How to Increase Watts on CB Radio

driver using a cb radio

Even if you own a high-quality CB radio and the best CB radio microphone, it’s likely that you’ve run into issues when it comes to the power and range of the radio. You may be searching online for ways on how to increase watts on CB radio and what you can do to improve sound quality. Fortunately, power and range are common issues that most CB users encounter. Here, I’ll show you what you can do to increase your radio’s watts for improved sound quality and I’ll go over other troubleshooting issues and solutions.

Antenna to Improve CB Radio Range

The CB radio’s antenna is one of the most crucial components. You can have a top-of-the-line radio but if it doesn’t have a good antenna, you’ll run into a variety of issues.

If you want to increase the watts on your CB radio, purchase a new antenna and buy a solid coax cable that can be connected to the CB radio. Doing so will also promote quality sound.

If the antenna isn’t placed in the correct position you’ll also have issues with sound quality. The higher the antenna is mounted, the better it’s able to receive and transmit signals. The antenna should be fixed on the roof of your house or vehicle, depending on where you set up your CB radio.

Looking at the SWR meter, the lower the reading of the antenna, the better it is. Ideally, the reading should be 1:5. However, a lower reading will be even better.

If you want to avoid blocked signals or you want to enhance range, purchase a good CB radio antenna.

Coax Cable

With a coax cable, you’ll be able to connect the radio and the antenna. I’ve already emphasized how crucial the antenna is for sound quality. So, obviously, the coax cable connecting the antenna and radio together is another crucial component for your CB radio setup.

SWR Meters

SWR meters are used to test the output of a CB radio. While an SWR meter is an important part of a setup, you don’t really have to worry about purchasing a high-quality meter. A serviceable meter is good enough for the casual CB radio user.

How to Increase Watts on CB Radio

CB Radio on display

Now that I’ve gone over all the essential components of a CD radio setup, it’s time to learn how to increase watts on CB radio.

First, you’ll connect the meter to your radio to assess the radio output.

The radio sound quality often depends on how and where it’s kept. You’ll want to avoid signal noise, so it’s important that their radio is kept in an open area that’s free from obstructions such as buildings and trees.

Adjusting Modulation

Through the body of the CB radio, you can optimize modulation with simple modulation adjustment techniques. This is a simple way to increase your radio’s power while improving sound quality. However, you must be careful not to increase it too much since this can distort radio frequencies.

Squelch Function and RF Gain

To clear background noise you’ll use the squelch function.

Similar to the squelch function is RF gain. RF gain is typically found on newer models of CB radios and has a reputation for being more effective. The goal here is to turn either squelch or RF gain to the point where background noise is reduced, but the radio sound remains intact.

Dead Key Wattage

On every CB radio, you’ll find a dead key wattage pot. You’ll need to locate this feature, peak it, then tune it to get dead key wattage.


Amplifiers can significantly boost a radio’s dead key wattage. This adds more power to the CB radio sound, drastically improving the quality and loudness of a radio. A linear amplifier works efficiently in providing dead key power output.  However, the dead key shouldn’t be set below 10 watts since this can cause the amplifier to overheat.

If the watts don’t increase, even after attempting all the steps mentioned above, then the best solution is to purchase a new radio. The lack of watts issue can lie in the quality of the radio you’re currently using so the most effective solution is to upgrade your radio.

Antennas work much better when their reading on the SWR meter is at low levels. The appropriate reading for an antenna is 1:5. However, the lower the reading, the better it is.

Citizens Band Transceiver Max Wattage

The FCC authorizes the maximum wattage of four watts for CB radio output power. This is to ensure there is no signal interference with other types of devices such as emergency communication radios, TVs, and microwaves. If a manufacturer exceeds this limit, the FCC can fine them. However, most manufacturers produce CB radios that are able to achieve approximately 3 to 4 watts, or there are low-powered models that produce 2 watts.

Truck Cabin Use of Antennas for Citizens Band Transceiver

Driver using CB radio in cab of modern truck

Seasoned CB radio users already know that there are many issues that can impact an antenna’s performance. Sleepers and truck cabs are increasingly made from composite materials. These materials provide no ground plane, which is an essential element for CB radio operation. These days, manufacturers are equipping trucks with multi-purpose antennas that are designed to handle a wide range of airwaves. Unfortunately, an increasing number of truck drivers no longer understand the fundamentals of CB radio equipment and often fail to perform necessary maintenance

Tuning the Citizens Band Transceiver

To increase your wattage for your cabin CB radio setup, tuning the radio is a great solution. While the radio is only as good as the antenna and coax it’s connected to, the radio itself should be tuned by a reliable technician, occasionally. This is known as a peak and tweak procedure, and it’s essential for news radio, which is intentionally detuned at the factory.

The majority of manufacturers will set their radios right below 4 watts. This is commonly done with radios that are made overseas. If the Federal Communications Commission checked an incoming shipment and found models that were putting out more than 4 watts they would seize the whole shipment and would require that the manufacturer recalibrate their entire shipment.

Basic peak and tweak services tend to vary by shop. A skilled technician will take the time to go through the squelch, gain, and receiver, then adjust power, modulation, and frequency count. So, if you’re having issues with wattage in your truck’s cabin, this procedure is a must to improve wattage.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to add watts to your CB radio can help you prepare for circumstances in which the sound quality has been diminished. This happens for a variety of reasons, but now you’ll be able to solve this problem.

Remember, if you’re searching for ways to increase watts on your CB radio, the best solution is often upgrading your antenna, as well as the coax cable. You also need to use a high-quality SWR meter to improve CB radio performance.

Additionally, your CB radio antenna should be placed in a good location, the modulation should be adjusted for clearing background noise and ensuring the appropriate reading of the antenna. In some cases, it may be necessary to use an amplifier. Four-watt models, which are legal and regulatory, are able to transmit signals to a range of less than two to two and a half miles in perfect conditions. However, you can easily increase this range to 4 miles using a high-quality beam antenna.  Boosting your CB’s power is easy enough, as long as it’s placed in an open area, one with no obstructions, with an antenna mounted in a high location.

The next time you run into any issues with your radio’s power output, give these troubleshooting tips a shot and you’ll be impressed and surprised by the results.