One of the largest users of walkie-talkies in the United States is construction companies on commercial and industrial sites. These larger projects involve many people, inherent security risks, and multiple tasks at the same time. Communication keeps the workplace safe, employees safe, and projects on track. Selecting the right walkie talkie for these job sites is not as easy as choosing the most expensive walkie talkie in the catalog. We know that price is important and this article will not end with the suggestion that you buy the most expensive two-way radio on the market. There are a number of questions to ask before deciding which walkie-talkie is right for you. Let’s explore the questions to ask when choosing a walkie-talkie for your job site.
How many talk groups do you need? The main purpose of using walkie-talkies is to communicate with others on the construction site. How many different contractors are there on site and how many do you need to communicate with? We see these typical channels in a commercial setting. Superintendent, Electricity, Security, Tower Crane, Mechanical Contractor and Labor. There are often many more, so most construction companies buy at least 16-channel walkie-talkies.
How big is the project? The size of the facility you are building will determine the power needs of your radio. If your project is larger than a Super Walmart, you will need 4 Watt Two Way Radios. Handheld radios are available in 1, 2, 4 and 5 watts, and UHF and VHF models are available. A construction company should never use VHF radios as UHF will always work better once the concrete and rebar are in place.
Should you go digital? A number of digital walkie-talkies are available. It’s important to select a digital walkie-talkie that works in both analog and digital modes because while you may be progressive, other construction site contractors may not be. Digital gives you the advantage of being able to talk to your team members individually, offers greater clarity and longer battery life. Be careful to ask how easily you can switch between analog and digital modes. Not all digital walkie-talkies are created equal and digital walkie-talkies may not be compatible with another manufacturer’s digital walkie-talkies.
Why you shouldn’t buy recreational walkie-talkies Aside from buying toys, recreational walkie-talkies aren’t built to last, so you’ll be spending more in the long run. Batteries, charging trays and audio accessories for these models are all designed to be used occasionally, not every day, because you need them. We’re not saying they won’t work, we’re saying they won’t work that well.
Do you need intrinsically safe walkie-talkies? Only buy intrinsically safe radios if required by your insurance company or OSHA. Using these two-way models implies that you are concerned about an explosion. You create liability for your business if you buy intrinsically safe walkie-talkies and you don’t need them.
Do you need an FCC license? This depends on the frequencies you use, so an FCC license may be required. There are a number of companies that can assist in obtaining an FCC license and most safely a 5-10 year license for less than $1,000.00. We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you that there are thousands of walkie-talkies in use without proper FCC licenses.
Why not cell phones? Walkie-talkies provide near-instantaneous communication and work where you work without the need for cellular coverage. Cell phones also do not allow group communication, which is essential during the pouring of concrete, when the crane is in use or when the safety manager is doing his thing.
Should we get a Two Way Radio Repeater? Repeaters make it all more complicated and repeaters guarantee that you need an FCC license. Repeaters should be used when building a skyscraper, in airport work areas and large industrial facilities. Repeaters are also useful if there is a distance between the construction site and the job trailers. If you consistently get poor call coverage with your 4 Watt commercial walkie-talkies, a repeater is a likely solution.
Walkie-talkies are essential on most construction sites and must be used. Safety, coordination and saving footsteps are all immediate benefits gained from using walkie-talkies. Don’t spend too much or too little and you will be very satisfied with the performance of your two-way radios.