Handheld CB radios can easily rip through a fresh set of cells especially when set to full power but this problem can be minimized with the right choice of batteries and adopting a few good CB operating habits.
Unlike most of your other personal devices (mobile phone, media players etc) handheld CB’s are a high current demand operation even when run on the lower power settings. Control circuity and the audio sections take a fair amount of power but the majority is eaten up by the business end of the transmitter, the RF amplifier.
Made to wander its no good if the batteries only give your handheld a short operating time especially if you’ve taking the trouble of finding some high ground to work from.
Batteries To Absolutely Avoid
Before we get into the different battery types now seems like a good time to talk about what should be given a miss when looking to power your CB handy.
There are a breed of batteries that are just about suitable for running low power stuff like remote controls. These “batteries” are totally useless when faced with a piece of equipment that needs any where near a decent current delivery and unfortunately there everywhere.
I’m talking about the strips of batteries that you can pick up in bargain stores that usually come cheaper than a quality newspaper. Sometimes labeled with words like “super heavy duty” and more often than not gold colored (no idea why) these batteries are probably one of the worst false economies ever.
Its easy enough to give something the look and feel of a battery but the poor construction and materials used make them pretty pointless in almost all real world applications.
Measuring one straight out of the pack will usually give the correct voltage but the moment you try to draw any amps they collapse quicker than a chocolate table in the desert. Its a good job they come in lots of 20(ish) as they need changing that often.
Right, now that’s out of the way we can look at the available proper batteries 🙂
Available everywhere and can be bought cheaply even for some of the better brands, Alkaline types will do the job but don’t expect spectacular run times. Performance varies widely between brands and this isn’t always reflected in price.
How much your paying does depend on the model of CB used with modern sets needing fewer batteries than the 12 AA’s the earlier models of handheld CB’s work from.
A much better type of disposable battery that’s designed to serve a higher current over longer periods, lithium is a great choice for CB handhelds but comes at a much higher price than standard disposables.
Ive used these on occasion and they do a decent job but I still feel a little sick when its time to bin them from remembering how much they cost.
If your planning over the long term getting hold of a quality set of rechargeable’s will beat the cost of any other battery (and then some). Even at the lower end a NIMH battery can be recharged at LEAST a 100 times and if you do a simple bit of math between 100 disposable sets and a full set of NIHM with charger its a huge saving.
It can be hard splashing out a large sum of money in one go when a full set of disposables cost much less but rechargeable’s will have paid for themselves easily by the 10th time you’ve used them, every time after that is just gravy on top.
Extending Battery Life
There are a few simple things you can do to get more from the set of batteries you put into a handheld CB like making sure its not left on when packed away (so guilty of this) and using headphones instead of the power hungry built in speaker but by far the best way is to reduce RF power output when its not needed.
Using CB’s to talk to someone nearby doesn’t need anywhere near 4 watts and you’ll be needlessly ripping into the batteries. Getting into the habit of turning down the power will do wonders for the amount of useable time from each and every set of batteries you put into the CB radio.