One of the largest users of two-way radios in the United States are Construction Companies on Commercial and Industrial Jobsites. These larger projects involve a lot of people, there’s inherent safety risks, and multiple tasks going on at the same time. Communication keeps the jobsite secure, workers safe, and projects on task. Selecting the right walkie talkie for these jobsites isn’t as simple as picking the most expensive walkie talkie in the catalog. We know price is important and this article won’t end suggesting you buy the most expensive two way radio sold. There are a number of questions you should ask before deciding which two way radio is right for you. Let’s dive into the questions you should ask when picking a two way radio for your jobsite.
How many Talk Groups do you need? The main purpose of using two way radios is communicating with others on the jobsite. How many different contractors are on site and how many must you communicate with? We see these typical channels in a commercial setting. Superintendent, Electrical, Safety, Tower Crane, Mechanical Contractor, and Labor. There are often many more so most Construction Companies buy at least 16 channel two way radios.
How big is the project? The size of the facility you are constructing determines the power needs of your two way radio. If your project is larger than a Super Walmart, you need 4 Watt Two Way Radios. Handheld two way radios come in 1, 2, 4 and 5 Watts with UHF an VHF models available. A Construction Company should never use VHF two way radios as UHF will always work better once concrete and rebar are in place.
Should you go Digital? There are a number of digital two way radios available. It is important to select a digital two way radio that will work in both analog and digital modes because while you might be progressive, other Contractors on the Jobsite might not be. Digital gives you the benefit of talking to your Team Members individually, offers better clarity, and better battery life. Be careful to ask how easily you can switch between analog and digital modes. Not all digital two way radios are created equally and digital two way radios might not be compatible with another manufacturer’s digital two way radios.
Why you shouldn’t buy recreational two way radios. Besides the fact that you’re buying a toy, recreational walkie talkies aren’t built to last so you’ll end up spending more in the long run. Batteries, charging trays, and audio accessories for these models are all designed to be used occasionally, not every day as you’ll need them. We aren’t saying they won’t work, we are saying they won’t work as well.
Do you need intrinsically safe two way radios? You should only purchase intrinsically safe two way radios if your insurance company or OSHA mandates it. Using these two way models implies you have a concern about an explosion. You’re creating liability for your company if you buy intrinsically safe two way radios and you don’t need them.
Do you need an FCC License? This depends on the frequencies you’re using so an FCC license may be required. There are a number of businesses who can assist with getting an FCC license and most secure a 5-10 year license for under $1,000.00. We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you there are thousands of two way radios in use without the appropriate FCC licensing.
Why not cellular phones? Two way radios provide almost instant communication and they work where you’re working without the need cellular coverage. Cellular phones also don’t allow for group communication which is key during concrete pours, when the crane is in use, or when the Safety Manager’s doing his thing.
Should we get a Two Way Radio Repeater? Repeaters complicate things and repeaters guarantee you’ll need an FCC license. Repeaters need to be use when a skyscraper is being built, on airport jobsites, and large industrial facilities. Repeaters are also helpful when there’s distance between the jobsite and the job trailers. If you’re consistently getting bad call coverage with your 4 Watt commercial two way radios, a Repeater is a likely solution.
Two way radios are essential on most jobsite and should be used. Safety, coordination, and saving footsteps are all immediate benefits gained by using walkie talkies. Don’t spend too much and don’t spend too little and you’ll be very pleased with the performance of your two way radios.