In all my time in the radio business this seems to be one of the key questions that needs to be addressed, but rarely is. I believe in most cases either buyers or sellers assume that it is far too basic a question to be asked, even if they don’t fully understand the differences between them, which can lead to either (or both) parties making costly mistakes.
First and foremost it should be noted that UHF and VHF radios can’t communicate directly with each other, so if you’re looking to expand your radio stock you should look to remain within the same band.
UHF stands for Ultra High Frequency. These radios operate on frequencies that range from 400-512 megahertz (MHz). Under most usage circumstances UHF are the better, more broad option. This is a direct result of the frequency waves being shorter, enabling them to penetrate or circumvent common sources of interference including buildings, heavily wooded areas, topographically challenging area, and most urban outdoor settings. Essentially, UHF two way radios with a good antenna can reach through buildings and around steel, concrete, wood, and earth. For indoor, indoor/outdoor, and urban or suburban settings UHF is the better choice.
VHF stands for Very High Frequency. These radios operate on frequencies that range from 130-174 MHz. The strength of VHF radios are that they have longer frequency waves and remain lower to the ground, enabling them to travel greater distances with less power. Unlike the UHF frequencies, VHF are not able to penetrate common sources of interference as easily, so a clear line-of-sight (or as few obstructions as possible) are preferred. VHF radios are successfully deployed in both marine and aviation scenarios, as transmission from sky-to-ground or across open bodies of water meet the preferred criteria. They also perform well in open fields, golf courses, landscaping, or any other outdoor situation with few obstacles (VHF frequencies also penetrate trees and foliage better than UHF frequencies). The antennas associated with VHF radios tend to be longer in order to facilitate reception in the VHF frequency range.
If you have any questions regarding a radio purchase, our team of experts are standing by and would be more than happy to discuss your needs. Until next time!