Handheld VHF vs Fixed Mount VHF

When getting your vessel ready for use in the summer months it is important to make sure you kit it out with the right gear. One piece of gear every vessel should have is a reliable marine radio.

These radios are available as both a portable handheld and a fixed mount solution.

First, what is a handheld VHF? A handheld VHF is as it sounds, a VHF radio that fits in your hand.

These radios are a lightweight, compact solution that can go anywhere you do, even outside your vessel. The trade-off for having a portable solution is that it will have a decreased range when compared to its fixed mount counterparts, additionally it will have a limited battery life that will require charging before heading out. There are a range options available with different features including float and flash, DSC and GPS.

A fixed mount VHF works the same as a handheld VHF but is permanently mounted in your vessel. It is separated into two separate parts, the radio itself and an antenna to broadcast the signal. It is a larger radio that in addition to a power source will also require space in your vessel to be installed.

A fixed mount VHF can either be a dash mounted radio with a simple mic or hideaway unit that has all the controls on the handpiece, this allows you to choose a unit based on the space available for installation, and an appropriate antenna to suit both your vessel and its application.

But with so many options how do you know which type should suit your vessel?


With limited space and lack of a suitable power supply, the best type of VHF radio would be a handheld as it is able to be attached to one’s person.

Jet ski:

As jet skis have minimal space and with most users operating them close to shore the best option would be a handheld VHF radio that could be attached to the rider or stowed in the small storage compartment (if available).


Most dinghies are used as tenders to larger vessels or operate close to shore/in rivers. As most do not have a dash and are small the best option would be to have a handheld VHF radio.

Trailer Boat (runabout or larger):

For a trailer boat, most will have a dash of some kind whether it is a cab or centre console and are often used to venture a few nautical miles or more offshore. With the vessel having the room to mount a radio and an existing power source on board it would be best to install a fixed mount VHF radio.

Yacht (or any vessel that lives on a mooring):

With yachts and other large vessels that spend their lives out on the water, often with no land in sight it is a necessity to have reliable long-range communication. It is best to install a fixed mount VHF radio to achieve this. It is also recommended to have a handheld VHF radio for use on the tender/life rafts if they are to be used.


To see our range of VHF radios and which one might suit your vessel click here.