Nowadays, it is rather easy to contact your loved ones. I mean all we have to do is pick up our phone and dial. But what if we are in an emergency? Can you still contact your family members if your phones stop working? The only preferable way in such situations will be two-way communication via radio. With developing technology, radios have also evolved with time. One has numerous options to choose from while searching for the right one.
If you are looking for the right radio communications, then you have landed at the right place. HAM radio and GMRS are one of the best amateur radio devices available in the market. High quality, long-lasting design, and strong communication make these radios the perfect ones on the market.
Although both these radios are not much different from each other, you might be confused when deciding between the two. But there is no need to worry since we will help you in deciding between the two.
Our GMRS vs HAM guide will not only help you in deciding between the two radios but also suggest some authentic products according to your needs. So if you want to know which option is better for you, then keep reading our GMRS vs HAM review. Let’s get into the comparison without wasting our time.
GRMS are quite popular these days due to their high quality, and strong communication signals. Their portable design enables licensees to use them for two-way and short-distance communications. As far as communication is concerned, GMRS 2 way radio enables us to contact other licensees and closest friends or family members. The frequency range of GMRS, i.e., 462 – 467 MHz makes it even more functional.
GPS location and short-distance texting applications make GMRS unique to others. Especially the GPS option, which makes it the best option for emergencies. You might have noticed that FRS and CBS also use the same features.
Based on its latest features, it will not be false to call this device a hand mobile, as you can use it with mobile radios, repeater systems, and handheld devices. However, you might need a GMRS license to use this radio especially if you are located outside Canada.
One of the factors behind the increasing demand for this radio is its portability. You need not worry while using it as you can carry it anywhere. Plus, the device offers around 30 frequency channels and most of them are linked with FRS. Thus, licensees can easily communicate without any worry.
If you are looking for a communication source without demanding internet, then HAM radio is what you need. Some of you might already know about it with the name, amateur radio. The radio service is preferred mostly by hobbyists.
One of the factors that make this radio one of the best options is that there are no communication range limitations with its use, one can use it to contact his friends or family members all across the world.
General people prefer HAM radio over other options as it doesn’t demand any complicated setup and is rather easy to use. That is why its use is more common for non-commercial purposes. Plus, its users need not learn morse code. Anyone can easily operate it which makes it a demanding product among the general public. No matter whether we are talking about an old neighbor or some tech-savvy, the use of HAM is quite versatile.
Although you might need a licensee to get your hands on HAM radio. Once you prove that you acquire the required radio knowledge in the government test, you are good to go.
The best thing about the service is its long-range which makes it functional for long distances. Thus, you can send images, messages, and voice notes whenever you want.
In addition, HAM radio uses certain specific frequencies, so it won’t disrupt commercial and professional messages. On account of all these features, it is a quite popular product all across the world. Millions of people use it every single day.
Comparison of HAM with GMRS
Now that we have already had an overview of both radios, it is time to dive into the GMRS vs HAM radio article. Both GMRS and HAM are radio devices that work without an internet connection. But certain features make them unique to each other.
We will go through the difference between GMRS and HAM and it will give you an idea of choosing the right radio according to your needs.
Around 25 miles
More than 50 miles
5 Watts Handheld
462 - 467 MHz
< span style=”font-weight: 400;”>While discussing GMRS vs HAM frequencies, it is better to get an idea about how these frequencies work. Two-way radios mostly use UHF or VHF frequencies, i.e, Ultra High Frequency and Very High Frequency respectively. UHF is much stronger than the other one and can easily transmit through various obstacles. But you need to keep in mind that both of them are incompatible with each other.
HAM radio service has a very wide frequency range, i.e., starting from 1.6 MHz to around 27 MHZ, which makes it perfect for long-distance communication. However, it is important to set the frequency between 15 to 27 MHZ during the daytime to have smooth functioning.
Multiple frequency bands allow us to use HAM with different radio services. Another plus point about HAM is that it works on both VHF and UHF. VHF radios are preferred for providing straight-line communication in times of emergency. While UHF is used if a wider frequency range is needed.
GMRS has a very narrow frequency range, i.e., 462 – 467 MHz making it ideal for emergency communications and professionals. But there are numerous restrictions on using GMRS due to its narrow frequency range.
It is important to discuss GMRS vs FRS frequencies since both of them have the same range and even share around 22 channels. Plus, both of them operate in the UHF band making it difficult to transmit long-distance signals.
For further information, you can download GMRS frequencies pdf. They will help you in getting started.
You can find these GMRS frequencies pdf on various sites.
Well, if you are new to using such radios, then you might be unaware of the fact that you need to get a license after clearing a government test for getting your hands on GMRS or HAM. Although both of them need a license, the situation and requirements are different for the two of them.
Before jumping into the use of HAM, you need to get a proper license. The license test will judge your ability related to regulations, radio rules, and electronics theory. Three types of HAM licenses are available.
A technician license is for those who are new to these. The test comprises around 35 questions and covers all the basics related to safety, theories, and regulations. Once you pass this test, you need not worry about communicating in the UHF, VHF, and microwave bands.
A general license is for those people who want to communicate in the Higher Frequency bands. Once you are licensed, you can use all the additional privileges.
Extra Licence is for those who want to use this radio for professional purposes. The license test has around 700 questions. But once you pass this test you can enjoy all the exclusive sub-bands.
Now the question is, how to get a HAM license. Well, the main difference between GMRS and HAM is that you have to study for a HAM license. You can get the required data on the internet or download related books to get started. The next step is to start looking for some local club to take your test. There is an Association named ARRL that can help you in finding the right location.
Ever since our previous article about GMRS came out people have been asking us. Do I need a license for GMRS? Well, the answer is, yes. Once you have the GMRS license you can easily communicate with other licensees. But you must note that GMRS is not functional in all countries.
