Emergency radios can be helpful tools in case of difficult situations so if you’re the type to plan ahead, this is one item that shouldn’t miss from your emergency kit. The primary purpose of owning such a device is to be able to receive the latest info during disasters and other emergencies. Any basic model will help you stay connected with the authorities but the more advanced emergency radios come with more powerful features and extra abilities to rely on in the eventuality of a disaster. For example, they have integrated flashlights or can charge your smartphone. You might also be interested in our articles about the best shortwave radios and the best WiFi radios.
There are certain qualities that an emergency radio needs to have for it to be considered reliable and worth the money. It’s not that easy to pick a good model considering how crowded is the market for these devices. What are some critical features to evaluate before you make a decision?
1. Multiple power sources
A radio that can be charged in multiple ways can be a solid addition in times of emergency. You’ll need a model that can be operated with batteries, that’s obviously essential but it could be nice to also have the ability to use an AC adapter. When the power is out and you can’t find spare batteries, a good emergency radio has to have a hand-crank or a way to manually charge the device. This can be a convenient way to charge the radio during an emergency but you have to keep in mind that the more features the device has, the more power it can consume.
2. SAME alerts
NOAA weather alert stations can usually be picked up by most quality emergency radios but you should also take into account the SAME alerts feature present on some models. This technology makes it easier to receive alerts using your own zip code as opposed to geographically dependant NOAA stations.
3. Extra survival features
Where the emergency radios differ the most is in terms of extra features. This is one great area for helping you make the best decision. Some models come with various tools for survival like a flashlight or an emergency buzzer so pay attention to these little abilities because you’ll never know when they could come in handy during an emergency.
These are main characteristics of an emergency radio to evaluate so now that you’re a bit more informed, let’s take a look at a special selection of products. The best emergency radios for the money have been assembled in a convenient list and you can analyze each individual review to figure out if it would be a suitable choice for your budget and overall needs.
Best Emergency Radio on the Market
If you want to be prepared for any survival situation, there’s hardly a better choice for a reliable emergency radio than the Eton The American Red Cross FRX3. It boasts a multitude of charging options, including solar power, and it has plenty of helpful tools for survival such as a LED flashlight and an advanced Alert system.
This is an AM/FM radio which offers access to all the NOAA weather stations and it provides alerts whenever there’s an important weather event. Toggle the “Alert” function on and the unit will automatically announce emergency reports about the weather in your area so you can be prepared beforehand.
In terms of power, Eton equipped this radio with various charging options. You can try getting the required energy with DC power or by using AAA batteries. If you place it in the sun you can power it up passively thanks to its integrated solar panel. If all else fails, you can always rely on the hand crank. With just one minute of spinning, you can obtain approximately 10 minutes of flashlight or radio use.
Besides maintaining your radio powered, it can also be essential to have your own devices fully charged. For this reason, there’s a USB charger port included which has enough power to handle a smartphone exactly like you’d plug it into a wall.
I’ve mentioned the flashlight before and other useful features that you can discover on this unit is the AUX-input for entertainment, the red flashing beacon, and a convenient backlit display which together with the illuminated buttons significantly improve the user experience.
Considering such a large amount of high-quality features packed in the Eton FRX3 The American Red Cross, it’s safe to say that you can count on this radio in any emergency. Except for shortwave, this unit has virtually everything you could possibly need and they all work well. Especially the charging capabilities can prove to be very useful in difficult situations. Highly recommended.
- Can charge your smartphone
- Hand Crank
- Solar power
- LED flashlight
For those looking to buy a decent emergency solar radio, one great option is the Epica TRTAZ11A model. It’s an AM/FM/NOAA radio which comes with a digital tuner, a compact design, and a very attractive price tag. It’s also ready for action thanks to its multiple charging options.
The design of this radio is made with a focus on portability as evidenced by its overall compactness. Packing this in your emergency toolbox is a breeze and it can also be attached without too much effort to a belt thanks to its sturdy clip. It has a fairly rugged body for facing more difficult conditions and it’s equipped with solar panels that are water resistant. The radio is obviously built to last a long time.
By letting the radio in the sun you can charge it but there are other ways too. Like any respectable emergency radio, it offers multiple charging options, a total of five including solar power. You can get its battery recharged using AC and DC power, USB, or the more old-fashioned way by cranking up the hand turbine. 2 minutes of work at the hand crank will offer you at least 20 minutes of radio functionality or flashlight usage.
The flashlight makes use of three LEDs and it can prove very useful at night or in low light conditions. There’s also a standard digital display integrated which has a complete control panel with buttons to operate the device. This radio can receive stations from all seven NOAA channels including AM/FM stations. With the help of a digital tuner, you can also navigate through distorted signals more easily.
Taking into account how this radio can work during an emergency, it looks to be worth its cost which is relatively low for its class. The Epica TRTAZ11A it’s one of the best emergency radios on the market in terms of cost-effectiveness. It’s recommended for its versatility, durability, and intuitiveness.
