What should I look for in Walkie-Talkies?

I need to get a shwack of walkie talkies for work for our fire warden program.

The need to have decent range (a mile, I guess) and they have to be able to work in a concrete building where cell-phones don’t typically work.

What sorts of things should I look for?

What kind of wattage do I need?

How about squelch? Do I need squelch? How can I aquire more squelchy goodness?

Any particular brand that’s better than others?

Any battery requiements I should keep in mind?

Thanks in advance everybody!

I don’t know the answers to your questions but I do know you should buy at least two.

Avoid models with GI Joe, He-Man or My Little Pony on the front.

Or, just get yourself some cellphones, dude.

ROFLMAO! :smiley:

That right there made my day!

I can just see you now, going around all the electronics stores muttering under your breath, “Need more squelchy goodness. NEED MORE squechy goodness.”

How much squelch does this Walkie come with?
If that isn’t enough, can I add more squelch?
How much is extra squelch for this model?
Is that digital or analogue squelch?
Does this squelch come in red?
I really like the squelch on this one but I think it makes my ass look fat.

I have bought several of these things so I can give a little advice.

First off is, you do tend to get what you pay for. All of the ones you see out there for hiking and such nowadays don’t tend to have great reception, and clarity always seems to be an issue even when you aren’t that far from each other. Part of that can be resolved by speaking more slowly and clearly and keeping the mic at the correct distance from your mouth.

Another thing to be aware of (which burned me when I bought mine) is that the ones that advertise 7 mile ranges are likely using GMRS to do that. GMRS requires a license from the FCC which IIRC costs something like $80 for each unit. I imagine its unlikely an FCC swat team will descend on your house and drag you away to Federal PMITA prison, but who knows?

So, if these are for business use, I wouldn’t recommend the combo packages you see at REI or Circuit City or wherever. My wife and I use ours for communicating during caravans or if we split up during Geocache hunting, and they are okay for that purpose, but i wouldn’t call them ‘great’.

As for the real nice ones, you are probably looking at several hundred dollars and I can’t answer questions on those unfortunately. I have no idea what Squelch does or what colors are fasionable for it this summer.

One last thing to keep in mind is, if I understand correctly, systems you see used by the Fire Department, etc, are augmented by the use of a tower and repeater. You can’t expect to have the range and clarity those systems give unless you can erect your own tower and repeater to rebroadcast signals. I understand you just need a mile or so inside, but I’m just throwing it out there. :slight_smile:

Thanks though.

raises hand You might want to implement a regular battery replacement plan once you hand them out. Also, HR needs to know who has them so they can be collected at the exit interviews instead of walking out as a door-prizes.

They’re actually going to be located in a central location. Wardens will report anyone on their floor that refuses to leave, be given a walkie-talkie, and then go to an appropriate exit to make sure no one enters the building. I need to be able to tell them when they can come back in.

Not meaning for this to be a plug, but we’ve had good results renting radios from Bearcom. They also sell radios outright.

Price-wise, you’ll be in the range of $300-400 per radio, which includes the radio, battery and charger. At this price level, you’ll probably have all the power and range you need. If not, they’ve got repeaters.

Note that GMRS radios cannot be used for business use except in specific, unusual circumstances.

FWIW, I’m in Canada if that changes the rules.

Secondly, I don’t know what GMRS is. I’ve never heard of that sort of licence, and I don’t know how people here would go about getting them. There are about 2,000 people in the buildings I’m thinking about, and getting licences for all of them would be sort of a pain in the ass, I’m sure.

Do I even need licences in Canada?