Two-Way Radio Rentals: What Accessories Do You Need?

Motorola PMMN4046 speaker microphoneFourth in a series

So you’ve picked out the radios you want to rent for your annual arts and crafts fair, but you’re not done yet. You still have to decide on the two-way radio accessories: batteries and chargers, earpieces and headsets, speaker microphones, and perhaps even surveillance kits for your security crew.

Every radio brand makes a host of accessories for specific radios. Typically, if you can rent the radio you can rent its accessories, but don’t assume. Make sure the model you’re renting has the accessories you need. Also, ask BearCom about after-market accessories that might do a specific task a little differently from the brand-name models.

BearCom has a handy web tool to find all the accessories available for a specific radio model. You start with the type of wireless product you need to rent, then click on the brand and the individual model, and click “Go.” That takes you to a product page for the radio model that includes links to all of its available accessories. There’s also a reverse lookup that allows you to find all the radios that work with a specific accessory.

To get an idea of the key issues with accessories, it’s best to start with a real-world example, so let’s do a walk-through on the extras for the Motorola CP200, a mainstay of radio fleets around the world.

Batteries

The CP200 comes with a battery, of course, but it’s always a good idea to have extras because it takes hours to recharge a battery. The CP200’s accessory batteries come in two formats:

  • NiMH (nickel metal hydride), which is less expensive, but also has less power and more complexities when charging.
  • Li-Ion (Lithium ion), which costs a bit more than the NiMH version, but provides a lot more power, performance and flexibility when recharging.

Li-Ion batteries power laptops and other high-demand devices so they usually are the best choice. Be sure to consult with your dealer before you assume it’s the only choice. If you’re renting a large enough radio fleet, the lower-cost batteries can make a difference.

Chargers

Accessory chargers offer a lot more flexibility than the ones that come standard with your radio. For instance, Motorola makes an accessory charger that allows you to recharge up to six radios at a time in the three most popular formats: Ni-Cd, Ni-Mh and Li-Ion.

Earpieces

Earpieces are best when users need to use their hands a lot, such as talking to customers while consulting with colleagues via the radio. The premium earpiece for the CP200 is a “D-clip” that includes an in-line microphone, push-to-talk function and a large speaker for clear audio reception. It also can be worn on either ear. Comfort is a key issue for earpieces, so you may have to have a few people try them on. You also have to be sure you’re getting one that’s built to send and receive; some models are “listen-only.”

Headsets

If your art fair includes live music performances, your staff may need to be able to communicate on a sound-blocking headset, which also is a boon for cleanup crews wielding noisy machinery like leaf-blowers. Motorola makes a lightweight headset for less-noisy environments that has as a wrap-round feature allowing it to be worn under a helmet, which is handy if you have bike-riding security staff.

Speaker microphones

Police and security personnel have come to depend on speaker mics, which free them to talk on the radio while leaving it strapped to their hips. Motorola’s accessory microphones are water resistant and designed to reduce wind noise, essential features for outdoor events.

Surveillance kits

Surveillance kits may conjure images of Secret Service agents protecting the president, but they can do a lot more everyday chores than you might think. The main appeal of surveillance kits is that they make the microphone and earpiece as close to invisible as possible — so they are great for roving security people trying to thwart shoplifters and others who are up to no good.

Surveillance kits are a lot more specialized, so they might be available only from third-party companies rather than the manufacturer of your radio. Just be sure your kit is compatible with your radio’s connection port.

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