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How Many Watts is Good for a CB Radio?

How Many Watts is Good for a CB Radio

Citizens Band or CB is the radio designation for portable radios that operate on the four watts per device channel. They are kept low on the designation table because of their lack of power and low range. So how many watts is good for a CB radio?

Around Four Watts of power output is good for any CB radio. CB radios are designed to operate at this power level to ensure proper communication within the CB radio frequency range set by FCC. It’s important not to exceed the power output limit which can result in interference with other radio services and is against the law. So, it’s best to stick to the standard power output of 4 watts for a CB radio.

You can get overwhelmed when dealing with CB radios’ different types and frequencies. There are many options, some of that can be upgraded to perform at ten times the power of your regular handheld. Don’t sweat it! Read on and learn all you need to know about how many watts are suitable for your CB radio.

Wattage for CB and Handheld Radios

When choosing a CB handheld radio, you quickly understand that unlimited radios can operate on the Citizen’s Band. Back in the 1950s, when walkie-talkies and other handsets hit the market, it was a free-for-all with other signals often bleeding through almost any radio frequency-based device. CB was established for the people.

Also, read Best Handheld CB Radios, Best CB Radios.

The wattage of the Radio Influences its Functionality

The most important thing to remember about CB radios is that they are held under four watts of power. They were designed this way to accommodate a few other radio signals and as a way to prevent interference with household items like the television. Wattage ranges give you an idea of what radios work above the four-watt threshold.

Some radio signal wattages you should know are:

  • Four Watts – The most important thing you should know about CB is that it can’t be more powerful than four watts. The FCC set this limit to allow unlimited contact on the lower end of the radio spectrum while closely regulating the higher end.
  • Above Four Watts – When you exceed the four-watt range of CB radio, you begin to mess with the television and radio band. In addition, once you start to create this much power, you need a more significant source than a standard battery. All the electromagnetic waves produced by large batteries and radio waves cause interference.
  • Beyond Handheld – When you get to radios needing AC power or oversized batteries, you get into large-wattage systems. These radios transmit signals worldwide and could create dangerous levels of electromagnetic waves.

The power of handheld and CB radios should be displayed when purchasing them. If you have the proper licenses, you can create a HAM radio setup that will allow you to transmit a signal that rivals some small radio stations.

Read more about Tune a CB Radio Without an SWR Meter & Two-Way Radios Vs Walkie-Talkies.

Citizen’s Band Radio and its Operation Range

The limits placed on CB are vital because they significantly impact how far the signal can travel and how much interference it can stand. However, one of the essential things to remember is that your signal also relies on a few other metrics that can impact how well the radio performs.

Some of the things that impact the wattage rating on your CB radio are as follows:

  • Area – The area where you operate the CB will have an impact, just like the wattage. If there are many obstructions in the air, like trees or buildings, you can expect the signal to be intermittent. Wattage makes the signal powerful, and things that get in the way of that transmission will prevent any communications from occurring. 
  • Watts – The wattage of your CB radio is one of the most critical pieces of information you should know. The wattage is how much power the radio can produce. Wattage impacts everything from the signal’s strength to how far it can reach.

CB was regulated to the four-watt threshold to allow other more powerful types of radio signals to be transmitted without interruption. Unfortunately, the lack of power also makes it so that calls aren’t effective at long range and are limited by obstructions in the signal’s path.

Wattage Depends on Your Purpose

Ultimately, the wattage range you need for a CB is under four watts. While this might not seem like lots of power, a CB can do some things that a more extensive radio cannot. By getting to know the limitations of your radio, you can game plan for any environment and make your four-watt radio perform like a satellite phone.

Some of the things your CB radio is capable of are as follows:

  • Line of Sight – The most obvious thing your four-watt CB does is provide line of sight contact with others in your area. As mentioned earlier, the lack of power on these radios makes them notoriously sketchy in regions full of trees or rocks. Using line-of-sight comms lets you talk with anyone you can physically see.
  • Mile Range – Another thing your CB can do is project a signal in an open area for up to twenty miles. The rule is X number of miles for every 12 inches of radio antenna. The X number depends on your radio quality, with cheap walkie-talkies having less range than an expensive dash-mounted CB.

The wattage and area are two things that have significant impacts on radio signals. If you use a cheaper walkie-talkie style handheld, you can expect to have a smaller range and rely only on line-of-sight communications for help.


A suitable wattage for a CB radio is four watts. However, the FCC limits these types of devices as they can begin to interfere with larger and more elaborate radio wave systems like television and the police and fire band. In addition, the small wattage means you will have to contend with the broadcast location obstacles like trees and rock outcroppings.

The four-watt limit on your CB is a good thing. While it might limit your communications in the wilderness, it allows truckers and others to communicate freely with others in their area. Also, when in a dangerous situation, it will enable crews to hone in on your position instead of trusting search tactics that could fail. 


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