Shortwave vs. Longwave radio - In-Depth Discussion

Shortwave vs. Longwave Radio – In-Depth Discussion

All the radio stations do not air their programs in the same way. There are shortwave radio, long wave radio, internet radio and FM radios. Here I am going to discuss the basic difference in the shortwave and the long wave radio transmission and etc.As you can understand from the names. Their actual difference lies in the wavelength and the frequencies.

On the basis of these two features, many phenomena rely on. The penetration throughout the building materials (glass, concrete, masonry, cement materials) greatly depends on the wavelength of the wave. The longer the wavelength, the greater the penetration capability.

Moreover, the distance coverage and the traveling of the wave also depends on the wavelength. In this case, I can add an information for you that the frequency is inversely proportional to the wavelength.

So, when you'll get lower frequency you must find long wavelength. You can say this long wave. On the other hand, if the opposite occurs the condition becomes vice versa.

The Difference between Short and Long Radio Waves

In the EM spectrum, every kind of band has its respective type of frequency and wavelength.

Wavelength and Frequency

The wavelength and frequency have an opposite relation with each other. Regarding sciences, they are inversely proportional to one another. So, higher frequency means to the shorter wavelength. And that again it represents high energy. And vice versa.

Long wave’s wavelength is between 30 KHz to 279 KHz having an average wavelength of 150 meters. And shortwave ranges between 1.5 MHz to 30 MHz (wavelength is 10 to 85 meters.)

Longwave reaches the ground level covering a greater area within a given power. This wave actually travels through a straight line. Instead of bouncing in the ionosphere, they actually more likely pierce it. Then these waves come back to earth.

Shortwave on the other hand follows the earth turn of curvature. They interact with the atmosphere. They also interact with the ionosphere. The layers of the air try to skip them to a greater distance. Thus they can travel through the horizon.

Antenna and Reception

Here, sending signals through the two different types require lengthy antennae in the long wave settings. On the other hand in case of shortwave the requirement is not that long. This makes longer wave stations to be inconvenient to the operation and looks as well. Shortwave requires shorter antennae length that will make the SW band more in favor because of these reasons.

For the buildings and other different terrains cannot block the path of the long waves in any easy manner. But on the other hand, the short waves actually get blocked more easily as they do not bounce in the atmosphere.

These bands start from a very low frequency and can go up to extremely high frequency. For the maritime use, people prefer to use the VLF and LF. And in case of satellite and other radio astronomical purpose of use the highest bands should be used.

Use of them:

SW Radio

Shortwave radio system can cover a huge range of wave; huge times greater than that of the longwave radio system's capacity. Also, Short wave transmissions are very easy to be received also very much cheap radios easily picks up a signal. For this reason, it is used more than the long wave radio. 

The shortwave is so good that it can easily reach the remote audiences very well. It can make it a powerful method of the way to unify the marginalized communities.

LW Radio

On the other hand, people like to use long waves for the special use of maritime purposes. Actually, long wave transmission was used at the very beginning when the radio was at its earlier period. They were capable to send signals of the wave over a very long distance by using a very less power.

So, it yields less power consumption. Also, the ships in the sea are required to use this service the most, they are the earliest users of this type of transmission type.

In the major differences in the field of their use is based on their strength and the power that they need to run. That is also meant that amplitude modulation radio stations can use long wave transmissions.

On the other hand, the short waves are in use in the case of sorts of modes of other uses and purposes. Such as the ham radio, transoceanic aircraft, and the broadcast stations.


In sum, both the short and long wave has appeared to you with their special benefits. Some of them I've explained in details in above. Hence, you need to select the purpose of your use of the wave at first. Thenyou can easily use shortwave or longwave radio when necessary. Good lick.

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