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Radio Compatibility: Which Models Will Work Together

One of the questions that we are asked frequently is if a new two way radio that a customer is considering purchasing will be compatible with older radios that they already have. This compatibility question is best answered based on the type of radio (such as consumer vs. business), as the answer is very different.

Consumer Radios
Midland GXT2000 Two Way RadioConsumer radios generally operate on a standard set of frequencies assigned to preset channels. But that's only part of the equation. There are different types of consumer radios, so these frequency and channel assignments depend on what type of radio it is.

Perhaps the most popular type of consumer radio is the FRS/GMRS walkie talkie. These radios operate on the UHF band. At one time this type of radio used either the GMRS or FRS services, and for awhile most were manufactured as "dual service" radios that supported both FRS and GMRS. These radios typically had 22 channels. Older models with only 14 channels were considered FRS radios.

After the FCC Part 95 reform in 2017, these combo radios were no longer considered dual service, but reclassified as either FRS or GMRS, depending on their wattage among other things. Today, FRS and GMRS share the same channel and frequency assignments and are able to communicate with one another on the same standard 22 channels. Additionally, Some GMRS radios have 8 additional channels to communicate with GMRS repeaters.

Regardless, all of the radios that support FRS and/or GMRS use the same frequencies and are compatible with one another. Simply set all radios to the same channel number and privacy code, and you will be able to communicate. FRS and GMRS radios are not cross compatible with other types of consumer radios.

CB radios operate on the 11 meter AM band, and have their own channel and frequency assignments. CB radios have 40 channels, and some are capable of Single Side Band (SSB) operation. CB radios are not cross-compatible with any other consumer radio service.

Consumer Marine radios operate on VHF marine frequencies and are intended for use on private, non-commercial vessels over water. Some older marine radios were dual service radios combined with FRS/GMRS, but
the FCC no longer allows the manufacture or sale of these models. Marine radios are not cross-compatible with other types of consumer radios.

MURS radios operate on the VHF band and have 5 dedicated channels. These radios can be used by consumers or businesses, which technically puts them in both types for this discussion. However, it is its own radio service with specific operating requirements and restrictions. MURS radios are not cross compatible with other types of consumer radios.

Popular manufacturers of consumer radios are Cobra, DeWALT, Galaxy, Midland, Motorola (Talkabout series), President, Uniden and Wouxun. Kenwood used to make GMRS models (the TK-3101 and TK-3131, for example), but have moved away from consumer radios and no longer produce them.

For a more in-depth discussion on the different types of consumer radios, listen to episode 75 of The Two Way Radio Show Podcast.

Business Radios
Kenwood TK-3402 Two Way RadioCompatibility is not nearly as straightforward when it comes to business radios. First of all, there are several types of frequencies that business radios are made to support: VHF, UHF, and 800/900 Mhz frequencies, for example. The first step in finding a compatible radio is choosing a model that supports the same frequency type as your existing radios.

These frequency types refer to an entire range of actual frequencies, and just choosing the same frequency type does not guarantee compatibility. If you purchased your existing radios from a true two way radio dealer, there is a possibility that the dealer could have programmed special custom frequencies into the radio. If this were the case, your radios may not be compatible with a new radio even if you purchased the exact same model.

Usually most compatibility issues arise with 4 or 5 watt radios, which are much more likely to support custom programming. With one or two watt business radios, it is a little easier to ensure compatibility. The Motorola CLS series of radios and the two watt RM series models will always be compatible, and two watt Kenwood radios that are marked with a ProTalk label will always be compatible, provided you purchase the same model.

In addition to band and frequency compatibility, there are different types of digital business radios which are not inherently compatible with one another. These include DMR, NXDN, and 900 MHz digital radios.

DMR is a very popular digital technology used by Motorola, Vertex Standard and TYT. There are a plethora of DMR radios available that are compatible with one another.  NXDN is used by Kenwood and Icom. While not as prevalent as DMR, NXDN radios are popular with some businesses and organizations. These two technologies use different methods and protocols, so are not cross-compatible on their own without some type of digital converter.

The 900 MHz digital radio is another thing entirely. It uses Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum or FHSS technology. This is a clever concept that increases secure communications, but comes with the caveat that one brand of 900 MHz radio may be completely incompatible with another.

