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Choosing the Correct Two-Way Radio

Choosing the Correct Radio for your Community – FRS/GMRS or VHF or UHF?

Communities will want to purchase UHF commercial grade radios. Store-bought FRS/GMRS radios should not be used, as they cannot be licensed to FCC frequencies, which is mandatory for radios used in commercial applications, and for HIPPA compliance.

VHF radios should not be purchased either, as they are for outdoor use. UHF radios will provide for better coverage indoors. 

Please note UHF radios will never be able to communicate with VHF radios! So, if you already have radios and are looking to purchase additional units to use with them, be sure to select the same band.

How many Watts of Power should your Two-Way Radio be rated?

It is not uncommon to see two-way radios advertised with such claims as 8 miles of coverage. It is important to remember that this is based on the most optimum conditions. An optimum condition is usually defined as standing on a hill communicating across an open field directly in line of sight of the recipient of the message. As you can imagine this is not a realistic scenario in determining the correct power rating of two-way radio to use for your senior living community.

Below is a much more realistic power recommendation for use of two-way radios in senior living facilities.

Power Rating

Outdoor Rating

Square Footage

Num. of Rooms

1 Watt

2 Watt

3 Watt

4 Watt

1 Mile

150,000 ft²

0 - 85

2 Miles

250,000 ft²

70 - 220

3 Miles

300,000 ft²

190 - 280

4 Miles

350,000 ft²

220 - 350

You will notice an overlap in the number of rooms category. Since each facility is comprised of different construction materials and equipment there will be some variability in specifying the correct power rating of the radio to be utilize. It is best to work with a radio supplier that offers a free trial to confirm the selection of equipment will work in your facility.


If a 4 Watt UHF radio will not cover your community, or you wish to use smaller, lower-powered radios, then you will need to use radio repeaters to enlarge your coverage area. Each radio channel you use would require its own repeater.

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