Making a decision to buy a CB radio for your vehicle or fleet of vehicles is the easy part. The hard part is picking the right brand. Choosing a CB radio is a challenge for many vehicle owners because all radios have the same transmission power. The Federal Communications Commission limits the transmission power to 4 watts for all CB radios. This means that no matter how much you spend on a CB radio, you will get the same transmission wattage as other vehicle owners. You can tune your radio to expand your transmission range, but not the watts. Hence, the only way to differentiate the multiple brands in the market is through their features. The transmission power is similar, but the features vary across brands.
The ideal radio for your vehicle depends on the features that are important to you. Here are some of the features you should consider when buying a CB radio.
1. Radio Frequency (RF) Gain
The RF gain is important because it enables you to receive clear transmissions. The feature enables you to the filter the transmissions that the radio receives based on the signal strength. You can block weak signals and receive strong signals only. In addition, you can communicate clearly with other users by blocking all other noises in your environment.
2. Single Side Band (SSB)
A CB radio with the SSB features enables you to access channels that are not available on a standard radio. With this feature, you can access up to 80 channels. In addition, you can transmit up to 12 watts, which is far beyond the Federal Communications Commission’s limit. You do not need to pay any licensing fee to access the additional channels or watts. Radios with the SSB feature are often highly priced. The other downside with these types of radios is that you can only communicate with other users with the SSB feature.
3. Backlit Display
One of the considerations to make when looking for the best CB radio is the time of day that the radio will be used. If you need a radio during the day, a backlit display is not a major consideration. However, if you drive for hours at night, you need a radio with a backlit display. The feature lights up the display such that you can easily operate the radio at night.
4. Weather Capabilities
Weather updates are important when driving, especially when traveling to new places. Most CB radios come with this feature, but a few models do not have weather updates. The best radio should give you real-time updates for your safety. This feature is important for truck drivers who use different routes every day. Some brands do not only give the normal weather updates, but also alert you in case of extreme weather changes.
5. Squelch Control
Most CB radios have this feature. The control enhances your experience when using the radio by regulating the signal outputs. The radio’s speaker is only activated when you receive a transmission. You do not have to listen to static or keep your eyes on the display when using a radio with this feature.
6. Public Address Capabilities
When buying a CB radio, you must consider the intended use. Does your work involve addressing teams or groups? If yes, go for a radio with PA capabilities. Such a radio comes with an external speaker that can transmit clear sound to a group of people. You may need to place the speaker outside your car. You use the handset and radio to address the group. The feature is common in many high-end CB radio models.
7. Channel Scanning Capabilities
If you spend long hours on the road every day, your CB radio may be your only form of interaction with the outside world. Consider channel scanning capabilities when looking for the best CB radio. This feature enables you to scan and connect to all available channels automatically. You will have real-time information on what is happening around you at all times.
8. Automatic Noise Limited (ANL)
The purpose of comparing different radios before making the final purchase is to get strong signals and clear sound. If you are replacing an old radio, you should get quality sound on the new one. The ANL features filter all the background noises, including the engine noise and static. Hence, you receive strong signals from other users and get quality sound.
Some CB radio models come with inbuilt meters that display the strength of each signal and transmission. Inbuilt meters also enable you to view the antenna readings. Consequently, you can tell when your radio has developed reception and antenna problems. If you are keen on the readings, you can fix minor issues on time before the radio shuts down. The readings may be inaccurate, but they give you an idea of the transmission strength at all times.
Most drivers consider all other features outlined above and forget about the size of the radio. Consider the space in your car when choosing a CB radio. The radios come in different sizes. You can get a full chassis unit or a handheld radio depending on your needs. The model you choose should fit the space where you intend to mount it. A small radio is ideal if you have limited space on your car’s dashboard. However, most models can fit in any large truck and spacious car models.
The best way to choose the right CB radio for your vehicle is to compare the features of different models. We have listed all the major features in standard CB radios. However, you need to determine the features that are important to you. Consider the model of your car and the intended use of the radio. Remember that the features influence the price. Models with many capabilities are more expensive than standard models. It is wise to work with a budget and find the best model that fits your budget.