They may be old-school devices, but a CB Radio is still popular among many people. If you’re looking for the best citizen band radio, you’re in the right place. However, we understand that there are many devices out there, and it can be hard to find the best option that will suit your needs.
Before you shop for the best CB radio, there are several things to keep in mind. Top among them is their suitability in certain areas and whether there’s a need for licensing or certification.
In our review, we have analyzed several options on the market and narrowed down to three top picks. Let’s jump right into the discussion.
What is a CB Radio ?
A CB radio is a mobile radio system used by people to communicate within a short distance range. It’s a two-way voice communication between two persons and operates through the use of a shortwave band.
This land mobile service radio can use many channels, and different people can share a single frequency, but they cannot all transmit at one time.
Communication is restricted to two people at a particular time. One has to press a talk button on his radio, which turns on the transmitter and allows him to talk to a person on the other end. Some options are dual-channels that allow users to communicate to two people simultaneously.
Who uses a CB Radio ?
CB radios are being overtaken by technology where new gadgets such as smartphones have apps for communication.
However, these devices are still popular with some truck drivers in some areas or states. Some areas have restrictions that prohibit the use of mobile phones for communication. In this case, the uses of CB radios become the only convenient method of communication.
A CB Radio can be used in an organization with a fleet of trucks. Many drivers may use this medium to communicate with the head office while on transit within a specified range.
A driver can use the radio to identify speed traps and relay such information to other drivers within the same communication system.
For instance, a driver who encounters a traffic jam on the way can alert the other drivers to look for an alternative route, which will be more convenient.
This radio can also be used by off-roaders, motorcyclists, and even hobbyists to communicate with others on their whereabouts. Also, users can send alerts to each other in case of an emergency.
A CB Radio will be useful where there are interruptions on a mobile phone signal, and the driver would wish to make a communication to the office.
Various types of Citizens Band (C.B) radio
Handheld/portable CB radio
A handheld CB radio looks like a walkie-talkie and is powered by rechargeable batteries. It comes with a jack for mobile use, antennas, and cigarette lighters. They are mostly short-range and can only receive signals within a specified range.
A mobile radio is common with automobiles and truck drivers. It’s available in varying sizes and looks like a tiny box fitted with buttons. It also has a microphone and may come with an external speaker to use with a P.A. system. Every device is unique and comes with different features to suit individual needs.
A base station CB-radio is a good choice for indoor reception. It has an internal power supply and lets you connect to a wall outlet. However, it’s not recommended for vehicle use as the car is constantly on the motion. For you to get the best reception, you can set it up on the higher ground.
All in one CB-Radio
The last item is the all in one CB radio which mimics a handheld mobile device or handset. The advantage of having this device is that it’s sleek, which makes it easy to use. It’s popular with hobbyists since it’s just like normal mobile phones. If you have a small car, this option is the best for you, and its installation is equally a breeze.
Top 3 brands that we recommend
Cobra 50 WX ST Hand Held CB Radio
- A superior sound tracking system
- NOAA and other alerts
- Scans channels
- Wide range.
Our selection of COBRA CB radio is not by mistake. It’s an all-inclusive device that allows for easy installation. It’s a high performer, and we consider it as the best citizen band radio since it’s packed with multiple features to improve your user experience.
With this device, you can scan up-to forty channels within range. Plus, you can get NOAA and other alerts or emergencies, which lets you stay safe.
This device comes in a minimalistic design and is the best option where you have space limitations. It can cover a wide range with an allowable power output of 4 watts. What this means is that you communicate with other people within your range.
We love the superior sound tracking system of this device, which effectively eliminates background noises and thereby delivers a clear signal.
Finally, it’s a dual-watch gadget that lets you pick two different channels simultaneously and subsequently notifies you of any incoming calls.
- The device has eliminates close to 90% of background noise interference
- It can scan many channels automatically
- Comes in a simple design that doesn’t clutter your space
- Can cover a wide range with an output of 4 watts
- Let’s you pick two different channels simultaneously
- Gives you NOAA and other emergencies alert such as weather updates
- Easy to recharge
- Users are disappointed with the quality of the antenna
Uniden PRO 520XL
- Sleek design
- Power output range 4 watts
- Channel scan
- External speaker
- Back lit display
Our next product is UNIDEN CB radio, which comes in a sleek design. Hence you won’t have trouble finding a place to install it.
The UNIDEN is a big name when it comes to communication gadgets, and this gives you confidence that their CB radio is a friend to the rescue.
The first thing that strikes is the power output-range of 4 watts, which is allowed in many jurisdictions. Hence for your peace of mind, your gadget is unlikely going to interfere with other communication systems.
One feature is the channel scan that can receive up to 40 channels, and this extends your scope of communication.
The package comes with everything you need, such as a microphone and a long cord for convenience. Others are Squelch control, noise-limiter switch, P.A. switch, and more.
If you enjoy hitting the road at night, you’ll be impressed with the nine transmitter-indicator lights illuminating the display and letting you have a clear view of the readings.
Another feature is the speaker, which you can connect and use as a P.A. system. Additionally, there is a user manual that eases your installation process.
