• UHF or VHF: Which Is Right For You?

    Customers that are new to business radios are confronted a several confusing options, one of which is the type of frequency to choose: UHF or VHF. These abbreviations make no sense to most people and without some research it is easy to choose a radio that is not right for your situation. The quick answer is: choose VHF if you plan to only use the radios outdoors and in an area that is relatively free of obstructions, such as buildings.If you plan on using the radio indoors, both indoors and out, or outdoors but around buildings, choose UHF. UHF is the better all around signal and is by far the most popular, so if you are in doubt, choose UHF.

    UHF signals don't travel quite as far outdoors as VHF signals, but they do a better job of penetrating wood, steel, and concrete, giving you better range and performance in urban environments and around buildings. VHF signals travel farther, absent obstructions, and tend to "hug" the earth better, providing better performance outdoors or in hilly terrain.
  • Do You Need A Business Two Way Radio?

    We frequently get questions from business customers asking if they really need to buy a "business" two-way radio. Business radios are generally much more expensive than consumer radios and the features are often very similar, so it is easy to see why this can be confusing. In this post I'll try to explain the common differences between these types of radios, and hopefully provide enough information for you to decide what's best for your business.

    FCC Regulations

    Whether a 2-way radio is "business" or "consumer" is decided by the frequencies that it uses to transmit and receive communications. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set aside 22 UHF frequencies as general frequencies for use by consumers. These frequencies make up GMRS & FRS channels that are supported by the consumer radios that we sell. Technically, use of the GMRS channels requires an FCC license. This license is good for 5 years and covers the applicant and his/her immediate family. GMRS licenses are not issued to businesses.

    Here is a note from the FCC's GMRS license application form (form 605): Note: For GMRS: effective January 1, 1989, new or major modification applications may NOT be filed by non-individual (business) applicants/licensees. (See Rule 1.929(c) (4) & 95.5(b). For GMRS radios to be legally used by businesses, each person using the radios would need an individual GMRS license ($80 each). A business could use the radios on an FRS channel without a license, but when using FRS channels the radio cannot transmit at more than a half watt of power. This is generally only good for a quarter to a half mile of outdoor range.

    Business radios use different frequencies ranges that have been approved by the FCC for business use. These frequencies are not as popular, so you typically don't have to worry about "chatter" on your channels. You can also get business radios that operate on VHF frequencies, which work better than UHF outdoors or inside of and around wood structures. An FCC license for your business is $105. You will pay more upfront for your business radio, but if there are several employees that will use it you will likely save money after factoring in the license cost.


    Business radios are usually designed to hold up to abuse better than consumer radios. Consumer radios are usually built for infrequent use: weekend hunting trips, multiple car caravans, skiing, camping, amusement parks, etc. They are usually lightweight with a thin plastic casing. Business radios are designed to be used for hours every day, and they will hold up better than consumer radios. Many are built to military specifications.

    Battery Life

    If your business plans to use radios for more than a few hours a day, battery life is something that you will not want to overlook. Most consumer radios include rechargeable batteries that are good for 8 hours or less of use. As is typical of batteries, this life will likely diminish slightly over time. Some business or professional radios are also limited in their battery life, but most will provide 12 hours or more on a charge.


    Business radios typically have a better selection of accessories than consumer radios. If accessories, such as headsets or earpieces, are important to your business, you should look at what accessories are available before you choose a radio. Things like rapid chargers and multi unit chargers are only available for business radios. Accessories

    Common Scenarios

    There are some scenarios where a business radio is always your best choice. For example, anytime you expect to use the radio frequently and for more than 8 hours with each use. If you purchase a consumer radio for this, there is a good chance you will be disappointed with the battery life. Also, if you are in a "tough" work environment, such as a construction, industrial situation, security. Consumer radios are not designed to take this kind of beating. It may be best to choose a consumer radio in a light-duty situation where very little range is needed. This would allow you to get away with only using the FRS channels and avoiding the license fees. A great example is a school that needs radios for directing traffic in mornings and afternoons. I hope this has been helpful. If you have any specific questions you can, as always, feel free to call or email us!

