Which budget CB radios are best?
CB or Citizens Band radio is a great tool for outdoor communication, especially under harsh weather conditions or in an emergency situation. CB radios can get expensive, but do not let that scare you off. If you need a high-quality CB radio for a low price, the top choice is the Midland 5001Z Mobile CB. With a switchable noise filter and 40 channels, this CB radio is the best budget option.
What to know before you buy a CB Radio
While it is useful, CB technology is not at its peak in popularity. Depending on where you live or travel with a CB radio, you may not find as many broadcasts across the channels. If you are a trucker or spend a lot of time outdoors, it could be a very useful tool for communication. If you simply want to communicate with a particular target and can’t rely on phone signals, a two-way radio device such as a walkie-talkie might be better suited to the task. If you want to know more about CB radios in general, check out the BestReviews buying guide.
If you will be keeping the CB device in your car, radio size is important. If you have plenty of space in a truck, this may not be your biggest concern, but for smaller vehicles or anyone without much room, a compact radio is necessary and, unfortunately, more expensive. CB radios that pack the necessary functions into a very small frame can cost more money, especially for stylish models. However, there are compact CB radios that are budget-friendly and do not take up much space.
If you want to tap into the NOAA weather broadcasts for emergency information, some CB radios have that function, but not all of them. Most CB radio devices can access channel 9 emergency broadcasts. If you are a survivalist or want a radio that can help you in an emergency situation, find a model that has access to all the emergency signals you need.
What to look for in a quality budget CB Radio
Newer, high-end CB radios sometimes have Bluetooth functionality or other features. Budget CB radios also have extra functions to consider, even if they are not as high tech. Some CB units have a PA function allowing for broadcasting over a speaker. Sometimes, a CB radio has a built-in noise-filtering feature. This can be automated or manually controlled, letting users adjust their settings and cut down on static to get clear sound.
Many people share CB channels, so it potentially could be difficult to find a channel where there are no ongoing signals. Good CB radios scan channels for broadcasts and help you find a clear channel or find people already talking. The best CB radios have simple buttons and switches to allow for greater precision, such as adjusting RF gain to maximize your reception distance.
The best CB radios have antennas made of fiberglass or metal material for good signal reception, even at longer distances. Some CB radios have SWR meters built in that help to measure the performance and tuning of the antenna.
How much you can expect to spend on a budget CB radio
Expensive CB radios run up to $300, but you can find solid budget options with plenty of features for less than $100.
CB radio FAQ
What is the maximum range of a CB radio?
A. Weather and terrain of the surrounding area can impact the reception range of a CB radio transmission, but a radio with a 1-foot antenna can reach a few miles away. The longer the antenna, the better the range. Also, you may receive or transmit a signal but without a CB radio capable of noise filtering, it could be very unclear.
What are the most common CB channels?
A. If you want to receive signals from other CB users, keep your radio on channel 19 or channel 9. Channel 9 is the dedicated emergency channel on CB and 19 is most commonly used by truck drivers on highways in the U.S. If you are on the road, you could receive information about potential traffic hazards or accidents on channel 19.
What’s the best budget CB radio to buy?
Top CB radio
What you need to know: This affordable CB unit gets great reception and is easy to use for novice CB radio users.
What you’ll love: These radios have excellent noise-filtering capabilities. The build of the device is sturdy. It uses three AAA batteries for power. It features 40 channels and multiple switches to fine-tune your CB experience.
What you should consider: Some users have reported issues with the included microphone, so you may want an alternate mic if you do not already have one.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
Top CB radio for the money
What you need to know: This affordable, entry-level CB model is the best budget deal around for people in need of basic functions.
What you’ll love: It has a compact design that is great for mounting in a vehicle and access to the emergency channel. The digital display is large and easy to read. It gets minimal signal interference and allows users to monitor the transmit power.
What you should consider: Some users think the radio’s speakers are too quiet for effective use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This affordable and portable CB radio provides adaptability in a compact frame.
What you’ll love: It can access AM emergency radio stations and 40 CB channels. The clear digital display is backlit and it features automatic and manual squelch to help block out background static noise. It comes with a car charger to easily plug into your vehicle.
What you should consider: Users may want to get a longer CB antenna accessory to improve the range, which was a problem for some users.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
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Elliott Rivette writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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