Blue Line

How to know when your radio battery needs an upgrade

July 26, 2022  By Deanna Parenti

Communication is key to completing a law enforcement task safely and efficiently. Two-way radios are a primary tool for clear and consistent communication between police officers. Without long lasting and reliable batteries, those life-saving tools become utterly useless.

Law enforcement officials may find their two-way radios already come equipped with a battery that supports that specific device. Often, this battery works well; however, it could be improved upon. Reliability is a priority in technology that is made for law enforcement officials because it is that reliability that allows these workers to keep their communities safe.

An officer’s two-way radio is their lifeline. The batteries are equally as important since they provide power to the radio when time is of the essence. Throughout history, faulty batteries have created obstacles for first responders. On Sept. 16, 2013, officers reported communication problems during the DC Navy shipyard shooting.1 The issues arose because their radio batteries died and responding officers had to resort to using cell phones.

With the right batteries, what happened above should be avoidable in all future emergencies.


Signs your battery could use an upgrade

Time plays a big role in law enforcement. Time in public safety can refer to the quick decisions police officers have to make, or the long 12 hour plus shifts. Whatever the situation, a police officer’s radio needs to be active to communicate with partners and other officials.

Therefore, when a radio battery only lasts six hours or less before needing a charge, it is a good sign the battery needs to be upgraded. A two-way radio battery should at minimum be able to last a 12-hour shift.2

Another sign a battery should be upgraded is if it takes a long time to charge. Battery producers must understand that being a police officer is often not just a nine to five job. Batteries need to charge quickly, so after a long shift they are ready for either the next shift or an emergency.

Along with charging reliability, it is important that your battery has a long lifetime before it has a noticeable decrease in charge time. Police departments sometimes have low budgets, especially in rural areas where two-way radios are a necessity. With low budgets, departments should not have to be purchasing new batteries every few months.

Two very noticeable signs your battery could use an upgrade are if it is leaking or it is hot to the touch after being used.4 Lastly, something police departments should avoid when picking out batteries is a battery that can only charge on one device. Officers need technology that can move with them. If a battery starts to get low on the road, officers should be able to charge the battery in their vehicle. The more flexibility with technology for law enforcement, the better.

What are the upgrades needed to solve these problems?

Lithium is a major solution. Lithium-ion batteries are an advanced form of technology that employs electrochemistry to create energy. According to the Clean Energy Institute, “In part because of lithium’s small size…Li-ion batteries are capable of having a very high voltage and charge storage…”.3

Because lithium batteries have high energy densities, they outperform other popular battery types like Ni-cd and Ni-MH. High voltage and charge storage means lithium batteries can support even the toughest radio during those 12-hour shifts.

In addition to long lasting charges, lithium-ion batteries also have lower maintenance. When charging these batteries, police officers don’t need to worry about charging at specific levels because Li-ion batteries do not have charge memory. As a result, these batteries can be put in a charger at 50 per cent, 80 per cent, or 20per cent charge left without causing the battery to “remember” a lower charge.3 This makes li-ion batteries have a longer lifetime.

When upgrading your precinct’s two-way radio batteries, it is also important to keep in mind if the battery can charge on multiple stations. On the other hand, it could also be helpful to purchase two-way radio battery chargers that support multiple chemistries.5 This way, during emergencies, when the last thing an officer wants to think about is “will this charger support my battery?” every station will support multiple types of batteries.

In summary

Upgrades like lithium-ion chemistry and multi-chemistry chargers, will help law enforcement departments feel more dependable. These upgrades allow for higher rates of efficiency and safety in police forces which depend on two-way radio communications.

Law enforcement officers are consistently working to keep the public safe, and to do so they need the proper technology. Batteries may seem minimal and unimportant; however, they are what gives the important technology its power.

Without proper batteries, two-way radios are rendered useless. Police officers need to be able to rely on their technology and consider it a constant. During the job, officers are consistently encountering unpredictable events, so controlling what they can—like technology—allows them the opportunity to do their jobs to the fullest.

Whether it’s a 12-hour shift or a random house call far from the station chargers, there are batteries that can keep up with police officers’ sporadic schedules. With the right battery upgrades, law enforcement departments can help ensure that their officers and the members of the public stay safe.


  1. Brannen, Kate. “Shooting responders cite bad radios.” Politico, 19 Sept. 2013, Accessed 6 July 2022.
  2. “Police Radio Battery.”Waveband Communications,
  3. “Lithium-Ion Battery.” Clean Energy Institute University of Washington,
  4. Thomas, Taylor. “How to Know When It’s Time to Replace Two-Way Radio Batteries.” Waveband Communications, 02 Mar. 2022,
  5. “Battery Two Way Radio Chargers/ Conditioners/ Analyzers.”Waveband Communications,

Deanna Parenti is from Frederick, Maryland, USA. She attended Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Professional Writing and minor in Fine Arts. While at Juniata she worked as a Juniata Assistant Professional Writer for the Provost.

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