  • 20 Miles? The Truth About Range

    You may have noticed that most of the consumer two-way radios you see around advertise a range of up to 30 miles. The truth is, consumer FRS/GMRS radios will not even provide close to the advertised "maximum range". The range that a two-way radio advertises is the range that the radio should get in "ideal" conditions. Ideal conditions are line of sight, such as from a mountaintop to a valley below -- no interference at all. Most likely, you will not be using the radios in these circumstances! You will probably want two-way radios for things such as hunting, skiing, malls, car trips or vacations.

    Under these normal conditions, the range of the radio will be limited because of obstructions, such as trees, hills, or buildings. These obstructions block the signal and dramatically reduce the range of a two-way radio. So what type of range can you expect from your radio? Usually half a mile up to two miles, depending upon your terrain and the power of your radio. In the same environment, a 2-watt radio with a long antenna would provide considerably more range than a half-watt radio with a short antenna.

    When choosing a radio, it is very important to consider both the amount of range that you need and the environment in which you will be using the radios. Naturally, you wouldn't have as many obstructions in a football stadium as being in the middle of a heavily wooded area. For use in a stadium you would likely be fine with a small, one-watt radio. In a wooded area, however, that same radio may not provide sufficient range. These are things that you need to take into consideration when choosing which two-way radio is right for you.

  • Radio Compatibility: Which Models Will Work Together

    One of the questions that we are asked frequently is if a new two-way radio that a customer is considering purchasing will be compatible with older radios that they already have. This compatibility question is best answered based on the type of radio (consumer vs. business), as the answer is very different.

    BUT SPY OPS offers FREE Programming to help you.

    Consumer Radios

    Consumer radios operate on a standard set of frequencies, either the GMRS or FRS services or a combination of both. Most new consumer radios are "dual service" radios that support both FRS and GMRS. These radios will typically have 22 channels. Older consumer radios may only have 14 channels, operating only on FRS.

    Regardless, all of these radios that support FRS and/or GMRS use the same frequencies and are compatible with one another. Simply set all radios to the same channel number and privacy code, and you will be able to communicate. Popular manufacturers of consumer radios are Audiovox, Cobra, Garmin, Midland, Motorola (Talk about series), and Uniden. Kenwood used to make GMRS models (the TK3101 and TK3131, for example), but have moved away from consumer radios and no longer produce them.

    Business Radios

    Compatibility is not nearly as straightforward when it comes to business radios. First of all, there are several types of frequencies that business radios are made to support: VHF, UHF, and 800/900 MHz frequencies, for example. The first step in finding a compatible radio is choosing a model that supports the same frequency type as your existing radios. These frequency types refer to an entire range of actual frequencies, and just choosing the same frequency type does not guarantee compatibility. If you purchased your existing radios from a true two-way radio dealer, there is a possibility that the dealer could have programmed special custom frequencies into the radio. If this were the case, your radios may not be compatible with a new radio even if you purchased the exact same model.

    Usually most compatibility issues arise with 4 or 5 watt radios, which are much more likely to support custom programming. With one or two watt business radios, it is a little easier to ensure compatibility. The Motorola CLS series of radios and the two watt RDX series models will always be compatible, and two watt Kenwood radios that are marked with a ProTalk label will always be compatible, provided you purchase the same model.

    If you have any questions or concerns about business radio compatibility, the easiest option is to simply contact spy ops (248)569-6831 and we can recommend a compatible solution. For older radios or radios that could have been custom programmed, we may ask that you send in the radio so that we can read the actual frequencies from the radio before making a recommendation.

  • Getting The Most Range From Your Radio

    One question that we are frequently asked is "how can I get more range out of my two way radio?" In the case of consumer (FRS / GMRS) radios is usually not even close to what the manufacturers advertise. There are, however, several things that you can do to be sure you are getting the most range possible from your radio. If your radio supports GMRS channels, be sure that you are using one. Most consumer radios support 22 channels, some FRS and some GMRS. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not allow transmission on an exclusive FRS channel at more than half a watt of power. This means that if you are on an FRS-only channel, your radio will only transmit using "low power" mode.

