Ham Radio vs. CB Radio: What Makes the Difference Between Them?

Are you an amateur in the field of radio communication, especially in two-way radio communications?

Then there is obviously a high chance to be confused. You may mix up the two common type of two-way radios- CB and Hum. You may face trouble to choose that which one is better for you.

Though CB and Hum, both of them are two-way radios, there are few features also that have made them different from each other.

In this article, I am actually going to discuss these vary differences between Ham Radio and CB Radio so that you can reach your final decision. Let’s see.

Difference Between Ham Radio and CB Radio

The differences between these two types of radio are numerous. One needs licensing, whereas the other doesn't require any license to operate. In fact, there are a lot of differences in their features as well as specifications.

Now let’s check out how many differences these two radios have in their features and performances:

The difference in Usage:

Ham Radio is the best for using for long-range communications. It offers better range than that of CB. On the other hand, A CB Radio is the best for using for local communication. You may buy it as a hobby. But you will get details weather report on it even you are driving. It will be fun while stuck in traffic if you listen to a CB radio at that time.

CB doesn’t require licensing, but Ham does:

You will need a license to operate Ham radio. On the other hand, the license is not required to transmit a CB Radio. To get a license of Ham radio you will need to appear in a test conducted by FCC. You’ll be given the license only if you can pass this test. For using the Ham radio, you must have to acquire this license.

Though once license was also required for CB radio, but the procedure was stopped later. FCC itself stopped this procedure. But still, in some countries, some CB equipment have to be approved priory before installation by the authority.

Different Modulation Techniques:

HAM Radios work on the basis of multiple modulations. Whereas, the CB Radio uses modulation like SSB and AM. They can use AM, FM, SSB, and RTTY-all the modulations.

Single Band of CB vs. Multiple Band of Ham:

Ham radio contains multiple bands. On the other hand, the CB holds the only single band. In around there are more than 20 bands available for the CB Radios.


A CB radio comes with 40 different channels (The number will be 120 if SSB CB Radios are also counted). But there are no such specific channels in Ham. This radio only comes with frequency ranges. As a Hum user, you have to stay in those ranges.


The range that a CB radio can provide is very less than a HAM radio. The reason is less power consumption. But in spite of having weak modulation, there are some CB users who use them for even long-range communications.


An Amateur or Hum radio use 1.5K Watt power. Whereas Power of the CB radio doesn’t exceed to 4 Watts if it is in AM band. This power reaches to 12 Watt when it is in SSB modulation.

Bottom Line

So, finally what is your thinking about the basic difference between these two radios? It is surely band and licensing that make difference between them.

One more thing, you will have the freedom of using the entire frequency as there are no specific channels in these multiple band radio.

You will not get this opportunity in CB radio. Here you have to maintain the limitation of range when you are using a specific channel.

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