How Far Will an SSB CB Transmit? CB Radio Ranges

If you’re a fan of radio technology, you’ll know that radio systems come in various shapes and sizes to suit different needs.

While AM and FM radio systems give you access to terrestrial channels to find music and talk channels, DAB and online stations leverage the digital world for entertainment.

There are also radio solutions out there designed more for communication than content.

For instance, ham and CB (citizen band) radios allow people to communicate using radio waves, much like traditional and internet-based phone systems.

Since CB radios are designed for communication above all else, buyers shopping for these tools often want to know what range their technology can offer. In other words, how far can a CB radio transmit signals?

Here’s everything you need to know about SSB CB radio transmission ranges.

What Is an SSB CB Radio? The Basics

Trucker wearing a blue hat and a gray and black plaid shirt holding a SSB CB radio and driving
SSB CB radio has better frequency quality than traditional amateur radio.

Before we look at the potential range of an SSB CB radio, it’s worth defining what these tools are.

CB radios are a land mobile radio system. They allow for short-distance bi-directional voice communications between individuals.

CB radios are distinct from other personal radio systems designed for communication because they don’t generally require a license. They’re also suitable for both consumer and business use.

Many companies use CB radios to ensure consistent lines of communication between team members. In contrast, everyday people can use these tools as walkie-talkies.

CB radios operate on AM frequencies, similar to old-fashioned AM radio channels. All transmissions on these wavelengths require a certain level of bandwidth.

With single-sideband or SSB CB radios, only one sideband minimizes interference and improves frequency quality.

SSB CB radios offer less noise and a better range than a standard AM or ham radio solution.

This is one of the reasons why they’re commonly used by members of the emergency services, as well as professionals in the nautical or marine landscape.

How Far Can an SSB CB Radio Transmit?

An SSB CB radio enables communication by sending signals at a shared frequency between devices.

The amount of space these signals can cover can vary drastically depending on several factors. While some CB radios can transmit anywhere up to 20 miles, others can only transmit voice over a mile or so before losing clarity.

Ham or amateur radio is generally better at offering stronger, broader signals than CB solutions.

However, CB radios typically aren’t intended for international communications. These tools are designed for short-range, secure communications.

A few factors can influence the range of your SSB CB radio. These include:

Radio Power Output

The FCC allows for a maximum of 4 watts of output power for most CB radios to ensure they don’t interfere with other devices, such as emergency communication systems and television signals.

Manufacturers can even be fined for creating radios with excess power. SSB radios can have higher power levels, but you will be limited to interacting with other users with an SSB radio.

In some cases, manufacturers create devices only offering 2 or 3 watts of power. However, some solutions allow users to tune their radio to maximize power output.

Professional radio experts can also improve CB radio power without breaking any laws.

Your Environment/Location

Your surroundings influence most radio waves. CB radio waves can’t pass through solid objects.

This means your range will naturally decrease in a busy urban environment or walking through a space with many concrete walls.

On the other hand, if you’re in a wide-open space, on top of a mountain, or sailing through the sea, you might get a better range.

SSB CB radios work best in areas with minimal obstructions. Moving to an open space might improve your range if you struggle to reach someone with one of these devices. Alternatively, you might switch from a CB radio to a ham alternative.

Radio Design Variables

Some SSB CB radios are designed to offer a better range than others.

The components of your radio’s design, such as the receiver’s sensitivity and the squelch functionality, can influence radio range.

If you have a manual squelch function, for instance, you can adjust the sensitivity of your radio for different signal strengths.

The downside is that if you choose a lower squelch, you might be able to transmit voice further, but you might encounter more background noise.

This is why many professionals spend significant time experimenting with their CB radio technology.

The Radio Antenna

A radio antenna is one of the most important resources you can use to improve the transmitting and receiving of signals.

Numerous antenna options are available for CB radio operators, allowing you to expand your signal range and communicate further.

The taller an antenna is, the better the signal will be. However, an antenna or aerial’s impact on your signal will depend on how well the device is tuned, positioned, and installed.

Usually, installing an antenna in a higher location will allow for a more extended, uninterrupted signal.

Can You Increase SSB CB Radio Range?

AM radio numbers in blue on black with high frequencies
You can increase SSB CB radio range by boosting output power.

Increasing the range of an SSB CB radio can be challenging.

There are specific steps you could take, like increasing output power, that could lead you into trouble with the authorities. However, you can boost your range in other ways.

For instance, you can choose a specialist SSB CB radio with higher power levels than a CB radio to improve your output performance.

You’ll also be able to use external base stations and antennae to increase your range. There’s even the option to have some radios professionally tuned to improve the distance signals can travel.

However, an SSB CB radio may not be the best solution if you want to transmit audio across countries or cities.

It’s worth remembering these devices are intended for short-distance interactions. If you want more reach, consider opting for a ham radio instead.

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