What’s the difference between UHF and VHF (and which one is better)?

Asked by Wendy from Stoke-On-Trent

Hi Wendy,


I’ll start by supplying a bit of background to anybody reading this and wondering what on earth you’re talking about.


UHF (Ultra-High Frequency) is any radio frequency range between 300 MHz and 3GHz.


VHF (Very High Frequency) is any radio frequency range between 30 MHz and 300MHz.


If you buy a two-way radio, it will operate on either one or the other. This cannot be changed and the two frequencies are thoroughly incompatible, so it really pays to know what you’re buying.


So, as for which one is better, it basically depends greatly on what you want the radio for. Since you didn’t specify this in the email, I’ll make my answer quite general (however, if this doesn’t answer your question, then you can always pop another email my way and I’ll reply to that one).


If you’re working in an indoor or urban environment, then a UHF radio will work best. I say this because UHF penetrates buildings and large objects better than VHF, (generally speaking).


Conversely, if you’re working outside, then VHF is likely to be the better choice. It handles open spaces better and passes through organic matter better than UHF signals do. Essentially, the less inorganic material there is between the VHF sender and the receiver, the better.


Overall, the UHF radio slightly outperforms the VHF version. Both have their advantages/drawbacks, but UHF has a stronger signal and deals much better with obstacles. However, as I told Maria from Spain a couple of months back, mountains represent real problems for radios of either kind. In fact, they are mostly useless for skiing and anything else mountain-related. Not that there are very many mountains in Stoke-On-Trent, to the best of my knowledge.


Just remember when making your choice, that the final decision is an important one. Very often, I learn that somebody has bought a radio to replace a damaged model, only to find that the network they plan on using it with is the opposite frequency.


Very few companies will do anything about it, so it really does pay to make sure you know exactly what you want before you spend your hard-earned wonga.


I hope that helps you. Drop me a line if you’re still not sure and we’ll take it from there.