two way radios for construction article

Updated 1/2021

Construction sites across the world have one thing in common. They are all improving productivity and workplace safety with the use of two way radios. Walkie talkies have become a vital part of every phase on the job site from initial ground preparation to the final walkthrough. No matter if you’re a sub-contractor or a large-scale general contractor, clear communication is pivotal to the job’s success.

The question isn’t if two way radios are needed on the job site, but rather which ones are best for you and Radio Depot is here to make that easy.

The truth is, there are all kinds of two way radios out there that are great for construction. If I were to write about every walkie talkie that could be useful on the job site, we would be here till next year. I am using this article to highlight what I believe are a few of the best two way radios for construction.

Here, you’re going to find a portable option for all budgets, and a great mobile two way radio. I am also leaving a FAQ section beneath the radios and accessories to give you answers to the most common inquiries we run into from buyers.

Things you need to look out for

  • Durability = The two way radio has a high IP rating giving it the ability to prevent dust and water damage.

  • UHF Transmission = Construction sites are typically in urban environments. You will need walkie talkies that use UHF transmission because VHF transmission is largely dependent on stretches of land with clear line-of-sight for transmission. Using the UHF band will ensure less interference in your team’s communication from the environment.

  • Multiple Channels = It is important to be able to segment communication on the job site. Use two way radios that have multiple channels or zoning features to keep your teams from interfering with each other. You can assign sub-contractors to different channels or use different channels for different sites.

  • Power Output = You will want to look for two way radios that have a suitable power output for the range you need. 3-5 Watts is a good power capacity to look for. Higher wattage walkie talkies will get your messages where you need anywhere onsite.


  • A big oversight some buyers succumb to is not checking in with their General Contractor when buying two way radios. This is very important if you are a sub-contractor coming into a large job site.They could have requirements for onsite two way radios to all be programmed to scan a certain emergency channel, or they might require an entirely digital system from their sub-contractors. The worst thing would be to buy and program a full fleet of two way radios, only to have to send them all back in because you opted for analog when your job site requires digital units. Easiest fix? Ask the GC before buying.

  • Something else buyers don’t always think about is how you can customize your fleet of two way radios. If you employ a lot of temporary workers or have team members who are especially careless with their equipment, you can grab some lower-tier walkie talkies so you’re not replacing top dollar equipment when a unit is lost or broken. On the flip side, you can incorporate top-tier two way radios for your management team who might need to have more features because they are moving between sites or they need a more functional display and keyboard to better control operations. You can program your different two way radio models to work together and better utilize your budget.

Icom F4001

Icom F4001 | Two Way Radio for Construction

Shop the F4001

The Icom F4001 is a great two way radio for a construction company operating on a low budget. These walkie talkies are durable and dust resistant with an IP54 rating. They have multiple channels and have some great safety features to keep your team safe on the job.

These are a perfect fit for the companies I mentioned who employ a lot of temporary labor. The price point on the F4001 is optimal for any organization with a high turnover rate. Don’t worry about your advanced system radios going missing or being damaged when you can assign a cheaper unit that has all the basic needs of a job site to temporary workers.

The Icom F4001 is analog only transmission. If there are digital system requirements for a site, this unit will not work for you. Check-in with your GC to find out what is required.

Icom F4001 Features

  • IP54 rated = virtually dustproof and splashproof
  • 16 channels
  • 4W UHF max power output
  • Built-in signaling = provides user selective calling, quiet stand-by, and other convenient functions with programing
  • Priority scan
  • Low battery alert
  • Enhanced emergency
  • Surveillance function
  • 2-step power save
  • VOX capability = provides hands-free operation
  • Talk around function
  • Lone worker function
  • 3-color LED
  • Repeater capable

Motorola CP200D

Motorola CP200D | Two Way Radio For Construction

Shop the CP200D

The Motorola CP200D is the #1 selling Motorola two way radio and it is easy to see why. This walkie talkie is a workhorse in the industry. It touts a simple yet rugged design for any job site. It supports digital and analog transmission to allow for a transitioning company to do so at its own pace. The CP200D is apart of Motorola’s advanced MOTOTRBO® line of digital radios, has superior audio quality, outstanding coverage, and a long-lasting battery life.

Whatever your needs, the CP200D provides a simple, reliable, cost-effective communication solution for you to get the job done right.

CP200D Features

  • Digital or analog transmissions
  • 16 channels
  • IP54 rated = virtually dustproof and splashproof
  • 4W UHF max power output
  • 15-hr battery life (digital mode)
  • Channel scan
  • Voice announcement scan (digital mode)
  • VOX on/off
  • Nuisance channel delete
  • Repeater capable

Motorola XPR 3500e

Motorola XPR 3500e | Two Way Radio For Construction

Shop the XPR3500e

The Motorola XPR 3500e is my pick for the best top-tier two way radio for construction. This is the walkie talkie you buy for your management team. The XPR3500e is stacked with advanced features like Bluetooth® 4.0 technology and zoning capabilities to maximize efficiency while coordinating job sites. Being both digital/analog capable, and program compatible with other Icom, Kenwood, and Motorola walkie talkies means the XPR3500e is ready to lead your customized two way radio fleet to success. It also has this list’s highest IP rating at IP67, meaning it is dust and water proof, allowing you to better protect your investment.

