As you may know, Citizens Band radio, or CB radio for short, operates on very, very specific radio waves. While it isn’t strictly necessary to know what these frequencies are, knowing a little bit about them will provide you with a greater understanding of how CB radio actually works. We will look at the frequencies on this page, as well as give a little bit of information about the type of radio chatter you can find on each frequency.
Some General Assumptions
For the purposes of this page, we are assuming that you are located within the United States. While many other countries also operate something similar to CB radio, the frequencies that they have reserved for the system may be slightly different. They may be close, but there may be small variations in the minimum and maximum ranges, including the reserved channels.
All of the information that you find on this page will, therefore, be related to the United States. There may be small overlaps with Canada and a few European countries. However, if you are located in either of those locations, then you may want to look into a different page for CB radio frequencies. This will allow you to have a better feel for how that location works.
You Don’t Need to Know the Frequencies
Honestly, it’s not just the best CB radio for the money, that you don’t actually need to know any frequencies. Nearly every CB radio that you purchase will come ‘pre-programmed’ with the relevant stations. Many won’t even allow you to select the frequency you are listening to at all. The only thing that you can do is select the channel number.
The only time that you will really need to know the frequency for CB radio is if you have picked yourself up a bit of old technology, or if you have a cheaper CB radio.
So, What Frequency is a CB Radio?
CB radio operates at 26.965 Mhz through to 27.405 Mhz. This is on the shortwave band, sometimes known as ‘high frequency’.
There are 40-channels in operation between these two frequencies. Well, there are slightly more, however, certain frequencies are reserved for other things outside of the world of CB radio. For example; 27.045 Mhz is reserved for R/C vehicles, or anything radio controlled for that matter. You will not be able to access this frequency through your CB radio.
Since CB radios operate on a shortwave band, the range of the radio waves is very limited. Even with a good antenna and perfect conditions, it is rare that you will be able to get more than a 30-mile range with your CB radio. Although to be fair, a lot of that limitation comes from the fact that it is illegal for a CB radio to operate at a power level greater than 4 watts.
What Each CB Radio Frequency Provides
In theory, each CB radio frequency is open to everybody with a CB radio in the local area. However, you must remember that CB radio is often used by those in various professions. Etiquette exists in the world of CB radio, and certain channels have become reserved for certain discussions. While you could talk about anything you wish on these channels, try to avoid doing so. It could hamper people’s jobs.
In this section, we want to look at these specific CB radio frequencies. The ones where only certain discussions should be taking place. Feel free to listen in on them, but please do not comment unless you have something worthwhile to say to people:
- Channel 4, Frequency 27.005 Mhz – 4×4 Vehicle discussion
- Channel 9, Frequency 27.065 Mhz – Emergency broadcast
- Channel 10, Frequency 27.075 Mhz – Regional roads
- Channel 13, Frequency 27.115 Mhz – RVs and Marine traffic
- Channel 14, Frequency 27.125 Mhz – Walkie Talkies and personal communication devices
- Channel 17, Frequency 27.165 Mhz – Traffic heading North and South
- Channel 19, Frequency 27.185 Mhz – Traffic East and West, mainly for truckers
- Channel 21, Frequency 27.215 Mhz – Regional traffic
Do bear in mind that some locations in the United States may deviate from this list. If you are traveling to a new area and are planning to have your CB radio in tow, it could be worth doing a little bit of research to see how the CB radio community has evolved there. It is interesting how a technology that is used on a local basis has grown up, and each area will have its own rules for etiquette. Respect them.
Frequencies Where You Find the Most Radio Chatter
If you are using CB radio for recreational purposes, then you can use any of the other 32 CB radio frequencies for your communication. However, if you want the most interaction with other people, then you should stick to channels 18 and 20. They have no ‘special purpose’. However, since they are still roughly around the middle of the CB radio frequency spectrum, the signal is going to be fairly strong.
Although, as mentioned, each area will have it’s own CB radio community. Once you get your hands on a CB radio, you may want to flick through the various channels to see which ones have the most activity. You may also want to listen in on Channel 19, the designated trucker community. While you should not talk unless you are a trucker, the intense amount of activity will give you a feel for what general CB radio etiquette is like.
Notes on Channel 9
We do want to point out that Channel 9 is purely for emergencies. You should not be broadcasting on this channel unless you are in an emergency.
Nowadays, channel 9 has fallen into disuse in some of the more populated areas. This is due to decent cellphone coverage. However, as you head into the more rural communities, you may find that the emergency services still monitor Channel 9. However, you should only ever use it as a ‘last resort’ as there are better emergency communication methods nowadays.