What to Look for When Buying a CB Radio

Despite the availability of so many new communication gadgets nowadays, it is quite amazing to still see equipment like CB radios in stores today. Indeed, the convenience and usefulness of inventions like these are hard to top.  Ironically, because there are a lot of them that are sold in stores, it becomes a challenge to find the best one. As you should do before buying anything, you should know what you are buying and know why you are buying it, or else you’re as good as throwing money out by having to buy another product when this one doesn’t deliver.

CB radios are still alive and used by many until today because it is more convenient and easy to use than mobile phones which may easily lose signal, or malfunction.  The convenience and easy use are the main purpose and that is the reason why you’re buying it. If you want to have a top rated CB Radio, make sure that you check these qualities:

RF gain and power

These are two of a CB Radio’s main uses—to receive and to put out. These are what allows you to hear the voice or the message being transmitted, and lets you share your own message or update others clearly on their own radios.  The first thing to look for is the capability of the unit to capture and output CB radio frequencies. The better these qualities, the clearer sound voices come through. CB Radio Frequencies serve as your unit’s food to function and transmit messages back.

  • RF gain—This refers to the unit’s capability to filter the type of transmission it receives based on the strength of the signal. If the signals from other users are so strong, it reduces the gain so that background noises are blocked and clearer sound comes through. Choose a CB radio that has excellent RF Gain quality.
  • RF power—If the RF gain talks about the capture or reception of signal, RF power is about transmission. If there is an RF power on the unit, the user can transmit to nearby receivers. If this feature is available, the user can choose to use it or not and conserve power. This feature is not commonly available on all units so choose a CB that has it.
  • Instant Channel 9 and 19—If you have this button on your unit, you can have access to the emergency channels and truckers/highway channel. This is useful to everyone for safety and emergency services access.
  • Weather detection capabilities—This feature has saved a lot of users from going into storms and bad weather problems. It allows the user to have access to up-to-date weather reports and alerts through NOAA radio channels and stations. If you want to be extra safe, make sure your unit has this feature.
  • SWR Cal Meter—It means Standing Wave Ratio.The calibration meter lets you see if the radio antenna calibration is adjusted and tuned right to receive the best possible reception. Best performance is at a ratio of 1.1:1
  • Antenna warning indicator—You will also know if a model a good CB radio if it includes an antenna warning indicator among its features. Some find the Integrated SWR Cal Meter complicated and when they are impatient to notice and adjust using the cal meter, this feature is most helpful. It warns the user through a red warning LED light that the transceiver is at the risk of burning when the SWR is not set properly.
  • ANL—a ANL stands for automatic noise limiting, which basically means noise reduction by eliminating background sounds to produce clearer sound quality.

Additional Features

These are the main features to look for when you want to have a good CB radio, but there are other features available in CB radios today. Some are for the extremely high-end units and some are basically found in almost all units sold in stores nowadays. Check out the features below:

  • Night/backlit display—Most units have this, but it is better to check the one you are buying just to make sure you don’t miss it—it is the LED display of the unit that you can choose to use so you can still clearly see the settings and display of adjustments even at night or in darker conditions.
  • SSB mode—SSB means Single Sideband and it allows you to switch to the upper and lower sideband. When you use this feature, you are into a wider range and have lesser noise beyond a regular 40 channel-capable unit. This may not be available in common CBs but your CB may still function fine even without it.
  • Bluetooth Integration—This allows the user to merge cellular phone signals into the unit and receive phone calls through the CB radio. Especially when driving, this makes the voice louder and more audible. This feature though, is not as necessary as the others.

The best CB radios are always available if you know how what to look for. Knowing your CB radio’s capability and limitations lets you maximize the usage and advantages of your unit. It also lets you know how to properly use and maintain your unit. Always remember, buying once but wisely is so much better than buying multiple times but cheaply.