You may have noticed that most of the consumer two-way radios you see around advertise a range of up to 51 kilometers. The truth is, consumer FRS/GMRS radios will not even provide close to the advertised "maximum range".
The range that a two-way radio advertises is the range that the radio should get in "ideal" conditions. Ideal conditions are line of sight, such as from a mountaintop to a valley below -- no interference at all. Most likely, you will not be using the radios in these circumstances! You will probably want two-way radios for things such as hunting, skiing, malls, car trips or vacations. Under these normal conditions, the range of the radio will be limited because of obstructions, such as trees, hills, or buildings. These obstructions block the signal and dramatically reduce the range of a two-way radio.
Here's what a company who makes these types of radio say about their big 1 watt high power radios, they say:
Line-Of-Sight Operation Rated at up to 40 Miles Range, these two-way radios give the best range when there is a clear view between the radios. We test these radios from mountain peak to valley to ensure that they can meet the stated range. Your actual range will usually be limited by the curve of the earth, hills, buildings, trees, and other obstructions. -
Normal PTT transmits at less than 1 W ERP, which is normally plenty of power. However, if you need a little extra punch to get through trees or buildings, the Power Boost key increases power to about 1.7W ERP. (Channels 1-7, 15-22 only.)
So what type of range can you expect from your radio? Usually 500 meters up to two kilometers, depending upon your terrain and the power of your radio. In the same environment, a higher power 5 watt radio with a long antenna would provide considerably more range than a standard store bought half watt radio with a short antenna . When choosing a radio, it is very important to consider both the amount of range that you need and the environment in which you will be using the radios. Naturally, you wouldn't have as many obstructions in a football stadium as being in the middle of a heavily wooded area. For use in a stadium you would likely be fine with a small, half- watt radio. In a wooded area, however, that same radio may not provide sufficient range. These are things that you need to take into consideration when choosing which two-way radio is right for you. All those store bought handheld portable only have ½ watt of power, so they are not very strong. At Peppers Radio, we carry a minimum power of 4-5 watts all the way up to 10-12 watts in handheld and mobile radios with more than 40 to 60 watts of mega power for extreme long range.
These items are excellent in regard to the quality of materials and fit/finish. All functions work as claimed except for the most critical one...usable range. My wife have tested these in urban areas, suburban, and wide open fields.
-In urban areas, you might as well use you cell phone. They will barely reach 2 blocks, maybe 3 blocks if its line of sight.
-In suburban areas, you might get a 1/2 mile if there are no tall apartment buildings.
-In wide open fields, you might get a 1 mile, but it was be spotty.