work with both.

VHF waves are better for outdoor communication, where there aren’t dense obstacles (like concrete walls), so they are ideal for flat terrains. 

What’s more, for indoor use, VHF radios would work poorly, hence VHF wavelength cannot break through many obstacles.

Finally, it is very important to figure out where will you use your radio, obstacles, and density of terrain, weather conditions which can occur.

Final words

Overall, it all boils down on understanding the specifics of what, where, and how will you use your radio.

Additionally, understanding how these radios work and what do they require will help you couple the above-mentioned specifics and make a smart buying decision. 

Anyhow, probably the most important factor can be a price tag, hence you should define your budget and then start picking desired features.

Lastly, today’s radio technology is advancing and more and more well-rounded devices are made while concurrently eliminating flaws from previous versions.

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Last Updated on October 9th, 2020

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