Do you live in an area where natural disasters are more common than you would like? The power outs are often, but you still want to know what’s going on in the world and if you can expect some more bad weather? Unfortunately, we know the feeling. But, don’t worry, there is a solution for your being-ahead-of-the-weather problem, and it is known as the best emergency radio the market offers.
While most of us have access to the internet, going online might not be possible during storms and hurricanes, especially if there is a blackout. Having access to a battery operated radio during natural disaster can help you with supplies and evacuation plans.
In this guide, we are going to talk about the features of emergency radios that you need to know about, as well as show you several of the most wanted emergency radios on the market, that you can purchase in case you find yourself in an emergency. Now, let’s get prepared!
Our Top Picks
|Product Name||Weight||Dimensions||Solar Panels||Specific Features||Price|
|Kaito 5 Way||1.5 lb||2.5 x 8 x 5 inches||Yes||7 band radio, brushless generator||Check price on Amazon|
|American Red Cross FRX3||1.33 lb||5.8 x 6.9 x 2.6 inches||Yes||Hand crank, Aux input, charger||Check price on Amazon|
|IronSnow Dynamo||0.45 lb||1.7 x 5 x 2.4 inches||Yes||Light, compact, hand crank||Check price on Amazon|
|C Crane CC Solar Observer||1 lb||2 x 7.25 x 5.5 inches||Yes||Winds up, LED flashlight||Check price on Amazon|
|Sangean MMR-88||0.86 lb||2.71 x 5.98 x 3.3 inches||No||Handstrap, 19 presets, USB||Check price on Amazon|
|Eton FRX 5||0.9 lb||5.8 x 2.3 x 7.1 inches||Yes||Hand crank, rechargeable||Check price on Amazon|
|Grundig S450DLX||3.6 lb||12.2 x 3.9 x 7.6 inches||No||50 station memory, low distortion||Check price on Amazon|
|Midland ER200||1 lb||9 x 2.8 x 6.5 inches||No||LED flashlight, USB charging, rechargeable||Check price on Amazon|
|La Cross 810-805||0.35 lb||7.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches||No||Earphone jack, non-slip, rugged||Check price on Amazon|
|Ambient Weather WR-090||0.2 lb||2.2 x 1 x 3.5 inches||No||Pocket sized, 7 NOAA channels||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
Climate change is just one reason why we should always have a reliable emergency radio at home or at work. Radios are not only good for weather information, but for public alerts and news as well. Looking for a good radio can be confusing if you don’t know where to start. Luckily we have some tips for you to keep in mind when searching for a good battery operated radio.
During times of emergencies, you always have to travel light. For example, if you are evacuating your home for a hurricane, you can only bring the essentials with you, and bringing a big chunky radio is not a good option.
When looking for something portable, make sure that it is small enough to fit in your backpack or purse. Small, lightweight radios won’t take up too much room so you can carry it with you not only during emergencies, but on camping and backpacking trips as well.
Multiple Power Options
During hurricane season, bringing extra batteries with you, might be the last thing on your mind. Aside from this, you have no way of knowing how long the emergency situation will last.
When looking for a good radio, make sure you have multiple power options so that you can always power the radio. Good options include solar, hand crank, DC or AC power options. Solar and hand crank options are good to have when there is a blackout and you can’t charge your unit through the wall socket.
NOAA or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates under the US Department of Commerce. Their National Weather Service mission is to “provide weather, water, and climate data, forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy.”
Their goal is to have a weather-ready nation which is why they broadcast all forecasts and weather related events in the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR), a nationwide network of radio stations. They broadcast continuous weather reports from the nearest National Weather Service office so that all citizens and residents are kept informed at all times.
If you’re going to use your radio for emergency or survival preparation, get a radio with a NOAA sticker. NOAA sends their alerts through FM or AM so receiving these bands are important. These radios usually cost around $15 – $50.
Some emergency radios have more than one function. Aside from receiving NOAA alerts they also have flashlights that can be used for illumination or as a signaling beacon.
Other radios are also capable of USB charging of smartphones, which are very helpful when your phone runs out of juice. A multi-purpose radio can be convenient because you can get lots of use from 1 single device.
Emergency radios are also great for camping. If you are a camper, consider taking an emergency radio with you so that you can be updated on weather in your camping area.
For this purpose, consider a radio with an antenna so that you can receive broadcast in obscure areas. The best choice would be an external telescopic antenna since it has a much better range than the integrated ones.
Best Products on Today’s Market
Now that you are aware of the features that you should know about when it comes to the best emergency radio, you are now ready to peruse some of the best radios on the market currently. When you are reading below, keep in mind the features that you need so you can get the best radio for you. Happy shopping!
