4 Options For Off-Grid Communication
Are you a prepper, hiker, homesteader, hunter, or survivalist? If yes, you understand the need for off-grid communication. For one, having an off-grid communication device can be useful during a disaster or power outage.
Another reason to consider off-grid communication is that cell phones don’t work everywhere—especially in remote areas with weak or no network signals. So having an off-grid device, like a radio, is ideal for emergency preparedness.
If you’re unsure of the list of off-grid communication options, look no further. Below is a look at the different forms of off-grid communications you can consider to maintain contact with your friends or family, even in a remote location.
- CB Radio
Citizen band radio, also known as CB radio, is a popular choice for off-grid communication. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) classifies it as Personal Radio Service, meaning you can use it for business and personal use. It’s often used by boaters, truckers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts who want to stay in touch while away from home.
CB radios are low-power two-way radio services that use the UHF radio frequency spectrum with a transmission distance that usually ranges from two to ten miles. This makes it a great option for short-range communications and updates. However, the range depends on factors like aerial strength, topographic conditions, and the type of antenna installed.
One of the advantages of CB radios is that handheld radios can be powered by AA batteries or a small generator, making them ideal for use in areas with no power grid and where generators are still functional or available. They also don’t require any infrastructure or special equipment to work properly — all you need is a pair of headphones and an antenna! This makes them ideal for people who live in remote areas where it can be difficult to set up. Moreover, you don’t need any special license to use it.
So, if you’re in the market for new two-way radio equipment, check out companies like Radio Well that buy used radios to finance your new equipment.
- Mesh Networks
Mesh networks are still a new alternative option for off-grid communication. It allows you to use your cell phone as an emergency communication gadget by connecting it with other mesh-compatible gadgets in people’s immediate vicinity. This lets you create a private peer-to-peer local network.
If you’re planning to take day trips and bikes, mesh devices are a great option. That said, mesh networks aren’t perfect and have a couple of downsides, such as:
- Limited functionality as users can only send texts, chats, and GPS locations
- They have a limited range
- Poor battery life, which can only last up to 24 hours
Despite these shortcomings, mesh networks remain an effective option when off-grid. They do this by bypassing the issue of signals bouncing off land-based cell towers when using cell phones. So you can call out for help when stranded in remote places.
- Ham Radios
Ham radio or Amateur Radio Service is another excellent off-grid communication alternative. Even though Ham radios are more than a century old, they’re still used today due to their dependability. Thus, they’re one of the best options to use during emergencies as they have many channels to broadcast. Another distinct advantage is that it boasts the longest range.
If you want to use a ham radio, however, the FCC will require that you pass an exam and obtain a license. However, if you choose not to get your license (and thus stay restricted to weaker and lower frequencies), it won’t be possible for you to transmit signals over long distances. But it’s worth noting that listening to ham radio channels doesn’t require a license.
Investing in a ham radio doesn’t have to break the bank. Although its price depends on its model, some integrated features—such as those listed below, can increase its cost:
- High-frequency radio spectrum section
- Good power supply, at least 5-watt output
- Memory: Ranges between 100 to 200 slots to make it possible to receive international, disaster, and weather communication.
- Backlit LCD screen
- Range (transmission power, antenna power, and wavelength)
While ham radios are a versatile option for off-grid communication, one drawback is learning how to operate them. That said, it’s essential to take your time in familiarizing yourself with how to use it, so you won’t face any challenges during an emergency when other communication options have failed.
- Satellite Phone
When in the remotest of locations, satellite phones are a reliable off-grid communication device. Satellite phones, also known as sat phones, send and receive transmissions from satellites orbiting space. Because the signals come from space, sat phones boast greater range. This differentiates satellite phones from cell phones which rely on land-based cell towers.
So, when using a sat phone, you need not worry about connecting with civilization even in an area with rugged terrain, as long as the phone has a clear view from the sky. Aside from not having obstructed signal, below are other reasons to use satellite phones when in areas far from civilization:
- Excellent battery life of up to 30 hours
- Military-grade durability
- Some sat phones have added features such as waypoint tracking, GPS navigation, and weather reports
That said, the downside with satellite phones is they can be expensive to buy. That’s usually the case with the more extra features it has. Besides that, some satellite phones have temperature requirements. That said, it’s good to do exhaustive research before you get a sat phone to get one that best matches your needs.
Thanks to modern technology, communication is on-demand, instant, and convenient today. But when it isn’t possible to communicate off-grid, an alternative form of communication is necessary. And when it comes to off-grid communication, you have a broad list of options.
If you’re new to the world of off-grid communication, we hope this guide has given you a better understanding of the different communication options available for different situations—whether you’re exploring remote wilderness or preparing for emergencies. If you’re an experienced off-grid traveler, then hopefully, it’s given you some good ideas for equipment upgrades or replacements.