What is the Range of a Baofeng UV-5R?

The maximum range of a UV-5R is 10 miles (or 16 kilometers) under favorable conditions.

However if the conditions are not favorable, it can even be less than a mile.

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In this post we provide ranges depending on various conditions that the UV-5R might be operating in. Let’s get into the details.

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The Baofeng UV-5R, one of the most popular models,has a maximum power output of 8 watts and operates in both the VHF and UHF frequency bands.

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Typical Range Estimates

Here are the range estimates for different propagation scenarios and main considerations for each

Urban Areas

  • Range: Less than 1 mile (1.6 kilometers)
  • Factors: Buildings and other structures obstructing the signal

Suburban Areas

  • Range: 1-3 miles (1.6 to 4.8 kilometers)
  • Factors: Fewer obstructions, moderate terrain

Rural/Open Areas

  • Range: 5 miles (8 kilometers) or more
  • Factors: Minimal obstructions, flat terrain

Optimal Conditions

  • Range: Up to 10 miles (16 kilometers) or more
  • Factors: Clear line of sight, elevated positions, high-gain antennas

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How does Operating Frequency Affect Range?

Baofeng radios typically operate on the VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) bands.

  1. VHF (136-174 MHz):
    • Propagation Characteristics: VHF signals have longer wavelengths, which allows them to travel further distances, especially in open areas with fewer obstructions.
    • Penetration: VHF signals are less effective at penetrating buildings and dense urban environments.
    • Range: Ideal for outdoor use, in rural or open areas. The range can be up to several miles in ideal conditions.
  2. UHF (400-520 MHz):
    • Propagation Characteristics: UHF signals have shorter wavelengths, which makes them better at penetrating buildings, foliage, and other obstacles.
    • Penetration: Superior for indoor use and urban environments.
    • Range: Effective range is typically shorter than VHF in open areas, but better suited for environments with many obstructions. The range can be a few miles, depending on the environment and obstacles.


The range of a Baofeng radio varies greatly depending on environmental conditions, terrain, antenna type, and power settings. While urban environments might limit the range to less than a mile, rural and open areas can see ranges of 5 miles or more.

By optimizing antenna choices, positioning, and power settings, users can maximize the effective communication range of their Baofeng radios.

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