VHF vs UHF Radio – Which one should I use?

Before you can understand the difference between VHF and UHF frequencies, you must first learn how to identify the operating frequencies of various communication systems. The operating frequencies of various communication systems are managed by the government. They are used to some devices such as cell phones and radio systems.

Since people have varying expectations for their radios, the frequencies used for two-way communication are often different. In fact, VHF and UHF are the frequencies used by two-way radios to communicate with each other.


Short Answer

There is a critical difference between VHF and UHF. The UHF, also known as Ultra High Frequency, might not travel as far as the VHF or also known as Very High Frequency. Although the UHF frequencies can not reach as far as VHF, they still provide enough bandwidth for more people. In the US, the FCC oversees frequency operating and defines them in four categories:

  • Low-band UHF: 450-806 MHz
  • High-band UHF: 900-952 MHz
  • Low-band VHF: 49-108 MHz
  • High-band VHF: 169-216 MHz

Then, in terms of indoor and wireless applications, UHF is best suited for areas with more obstacles. Although both are good for wireless and indoor use, VHF is best used for outdoor applications such as boat captains and construction workers.


Long Answer

Basically, the main frequency difference between VHF and UHF is that the UHF has shorter radio waves, making them less conspicuous. Also, since they have more bandwidth, they can offer a wider variety of audio options. If you have ever used various electronic devices such as GPS, Bluetooth, and walkie-talkies, then you probably know about UHF. As they are mainly focused on your line of sight, they are well-suited to work in areas such as hotels and warehouses, compared to VHF, which is mainly used in outdoor activities.



What is VHF, and what does it mean?

The VHF or also known as Very High Frequency, is the range of radio waves that can be heard from 30 to 300 megahertz. In fact, VHF is a type of radiofrequency that can be used for various applications. Some of these include mobile radio systems, FM radio broadcasts, and marine communications.

Due to their line-of-sight blocking, VHF radio waves are usually blocked by mountains and hills. However, due to refraction, they can somewhat travel up to 160 kilometers beyond the visual horizon. So, popular uses for these waves include emergency communication, television broadcasting, radio broadcasting, and long-range data communication. In the US, VHF Band I was used to transmitting analog television. As a result, most countries now require that broadcasters use digital television in the VHF range rather than analog encoding.

Due to the wide range of uses for low-band frequencies, VHF is not recommended to use this frequency for serious applications. Despite its potential for noise, this is a popular option due to its low cost.

The high-band VHF range is used for professional audio and video applications. In fact, it has eight different frequencies and can be used by the general public without fear of interference from television. This band is usually used for businesses, government operations, and the Coast Guard. Its power is limited to 50 mW, and its antenna is smaller than 20 inches.


What is UHF, and what does it mean?

The UHF, also known as Ultra High Frequency, is the Ultra high-frequency band. In fact, it is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that can reach frequencies from 300 MHz to 3 gigahertz. These signals are known as the decimeter bands. UHF waves are shorter than VHF, measuring about 12 to 24 inches. So, they can be interfered with by human bodies, but they are still capable of providing a wider frequency range and better audio quality.

Radio waves in the UHF band mainly focus on line-of-sight propagation and ground reflection. They cannot travel beyond the horizon and can only penetrate buildings and foliage. Due to the wavelength of UHF waves, they are comparable to the size of many common objects. Their reflection and refraction can affect the performance of these signals.

The use of UHF radio signals in various applications is widely acknowledged. Aside from satellite communication, they are also used in making various electronic devices such as mobile phones and television broadcasting. Although UHF antennas are widely used, their operating costs are still higher than those of VHF equipment. It is because the development of compatible devices requires more work and resources.


Who uses VHF and UHF?

The primary users are licensed to use both radio and television broadcasters. There are also commercial communication services that are available through these devices.

The radio frequency bands used for various applications are known as the UHF. They are used for various applications, such as satellite communication, television broadcasting, and mobile phones. Meanwhile, In the US, VHF signals are commonly used for TV and radio transmissions. Most amateur radio operators also use these frequencies.

Wireless communication systems such as cellphones and two-way radios operate on what’s known as the operating frequency UHF and VHF. These frequencies are used for wireless communication systems to communicate with each other. Since people rely on these signals for various purposes, the equipment used to send and receive them is necessary to meet their needs.


Should I use VHF or UHF?

Most new business customers are presented with a wide range of confusing options when it comes to choosing a radio. Also, the abbreviations for these options make them hard to understand.

However, the quick answer is to choose VHF if you plan on using the radio outside and in areas that are free of obstacles such as buildings. If you are planning on using the radio indoors, then choose UHF. Although UHF signals do not travel as far as VHF ones, UHF signals provide better range and performance in areas around buildings and hilly terrain. They do a better job penetrating steel, concrete, and wood. While the VHF signals tend to “hug” the earth better.


Conclusion – VHF vs UHF Radio

Although VHF has many advantages over UHF, it can also experience more interference due to its higher frequency. It is especially true for marine facilities that rely on VHF for communications. While the UHF is harder to manufacture and is so maybe costlier.

For people who work in areas where there’s a need for robust communication, a two-way radio system is a good idea. A two-way radio system can be used for various applications. It is also a good idea to consider if you need to connect to one or the other. So, between UHF and VHF, which one suits you best?!



Founder of walkie-talkie-guide.com & TechVert.com. Tech enthusiast. Interested in gaming, computers, and walkie-talkies.

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