If you have any questions or concerns about business radio compatibility, the easiest option is to simply contact us and we can recommend a compatible solution. For older radios or radios that could have been custom programmed, we may ask that you send in the radio so that we can read the actual frequencies from the radio before making a recommendation.

Related Resources
Looking for a MURS Compatible Radio?
It's Official: Vertex Digital and Motorola TRBO Radios Now Compatible
The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-07 - Comparing Small Business Radios
Radio 101 - The facts about GMRS two way radio compatibility

174 thoughts on “Radio Compatibility: Which Models Will Work Together”

  • Ashfaque

    Would Baofeng BF- 888S work with another Baofeng BF- 888S?

    Reply
  • How can I program my boafeng 888s to work with my baofeng 888splus

    Reply
  • Austin

    This may be a stupid question, but can business and consumer radios communicate with one another?

    Reply
  • Joe

    Rick, what is a radio I can buy myself that I can use with a Motorola CLS model work radio. Ours are beat up at work and I want one for myself that I know is in good working condition.

    Reply
  • Jim

    Can a Motorola radius cp 100 and cp200 work together

    Reply
  • jim

    cant talk back and forth when you key the miyk cant here nothing

    Reply
  • Ed

    Can I program my Motorola cls1110 and our new Motorola sl300 to work together? If so, how?!

    Reply
  • Isaac

    Hello,
    I currently have a set of Radioboss 289G and a set of Kenwood Protalk XLS 3230. I'm trying to figure out if they can work on the same frequency. They are both UHF business radios, so I would imagine they would work together, but I'm having a hard time figuring them out. Any tips or suggestions on how to go about solving this problem?

    Reply
  • Rick

    The consumer radios such as the Motorola Talkabout MG167 and T100 are pre-programmed at the factory for use on FRS and/or GMRS frequencies only and are not user programmable.

    Reply
  • I think our GP340 on the ship are on UHF. I can't program the GP340, but can it be done the other way around: can the consumer radios be programmed to work with a business radio?

    Reply
  • Rick

    They would need to be using the same band (VHF or UHF) and programmed to the same frequencies and privacy codes.

    Reply
  • Rick

    The Motorola MG167A and T100 are consumer FRS/GMRS radios. The GP340 is a business radio. The VHF version of the GP340 will definitely not communicate with the consumer radios since they operate on the UHF band. It may be possible to program the UHF version of the GP340 to communicate with the consumer Talkabout models, however it may or may not be legal to do so, depending on the laws in your country.

    Reply
  • Evelyn

    Are the Motorola MG167A and/or Motorola T100 compatible with Motorola GP340? Can I use MG167A or T100 to communicate with people using the GP340 (on channels 1, 2 and 3)?

    Reply
  • John

    we have Motorola CP150 & CP200 in the facility but they do not talk to each other. Is there any change that can be made to make them compatible?

    Reply
  • DERREK M SIMPSON

    I work for walmart and we use cp110 and Rdm20 20 motorola radios so would any radio of those tWo models work if I purchased one

    Reply
  • Rick

    The ProTalk is a business radio and the Cobra MicroTalk is an FRS/GMRS radio. If your Kenwood is a UHF XLS radio and covers the same frequency range, you would need program the Kenwood to the same frequencies and CTCSS/DCS codes to which the Cobra is pre-programmed.
    Of course, if you lost your Kenwood ProTalk XLS radio, I'm not sure this information will help.

    Reply
  • Caleb Jones

    I have 2 cobra micro talk 2way 19 mile weatherproof 22 channel walkie talkies. I would like to know what is compatible with it?

    Reply
  • Shauna bustamento
    Shauna bustamento September 15, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    I have lost my other walkie talkie its a kenwood pro talk xls and i have a cobra micotalk 121privacy codes how can i get them to work together thank you

    Reply
  • Rick

    We need a little more information. Are all of the radios of the same model, or are the CXT 565 radios mixed with other makes and models? Are all the radios on the same channel? Do any of the radios use CTCSS or DCS codes on these channels?
    This video may help.
    Radio 101 - Privacy Code Issues on GMRS Radios.

    Reply
  • lori caldwell

    Our facility uses the cobra CXT 565 .We have some walkies that we can talk in them and be heard however we can not hear anything from them.Can you help.Thanks

    Reply

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