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The Difference Between CB and Ham Radios

The Difference Between CB and Ham Radios

It’s time to diffuse a belief many people have maintained since CB radios came into popularity during the 1970s. It’s one that new operators seem confused on when they ask about transmission power for their CB radio.

Here it is – CB and Ham Radios are Different!

Don’t They Use the Same Band?

The main confusion is how both transmit over the air. Some believe the Citizen Band is where everything happens. However,  this is not the case.

While the Citizen Band is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), no license is required. Nor is there a need to pass an exam in order to obtain a CB handle. On the other hand, ham radio operators need to be licensed and tested in order to obtain a call sign.

What About the Equipment?

It comes down to the amount of transmission power. By law, the maximum for CBs is between four watts and, when Single Side Band (SSB) is enabled, 12 watts. Legally, ham radio sets can transmit at levels up to 1.5 kW! In addition, ham radios utilize a number of different frequencies besides the 27 MHz band. Furthermore, they have the capability of transmitting signals across the globe.


There is one more thing that differentiates ham radio operators from those on CBs. They’re amateurs. Not in the sense they’re beginners. Rather, they are a minor league of sorts to commercial radio. Although there’s rarely a chance amateur radio operators are called up to the big leagues. Nevertheless, this is the reason they require licenses to operate their sets.

Do you still need some more clarification? Our specialists at CB Radio Supply can provide that information to you. They can also help you decide if you want to be a CB operator or take the step for an amateur radio license.

Next article The History of CB Radio – Why Were Handles Created?