Actual range of GMRS/FRS handheld radios

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KB7QPS, Jul 12, 2018.

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  1. KB7QPS

    KB7QPS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi All,

    My daughter has asked for a set of FRS radios to play around with. I found them for not too expensive on Amazon and ordered a set.

    I am curious, what is the actual range of handheld GMRS/FRS handheld radios? I'm just wondering, in case she starts talking on the radio, how far away folks might hear here? I'm thinking maybe folks in our neighborhood but probably not much beyond that.
     
  2. ND5Y

    ND5Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    Actual range varies depending on many factors. The main factor is terrain and obstructions between the stations. People on mountaintops have communicated well over 100 miles using 1/2 W FRS radios. Other people in urban areas claim they don't work more than a block. Have you ever used hand helds with rubber duck antennas on 70 cm simplex? You will have similar results on FRS.
     
    N0TZU, KU4X and KK5JY like this.
  3. KQ0J

    KQ0J XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I purchased a set of Motorola FRS radios years ago when they were around $40 each. Very good radios , still have them. They were good out to 4 - 5 miles line of sight. Better receiver than any others I have owned. I used to troll neighborhood kids on there sometimes I must admit - so yeah they are good for a little distance.

    Nice thing about FRS is that you can set your Baofeng up on those frequencies, with an outdoor antenna, you know, just in case you want to ' listen '.....
     
    W4IOA likes this.
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    FRS radios are limited to 2 Watts output power and have attached antennas.

    I've found >5 miles doable when at least one is up high, like in a tall building or on a hilltop. Over level terrain with no specific elevation advantage and stuff like houses, trees and other materials in the way, about 1/2-1 mile.

    When my daughter moved up to Santa Barbara to attend USCB her first "apartment" was a dorm room in a high-rise, up 12 stories above ground. Nobody else but me in the family has a ham license, so I bought a pair of Motorola FRS hand helds (several years ago -- back then the power limit was 500 mW) and while I drove around town picking up last-minute items she needed, she sat by the dorm window facing towards downtown and we communicated with the two FRS hand helds for a good 5 miles; but she was up at least 120' above ground and all this was pretty much line of sight.
     
  5. KY5U

    KY5U Subscriber QRZ Page

    Depend on 300 feet. Above that results will vary. I rented an apartment in Snowmass Co. during the summer that was on a hillside. I would go down to the store about a mile away and they worked fine outdoors, but in the store no.

    I traveled on the Durango Silverton Railway with a ham that had a FRS unit. He was in the first passenger car and we were in the last, the fatboy car. We got on the same channel on my FRS and talked inside the length of the train. We stayed all day in Silverton and took the last train back. The other guy went right back after the 2 hour layover. I talked to him from a bench in town to about a mile away, then again when the train climbed the mountain out of town for about 3 miles.
     
  6. WA4ILH

    WA4ILH Subscriber QRZ Page

    If memory serves, I seem to remember where the FCC was about to increase the number of channels for FRS.
    Tom WA4ILH
     
  7. ND5Y

    ND5Y Ham Member QRZ Page

  8. AG6QR

    AG6QR Subscriber QRZ Page

    They'll work about as far as a pair of signal mirrors will. Maybe a teeny bit farther in some circumstances.
     
    N0TZU and N2NH like this.
  9. N2NH

    N2NH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    A decade ago, I found that in the urban enviroment of Brooklyn, NY, supposed 27 mile range h/t's went less than a long and short block. A lot of kids were on it and nearly every one of them was swearing a blue streak. My 2m/70cm worked a lot further, even indoors. Pretty much useless.
     
  10. KB7QPS

    KB7QPS Ham Member QRZ Page

    We got the radios and I tried them out. Much to my surprise, I heard a lot of other traffic on the GMRS frequencies. I decided that maybe those weren't the best and wandered to the FRS frequencies instead. Didn't hear much traffic and kids had fun. This weekend I'll go on a walkabout and check out the range, to make sure that the radios are safe for the kids to use...wouldn't want anyone trying to mess with them.

    So far so good.
     

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