The 3 Best Ways to Extend the Range a Motorola Two-Way Radio
When you purchase a Motorola two-way radio, you might want to know how far they communicate. When it comes to your two-way radio, there are many factors that affect their range.
Understanding Radio Waves and Their Limitations
Before we jump into a discussion of how to extend radio range, we need to understand how radio waves work. Two-way radios generally fall within a frequency range of between 100 MHz-900 MHz. Different from AM radio waves, two-way radio waves travel in a straight line.
Generally speaking, because the waves from two-way radios travel in a straight line, they have trouble traveling over the horizon and through obstacles. There are some notable exceptions to this rule. Even though two-way radios offer “line-of-sight” communication, radio signals can often travel through non-metallic obstructions such as walls and even buildings. How well your two-way radios will travel through walls, buildings, and other objects depends on the model and type of your radio.
For example, when considering the advantages of switching to digital over analog, it’s important to note that digital two-way radios produce approximately 20% more coverage compared to analog. Digital radios also are better at penetrating obstacles such as walls and concrete.
Two-Way Radio Power
Power output plays a critical role in how far your radio range extends. The power of your Motorola two-way radio is measured in watts. Motorola’s popular consumer/hobbyist walkie-talkie, the Motorola T600, has a maximum of 2 watts.
But most commercial and business-critical radios have 4-5 watts of power. The recently released Motorola R7 for instance has a wattage of 5 in VHF (more below on VHF v. UHF). To put it simply, the more power your radio has, the further its signal will travel.
As radio signals pass through the air unseen, they gradually lose strength. Increasing the power at the source, gives your radio signal more “juice,” enabling it to travel farther than it would with a lower wattage radio.
Radio Frequencies: UHF v. VHF
Your two-way radios transmit in a frequency that is considered to be either UHF (Ultra High Frequency) or VHF (Very High Frequency). To see a full explainer on the difference between UHF and VHF, click the link here.
For the purposes of this article on how to extend the range on your Motorola two-way radio, VHF uses radio waves from 136 MHz to 174 MHz. On these wavelengths, two-way radios operating on a VHF frequency are ideal for outdoor use: they travel farther across open spaces relatively free of obstacles compared to radios on the UHF frequency.
Alternatively, UHF radios do better indoors. Riding on radio wavelengths of 403 MHz to 512 MHz, UHF two-way radios do a not as good job when it comes to range, but a much better job when it comes to penetrating through concrete walls, floors, and other buildings and obstacles.
If you plan on using your radios in congested metropolitan areas or indoors, on most occasions you will want to sacrifice some of your range for the ability of your radio signal to travel through obstacles and other impediments.
Extending Your Radio’s Range
Now that we have a good understanding of the factors in your radio that will limit and expand its range, we can discuss add-ons and upfitting to expand the range on your existing radios.
When you already have a powerful radio in terms of wattage, digital signal, frequency, and you still need an expanded range, there are three primary things you can do.
#1. Improve Your Motorola Radio Antenna
We know this sounds simple, but too many good radios have found their way to the dumpster because of bad antennas. Your antenna is not your radio, and you don’t need to suffer a bad antenna that’s destroying your range and signal.
Antenna’s will degrade in signal reliability due to wear and tear, high usage, and work environment conditions. Never carry your radio by its antenna!
At Amerizon Wireless, we carry a number of Motorola radio antennas. Our Motorola radio antennas can be just the solution you’re looking for to achieve greater range on your two-way radio.
#2. Install a Repeater System
If you need serious range extension, you can upgrade to a repeater system. The Motorola repeater MOTOTRBO SLR 1000 gives you the heavy duty expanded range you might need in your business-critical communications.
The MOTOTRBO SLR 1000, which is the smallest and most compact of the Motorola repeaters, packs the punch your business needs to solve their two-way radio range woes. Motorola repeaters can give you the ability to extend range and to give great in-building penetration. They can be hung onto poles outside of your building. They can be used in either an indoor or outdoor capacity.
Motorola repeaters support both conventional and trunking systems, and the SLR 1000 supports MOTOTRBO IP Site Connect Repeaters, MOTOTRBO Capacity Plus System (trunking), and MOTOTRBO Capacity Max (trunking), among many other radio systems.
#3. Check the Battery on Your Radio
You might also file this under the “obvious” category, but you’d be surprised how often we come across a poorly functioning radio only to discover that it needed a better, newer battery.
Motorola makes replacement batteries if those on the radios in your fleet happen to be running low. While you’re in the market for new batteries, you might also treat yourself to a battery with a belt clip to attach your two-way radio.
It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to replacing your radio’s battery. Just make sure you have the model number so you know you’re buying the right battery. If you’re looking for Motorola two-way replacement batteries, these can be found at many online retailers.
Amerizon Wireless for Motorola Radio Accessories
At Amerizon Wireless, we sell a number of Motorola radio accessories, including Motorola antennas, Motorola repeaters, and replacement batteries. When you’re looking to expand the range of your radio, you can look for simple fixes (e.g. switching out your batteries or antenna).
On the other hand, if your business needs a serious boost in radio wave power, you can look into provisioning a Motorola repeater, which will boost your coverage range along with the ability to penetrate walls, buildings, and other obstacles.
You can also examine such factors as the wattage on your current two-way radios and whether it is UHF or VHF.
Whether you need new radios, antennas, batteries, or any other Motorola radio product, we are here to answer your questions.