The Best Two-Way Radio Repeater of 2022
A two-way radio repeater can be an important addition to any communications network, especially if you have a wide range of territory to cover. If this is your first time selecting one for your business, there are a few important factors that we’d recommend keeping in mind. Before we dive into those below, let’s review what repeaters are, how to test your site prior to installing one, and what two-way radios we recommend using with them.
What Is a Two-Way Radio Repeater?
A two-way radio repeater is a device that’s intended to boost the signals of your mobiles and handhelds so that they don’t degrade. Degradation is usually caused by long distances, physical obstructions, and the curvature of the earth. A repeater avoids degradation by performing two functions, often with a single antenna: receiving the original radio signal from one of your other units, then retransmitting it on a different frequency. Not only does this improve how far your signals will travel, it can eliminate potential dead spots that you experience in your network’s coverage area — in other words, those places where your radios experience either partial static or complete signal loss.
When did repeaters become so widely used, and how have they evolved to meet the standards of the commercial radio market today?
A (Brief) History of Two-Way Radios and Repeaters
While radios have had a long history of development, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that applying them to two-way communication (also known as full duplex), where two users are able to speak back and forth to each other simultaneously, really kicked into high gear during World War II. Since then, the military has continued to refine these units — including their repeaters — to provide ample coverage and instant communication that they need to maintain maximum readiness.
Commercial repeaters weren’t far to follow, offering hundreds of miles of potential coverage while using far less rack space. While the radios of our modern age may still resemble their predecessors in some ways, they’re certainly far more compact, versatile, and durable.
Now that you know how these units have evolved, the next question is: which ones are the best for you?
The RCA Repeater We Recommend
If you’re in the market for a repeater, there are certainly plenty of options to choose from.
That being said, once you check out what the RCA brand has to offer, you’ll realize there really isn’t any competition. We think this about all of their two-way radios, but we’re talking about their RDR9000 when it comes to repeaters. It’s built according to DMR Tier II standards, and supports mixed mode, analog, digital, conventional, and simulcast. This allows a smooth transition from an analog to a digital network (more on that below), and only takes up a third of the rack space when compared to any other brand.
You can learn more about the RDR9000 by clicking here, including the option for an instant quote.
Purchasing a repeater may be easy, but what about installation?
Is Repeater Installation Difficult?
Do you need a master’s degree from MIT to install a two-way radio repeater? Thankfully, no.
DTWR goes out of its way to make radio purchasing and installation as easy as possible for any industry, including yours. All of our units are programmed and ready to use straight out of the box, and repeaters are certainly no exception. It’s simply a matter of finding the best place for your antenna and mounting it, connecting it with an antenna cable, plugging the repeater into a power source, and then turning it on. You’re up and running in no time!
Perform a Radio Frequency (RF) Coverage Test Prior to Installation
While we’ve shared how repeater installation is typically a straightforward process, it’s still a good idea to run your own RF test beforehand to make sure you understand where you’ll need extended coverage. This will ensure that your repeater is a) solving the problem it was purchased for, and b) you aren’t missing any additional dead spots within your network.
The reason we recommend running this test before installing your repeater is that you can compare results at different locations to optimize its placement.
Coverage tests aren’t difficult. In fact, you can perform one with two coworkers and two handheld radios. Here’s how:
Make sure to confirm that both radios have sufficient battery power for this test, and that both are set to the appropriate frequencies that will be used by your repeater.
The first worker stands in the estimated position of the repeater, with their radio acting as the antenna. (Keep in mind that the antenna will be the actual center of your coverage area, not your repeater.) Depending on the surrounding area of your coverage test, the first worker may need to stand on a ladder to approximate the actual location where you intend to install the antenna.
Want to know how to optimize your two-way radio battery performance? Check out our list of helpful tips!
With the first worker remaining stationary as the antenna, the second one will walk the perimeter of the coverage area to test signal strength and clarity by sending and receiving over their two-way radio.
Results should be continuously compared to identify any static or dead spots. When these are found, the first worker can either test from a different height on the ladder, or move the ladder to an entirely new location to see if this cleans up the signal. For the most accurate results, have your workers change one of these factors at a time.
Which Two-Way Radios Work Best With Repeaters?
Repeaters work well with handheld two-way radios, mobiles, and base stations.
We assume you’ll be using handhelds, as they’re arguably the most popular (and portable) type of two-way radio. They can be operated pretty much anywhere, and often come with the durability and performance required for extended use — especially when those units need to be resistant to water, dust, and flammable materials.
When it comes to handhelds, you can’t go wrong with RCA’s RDR2500, the most popular mid-tier radio on the market. And if you’re in need of heavy-duty radios that offer military-grade chassis, the RDR4200 series is your team’s best friend.