With the noise cancellation feature and auto squelch control; you’re assured of clear signals which boost your communication.
Finally, you have access to emergency alerts within your range.
- Comes with a noise cancellation feature
- Has an external speaker
- Comes in an all-inclusive package
- Can receive many channels
- Clear signals
- Poor quality antenna
Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio
- NOAA/weather updates
- Forty channels
- LCD screen
- Key-lock features
- Noise limiter (ANL)
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced CB radio that will boost your communication within a specified range, you can consider the Midland option. This device is small in size and is a handheld device that you can carry in your pocket.
Don’t be cheated by the small size, and this device can receive up to forty channels within range. Even better, the selection is automatic. It’s a dual-watch, which means you can receive two channels at the same time.
Also, you can receive ten NOAA alerts and other emergencies. It helps you in staying updated on what is happening around include weather updates. Therefore, you can avoid driving in an area where there’s likely to be a storm.
This device is one of the best CB radio and allows for an output of power at 4 watts, which is acceptable in many jurisdictions.
The package comes with six AA-batteries, and there’s a cigarette lighter and an adapter when using a mobile.
The product comes with a noise cancellation feature as well as a squelch control. Thus, this helps in boosting reception by getting rid of external noises.
The packages include a year of warranty and hence you can return if not satisfied with the product. Finally, the device is easy to use since it comes with an LCD display and an auto-lock keypad.
- Easy to use
- One year warranty
- Noise limiter feature
- Dual watch
- NOCC/weather alerts
- Channel scan
Benefits of CB radio
- A CB radio is an important device that you can use to communicate with other users within a specified range or region. A CB radio is a classic or traditional device for communication. Although there are modern communications systems that have taken the world by storm, the CB radio is still popular among many users.
- Track drivers on transit rely on these gadgets to communicate with other drivers within a specific range. The advantage is that as a user, you can get clear signals or access to many channels. You can also receive alerts such as NOAA/weather, which keeps you up to date.
- Other professionals, such as doctors, use these devices for emergency communication. Likewise and law enforcers use the CB radio to communicate with each other.
- Additionally, hobbyists love these devices to communicate with each other. For example, if you’re organizing camping with friends or family, you can use CB radio to communicate.
Vital features of high-quality CB Radios
Most people confuse the features of C.B.s with other devices such as the lingo. Below here, we explain the most important features
It is the point at which the CB Radio releases a signal. Hence, the operator doesn’t have to keep on listening to the static and only activates its speaker after receiving the transmission. This feature is found in all CB radios, including modern ones.
The CB. Radio functions the same way as a regular radio. You can scan various channels, find people, and listen. Therefore, this lets you join in discussions automatically without having to flip the channels.
With this feature, the operator can filter any transmission received depending on the strength of the signal. It helps block out feeble transmissions, thereby canceling external noises as you talk with a user whose signal is strong. With this feature, the sound quality is improved, and hence you don’t have to worry about faint signals.
Public Address capability
As the same suggests, you can use a microphone and a C.B. Radio as a transmission device for a P.A. system. However, you need to mount a horn on the roof of your vehicle to boost the sound.
ANL (Noise Filter) feature
ANL is an acronym for Automatic Noise Limited, which helps filter any noise from the engine or static that may interfere with the signal or quality of the sound.
A weather capability is a unique feature that can access your local radio channels to get updates and real-time reports about the weather.
How does a CB radio antenna work?
For you to get the best CB Radio range or signal, you’ll need a high-quality antenna. Portable CB Radios have antennas that let you carry the device conveniently. The antenna has two functions. First, it receives the radio frequency or signals and converts them to electric signals.
Secondly, it receives electric signals or frequencies directly from the transmitter and automatically converts them to radio frequency signals.
Fair warning, the antenna is different from the normal radio AM or F.M. antennae. Any attempt to use the later will result in poor signal and reception. A CB radio requires a unique antenna that’s compatible with its band.
For you to get the best reception and boost the output, you need to use specific antennas. You can mount it above your building or on a tree-top to enhance reception. A large-sized antenna has the best signal as compared to a small-sized. Therefore, the best CB radio requires the best antenna.
What is the range of a CB radio?
A CB radio can have the longest range of approximately three miles or 4.8 kilometers up to twenty miles or thirty-two kilometers. However, this depends on the terrain of the location. However, certain conditions may permit a wide ranger, which allows communication between distances.
You can increase the CB Radio range by using the CB Radio-specific antennas. Next, place them at a higher location above your building. Then adjust your CB radio in a way that blocks external noises or static.
Main variables affecting the range of CB radio
People in the communication industry may have a clue about a CB radio range. Many questions may come to the mind of the users, such as the distance and the range. For us to get a clear understanding of this, we’ll dive into the factors affecting the CB Radio range. Keep reading.
1) Power Output
Some areas may require certification or licenses before operating a CB radio. Depending on your jurisdiction, there’s an allowable amount of power output for these devices. In most cases its 4 watts of power or less and this helps protect other devices like Televisions and emergency-communication gadgets from CB radio frequencies interference.
