UHF vs VHF Two-Way Radios

Posted by Two Way Direct on 1st Feb 2019

Handheld two-way radios are used daily in countless industries. From first responders to golf course attendants, radios facilitate quick, easy communication. If you’re interested in implementing a radio system at your organization, or if you’re simply looking for a new hobby, it’s important that you understand the differences associated with UHF vs VHF two-way radios.

The Basics

VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) both do the same thing — they allow you to communicate with the push of a button. While both types of radios are similar, there are some important differences you should be aware of before you start shopping. The biggest difference, as you might expect by the name, is the frequencies they use to broadcast audio signals.

VHF Radios

VHF radios have been around the longest. They’re ideal for outdoor environments without obstructions such as parking lots or golf courses. This is because VHF radio signals don’t penetrate physical objects as well as UHF radios.

On average, VHF radios have a range of one mile of coverage per watt of power in an ideal environment. When they are obstructed by buildings, the weather, landscape, etc., the coverage may be reduced.

They have fewer channels and a narrower spectrum, so when it comes to UHF vs VHF two-way radios, VHF radios are more likely to have interference. The likelihood of interference varies by location, as some areas may have more VHF radio users than others.

UHF Radios

UHF radios are comparatively newer than VHF radios, and they are far more common. They’re ideal for indoor environments such as big-box retail stores or dense towns and cities where there are lots of obstructions such as buildings. UHF radios have a broader frequency spectrum, so the signal is able to pass through and around objects.

UHF radios have about the same coverage as VHF radios in open air and ideal conditions. But they’re much better at penetrating obstructions and buildings. Keep that in mind when deciding between UHF vs VHF two-way radios.

A 4-watt radio can typically communicate across 10-15 floors without a repeater. See our coverage test as an example.

Other Communications Solutions

Two-way radios are a great choice for endless situations, but they’re not always the best choice. Sometimes you may need more coverage than UHF or VHF radios can provide. Additionally, there are situations that may require that you transmit photos or videos, and two-way radios don’t have that kind of technology. Fortunately, there are other options available.

Two-Way Repeaters

Even comparing handheld UHF vs VHF two-way radios, the maximum range of both is typically about 4 miles. This range can be significantly boosted by a two-way repeater. These repeaters typically have about 50 watts of power, extending the reach to about 50 miles of coverage.

Consider that a handheld radio must be in range of a repeater to have its signal picked up and rebroadcasted. Your handheld unit may receive a signal from a repeater 50 miles away, but may not be able to communicate back unless it is within range of its own repeater. A centrally-located repeater can typically double your coverage.

LMR to LTE Interoperability

Two-way repeaters can go a long way in boosting your signal across multiple towns or even states, but sometimes that’s not enough. LMR to LTE interoperability means you can connect your mobile phone to your two-way radio network, giving you limitless coverage. When comparing UHF vs VHF two-way radios, that’s a feat that’s simply impossible, regardless of which you choose.

Enhanced Push-to-Talk by AT&T is a great option if you want to give your mobile phone walkie-talkie functionality. You can enjoy the same coverage as a typical phone, only you can communicate voice or data instantly with the push of a button. This is a fantastic option for cross-country communication — truckers and their dispatchers, for example.


First responders should take advantage of FirstNet. It’s a nationwide broadband network reserved strictly for emergency personnel. Naturally, FirstNet has little to no interference, as it’s only used by qualifying agencies. If you’re comparing UHF vs VHF two-way radios for any sort of first response organization, you would be wise to look into FirstNet.

Beyond just providing a clear network to facilitate uninterrupted communications, FirstNet includes a variety of tools that elevate situational awareness, team communication, and workflow. For example, geo fencing allows you to mark unsafe zones in real-time. You can also use FirstNet to deliver mass notifications.

Car Kits

If you’re typically communicating with or from a vehicle, you should use a car kit with an antenna and possibly a two-way repeater, depending on your needs. Car kits allow you to communicate while driving. They’re commonly used in police cruisers, ambulance, fire engines, and other vehicles that require communications solutions that travel.


When it comes to UHF vs VHF two-way radios, both have their advantages, and both can benefit from some basic accessories. Belt clipscarry caseschargers, and batteries are all essential. You can also use earpiecesheadsetsspeaker microphones, and surveillance kits to further enhance your radio capabilities.

Contact us for Custom Solutions

If you’re still not sure which type of communications system to choose, please feel free to reach out to our in-house experts for assistance. We can recommend specific products or even build you a customized system from the ground up. We also offer a wide range of radio services, including repairs, installation, and maintenance.

Shop the Best Radios for Less

Now that you understand the differences when comparing UHF vs VHF two-way radios, as well as some of the other options available, you can make an informed purchase. We proudly offer a huge range of industry-leading solutions at prices that fit your budget.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for expert assistance. Our product specialists are standing by to assist you in any way possible. Take your communications to the next level with Two Way Direct.