Mobiles benefit from repeaters thanks to their extended coverage over uneven terrain. As their name implies, mobiles are designed for vehicles like police cruisers, forestry jeeps, and forklifts, among others. We’d recommend taking a look at the BRM300D the next time you need to outfit one of yours.
Base stations have grown in popularity thanks to RCA’s RDR2750. This model has taken the original base station concept and shrunken it down to the point that it’s super convenient to mount on any desk or wall. Despite this smaller size, it’s still exceptionally powerful, rocking five watts of juice to keep its coverage the same as a handheld unit. Combine it with a repeater and you’ll be able to reduce your radio system’s budget substantially.
Analog Vs. Digital
While most businesses have already made the switch to a digital two-way radio network, we recognize that’s not the case for absolutely everyone. That’s why we’re proud of the fact that RCA offers handheld units with mixed mode, allowing them to communicate with both analog and digital networks.
If you haven’t transitioned to digital yet, we certainly encourage it. This isn’t simply for better sound quality, although that is a big perk — it’s also about maximizing your battery performance. For example, our RDR2500s see power consumption drop by 40 percent when switching over to digital mode. That’s practically an upgrade without being an upgrade.
We promote the RCA brand as much as we do for several reasons, including superior sound quality, performance, and durability. But you’ll also be thrilled to know that you can get all of that power and still pay 30 percent less than any major brand. Plus, many of these units are in stock and available to ship, while other brands are still experiencing months-long backlogs of orders due to the supply chain and the lack of semiconductors.
Worried your radios aren’t compatible with RCA? Don’t sweat it! RCA works with any major brand thanks to its RadioSync technology. It doesn’t matter what your current setup looks like — our units will still talk with it. That includes our RCA repeaters!
Which Industries Need Two-Way Radio Repeaters?
If your work involves any of the following, you can definitely benefit from a two-way radio repeater.
- Large Farms and Wineries
- Large Construction Sites
- Oil and Gas Companies
- School Campuses
- Disaster Areas
- First Responder Teams
- Electric Power Plants
- Solar and Wind Farms
- Large Manufacturing Plants
- Airports / Ports Security
- State and Local Government
- Fire Departments
- Surveying Companies
Please note that this list is not all-inclusive.
Common Two-Way Radio Repeater Questions
How Do I Decide Which Repeater Is Best?
The best way to find out if a repeater is right for your team is by talking with one of our knowledgeable radio experts. Give us a call at 888.299.6340. Our consultations are absolutely free, and you’re under no obligation to purchase if all you need right now is an instant quote.
Are Repeaters Legal in My Area?
You can legally use repeaters anywhere in the United States, as long as you have the proper FCC license. Unless you’re just now establishing a commercial business, we’re pretty confident you’re already aware of this. But if you would still like additional pointers as to why licenses are important, and how DTWR makes it easier to secure one, check out our helpful article here.
What If I Need My Repeater Repaired?
Whether you already use repeaters or you’re looking into your first purchase, chances are that your unit(s) will need maintenance at some point down the line. When that happens, we offer the best repairs and turnaround times in the industry.
We’ve seen how some of our competitors like to promote cheap hourly rates or provide prices that don’t include parts — then, before you know it, you’re paying two to three times the amount you were originally quoted!
DTWR doesn’t agree with that. We only quote a flat rate for the specific units you need repaired, and cover shipping both ways. Plus, you only pay for what we fix.
We’ve been talking about repeaters, but this policy applies to all types of two-way radios — and yes, we’ll repair units from other brands, too!
You can access our convenient repair form here, or let us know if you have any questions.
As of this blog post, we’re also offering the following radio repair specials:
- If you’ve never purchased from us before, we’ll prove to you how exceptional we are by handling your first repair for free.
- If you’re a Motorola or Kenwood user, you can send us three units to repair and you’ll only pay for two.
There’s no minimum on our repairs, and our turnaround times are measured in days, not months.
Are You Ready To Order Your Two-Way Radio Repeater?
We want you to have the most convenient purchasing process possible, whether it’s getting the units you already know you need, or the advice to find the right radios to get the job done. You can either order directly from our website, or get immediate customer support by giving us a call.
Since we’ve been talking about repeaters, here’s a friendly reminder that you can learn more about the one we love to promote, the RDR9000, by clicking here.
When you’re ready, give us a call at 888.299.6340 to receive immediate assistance from one of our award-winning radio support specialists. (No phone trees to get hung up on!)
Units not in stock? Even the best radios sell out of inventory now and again, especially considering how much growth the industry has seen. If the units you need aren’t currently in stock, we can still guarantee that they’ll get to you sooner than any other radio competitor. Our shipping times — much like our radio repair — are measured in days or weeks, rather than months.
Call us today to see the DTWR difference. You’ll be glad you did.