Before you buy this device, you need to check on the manufacturer’s specifications on the allowable limits. However, it’s doubtful to get a device that fails to honor the rules or guidelines. When you tune your radio, you can achieve an optimal power output.
2) Location /Environment
Your location can determine your range. People on higher grounds are likely to achieve long ranges than people in low areas. If you live in a forested area or a place with many rock barriers, the range will be sorter.
If you live in a city with high-rise buildings, the signal will be weak than someone who lives in an open space. Objects can interfere with the transmission of the CB radio signal.
Water bodies like lakes and oceans although flat may interfere with the transmission as the waves travel above the water surface. Also, the signals will be excellent if you’re in the same line with people traveling either ahead or behind your car.
The CB Radio design incorporates a squelch, receiver, and other factors that may affect the range. A manually operated squelch is preferable since it lets you adjust your radio’s sensitivity. Hence, this helps in achieving different signals.
A lower level enables you to receive signals from far areas. However, there may be interference from external noises. On the other hand, a higher level minimizes these noises, and the transmission is superior. Luckily a noise limiter feature helps in reducing these interference’s.
When searching, low for a low-sensitivity device, although modern gadgets have the best reception. Low-sensitivity levels mean you are free to pick your preferred signal.
4) Portable or Handheld Radio Devices vs. Mobile-Antenna Type
A portable C.B. radio resembles a walkie-talkie that police use for communications. This device has a short-range which may not exceed one hundred yards. When communicating with other vehicles, the signal may not go beyond one mile. However, an antenna helps to boost the signal and offer a more extended range. If you are at a higher ground, you’ll get a good signal.
However, the handled device may not work well inside your vehicle since the car’s body may interfere with the signals. You may want to hold your device near the window to boost the range.
5) Placement, Height, and Length
People at a higher ground will receive the best C.B. radio signal and, at the same time, transmit to users below them. Therefore, a high height is desirable in conveying a longer range. Lower heights and in places with obstructions may have the weakest signals. However, you may need to place an antenna to boost the signal.
6) Quality of the Installation
You may be equipped will a tool to mount a C.B. radio for your vehicle. However, all this might amount to zero if the installation quality is not up to the standard. You’ll need to ensure the antenna is mounted on the chassis to receive the best SWR. Before you install, test whether you can receive the SWR- readings. Lastly, ensure the coax is in good condition since it’s one of the vital parts of your C.B. radio.
7) Other considerations
The quality of the installation of your C.B. radio antenna will determine the range. Even in your vehicle, you can look for the best place to install the antenna. It could help if you got a long antenna with low radiation. For this reason, the signal can travel near the ground and transmit a wide range.
The best antenna that will offer a good range distance is made of stainless steel. However, these may not be suitable for use in areas such as garages and places with trees.
Dual-fiber grass options are more effective and boost the range by 25% than the single fiberglass options.
A base station is better equipped with various antennas that are mounted at convenient locations. Quite often, you may find these antennas mounted on high grounds to receive and transmit signals to longer ranges. Proper installation ensures there’s a long-range transmission of up to fifteen miles.
Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs)
What is a C.B. Radio?
A CB Radio is a communication gadget that allows people to communicate within a specified range. It uses a shortwave band and can scan many channels within an area. The best CB radio can provide alerts and is useful in emergencies. It’s popular amongst truck drivers, doctors, police, and hobbyists.
How can I boost the signal reception of my CB radio?
You can use an antenna to boost the signal and get a clear reception. However, the normal aerials will not work and hence the need for special CB-antennas. For better performance, set it at a higher ground where there’s enhanced reception and signal strength.
Are there any restrictions on the use of CB radios?
Yes, most states restrict the use of C.B. radio due to their potential to interfere with security and communication installations. In most cases, you’ll find an allowable power output of 4 watts, and there’s regulation as to the height of antenna installations.
Does CB radio issue alert?
The majority of modern C.B. radios can issue notifications for NOAA/Weather updates and other emergencies. It’s an essential feature since you can stay up to date on the happenings and, most importantly, the weather updates. When driving in bad weather, these updates will help you avoid emergencies such as bad weather.
Do CB Radio users need a license from authorities?
In most places, you don’t seek approval to use a CB radio. But, some jurisdictions are stringent and require users to get a license to use the CB radio. Before you use these devices in a new area, it’s essential to check with the local authorities.
Why is there a poor CB reception in towns?
Towns or cities have high rise buildings which block the reception. A good C.B. signal will travel in an open area, and buildings are a hindrance. Even though the transmitter was above the tallest building, other structures will still block the reception.
Our top pick is COBRA CB Radio, which scores many points to give you the best user experience. If you’re looking for the best CB radio, you’ll need one that can scan many channels and key among them being an emergency channel. From our review, your choices can also be limited to your preferences and user need. Most importantly, the device should offer a clear and strong signal while allowing you to communicate with other users within a specified region. Hopefully, you can now look out and pick the best device that will give you value for money and give you the best performance.
- Beginner’s guide to CB Radio–Buy two way radios