Advantages Of CB Radios
Great Cellphone Backup
No matter how great you think your cell phone service is, there will be places where service just won't reach. With our dependency on smart devices these days, the prospect of venturing out into the middle of nowhere without a way to call for help sounds terrifying. A CB radio can fix that! They can transfer signal in places where your cell phone can't! That way, you can at least still access channel 9, which is designated by the FCC as an emergency channel, and call for help, or stay in touch with other campers in the vicinity.
Provide Invaluable Information
Sure, you can get a lot of information from your cell phone, but it can't predict the future! When you listen to channel 19, which is the unofficial truckers' channel, you can receive transmissions from drivers miles ahead of you, alerting you to slow-downs up ahead so you can find an alternate route before hitting the backup. Even if you do get stuck, you can learn what is causing the holdup, and any possible ways to get around it without having to look at your phone.
Makes Group Travel Easy
If you're in a convoy with a larger group of other RVers, a CB radio will be helpful in your RV! Since the "push-to-talk" feature isn't really a thing that people go for anymore on cell phones, and walkie talkies aren't always very reliable, CB radios are perfect for communicating while moving. You may have to convince your fellow travelers to invest in one, but show them this article to convince them!
You don't have to be restricted to just one type of CB radio! There are several different styles of radio out there, including handheld versions that you can take with you wherever you go.
Disadvantages Of CB Radios
Finicky Antennas Can Cause Interference
Antenna placement is an integral part of getting your CB radio to work to the best of its ability, as is the quality of the antenna. Even if things are a little off, you may not hear broadcasts as clearly, and others may not be able to hear what you are saying. That could be the difference between life and death, in some cases!
It's Become a Bit Antiquated
If you're looking to get a CB radio in order to keep in touch with fellow RVers, you may want to think again. Although your parents may have kept a CB in the motorhome, it's a bit of a passé technology. Not everyone will have one installed in their tow vehicle or motorhome, and like we mentioned before, it may take some convincing to get your friends to find the need for one.
Evolving Technology Can Be Better
Although CB radios are incredibly useful, you shouldn't be so quick to dismiss current technology. It seems like there is something new out there every day, and apps like GPS and map services are making it easier to see what's going on around us. Why invest in a CB if you can just get the same information quicker than with a CB alone. Again, this depends on your intended uses, so it's up to you to decide if it will be beneficial.
Lingo Can Be Hard To Learn
Talking over a CB radio isn't as easy as just plainly talking. There is a detailed list of codes that provides a clearer and easier-to-understand conversation in case reception is a little lacking. These are called "10 codes" with designated meanings for dozens of different combinations. It's not so bad if you have the time to look at a sheet to understand what other drivers are talking about, but you can't very well do that if you're behind the wheel. Additionally, if you're on channel 19, you may hear a slew of trucker slang, so we wish you good luck figuring those out!
How To Use a CB Radio In Your RV
- Choose antenna spot—This can be tricky, and oftentimes will require an additional antenna kit to work with your RV. It may take some trial and error, and there's no real answer as to where the antenna should go. It could go on the back or side of your motorhome, but it really just depends.
- Place a seal around the cable once the antenna is set—This will prevent moisture from getting into your RV!
- Tune your antenna—Before using your radio, the antenna must be adjusted. Check out this helpful resource for more information!
- Mount your radio—Find a nice, flat spot to place your mount and follow the manufacturer's instructions to mount the radio.
- Perform a radio check—After you have set everything up, turn on your radio and find a channel to perform your radio check. You can do this on any channel that has other users on it, but avoid emergency channel 9, and channel 19 may be busy with trucker information. Once you've found a channel, wait until there is a gap in conversation and say "break" or "breaker, breaker" to alert others to your presence, and wait for a response. You can also request a radio check. Await a response before continuing, and give others some time to respond before repeating your request. Nobody likes a pushy operator on their channel.
Once you're all set up and have checked the radio, you're good to go! If you're wanting to keep in touch with a group you're traveling with, listen in to find an available channel. You can even make up handles or pseudonyms (nicknames) to keep track of who's who. You don't have to use your radio for talking either; tune into channel 19 to simply listen for traffic conditions!
How To Shop For a CB Radio
There are a few things to consider before investing in a CB radio! First, you'll want to consider your price point. If you're wanting a CB radio just to listen in, and maybe occasionally talk, you can go for the lower price ranges, around $50. If you're planning to use your radio frequently or are wanting a solid handheld device, you're looking at more like around $100 for a quality setup. If you need total reliability, you'll be shelling out the big bucks, well over $100, for your CB radio. Great brands include Midland and Cobra. Each come with their own pros and cons, so do your homework to see what is best for you! You can score some pretty good deals online, but you can get CB radios just about anywhere, from Office Depot to Cabela's.