Price: Approx $50
Weight: 1.5 lb
Dimensions: 2.5 x 8 x 5 inches
Specific features: High quality AC-type brushless generator, solar panels, 7-band weather radio
Best use: Solar power use, night and day use
Description: If you are looking for a dependable radio you can check out the Kaito 5 Way Emergency Radio. The best things about this model are the brushless generator and the solar panels that power and charge the radio. To catch as much of the sun’s rays as possible, the radio is designed to tilt. It also has a 5-LED reading lamp so that the user can read during poor light conditions.
This radio also has other gizmos that make it useful during emergency situations. It has a super bright LED on one side that can be used as a signaling device as well as a USB port so you can connect cell phones or an iPod for charging.
Aside from this, it comes with 6 different cell phone tips that can charge any mobile phone by using the crank. Overall, this is a great durable, high performance radio that will serve you great during emergencies, but will also come quite handy for camping.
- Various colors to choose from
- 7 band weather radio
- Has solar powered panels
- Hard to tune
- Does not come with a wall charging unit
Related: You can improve your radio’s performance by getting better reception with the Kaito T-1 Radio Antenna. It extends to 23 feet and only about $10 in cost.
Price: Approx $60
Weight: 1.33 lb
Dimensions: 5.8 x 6.9 x 2.6 inches
Specific features: Receives AM & FM weather band alert, cell phone charger via USB, multiple power options: built-in rechargeable, AAA batteries, hand crank, solar power, LED flashlight/beacon, AUX input
Best use: No power, solar panel use
Description: Because of the climate changes, everybody in America needs to be prepared during emergency situations and disasters. Therefore, the American Red Cross RX3 Weather Alert Radio has been created. You can use this radio anytime, especially at night because it has a flashlight.
One of the best ways to prepare for an emergency situation is to get information and you can easily receive weather alerts through AM and FM stations with this radio.
The best thing about this emergency radio, is the different power sources you can use to make sure you have the power to receive weather alerts. You can use solar power, a hand crank, AAA batteries and built-in rechargeable batteries.
Turn on the alert function so that the radio can automatically broadcast emergency weather alert such as severe storms, hurricanes and tornadoes in your area. To charge your cell phone, simply plug it into the USB port. No emergency or disaster kit is complete without this radio.
- Can charge your phone
- Alerts for disasters and emergencies
- Various power sources
- No charging gauge
- Out of date technology
- Uses a 2.0 mini connector, not a 2.0 micro connector
Related: If you are in an emergency situation and there is no electricity to turn on the heater or prepare a meal, you can always start a fire with the Fire Starter with Compass and Whistle. This product works great and is windproof and weather resistant.
Price: Approx $20
Weight: 0.45 lb
Dimensions: 1.7 x 5 x 2.4 inches
Specific features: Compact AM/FM NOAA Weather Radio, 3-LED flashlight, DC recharge, hand crank recharging or solar charging, weighs 0.45 lb
Best use: Survival, power or no power
Description: This compact iRonsnow IS-088 Emergency Solar Radio has a powerful 3-LED flashlight and cell phone charger. You can charge this radio 3 different ways: using the USB charger, hand crank or through solar charging.
This is a self-powered radio you and your family can depend on anytime, in any weather. Just 5 minutes of hand cranking, will give enough power for 5 minutes of radio time, 30 minutes of flashlight time, and 5 minutes of cell phone talk time. It also has a wrist lanyard so you can bring it with you at all times. With the included flashlight, you can use it at night time, or if the power is out.
All in all, with the various ways of charging, plus, high reliability and charging a cell phone fully, and an array of color choices, this is definitely one emergency radio to check out as it is versatile and dependable.
- 3 power options
- USB charging
- Flashlight included
- Short battery life
- No earphone jack
- No internal storage for cables
Related: If you know you will need batteries for your emergency radio, you can buy them in bulk. The AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries come in a 36 pack and will definitely last you a long time during an emergency situation.
Price: Approx $60
Weight: 1 lb
Dimensions: 7.2 x 2 x 5.5 inches
Specific features: Solar powered with LED flashlight, wind up powering option
Best use: Lack of electricity, outdoor or indoor use
Description: Those who are looking for a radio with great reception, easy to wind up, and with the dials are easy to move, should definitely take into consideration the C. Crane CC Solar Observer Radio. It’s light, easy to use, and the flashlight works well, and you will definitely be pleased with this emergency radio model’s retro, compact design.
The best way to charge this radio is by solar power. Simply leave it outside for 8 hours straight, and it will be good to go for 4-6 hours depending on the volume. If there is no sun, just use the hand crank for 90 seconds to get 12 minutes of radio time.
You can also opt to purchase the AC adapter to charge the battery pack. However, if you don’t like any of these options you can just insert 3 AA batteries for power. The radio also has a radio jack for private radio listening and a USB port for cell phone charging.
