Our smartphones, computers, and TVs keep us informed about what’s going on around us every day. In the event of a storm knocking out the power grid, our ordinary technology won’t be enough.
Keeping the radio running in any situation is one of the most important characteristics of the best emergency radios. A battery that can last for days on end is essential, regardless of whether you are dealing with a blizzard, tornado, or any other kind of unexpected event.
To help you choose the best survival radio, we rounded up a variety of radios that run on batteries, solar energy, and hand cranks.
A very high frequency (VHF) public service band station will send warnings and notifications to emergency radios, unlike standard radios. Those with emergency radios may listen to dedicated weather channels or set the radios to notify them of weather or disaster warnings. An emergency radio can also receive AM/FM radio stations.
|Kaito KA500 5-way Powered Solar Power|
|FosPower 2000mAh NOAA Emergency Radio|
|RunningSnail Emergency Crank Radio|
|Midland – WR120B/WR120EZ – NOAA Emergency Radio|
|Eton, American Red Cross FRX3+|
1. Kaito KA500 5-way Powered Solar Power
With the Kaito KA500 5-way AM/FM/SW/NOAA Weather Alert Radio, you can receive seven NOAA bands and two shortwave bands, allowing you to listen to weather alerts from around the world.
The radio achieves high reception quality. It has five power options, including a hand crank, a flip-up solar panel, an AC adapter, batteries (three NiMH AA rechargeable batteries), and a USB port. Users can find a way to charge this model in most situations because this model comes with so many power options.
Kaito doesn’t disappoint when it comes to additional features, as it includes a built-in charger for smartphones, a reading light, a flashlight, and an SOS beacon. Despite its additional features, the Kaito is a little difficult to operate. On the front, there is an on/off button, but that only activates some features.
2. FosPower 2000mAh NOAA Emergency Radio
The amount of features FosPower has crammed into this radio is impressive, considering its size. Battery capacity is 2,000mAh, and four-LED reading light and zoomable flashlight keep the dark away. In addition to hand cranking, solar power, or AAA batteries, the radio can be charged when its battery dies.
The device tunes in to standard AM/FM radio stations as well as NOAA, and it provides emergency alerts when severe weather is imminent. With its ergonomic shape, it is easy to use as a flashlight or for turning the crank.
With an IPX3 rating, the FosPower is resistant to rain and perfect for emergencies such as storms and flooding (as long as you do not submerge it).
3. RunningSnail Emergency Crank Radio
The hand crank in the RunningSnail Emergency Radio generates all the energy necessary to listen to the radio’s weather and news reports and operate the flashlight if the built-in lithium-ion battery runs out. A USB port allows a cell phone or tablet to be charged while listening to AM/FM and NOAA broadcasts.
The AM/FM reception was very good during our tests. It was a bit more difficult to get NOAA broadcasts. The weather band was accessible, but a stiff manual dial made tuning in difficult. The reception at the station we found wasn’t excellent. The model wasn’t the best for strictly weather purposes.
Nevertheless, it had other useful features. The nightlight is motion-activated, which is a great feature for campers and others who need to get up at night. It also has a bright reading light. On the trail or while camping, it is almost blinding, which is really useful.
On sunny days, the radio’s built-in solar panel can also be used to charge its battery. However, the panel didn’t work well. Although we had enough charge to turn on the radio, we had to crank up the volume with a hand crank.
With a long handle and smooth cranking action, the hand crank made this model stand out from others. One of our favorite features of the crank was its four battery indicator lights that showed the amount of power you had generated.
4. Midland – WR120B/WR120EZ – NOAA Emergency Radio
Midland’s WR120B/WR120EZ NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio isn’t just easy to use and functional — it also supports English, French, and Spanish. Moreover, users can check out conditions in 25 programmable locations when needed or desired.
Users can receive alerts directly related to their home region thanks to the built-in SAME technology. You can select one of three alert types: a siren alarm, a voice alert, or a flashing LED light. It can be powered with two AA batteries or plugged into any standard outlet.
There is no doubt that the Midland NOAA will warn listeners about impending inclement weather. By hitting the weather/snooze button, users can get a notification of the latest weather warnings in their area at any time.
A combination alarm clock and emergency radio like this can be an excellent choice. As long as it is connected or has batteries, this radio will alert those who live in areas where tornadoes or other sudden storms occur.
5. Eton, American Red Cross FRX3+
The FRX3+ survival radio from Eton was designed in collaboration with the American Red Cross so that it can be used during or after emergencies. Camping trips are made easier with the 2,600mAh battery.
Powered by a hand-turbine and solar panel, the smartphone can be charged 1.5 times a day, and the loudspeaker provides clear sound whether you’re listening to music or listening to weather alerts.
All seven NOAA weather bands are received by radio, as well as AM/FM stations with digital tuning. When severe weather is headed your way, the alert function will notify you. Additionally, an LED flashlight makes you visible to search-and-rescue teams if your headlamp goes out.
It’s a bit larger than most radios, but we like its sturdy built and carrying handle. Glow-in-the-dark indicators are a relatively simple feature, but they’re a lifesaver for those who are searching in the dark for a radio.
Things to Consider Before Buying Emergency Radio
Reception & Ability to Receive NOAA alerts
Your emergency radio’s primary function is to keep you informed. AM/FM radio stations and NOAA weather stations must be picked up by your radio. The vast majority of emergency radios do this but be sure to find one that has solid reception. To better pick up radio waves, look for a radio that has a telescopic antenna.
Methods of Charging
During an emergency, the power may not stay on (it is likely to go out). This is why you should have multiple charging options on your radio. Replacing the battery is the fastest and easiest way to get a full recharge.
We prefer radios that can be recharged using disposable batteries. It is easy to stock up and get several days of power without investing a lot of money.
Charging by solar power can be useful, but it is slow and only works when the sun is out. This can be problematic during severe weather. Thus, another charging method – such as a hand crank – is necessary.
Consider how much power you can get per crank since not all hand cranks are created equal. Ideally, the radio should allow you to listen for about 10 minutes for every minute it takes to crank.
It’s always better to have a long-lasting battery than the one you have to crank to keep running. For emergency radios, the larger batteries tend to be around 2,000-2,600 mAh, which should be enough for a full day of use.
With 850-1,000 mAh in smaller and lighter radios, you will have enough power for short emergencies or camping trips.
Radios with emergency features range from emergency buzzers, SOS signals, and USB charging to table lamps and LED flashlights. Some radios come with a USB output so you can charge your small electronic devices. You will get half to a full charge with a larger battery (for example, 2,000 mAh). Opt for a larger battery if you are especially concerned about your phone.
When shopping for a radio, look for one that you can set to notify you when NOAA issues severe weather alerts. Most radios come with a good flashlight if you find yourself in an emergency.
If you are trapped by a flood in your house or lost in the woods, look for features that will help people find you. An audible alarm, buzzer, or ultrasonic dog whistle can help search teams pinpoint your location, as well as blinking red LED lights or flashlights with blinking or SOS signal functions.
Reliability & Waterproofness
Usually, emergency situations are messy, so you’re likely to drop your radio or get it wet in bad weather. Choose a radio that features durable materials such as impact-resistant rubber skin or bumpers.
Learn about the IPX rating system that measures how waterproof a device is. From being unable to withstand powerful water jets (IPX9K) to breaking down after any water exposure (IPX0).
Many radios that we’ve found are rated IPX3 (good for light rain) or IPX4 (good for splashes from any direction).