    The FRS-only channels are 8 through 14. Channels 15 through 22 are exclusively for GMRS, and channels 1 through 7 are shared by both FRS and GMRS. Most consumer radios support two or more power modes. To get the most range, be sure that you are using high power mode. Lower power modes will not use all of your radio's possible the output power and will reduce range. Be sure to fully charge your battery. The transmission power of two-way radios tends to weaken if the battery is low. Always be sure your batteries are fully charged before using your radios, especially if you will need maximum range. Finally, if you still find yourself pushing the range limits of your radio you can try the "monitor channel" feature. Enabling this feature will cause the radio to open the channel, allowing you to hear static and transmissions too weak to be received by the radio in normal mode.

Kenwood TK-3200L-U15P Two Way Radio

SPY OPS offers FREE programming! The Kenwood TK-3200LU15P two-way radio offers 15 channels, 2 watts of power, and a lithium battery providing a 22 hour battery life and coverage for up to 250,000 square feet, 20 floors, or 6 miles. The TK3200-LU15P supports 56 UHF frequencies with 121 Quiet Talk codes (83 digital). The Kenwood ProTalk TK-3200LU15P is relatively small and lightweight business radio, yet extremely durable (built to IP54/55 and military 810 C, D, E, and F standards). This combination makes it a great choice for a wide array of environments, from light duty operations such as restaurants or hotels to the toughest construction and warehouse jobs.

This Kenwood business radio is also loaded with features. The TK3200L-U15P offers added privacy with a voice scrambling function. Hands-free (VOX) operation is supported when used with optional accessories. The Kenwood TK-3200LU15P is also water resistant, and supports channel scan and key locking. A 2-year warranty is standard. 

Includes one Kenwood TK-3200LU15P two way radio, drop-in fast charger, and 22 hour lithium rechargeable battery. The Kenwood TK-3200L operates on UHF frequencies. This means it performs best inside steel or concretestructures.

View Manual (PDF) or Buy Now

  • TK-3202LU16P15 Total Channels one channel scan
  • 250,000 Sq. Ft. / 20 Floor / 6 Mile Range
  • 56 UHF Business Frequencies
  • 121 Quiet Talk Codes (83 Digital)
  • 2.0 Watt Output Power
  • 56 User Selectable Frequencies
  • Uses Rechargeable Battery Pack
  • Rechargeable Lithium Battery Pack Included
  • Includes Drop-In Fast Battery Charger
  • Hands-Free (VOX) Mode (with optional accessories)
  • Voice Scramble
  • Cloning Capable
  • Call Alert Tone
  • Channel Scan
  • Scan Channel Delete
  • Low Battery Alert
  • Time-out Timer
  • Keypad Lock
  • Monitor Channel
  • Keystroke Tone Signal
  • Drop-In Charge Capable
  • Water / Dust Resistant
  • Audio Accessory Connector
  • Two Year Manufacturer Warranty
  • The Radio comes with:
  • Kenwood ProTalk TK-3200LU15P Radio
  • Lithium Rechargeable Battery Pack (KNB-45L)
  • Rapid Drop-In Charger (KSC-35)
  • AC Charging Adapter
  • Belt Clip
  • Owners Manual
  • Battery Life: 22 hours
  • Dimensions: 4.8" H x 2.13" W x 1.3" L
  • Weight (with battery): 9.9 oz. (280 g)
  • Noise Canceling Mic


    T23NC Series Noise Canceling Two Wire Surveillance $90.00

    Rugged two-wire surveillance microphone built with a high impact polycarbonate mic/ptt housing. Kevlar reinforced cabling, and durable strain relief at the cable joints. This unit also has a quick disconnect acoustic tube, strain relief bracket at the transducer, and excellent transmit and receive audio. The T23NC series is our noise canceling two-wire that's perfect for loud noise environments.