Now the question is, how do I get a GMRS license? Well, unlike HAM, you need not study for GMRS. It is rather easy to get a license. All you have to do is pay the fee, and get started. Every license remains valid for around 10 years. But you can renew your license 3 months before the expiration date. You can also request a new license if you failed to renew your previous one.
The first thing that most people notice while purchasing a radio is its communication. Some people might need it to send a signal to someone next door. Others use it while travelling for sending emergency signals. Another radio system that needs mentioning here is the CB. It is better to know about reading CB vs HAM vs GMRS comparisons before spending your money on any radio.
HAM radio works with repeaters which enables it to send high power signals over long distances. In fact, one can contact his loved ones on the opposite side of the world with HAM radio. Another factor that needs mentioning while discussing GMRS vs. HAM radio is that the use of HAM is for general purposes and it can connect easily with the safety services in the hour of need.
The general public prefers HAM because of its long-range communication. Especially hobbyists who use them for radio propagation and radio contesting studies. Thus, if you need to communicate over a long distance, i.e., more than 50 miles, then going for HAM will be ideal since most other radios do not have a high range. Plus, obstacles, like mountains and forests do not block the signals of HAM. In addition to allowing communication with emergency responders, you can also come in contact with other amateur radio enthusiasts.
No doubt that GMRS is a high-quality radio that is used all over the world and its communication is also good. But let’s see what is the difference between HAM and GMRS. The major notable difference is that GMRS can only be used for short-distance communications, i.e., for a range of about 25 miles. Plus, if you want to communicate in an emergency, then GMRS will not be the ideal choice for you.
GRMS 2 way radio is best for communication with your friends or family members located near you. The main reason behind the short communication range of GMRS is the absence of repeaters. Thus, you can increase the range of GMRS if you use repeaters with them.
Another factor that you need to know while going through CB vs HAM vs GMRS review is their prices. You have to keep your budget in mind while making a purchase and narrowing your options.
Although HAM offers more range and fewer obstructions, it is way more expensive than the other available options. The prices of most HAM radios are around 1000 dollars which are quite expensive, especially if you are a hobbyist.
On the other hand, GMRS is somewhat affordable. Its prices range from 250 to 500 dollars varying with the designs and features. However, don’t forget about the license fee which is around $70. However, if you are buying a radio for the first time, then you can also go for other affordable options like CB radio which do not cost more than 200 dollars including all the accessories.
CB vs HAM vs GMRS
CB can prove to be a good radio option if your budget doesn’t allow you to buy HAM and you demand a higher range. In contrast to GMRS and HAM, CB works normally over a range of around 50 miles. Another plus point is that you need not get a license for CB radio that will help you in saving money. Both CB GMRS combo works on various channels. Thus, they are used worldwide. Especially, CB GMRS combo is popular among truck drivers.
Though some of the features of CB are the same as that of GMRS. But if we dig into the GMRS vs CB, then we will find differences as well. CB uses the power of 4 watts. On the other hand, GMRS need more power. You can not communicate with FRS using CB radio. While the handheld range of CB is much lower than GMRS.
We have had certain requests for a GMRS vs CB article. But right now these differences are enough to help you get started.
GMRS vs FRS
Let’s see what is GMRS and FRS radios. Both of them offer two-way wireless communications and work on the same frequencies. Unlike GMRS, FRS doesn’t need a license either. But it also has a very short range.
FRS has around 14 channels, most of which are shared with another radio service, i.e., GMRS. It means the users of GMRS can communicate with FRS radio hobbyists. Now that we have already established what is GMRS and FRS, it is time to discuss their comparison.
Both GMRS and FRS are quite alike, so there is a need to discuss GMRS vs FRS radios to make the right decision while purchasing them. The handheld range of FRS is only around 1 – 2 miles. So, they are ideal for communicating in the wilderness or with people in base camps.
It is time to discuss the difference between their channels, i.e., FRS vs GMRS channels. Both of the radio services use the FM channel instead of AM. FM not only has broad regional coverage but is also used for playing music. However, GMRS has certain channels which are unavailable for FRS radio users. But you can modify your FRS radio to get better results.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to program GMRS frequencies?
We have been asked the same question over and over again, i.e., how to program GMRS frequencies. So, it is better to discuss it here.
On account of the wide channel range, you can connect to all other GMRS radios whenever you want. All you need to do is turn on the repeater and once you find your channel you are good to use it. GMRS does not require any technical programming, it is rather simple.
Can you transmit on GMRS with a HAM radio?
Another question that people have repeatedly asked us is, can you transmit on GMRS with HAM radio.
Well, the answer is rather simple. No, only those radios that are FCC certified can transmit on GMRS. HAM devices are not certified to do so. So, legally, neither GMRS can transmit HAM frequencies, nor can you use HAM radio on GMRS frequencies.
How to use GMRS radio?
Now let’s discuss how to use GMRS video. Same as programming, GMRS does not require any technical setup. You can use any antenna while installing it in your truck or vehicle. All you need to do is tune your antenna to the GMRS radio and you are good to go.
Instead of relying on HAM and GMRS radio reviews, we have tested both of them ourselves to provide you with the necessary information. According to my opinion, there is no single winner in this comparison, since both of them have different uses and benefits. The only thing that is clear from GMRS radio reviews is that it is ideal if you need a cheaper option for short-distance communications. However, if you are looking for more stable communication for long distances, then go with HAM.
Hey! I’m Patrick Foster, an author of the world-famous Patrick R. Foster Historical Collection, a large, working archive dedicated to preservation of the history of American Motors. Writing about this industry is a huge passion of mine, so here’s a little piece of my mind.