If your concern is what the cost of a radio is, but you are okay with tradeoffs, then you should look into buying CB or FRS. Ham radios are not as expensive as they once were, but because of its strength and versatility, it tends to be always higher than the others.
A handheld ham radio can go for prices ranging from $30 – $60. Where you get to pay the real cash is with the car mounted mobile units, and the home mounted base stations, which will set you back $500 or more. But you can find plenty of DIY and used options on the internet.
What is the Range of Ham Radios, CB, MURS, FRS, and GMRS?
One cannot merely give an excellent range figure, as this is hotly debated by radio enthusiasts. There are so many variables involved that makes it hard to give averages. Because of the variations in ranges, there have been situations where you can contact someone 200 miles to the East but find it hard to get through to someone who is just 10 miles to the West. In a case like that, East is flat while the West is a mountainous region.
Range is usually affected by:
- Urban and rural environment
- The size and the quality of the antenna
- The kind of terrain and structure in the way
- How high the antenna is off the ground.
- The wavelength and frequency.
- The weather.
These above listed factors differ, and they are based on the kind of radio that you are using. The powered base stations with fixed antennas on your chimney will give a better performance than the battery powered handheld unit with a whip antenna.
The average ranges between two average handheld radios:
- Ham: 2 miles
- CB: 1 mile
- MURS: 1 mile
- GMRS: 0.5 mile
- FRS: 0.25 mile
The average ranges between two average base station radios:
- Ham: 18 miles
- CB: 14 miles
- MURS: 10 miles
- GMRS: 9 miles
- FRS: It has no base stations due to limiting laws of its power and its fixed antenna.
Flat rural areas have the best ranges. The more structure and terrain in the way of your radio’s range, the shorter the range.