I want to talk a little more about the zoning capability with the XPR3500e. If you have multiple sites you’re coordinating, a feature like zoning can make your life very easy. You can program a different zone for each job site you have, making communication even less cluttered and avoiding confusion from conversation bleed-over. Pair the zoning feature with the XPR3500e’s 128 channel capacity, and you are ready for clear segmented communication channels specific to each team.

Another great highlight for the Motorola XPR 3500e is it’s 5 year manufacturer’s warranty and optional damage waiver. The 5 year warranty is wonderful on its own, it provides peace of mind that your device will be protected from normal wear and tear. The optional damage waiver can be huge because it offers you essential software/repair services for your MOTOTRBO® devices beyond normal wear and tear. Keeping your software up to date, protecting you from water, chemical, or physical abuse no questions asked, and keep your radio repair/replacement costs fixed and predictable. These are all things that the optional damage waiver can provide for you on top of the 5 year warranty. I always recommend these services as a solid way to protect your investments.

XPR 3500e Features

  • Digital or Analog Transmission
  • 128 channels
  • 4W UHF max power output
  • IP67 rated = dust and water proof
  • Zoning feature
  • 19-hr standard battery life
  • Integrated Wi-Fi®
  • Over-the-air software updates
  • Channel lock
  • Bluetooth® 4.0 technology
  • Display & limited keypad
  • Intrinsically safe (UL Rated) option available
  • Repeater capable
  • IP site connect (optional add-on)
  • Capacity plus (optional add-on)
  • Linked capacity plus (optional add-on)

Motorola CM200D

Motorola CM200D | Mobile Two Way Radio for Construction

Shop the CM200D

If you’re looking for a reliable and cost-effective mobile two way radio for your work trucks and/or to use as a base station in the management trailer, the Motorola CM200D is a great option. This mobile two way radio is a true workhorse without unneeded bells and whistles. The 40W UHF power output can connect multiple sites you’re working on and its 16 channels allows you to group certain teams on different channels to cut down communication interference.

I recommend CM200D for anyone looking to buy a mobile two way radio for the primary use of simply transmitting and receiving information. It comes in digital and analog models so you can customize your systems to the needs of your fleet. The CM200D is also compatible with Motorola’s MOTOTRBO® advanced features like interrupting a transmission to prioritize critical communications to further optimize your functionality.

If you find that features like radio IDs or others that require a full display screen, you should check out the Motorola XPR 2500.

CM200D Features

  • Digital and analog transmissions
  • 16 channels
  • 40W UHF max power output
  • IP54 rated = virtually dustproof and splashproof
  • LED indicators
  • Radio management (optional)
  • 2 programmable buttons
  • Repeater capable

Frequently Asked Questions for Construction

What should I look for in my construction walkie talkie?

The basic features that all two way radios on a job site should have are durability, multiple channels, UHF transmission, and a suitable power output. Everything else is icing on the cake for you to utilize in optimizing your communication system.

Which is the best two way radio for our construction site?

This answer changes depending on who you ask. Even here, at Radio Depot, there could be varying opinions as to which two way radio would be right for your specific needs. I might recommend a unit from Motorola’s MOTOTRBO® line while my colleague could think something from Icom would better suit you.

What’s most important is that the walkie talkies you choose have the features critical for a construction job: durability, multiple channels, UHF transmission, power output. Beyond those, your company’s custom needs are what is going to slim the field of viable choices for you.

We are here and happy to help if you find yourself stuck between a few options. Leave a comment below, call (888)733-7681 or fill out our contact-us form and one of our master radio consultants will help you find that perfect two way radio.

Do we need a Repeater?

Most construction sites will not find a Repeater is needed as they are working in an area less than 350,000 ft2 or in buildings with less than 30 floors. We find that a Repeater starts to become necessary when your job site trailer is a ½ mile or more away from the site, or if your team is building multiple towers simultaneously.

Why shouldn’t we buy the least expensive two way radios you offer?

Simply put, you get what you pay for. We can relate this to the adage where a poor man will end up spending countless more dollars on boots than a wealthy man because the poor man keeps buying the cheapest pair he can get while the wealthy man invests in well-made boots that last for years.

This translates perfectly to the two way radio world. Less expensive walkie talkies are always a draw, yes, but those less expensive units are less durable and don’t support the range or the advanced features of a higher-priced two way radio.

We have existing two way radios. Can you program the new walkies talkies to work with our existing fleet?

Yes, this is an easy solution we can offer you. There are several ways of doing it, but the simplest is for you to send us a radio from your existing fleet. We then clone the new units to your radio, guaranteeing the same programming on all your new two way radios.

Wrap it up

It’s your two way radios that keep your whole job site connected and running smoothly, helping you to meet deadlines and provide safety to your workforce. I hope this list has helped you to at least narrow down what you are looking for in your two way radio fleet. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the two way radios that would be good on a construction site. My goal is to show you my top picks while empowering you to choose what is best for your company.

If you have any questions not covered here, or have further thoughts about something I went over, you have a few options. You can leave a comment below, call us at (888) 733-7611, or fill out our contact-us form and one of our master radio consultants will talk it all through with you.

As always, if you found this article helpful, share the wealth of knowledge with your friends and family on social!

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