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How to Select the Best Walkie Talkie: CB Radio or Ham Radio?

Two way radio can be divided into CB radios and ham radios according to their operators and applied filed, and product functions. Both walkie talkies have their special features and values in various kinds of application scenes. So what is the differences between CB radio and Ham radio?


Operator and License   As the general term, Ham has been used to refer to amateur radio and its users. Ham radio allows users to talk to other operators worldwide. The FCC requires ham radio operators to be licensed, in order to avoid causing interference as the long range operation requires certain skills and techniques.


However, in many countries, citizens band radio or CB radio is a short-distance radio communication system between individuals. Unlike amateur radio, CB radio is loosely regulated by the government and doesn’t requires a license unless the operator want to operate a station.


As ham radio operators have the proper knowledge on how the system works, they are allowed to build and repair their own device.To avoid the equipment go beyond what is allowed and break the law, CB radio users are prohibited to do the same as lack of knowledge of the general public and strict limitation.



Application and Usage   Amateur radio is use for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radio sport, contesting, and emergency communication. Compared with CB radio, ham radio offers better range used for long distance communications.

CB radio is use for local individual communication, and served several subsets of users such as truck drivers, radio hobbyists, and those in need of short‑range radio communications, such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters, who needed to communicate between job site and main office. CB radio is also popular among long-haul truck drivers to communicate directions, traffic problems and other relevant matters.

Band and Channel   Ham radio contains multiple bands, but the CB radio is only limited to the 27 MHz band. No channels was given to ham radio but frequency range. Ham radio operators have to stay in the given frequency range. In contrast, a CB radio has 40 different channels (120 if SSB counted).


Power and Range   A ham radio can be very powerful depends on different types. Typical hand-held ham radio is about 5 watts or less. Mobile ham radios are usually around 10 to 100 watts, and ham base stations usually have 100 to 200 watts. Amplifiers can be used to increase the watts to 1000+ watts. Antennas can be installed on rooftops or towers to increase range. Note that there are different ham radio license types, and some limit how many watts you can use.

While CB equipment is limited by law to transmit at 4 watts (AM) or 12 watts (SSB - Single Side band), thus the range of CB radios are very less due to less power consumption. So the CB radio can only transmit for a couple of miles.


Hopefully, my personal view can make some difference here. Both ham radio and CB radio should be operate legally. Interference should be avoided when using ham radio. For original purposes, CB radio should be used for small businesses and families. If you want to have a long distance communication with a lot of power, obtained a Ham license.