    -Rugged two wire surveillance mic
    -Kevlar reinforced cabling
    -Durable strain relief
    -360 degree rotatable clip
    -High impact polycarbonate mic housing
    -Quick disconnect acoustic tube
    -Field repairable transducer
    -1 year warranty

    Fits Kenwood Radios:

    TK3160 ProTalk, TK3102, TK3130, TK272G, TK372G, TK3130 ProTalk XLS, TK3131 FreeTalk XLS TK220, TK320, TK240, TK340, TK240D, TK340D, TK208, TK308, TK430, TK431, TK250, TK350, TK353, TK260, TK270, TK260G, TK360G, TK360, TK370, TK270G, TK370G, TK248, TK348, TK2100, TK3101 FreeTalk XL, TK2102, TK3100, TK2160 ProTalk

    Buy Now
  • Surveillance Earpiece


    T20025S Surveillance Listen Only Earpiece $45.00

    The T20 Series is a surveillance style listen only earpiece. This unit is very popular among security and law enforcement that prefer using a speaker mic for communicating as opposed to a surveillance kit. The T20 simply plugs in to the speaker mic redirecting the sound towards your ear.
    The advantage of listen only earpieces is that it prevents your environment from listening in to your private conversation. At the same time it also makes listening to your radio easier in loud noise environments.

    -Kevlar reinforced cabling
    -Durable strain relief
    -Quick disconnect acoustic tube
    -Field repairable transducer
    -1 year warranty

    Fits Speaker Mic Brands:
    Kenwood, Ericsson

    Surveillance Listen Only with 2.5 mm right angle single pin connector. Cable is coiled and approximately 14" in length.

    Buy Now
  • Additional Accessories

    Kenwood KMC-45 Speaker Microphone With Listening Port $69.99 Kenwood KMB-27 Six Unit Charging Adapter $159.99 Kenwood KNB-45L Lithium Ion Battery Pack $54.99
    Kenwood KMC-45 Kenwood KMB-27 Kenwood KNB-45L
    Buy Now Buy Now Buy Now
    Heavy duty speaker microphone
    Swivel belt clip
    Replaces discontinued model KMC-17
    Compatible with Kenwood FreeTalk and ProTalk models, including the following: TK-2200 series, TK-3200 series, TK-208, TK-2100, TK-2102, TK-2130, TK-220, TK-240, TK-240D, TK-248, TK-250, TK-260, TK-260G, TK-270, TK-270G, TK-308, TK-3100, TK-3101, TK-3102, TK-3130, TK-3131, TK-320, TK-340, TK-340D, TK-348, TK-350, TK-353, TK-360, TK-360G, TK-370, TK-370G, TK-372G, TK-430, TK-431, TK-3201, TK-2160, TK-3160, TK-208, TK-373, TK-3173, and the Relm series.
    The Kenwood KMB-27 multi-unit charging adapter allows you to charge a fleet of up to 6 radios at once.
    Simply connect your existing charger base into the KMB-27 housing to save space and use less power outlets.
    Chargers are not included. The Kenwood KMB-27 works with the following Kenwood chargers: KSC-28, KSC-37 (Kenwood Series: TK-3130, TK-3131, TK-3230 Radios)
    High quality lithium ion cell
    Extended Capacity
    Compatible with the Kenwood TK-3200L-U15P, TK-3202L-U16P. Can also be used with the following models, but requires the KSC-35K charger: TK-3200-U2P, TK-3200-U8P, TK-2200-V8P, and TK-2200-V2P

    Kenwood UHF Low Profile Antenna (KRA-23M) $13.99 Kenwood Belt Clip (KBH-10) $9.99
    Kenwood UHF Kenwood Belt Clip
    Buy Now Buy Now
    UHF Low Profile Helical Antenna (450-490 MHz)
    Height: 3 1/4"
    Works with Kenwood UHF two way radios, including the TK-3200 series
    Kenwood KBH-10 belt clip
    Includes belt clip and six screws (three sizes)
    Compatible with most Kenwood radios including: TK-2118, TK-3118, TK260G, TK-270G, TK-272G, TK278G, TK-360G, TK-370G, TK-372G, TK-373G, TK-378G, TK-388G, TK-280, TK-285, TK-380, TK-385, TK-480S, TK-481S, TK-190, TK-290, TK-390, TK-2100, TK-2102A, TK-2106Z, TK-2107, TK-3100, TK-3101, TK-3102A, TK-3106Z, TK-3107, TK-2200, TK-2202, TK-2206, TK-2207, TK-3200, TK-3201, TK-3202, TK-3206, TK-3207, TK-2207G, TK-2212, TK-TK3202L, TK-3212L.