What's the highest power HT you're comfortable using?

During the last few years we’ve noticed more and more powerful HTs becoming available. For the longest time most everything was 4/5 watts, but lately seen portable handheld radios on the market that advertise 6, 8 or even 10 watts. I even have a demo of one in my office that was capable of transmitting somewhere between 15 and 25 watts! It’s a huge brick of a radio, too, mostly due to the battery pack needed to deliver that type power.

Now, I have my personal thoughts on this, but we want to know what you, the forum members, think.

So the question is, how much is too much power for a handheld? If there is a limit where you start to feel uncomfortable with that amount of power, from a safety perspective, where might that limit be?
What’s the highest power HT you’re comfortable using?

  • 5 Watts
  • 6 Watts
  • 7 Watts
  • 8 Watts
  • 9 Watts
  • 10 Watts
  • More than 10 Watts

0 voters

Did you ask this question on Reddit the other day as well?

But to better qualify my answer. 7W on VHF. 6W on UHF. 2.5W on 700 MHz and 3W on 800/900 MHz.

7 watts. That’s all that’s legal per FCC exposure limits.

I have to say that since an HT is by nature and design a short distance means of communications, and I can (and have) used 5 watts to reach anything I could expect to ‘hit’. That “expect” is the catch in this no matter what power level you use. And on what frequency. I don’t think I’d hesitate with something around 10 watts of power. After that, I’m not even sure anything higher is even made anymore. For longer distance more power can be helpful but there definitely are limits. At VHF and abover power isn’t the answer, the antenna and it’s placement is.

Ironically - I’ve had a customer request for a very specific hand-held radio for a local client. It needs to float and have access to only two VHF marine band channels and one non-marine channel. It would also be handy if they float! At the moment this means two radios. A marine one and business one. Here in the UK, we don’t actually have type approval any longer, just technical standards and one of my suppliers has a marine band spec radio with rotary channel selector that also floats AND has a 10W output on fairly chunky battery packs. Here this is a licenceable solution but quite novel. Normally marine and business rarely appear in one radio. The factory have offered the 10W version, or to special order and cost, 5W - which I’m not going to do because 5-10 is hardly much more, dB wise, so I’ll go with the highest power - so my vote is probably wrong now! Price wise, they can afford to lose a few without it being disastrous.