- Compact and lightweight
- Solar power
- Hand Crank
- 3-LED flashlight
- Mobile phone charger
Best Hand Crank Emergency Radio
One of the most reliable crank radios on the market is the iRonsnow TS-IS-088-R, a solid emergency radio in all regards. It’s a simple-to-carry little device which comes with a small battery but it can be charged quickly using the crank, solar power, or via micro USB. Also worth noting is the particularly low cost of this unit, it’s the least expensive emergency radio on this list.
This is a very versatile radio, ready to face hard situations that can occur during emergency times. It broadcasts on all the NOAA channels and all the regular AM/FM stations received in the local area. The flexibility in charging options is definitely a great selling point for any radio designed for going through difficult times.
Some other models in its class don’t have solar panels for passively absorbing energy from the sun but this unit has it. It’s not intended to be used like a professional solar power bank but it can charge the battery quite nicely. You can also use DC power or connect the radio to a computer. The hand crank is your last resort if all the usual methods fail.
It would’ve been nice for this model to accept AAA batteries but at this price, there are already more features than you’d expect. It’s worth noting that the hand crank works especially well in this model making it a reliable survival tool if you’re far from any power outlet or don’t have much access to sunlight.
When it comes to user-friendliness, this emergency radio is particularly great for people who aren’t very familiar with electronic devices. This is an important consideration as in the end, it would be pointless to have a radio loaded with many features that you can’t use effectively.
With such a large variety of useful features, this little radio can be an essential addition to the rest of your emergency tools. The iRonsnow TS-IS-088-R is just the right size to be simple to handle and has a very balanced set of abilities for its price. All in all, this is worth the purchase if you’re in the market for a reliable and inexpensive emergency radio.
- Compact and simple to carry
- 3 ways to charge including hand crank
- Very bright LED
- Long-lasting battery
- Easy to use
Keeping yourself prepared for the eventuality of an emergency is definitely important. One unit that won’t let you down and which comes with a very balanced price is the RunningSnail MD-090 radio. It’s equipped with a fairly generous 2000mAh battery that can be recharged and offers some nice features for facing difficult situations.
This is an invaluable tool to have when you’re preparing your emergency supplies. It offers an SOS alarm with a bright red light that flashes to ask for help or as a warning to someone else. Getting the latest alerts is done without too much hassle as you can connect to the NOAA channels and receive alerts in case of hazardous weather conditions.
One cool feature of this radio is the 1W LED flashlight which works great in dark areas or to find your way at night during a power outage. The 2000mAh battery should provide plenty of power to extend your radio listening sessions or flashlight usage but if you’re running out, you have a plethora of charging methods at your disposal.
There’s a handy solar panel mounted on the device and there’s a micro USB cable for computer charging. You can keep extra AAA batteries always at hand if you prefer the battery charging method and when you’re completely out of options, there’s always the hand crank which works like a charm to keep your radio going. Another great ability of this radio is to charge various electronic devices, like your smartphone. It comes with a special USB port for that.
When you look back over the abilities of the RunningSnail MD-090 emergency radio, it can be said that the unit represents a valuable investment. For a compact multi-band radio with so many charging options, a loud SOS feature, and a reasonably large power bank, this model is well worth its cost.
- 1W LED flashlight
- Hand Crank
- 2000mAh rechargeable battery
- SOS Alarm with light
- It can charge USB port devices
Best Emergency Weather Radio
The Eton FRX5-BT is a device that manages to cram all the essential features of a survivalist in a sleek and durable package. It has a considerably higher price tag than most of the models on this list, but it has way more potential to help you during an emergency. Some of its main highlights are the SAME weather alert and the efficient solar panel.
As it’s constructed for withstanding difficult survival conditions, this radio has a rugged body and a splashproof rating for maximum performance outdoors. Staying in tune with the latest news and announcements is easy with the help of this device. It can access any local AM or FM stations and all the NOAA weather channels. The speaker is decent though nothing special considering the size, clear enough to listen to the radio.
One feature that’s rare to find on an emergency radio is Bluetooth and this can be handy when you want to stream music for an entertaining night during your camping trip. There’s a LED flashlight that helps you find the way in the darkness and a solar panel for efficient charging. Another great way to keep the energy levels up is by using the integrated crank manual power generator.
For some extra peace of mind, this emergency radio offers smartphone charging thanks to a special 5V—2.1A reliable USB port which delivers full power for a fast charging rate. When you activate the “Alert” function, the radio will automatically broadcast important SAME and NOAA alerts so you can be prepared ahead of time and stay safe.
All things considered, the Eton FRX5-BT is a solid competitor on the market of emergency radios. It has some more premium features compared to other models though it also comes at a greater cost. One little downside of this radio is how it’s less intuitive to use considering the advanced features which can get a while to get used to. Still, this deserves a spot on this list as it’s a very performant solution during an emergency.
- S.A.M.E. And NOAA Weather alerts
- 2000 mAh battery
- 5V USB output
- Rugged construction
- Hand Crank
If you’re trying to find a good balance between cost and performance, the Esky ES-CR01 could be a reliable option for an emergency radio. This model is loaded with great survival features including a very bright 140 lumens flashlight and a low weight allowing you to carry it in your pocket with ease.
