Choosing & Installing an RV CB Radio
What you need - The Best CB radios and CB Antennas for RV's
If you have owned or do own an RV, you know that upgrades and repairs for motor homes often have a trick to them. Installing a CB radio in an RV is no exception. There are a few tricks and things to remember when you install a CB radio and antenna in your RV, or upgrade an existing system. In this post, I will outline what you need, and try to give you some pointers.
Choosing a CB Radio for an RV
We will start with the good news; You have a lot of options for a radio in your motor home. Well, usually. Things can get a little tighter in class B and C RV's, but the sky is generally the limit in class A's. If you are not pressed for space, we recommend the Cobra 29 LX. This is a full-sized radio with many great features, including weather channels. If you don't know, this means you can flip a switch on the radio and dial in one of 7 channels the NOAA uses to broadcast local weather reports. This is very useful on the road. If you are pressed for space, a better option may be the Cobra 75 WX ST. This radio installed with a small remote box that can be tucked away under the dash. It also includes weather channels. A third option is the Midland 75-822. When installed as a mobile (with the included mobile adapter) this radio takes up about as much space as the 75 WX ST. It also includes weather. As an added bonus, this radio can be used as a hand held CB radio!
Choosing a CB Antenna for an RV
Choosing the antenna for an RV is where it gets tricky. In most cases you will need an NGP (no ground plane) cb antenna for your motor home. The short explanation for this is that RV's do not have enough metal on them for a CB antenna to work correctly. We have a longer explanation of CB antenna ground planes here. The best option for this is to get an NGP antenna kit. Our most popular options are Firestik kits. The FGX648 is a kit with a 3 way mount. It includes antennas in several lengths and two colors (black and white). The LGXM2 comes with a molded side mount. It is also available in black or white with varying lengths. If you run into a situation that requires a special mount, you can pair any Firestik CB Antenna Mount with this NGP antenna and this NGP cable.
One issue that seems to come up a lot with RV's is height. The best CB antenna is usually the tallest. Unfortunately this conflicts with the height of most RV's. To get around this you can use a side mount and install it lower on the vehicle, pick a kit with a shorter antenna, or install something to remove or lay down the antenna. There are several items that will let you lay your CB antenna down or remove it easily. This is a great option for getting your antenna out of the way when you are traveling. Just remember not to transmit unless the antenna is in place! We have put together an RV CB radio package for easier shopping.
RV CB Radio Installation Tips
Like any CB radio installation, there are no step by step instructions for RV's. Different situations call for different innovations. If you are unsure, the best thing is to have a professional do the job. I hear more good things about RV service companies than other businesses when it comes to installing CB radios in RV's. If you are going to brave the job yourself, keep the following in mind:
- You can mount the antenna lower on the RV to avoid hitting overpasses and such, but make sure the top 25% of the antenna is above the roof line. If you mount the antenna too low, you will have a poor signal
- If you are using an NGP antenna (which you probably should be) DO NOT cut or shorten the cable. You may end up with extra slack. Just run it in a figure 8 and stow it away. Do not coil it tightly. If you come up short, you can add regular CB Coax to the line with a barrel connector.
- Running CB Coax
- If your RV has an existing antenna, use that hole and try to route your cable the same way. One trick is to tie or solder the old cable to the new cable and pull the new cable through with the old cable.
- If you are installing a side mount, be sure of what is in and on the other side of the wall before drilling. Installing the mount on a spot with a cabinet inside the RV is a good idea. That way the interior access is hidden.
- Another option for running a new coax is to install the antenna on the rear of the RV (even on the ladder), then run the coax down the ladder, under the vehicle, and back up through the firewall.
- You can also install the antenna on a mirror and run the coax in with the mirror's control wire.
- Replace the antenna and cable unless you are absolutely certain what you are replacing came from the same antenna manufacturer. NGP antennas and coax are not usually compatible between manufacturers.
- After installing or replacing a CB antenna, seal around it.
- Always remember to tune your CB antenna!
Have any good RV CB radio or antenna installation stories? We would love to hear them!