how to increase watts on cb radio

How to Increase Watts on CB Radio – Easy Guide, Tips, FAQs & More

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There have been many occasions when we felt that the transmission power of our CB radio was not up to par. 

Luckily, there are many tricks one can employ to increase the watts on a CB radio and get it to perform better. 

In this post, we’ll share some of these tricks with you so you can use your CB radio to its fullest potential. 

Quick Summary

In this post, we will discuss: 

  • The different components of a CB radio 
  • Different ways to increase the power of a CB radio
  • Some frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

The Different Components of CB Radios

Before we get into how to increase the power of your CB radio, it’s very important that we establish the different components that make it work. 

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The reason why this is important is so that you get a better understanding of how the different components interact with each other. This will help you troubleshoot issues better in the future and you’ll easily be able to tell how to better the performance of your CB radio. 

CB Radio 

To start off, you have the CB radio itself. Most modern-day CB radios will come with a built-in microphone, mounting bracket, and a power cord. 

If your CB radio does not come with a microphone, you’ll have to buy that separately to communicate with other radio operators. 

CB Antenna

Next up is the CB antenna. The antenna performs two functions for your CB radio: 

  1. Capture radio signals being transmitted so that they can be converted to electrical signals. 
  2. Receive electrical signals and convert them into radio signals to be transmitted. 

Important note: It’s extremely important that you invest in a good antenna for your CB radio. If your radio is good but your antenna is of low quality, then you’ll have an extremely troublesome experience. 

Coax Cable 

It’s important for you to have a high-quality, solid coax cable that is used to connect your CB antenna to your CB radio. 

If the coax cable is of low quality, you’ll find that your transmission will run into a slew of issues such as distortion, background noise, etc. 

SWR Meter 

An SWR meter is utilized to test the quality of the output of your radio. It’s also a device that you can use to tune your CB radio. 

Many CB radios these days come with built-in SWR meters. If you have such a radio, you won’t have to buy an SWR meter separately. 

Even if you don’t have an SWR meter, you can still tune your radio without it as we’ve explained in one of our posts. 

How to Increase CB Radio Wattage?

Now that we know all of the different components that are at play, let’s discuss how to increase the power of your CB radio. 

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Make sure that you have your SWR meter connected to your CB radio so that you can test its output while you employ the methods discussed below. 

Here are some methods to increase your CB radio’s wattage so that it can transmit signals more effectively: 

Change the Position of Your CB Radio 

One important factor that affects the performance of radio is where and how it’s kept. You’ll be surprised to hear that the sound quality is greatly determined by the positioning of your CB radio. 

To ensure that your CB radio is able to transmit and receive signals effectively, make sure it’s placed in an open space. The best area would be one where the radio signals can’t reflect off of surfaces such as buildings, cars, people, etc. 

Check out our complete guide on how to ground your CB Radio antenna.

Adjust the Modulation 

The modulation of your CB radio will affect its output power and thus, its overall performance. 

You can adjust the modulation through the body of your radio to find a setting that works best for you. The goal here is to test out different modulation settings to find a point where the sound quality is at its highest and the background noise is at its lowest. 

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Important note: Be careful not to increase the modulation too much as this can highly distort radio frequencies. 

Utilize the Squelch and RF Gain Options to Eliminate Background Noise

Older radios will have a squelch function while newer models come equipped with an RF Gain option. 

Both of these functions serve to eliminate signal noise in transmissions so you get higher-quality sound. 

Tinker with these settings and continuously test the output with your SWR meter. The goal is to find a setting where the sound quality is at its clearest and the background noise is as minimal as possible. 

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Check the Quality of Your Antenna

While this is not something that will increase the watts of your CB radio, it’s still important to consider the overall sound quality. 

You should look towards your CB antenna if your CB radio is operating at maximum wattage and yet, you’re not getting the ideal radio sound. 

If this is the case, then your CB antenna might be the reason. 

To start off, you should check the orientation and positioning of the CB antenna. Is it as high as it could be? 

If you have your CB antenna mounted too low, this can cause radio signals to bounce off of lower surfaces and get picked up by the antenna. This will cause a ton of distortion and background noise.

Adjust the orientation of your CB antenna as best as you can to ensure that it is the highest point on your vehicle. 

If you still don’t get decent sound, then it might be time to get a new antenna. A high-quality CB radio antenna is essential. You should make sure that you get an antenna that is specifically designed to be paired with CB radios. 

Adjust the Dead Key Wattage 

The “dead key wattage” refers to the power output of your radio when you key your microphone and say nothing. 

All radios have a dead key wattage pot that can be adjusted. You can find this and peak it in order to increase the power output of your CB radio. 

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However, please note that doing this can introduce a lot of signal noise in some cases. Make sure that you test out your transmission before using your radio with other radio operators. You don’t want to blow their ears out. 

Invest in an Amplifier to Increase Watts and Improve Sound Quality

One last thing you can do is invest in an amplifier that will help increase the power output and overall sound quality of your CB radio. 

A linear amplifier can be connected to your CB radio and it’ll work as a CB radio power booster. It works by giving your dead key additional operating power. 

Important note: You should not increase the dead key above 10 watts as this can lead to your amplifier overheating

If after all of this, you still fail to increase the watts on your CB radio, then it may just be time to invest in another one. The problem might be that you’re using a low-quality model that simply cannot work at the output power you’re demanding from it. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

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What is the highest wattage you can have on a CB radio?

For CB radios, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) instructs that their wattage should not increase by 4 watts. This is to ensure that they don’t interfere with other radio frequencies used to power devices such as TVs and emergency communication radios.

How far can a 4-watt CB radio transmit signals?

A 4-watt CB radio can typically transmit signals up to a range of 3 miles. 

How far can a 100-watt CB radio transmit signals? 

A 100-watt CB radio can usually transmit signals anywhere between 50 to 60 miles. 

How many watts can I transmit with my CB radio without a license? 

The FCC advises CB radio users to not exceed 4 watts as higher wattage can interfere with other radio frequencies. 

What channel should I leave my CB radio on? 

The most popular and common channel for CB radios is channel 9. It’s the emergency channel and what you should be on to catch any news regarding weather alerts, etc. 

It’s also constantly monitored by law enforcement so make sure that you keep any unnecessary communication off of it. 

Channels 17 and 19 are utilized most commonly by truck drivers.

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Wrapping Things Up… 

That’s how you can increase watts on a CB radio for better radio performance. 

We hope you were able to adjust your CB radio and are now enjoying an improved radio experience. Did we miss out on some key methods to increase the wattage? What do you normally do to increase your CB radio’s output power? 

Let us know in the comments section below. 

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