- Nice reception
- Solar powered
- Can wind up if you need to
- Not for use in sunlight
- Solar charging takes a while
- No power supply included
Related: Be sure to keep an AC adapter around for your emergency radio. The Solar Observer 5v AC Adapter is under $20 and works perfectly with the radio we have reviewed above.
Price: Approx $70
Weight: 0.86 lb
Dimensions: 2.71 x 5.98 x 3.3 in
Specific features: Public alert certified weather alert radio, DSP Digital AM/FM/WX Tuner, 19 preset channels, USB A to Micro B Cable, bright backlight USB, hand strap
Best use: Indoor, outdoor, for emergencies, camping
Description: The Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio can be charged 3 ways: hand crank, USB and solar power. This way you don’t run out of power so you can listen to alert bulletins, weather stations and music anytime anywhere. This is a Public Alert Certified radio, and it alerts you when there is a severe weather warning.
The crank efficiency is above average, while the battery is one of the quickest to charge. It also has clear audio quality for a small radio especially if the reception is exceptional. This radio also comes with other emergency standbys like a Morse-code beacon, siren and water resistant casing.
We also have to mention that the radio is easy to see with the bright yellow color, and the LED screen allows you to see what you are doing clearly, when making adjustments. The ability to have 19 presets is a great bonus, and if all else fails, you can use the hand crank if needed.
- 3 power types
- 19 presets
- Phone charger
- Reception can have static
- Doesn’t permanently hold the preset stations
- Short battery life
Related: Consider having an extra USB cable around in case of emergencies. You can plug it right into the radio and your phone to get a full charge when the power is out. The Syncing and Charging Cord is moderately priced and comes in a 3 pack.
Price: Approx $130
Weight: 0.9 lb
Dimensions: 5.8 x 2.3 x 7.1 inches
Specific features: Receives AM/FM/NOAA for information and entertainment, rechargeable lithium batteries, 5V 2.1A USB output for fast charging of smartphones and tablets, high efficiency solar panels, hand crank
Best use: Emergencies, bad weather
Description: The Eton FRX5 Emergency Radio is essential for every home, emergency kit or backpack. Sporting a rechargeable lithium battery, this radio can be charged using the sun or hand crank. The solar cells can charge the radio in 5 to 6 hours, while turning the crank for 4 minutes will give you 10-15 minutes of music, news or weather alert.
A USB cable can also be used to recharge the lithium battery or you can use a couple of AAA batteries if you prefer this option. But aside from news and weather alerts, it also has an AUX input so you can listen to your own tunes. Use the USB to “dump charge” your device.
Overall, with the fact that this radio is highly portable, offers different power options as well as the fast charging for phones through the USB cord, we consider it to be a great, well rounded emergency radio that also offers both S.A.M.E and NOAA alerts.
- Various power sources
- A.M.E and NOAA alerts
- Rechargeable batteries
- More costly than others
- Stations can have static
- Buttons are hard to push
Related: Along with an emergency radio, you need to have an emergency preparedness kit. The Deluxe 2-Person Perfect Survival Kit includes all that you need in case of fire, hurricane, or bad weather.
Price: Approx $90
Weight: 3.6 lb
Dimensions: 3.9 x 12.2 x 7.6 inches
Specific features: High signal sensitivity, strong anti-interference, low background noise and lower distortion, 50 station memory
Best use: Camping, inclement weather
Description: If you want something with a crisp and clear audio, get the Grundig S450DLX Radio. It has a 50 station memory so you can find your favorite station easily. With MCU control, large backlight LCD display, frequency clock and battery indicator and dual alarm clock.
Aside from picking up information from weather stations, it can also pick up AM/FM/3 band SW. Measuring at 3.9 x 12.2 x 7.6 inches, the radio is very portable excellent for emergency and disaster situations as well as camping and backpacking. The quick-tune button jumps from one station to the next. The alarm clock also has a wake-up, sleep and snooze function so you can use it every day at home.
While it is not waterproof, it does show a bright LCD display and has an earphone jack included, which are great bonus features.
- Has an AC adapter
- 50 station memory
- Includes carrying handle
- Batteries cannot charge inside
- Not waterproof
- Tuning dial grinds
Related: For better reception, you can purchase a short wave antenna to get better quality. The Sangean ANT-60 Short Wave Antenna can extend over 20 feet and comes with a case to keep your antenna protected.
Price: Approx $70
Weight: 1 lb
Dimensions: 9 x 2.8 x 6.5 inches
Specific features: Super bright LED flashlight at 130 Lumens, USB charging for smartphones and other devices, rechargeable and replaceable 2000 mAh lithium ion batteries, SOS flashlight beacon that flashes Morse code
Best use: Severe weather, dark areas
Description: The Midland ER200 Emergency Weather Radio is one of the smallest radios for disaster, weather alert and camping. At just At 10.6 ounces, it is a heavyweight because aside from severe weather forecasts and weather alerts it also has an extremely bright LED flashlight and an SOS flashlight beacon that flashes in Morse code to use for signaling.
