CB vs Ham Radio – What Is The Difference Between Them?

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Are you a radio lover, but would like to learn more?

Just because you have a love of radio, does not mean that understand it.

There are a wide variety of types of radio communication, so t is important to understand the difference between radios.

Most radio amateurs want to know about the difference between Ham and CB radios. This topic will be discussed in the following article.

CB vs Ham Radio

What is CB Radio?


CB radio became popular during the 1970s. Since this time, many people throughout the world have used CB radios for communication. It has become the most common radio for use by amateurs.

There are several reasons for the popularity of CB radio.

CB radios usually have no memory of the last channel. The radio will return to the emergency channel, immediately after you turn off the car’s ignition.

On the one hand, you will have to look for the right radio channel every time you start the car. On the other hand, CB radio “cares” about your safety. It is O/K having to listen to the emergency channel several times. You can say thanks to all the CB radio developers.

This feature is not included in every model. CB radio supports only one radio line. You don’t know what happens on the other radio waves.

A CB radio is ergonomic. You do not need to keep holding the microphone in your hands. You can place it on the panel within easy reach, and use the mount when you want to listen to the radio. All CB radios are small. Therefore, if you install it on a mount, it won’t take much space.

CB radios also have a convenient backlight, large buttons and other features.To use a CB radio, you will need a speaker and an auxiliary microphone (because the built-in speaker is usually not loud enough).

Many CB radios have a sideband SSB feature. This feature is useful because it allows the radio to use more power (up to 14 W) to get a large range. If other radio stations have this function, you will enjoy using it even more.

There is an expensive CB radio that functions as a police radio scanner. However, this is not necessary for everyone. You can also use a CB radio as a PA speaker. CB radio has many useful functions that will be helpful on the road.

How About Ham Radio?


Similar to CB radio, Ham radio shave been available since the end of the 19th century. They were especially popular during World War I.

Until 2005, it was not possible to get a Ham radio license without knowing ham lingo & Q-code (and successfully passing the test). As a result, you could not use a Ham radio. Beginning in 2005, knowledge of Morse code became optional, and it was possible to get a license without it.

Many people love Ham radio because it allows you to connect with civilization on the road, during bad weather, when there is no connection and when you cannot reach 911. In this case, Ham radio will be your reliable lifeline.

Ham radio is mobile and portable. Regardless of the form, the characteristics are similar.

Ham radio is less expensive than commonly thought and often costs less than CB radio (especially portable Ham radio).

Ham radio has a small built-in speaker. Therefore, there are often some problems with signal transmission (CB radio also has this feature).You need to use a microphone or something similar to use the radio.

Ham radio also has a number of useful features. One of these functions is the automatic positioning system APRS. It makes the Ham radio a GPS navigator. Some radio models can save a GPS tracking on an SD card.

This function is useful. If you have a radio in your car and you lose the car, you can find a car on the site aprs.fi.

Ham radio has digital support. This function makes the transmission and reception of the signal better.

The Ham radio case also has two built-in radio modules (this is built in). What does this mean?

Imagine the following situation: you communicate in one chat/ channel and you cannot find out what is happening on the other channels. However, the second radio module allows you to do this. This allows you to be on one channel and simultaneously scan information from other channels.

Two radio modules can be useful. You can use one radio station to connect to the repeater, and at this time the second module can be used for local chat (this can also be connected to the repeater).

Ham radio also has a longer spectrum, more power and requires a license!

CB vs Ham Radio

This article has discussed the difference between the two radios. However, they are actually completely different.
There are significant differences between the two radios. One radio has only one band but you do not need a license.

The other has the advantage of being a two-way radio but you need a license to use it.

Here is a summary of the differences between the two radios:


CB radio does not require a license, while it is necessary to have a license to use a Ham radio. It requires that you pass a test from the FCC.


CB radio only has one band, while Ham radio has several available bands. However, with CB radio it is possible to switch between 20 different bands. This is enough for a radio amateur.


There are significant differences in the use of these radios. This will also determine the type of radio that you purchase.

CB radios are excellent for local calls. It is good if you want to know the weather or traffic conditions while driving. By contrast, Ham radio works over long distances and is suitable for other occasions. I personally prefer a good portable dmr ham radio over the CB radio.


Ham radio has no channels. There are only frequency ranges. CB radio is better since it has between 20 and 40 channels, depending on the particular model. If another CB SSB radio station is added, then the number of channels will increase to 120.

Modulation Methods

There are different modulation methods for CB and Ham radio. For example, CB Radio has AM and SSB modulation. Ham radio has more modulations, including AM, SSB, FM and RTTY.


Both CB or Ham radio limited power.

The FCC has limited CB radio power to 4 W (for AM) and up to 12 W (for SSB). However, you do not need a license. However, this is a small problem that the amplifier can solve. If this is not enough, then you can use amateur radio. Ham radio has up to 1500 watts of power. It is about 400 times more powerful than CB. However, most Ham radios will have a maximum of 50 watts.

CB radio consumes less energy and Ham radio is more powerful. However, CB radio is intended for general use, while Ham radio is sometimes called amateur radio.

To choose between the two types of radio, you need to determine your use of the radio and who much power you will need. This will help you to make the best choice.

Keep in mind that you cannot repair a CB radio if it is broken. This is prohibited by law. If you like to fix things and are a do-it-yourself person, you should choose Ham radio.

Also Read:

1. How to Build a Ham Radio from Scratch – Ultimate Guide
2. SWR Meter Reviews – Top List For Ham & CB Radios

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