Two way radios for wind farm use

I’m currently looking for a couple of two way radios that I can use while I’m out on a job doing electrical testing on wind farms.

Most of my work doesn’t require anything more than a cheap set of consumer grade radios that one can get at walmart, best buy, etc. That is when we’re working inside of a substation and are at most just a few hundred feet from each other. But there are times where we have to be a lot farther apart to the tune of as many as 5-8 miles or so. And being out in the middle of nowhere, it can be really tricky sometimes finding a cell signal. So that leads me to looking into the realm of two way radios as a possible solution.

The type of terrain that I’m usually dealing with is mostly flat land with light rolling hills (I’m in the Midwest most of the time) and the majority of the land areas are corn fields. But at times I would also like to be able to talk to someone that is inside of a one story building (substation building) while I’m outside in the yard. So for that alone I’m assuming that VHF isn’t exactly a viable option for me.

I just want to purchase 2 radios that I can just keep with me and will have available for my use when I need. I see there are quite a few options in the $150 range per radio, so I’d like to keep it around there. But if it’s a matter of A little more money to get me something that will work much better for me rather than something that “might” work…then I’ll definitely be open to widening my budget if it’s really needed.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and any advice or information will be greatly appreciated.

You will not get that kind of range from handheld radios.

At BEST, a pair of handhelds, unless one or both ends is on a hill, are going to get 4-5 miles range. Normal range on flat (not rolling) ground is 1/2-2 miles. And that only if you’re not sitting inside a vehicle or building.

The only way to get more range is to be using a repeater, and that means licensed business band operations. You aren’t likely to want to set that up yourself, as it’s very expensive, but you might have a local communications provider who has a common business repeater that you can rent time/use of.

Thanks for the reply.

The 5-8 mile range would certainly be the extreme of my needs, and I like your idea of trying to find a repeater in the area that I may be able rent/use to be able to get those kinds of distances.

Which models would you recommend that would be able to possibly get me around the 4-5 mile range that you suggested without the use of a repeater? The vast majority of my work is actually less than this range, but I would just like to have the possibility of maybe being able to use the radios instead of hoping to find a cell signal. And like I said in my original post…the terrain in the area of these wind farms I work at is typically light rolling hills if it’s not just flat. The rolling hills I’m talking about aren’t even noticable to the naked eye…I just know they’re there because that’s how this entire area is. The most obstruction to the radio waves would likely come from the corn itself and that would only be at around this time of year (July til October).

I’m assuming that I need to get a set of radios that are UHF as I will also need them for communications at the switchyard as well (I’d rather use a good quality set of radios rather than the cheap ones that my company gets for us to use) which typically will need to communicate with someone inside the substation building from out in the switchyard. Unless VHF will be ok for this type of situation…it would be possible when needed in most cases to open a door to the building if that is needed. I’m not sure how well a good VHF radio would be able to talk to another one inside a building like I’m talking about (typically a one story building that is made out of metal and can withstand 100 mph winds).

I would also like to get some radios that have a good battery life…somewhere in the range of 12-14 hours should be good enough as that is typically the longest my work days usually are.

So with this additional info…is there anything that might be suitable for what I need? Please let me know if any more information is needed. Thank you.

NO handheld radios are good for more than 2 miles, with any reliability, and most often less. That’s just the way it is. $10,000 handhelds are still subject to the laws of physics.

Range is antenna height. The higher your antenna(s) are, the more range you get at these line of sight frequencies.

1 watt will get you 200 miles… if one end of the conversation is on the Space Shuttle, 200 miles up.

The old Motorola rule of thumb for RELIABLE communications is to take the square root of the height of the antenna, and that’s your range in miles. Add both ends.

So your handhelds, at 5 feet, are good for 2.23 miles + 2.23 miles, for 4.46 miles… over completely flat ground. Buildings, trees, and not perfectly flat ground shorten than up.

When you see cops using handhelds all over, understand that they have radio systems with many, many remote receivers spotted all over their coverage area, using voting to pick the one with the best signal. When they go simplex, handie-talkie to handie-talkie, their nice expensive Motorola Handhelds get the exact same 1/2-2 mile range.

Actual users find that range is always 1/2 to 2 miles, between handhelds, unless unusual height of one or both users is present.

Anything over 2 miles is ‘if you’re lucky’.

Well how about a set of radios that can be reprogrammed more than once? Every wind farm I’ve worked on and is under construction…they have a two way system set up already with at least one repeater at the laydown yard. I’ve been looking at the Icom IC-F4011-41-RC…would this radio give me the option of reprogramming if needed?

I would just use a set of radios from the job site…but most of the time it’s not an option because they usually don’t have enough radios to go around as it is. So if I had my own set of radios and they just give me the frequencies they use…I could just reprogram the radios and be good to go. That is if this is a possibility in the first place.

Sorry about the dumb questions…but the learning process has to start somewhere. :slight_smile:

We talked about this a bit here at the shop. If you can get permission from the business you can operated under their business radio license. Programming for most business radios is rather easy. For the Icom F4011, we even sell the software and cable needed. You will need a PC as well, but the process is rather quick. There is no limit to the number of times they can be reprogrammed.

Thank you very much for the info. :slight_smile:

All of the above assumes that all of the sites you will be using
your portable radios at are using a uhf repeater. If any of the
sites you will be traveling to have a vhf repeater you will need
a second portable programed properly for them as well.