Furthermore, you can also select the lower illumination option to preserve battery life. The LCD display is backlit so you can see the chosen stations, time or the weather channel. With 2000 mAh battery life, the ER200 can be used up to 25 hours of normal use. But if the radio needs charging, you can use mini USB, hand crank or solar panels. The radio can also be used to charge other devices such as cell phones and tablets.
Overall, this is a radio that is definitely worth checking out, and you will love how bright the flashlight is and that it has a decent battery life.
- Backlit LCD display
- 130 Lumens of light
- Up to 25 hours of average use
- Batteries get expensive for this model
- For some, the crank does not work properly
Related: If you are able to use rechargeable batteries for your radio, you can charge them by using the Battery Charger With USB Port. Under $20, this includes a USB port and will never overcharge your batteries.
Price: Approx $25
Weight: 0.35 lb
Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
Specific features: NOAA weather band, USA-made IC chip, 3.5mm earphone jack socket, ergonomic, rugged design with non-slip rubber finish for portability
Best use: Hurricanes, tornadoes, camping
Description: The La Crosse 810-805 Weather Alert Radio is one of the best weather radios out there. It picks up all 7 NOAA weather band channels, and its IC chip is one of the best and is made in the USA, and is known for its high frequency. The small, compact and rugged frame is built for portability.
It also has a 3.5 mm earphone jack socket if you want to listen to music privately. The radio uses 3 AA alkaline batteries and can last for days on alert mode. The 5 watt built in flashlight is good quality. The radio comes with a lanyard for easy carrying and portability.
Small and portable, this radio gives you a lot for such a little radio. It is built tough, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking if you are out camping or backpacking. We liked the feature of having the LCD screen turn from blue to red when there is a severe weather alert.
- Rugged, won’t slip
- Affordable, made of high quality
- Gets all 7 NOAA weather band channels
- Reception can have static
- Can stop working by itself
- No batteries included
Related: In an emergency situation, you will need to stay hydrated. You can consider the DATREX Emergency Water Pouch. You can get them in bulk and be able to use them in a survival or disaster situation. Each one is 125 ml.
Price: Approx $20
Weight: 0.2 lb
Dimensions: 2.2 x 1 x 3.5 inches
Specific features: Pocket-size digital AM/FM/NOAA weather radio with real-time alert, gets all 7 NOAA weather channels, compact and stylish design, telescopic antenna can extend 8 inches
Best use: Civil emergency, indoor, outdoor
Description: Receive 24/7 National Weather Bureau broadcasts wherever you are. Ambient Weather WR-090 Emergency Alert Radio with Digital Tuner and Flashlight has an alert button that turns on automatically when there is dangerous weather or civil emergencies.
The radio has AM/FM/WeatherBand so you can access news and weather information whenever you need it. Aside from extreme weather and emergencies, the compact and rugged construction of the radio is also excellent for camping and backpacking.
The radio also has an integrated flashlight that can also be powered through the USB port. Get better reception all the time, thanks to the telescopic antenna that can extend up to 8 inches so you can get signal wherever you are.
You will also love the fact that this radio like the bonus features such as a bright flashlight as well as a USB power cable, earphone jack and the lanyard. This makes the radio easier to use and more functional. Lightweight and portable, you will get an alert when there is severe weather and can take appropriate shelter.
- Many bonus features
- Antenna retracts
- Earphone jack
- Not the best sound quality
- Can have wiring problems
- Seems cheap
Related: The Cobra CPI1590 1500W Professional Power Inverter includes 3 AC outlets and a USB port. It protects against the failure of most kinds, include power outages and thermal shutdowns.
With the Cobra power inverter, we have reached the end of our article. We hope that by now, you realized that the weather can be unpredictable at times, and that it is better to get fair warning whenever possible. Having an emergency radio with you during camping, backpacking, at home and at work can help you prepare for possible weather changes in your area.
If you read the features to consider, you will know how to find the radio model that will suit all your personal needs. And, we are pretty sure that the model you were looking for was in the product reviews section. Also, don’t forget to consider the related products as they will make your level of emergency preparedness even higher.
At the end, remember, cell phones are not always reliable as cellular towers can go down during a storm. An emergency radio is your best bet in bad weather situations. This way you can stay informed as best as possible.
Now, we would like to know your thoughts. Have you had experience with any of the radios mentioned above? Do you have a great product that we didn’t include in the list? Leave a comment in the comments section below and share your stories with us.