The small size of this radio is clearly a high selling point. You can pack it with the rest of your emergency tools without feeling like it weighs you down. For most emergency preparedness purposes, this is an ideally sized unit, very compact and portable.
If you’re stuck in the dark, having a bright flashlight can be of huge help and this radio is equipped with a very reliable one. It offers 140 lumens of brightness to find your way in low light areas. The 1000mAh power bank is not exactly capable of fully charging any smartphone but it has enough energy to keep it from dying completely at least.
The battery of this radio can be charged in various ways. The classic method is by using the standard or micro USB ports but you can also rely on the solar panel if you’re out in the sun. Finally, the kinetic hand crank will be able to provide that much-needed boost to the battery when the conditions are really tough. Despite the small capacity, the battery has enough energy to maintain extended radio listening sessions for up to seven hours on a full charge. Staying in the loop about the latest updates is essential and you can receive the latest weather alerts from any available NOAA weather channel besides accessing AM and FM stations.
In conclusion, the Esky ES-CR01 is small but powerful enough to handle itself when disaster strikes. The hand crank is very useful but you can be surprised how long the battery lasts that you may not even have to use the manual option for too long. For its cost, this unit delivers way more performance and reliability than you’d expect.
- Bright flashlight
- Loud and clear speaker
- Small and compact
- 1000mAh power bank
- Kinetic hand crank
Sangean is a very well known manufacturer of high-quality radio equipment and one of their best emergency radios is probably the MMR-88 which promises pretty much all the features needed even by the more demanding survivalists. Let’s take a closer look at its abilities to decide if it’s worth spending your money on it.
There are three charging modes in total available for keeping this radio powered up. You can use the hand crank, which is surprisingly reliable even though it should be reserved as a last option. A solar panel with a decent efficiency level can offer a solid charge and one of the most convenient modes is using the USB port with the supplied cable.
This model features an 850mAh rechargeable battery, a capacity which is more than satisfying for this price. It’s not large enough to fully charge a smartphone but you can get some juice to revive any USB compatible devices as the radio acts like a power bank.
As this radio is Public Alert Certified, you will be informed ahead of time of severe weather so you can be prepared. One interesting feature that you can really count on is the emergency buzzer which is fairly loud. To navigate through darker spaces, there’s also an adjustable LED flashlight with blinking and SOS Morse code modes.
For a more convenient operation, the manufacturer added a bright LCD screen that displays some relevant info including the battery level. You’ve got 19 presets available which are mixed AM/FM and a DSP digital tuner. Another great feature is the auto shut-off ability after 90 minutes to conserve some energy.
Considering what a great job did Sangean with the MMR-88, it’s safe to say that this radio shouldn’t miss from your pack of emergency supplies. One of the largest selling points of this unit is how you can fully replace its battery which is usually the first thing that fails in this kind of radio. The quality of this unit is clearly a step above cheap Chinese models on the market as this one is manufactured in Taiwan. Highly recommended.
- DSP Digital AM/FM/WX Tuner
- Bright LCD display
- Hand Crank charging
- Solar power
- Built-in speaker and clock
Despite being the last on this list, this doesn’t mean that the Midland ER310 is weaker than others on this list. This emergency radio represents a cost-effective way to maintain the right level of preparedness in the eventuality of a disaster. It’s packed with some unique features like the ultrasonic dog whistle.
This radio really takes weather alerts seriously. When it receives an emergency announcement, it will trigger an audible siren to ensure that you will hear it. There’s also a visual indication that there’s an emergency as the unit’s flashlight and LCD screen will flash continuously for one minute.
Besides NOAA weather alerts, the radio also provides convenient access to your favorite AM and FM stations. An earphone jack is present, in case you need private listening. The radio station and other information are shown on the LCD backlit display which can be adjusted according to your preferences and turned off quickly if you want to save some energy.
Speaking of energy, the battery inside this radio is fairly large. As it has a capacity of 2600mAh it will give you many hours of comfortable use. You can charge it with the incorporated solar panel or the dynamo crank beside the usual methods such as the mini USB cable. It’s also great for powering up your smart devices.
Another solid feature of this emergency radio that’s worth some attention is the powerful LED flashlight with its signaling options. The Cree LED is capable of shining very brightly thanks to its 130 lumens rating and has two settings, low and high. It can also be used to flash a distress signal in Morse code and to assist rescue teams searching during an emergency, the addition of the ultrasonic dog whistle is a well-thought feature.
The Midland ER310 is a nice choice for an emergency radio. The design ideas are great in concept but the build quality leaves things to be desired. The biggest drawback is how it’s a bit difficult to find a battery replacement as Midland uses a proprietary plug for it. Overall it works as advertised and all its features, particularly the bright flashlight and the ultrasonic dog whistle, are handy to have.
- Solar power panel
- SOS flashlight beacon
- Replaceable 2600mAh battery
- Charges mobile devices
- Ultrasonic Dog Whistle