Want to know whether a 2-way radio or CB radio is the best option for you? Well, don’t worry. We have you covered! On this page, we are going to clarify the differences between a 2-way radio vs a CB radio. Our goal is to help you to determine which device is best suited for your needs.
2-Way Radio vs CB Radio – The Breakdown
We are going to try and keep things simple here. This is because, technically, a CB radio is a two-way radio. But anything that you can both send and receive radio signals on can technically be regarded as a 2-way radio. However, a CB radio is a very particular type of radio. Wondering if anyone still uses a CB radio? Well they do. It is limited to very specific frequencies, and it can only receive and transmit at shorter ranges. Although, you can improve those ranges with the right equipment. However, even then, there is only a certain amount of distance you can legally hit with a CB radio because they are limited in power output.
We’ve taken into account our reader’s feedback for people searching for the best 2-way radio for a truck, for a boat, for a tractor etc. For the purposes of this page, we are not going to class a CB radio as a 2-way radio, even though it technically is, even though it technically is. When we talk about 2-way radios here, we are going to be talking about handheld radios (i.e. walkie talkies) and every other type of radio that isn’t classed as a CB. You will know if something is a CB radio because it will tell you.
The Purposes of Each
If you are planning to use a radio in a vehicle (i.e. because you are a trucker or you are driving an RV long-distance), then you will want to use a CB radio. This is the primary method of communication out there on the road. Sure, there are some people who use 2-way radios, but CB radio is still pretty much the standard.
Two-way radios are going to be a little bit more flexible than a CB radio. You will have a lot more frequencies to choose from. Although, this is going to have a couple of downsides, which we will discuss soon. Say you’re hitting the open road on your Harley Davidson, you’ll way a two-way radio headset designed specifically for motorcycles. You can find a variety of radios that will be tailored for use by businesses, hunters, boaters, etc.
So you find yourself searching for what the best two way radio is. Generally speaking, if you want a way to communicate with others while you’re on the roads, even the most powerful handheld 2 way radios just cannot compete. Your best best is going to be a CB radio. If you want something a bit more private, having a look at the best two way radios for security would likely be helpful.
As we mentioned before; a CB radio is completely public. The clue is in the name with ‘Citizen’s Band’ radio. This is a device that is made to communicate with the public. Anybody that is tuned into that station will be able to hear whatever you are talking about. There is no way to lock down your communications. Sure, you will find an empty channel or two every so often, but bear in mind that your conversations can always be heard.
Of course, two-way radios are also going to be a bit public. However, when choosing between a walkie talkie vs CB radio, some of the two way radios will have a security system built in that will make your communications less-likely to be heard by other people. If you pair up devices, then there will be a special security ‘key’ attached to your transmissions. Only devices with that security key can hear whatever is being sent. This means that you are going to have more private conversations. Not completely private, because this system can be ‘unencrypted’ by somebody who really wants to do that but, to be honest, most people don’t want to do it. If you are out there wandering in the wilderness, chances are that you are going to be safe.
Both CB radio and two-way radios are going to be limited by the number of channels available. However, CB radios tend to have a smaller number of channels. If you hold a license, then you will be able to tune into a whole host of stations with your two-way radio. This means that with the latter, you will be more likely to find a private frequency you can have discussions on.
The downside of a two-way radio is that it is really made for communication between people who know one another. It isn’t for public communication (outside a couple of uses). So, if you are looking for somebody that you can have a good chin wag with, then CB radio is the route to go down. Or, if you are able to secure a license, then HAM radio.
The broadcast range of a quality CB radio has the ability to be a bit larger than that of a two-way radio. Sometimes, it can be a good few miles larger. This is because CB radios tend to be fixed units. This means that they can have a rather bulky antenna attached. Two-way radios are smaller and more portable. Not only this, but the purpose of a two-way radio is (mostly) for private conversation, and it is likely that the person you want to communicate with is closer, and thus you don’t need a whopping range.
So, if you want to communicate over many miles (potentially), more so than even the best long-range 2-way radios, then a CB radio is the way to go. If the people you are communicating with are within 1 or 2 miles, then a two-way radio is your best option.
To be honest, there is not that much difference between the price of the units. With both CB radios and two-way radios, you get what you pay for. However, that being said, CB radios are not as popular as they once were.
This means that the price has started to creep up in recent years. This can push the price up a little bit (thanks, economies of scale!), but once you have a CB radio, it is going to last you many, many years so it is pretty justifiable.
So, in summary; if you want private conversations (or as private as you can get over the radio waves) and can deal with the shorter range, go for a two-way radio. If you want everything else, then CB is the way to go.