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FRS radios are those radios that are used as part of the family radio service. They have become increasingly popular among children as novelty toys and families as a practical way to keep in touch over short distances. The effective range of most FRS radios is one mile (1.6 km), though some are marketed to go four or five times that distance.
There are a number of advantages to FRS radios. They are relatively simple to use, only requiring that both users be on the same channel, of which there are usually 14. The first seven channels are shared with the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). The last seven channels are designated only for FRS radios.
In addition to the frequencies that are only available to FRS radios, there are some other important distinctions as well. First, the FCC has designated that FRS radios can only have a maximum output of .5 watts. This is what limits their range so much. The other thing that separates them is the fact no license required for their use. This means anyone who buys one can use it without any other restrictions.
FRS radios, as mentioned before, are most commonly used by families who need to keep in communication over short distances, such as when separated at a park. However, that is not their only application. The FCC has also said that businesses can use them for two way communication. The fact that no license is required for the business can help cut down operational expenses.
FRS radios are often marketed specifically as walkie talkie units for families. Usually, they come in packages of at least two. In some cases, they may come in packages of four or more. They are set apart from other radios because they have no detachable antenna, unlike many other types of walkie talkies. They are generally one of the cheaper types of radios on the market, and function fairly well over shorter distances.
The range is often something that is in dispute and many may find they are disappointed when the range they actually experience is not the range listed on the packaging. It should be noted that range is often limited by the wattage, no matter what the packaging may say. Those ranges are achieved under very ideal conditions with a clear line of sight. Generally, those are not duplicated in real-world use.
Those who pay additional money for a greater range are likely to be especially disappointed. Wattage must remain a no greater than .5 watts, not matter what the cost of an FRS radio. However, there are other benefits to more expensive models, such as better sound quality and perhaps even the ability to double as an FM or AM radio.