The Best Emergency Weather Radios

Some of the best weather radios on the market can save lives. They are capable of giving warnings and other up-to-date information on severe weather conditions. This is especially important for people who live in areas that are prone to severe weather.

So, which one is the best one? The best weather radio strongly depends on individual needs. However, one of the essential features is NOAA weather channel capabilities.

There are so many different types of weather radios on the market. But, some are basic while others offer a variety of emergency features. Read on to understand the types of weather radios available.

What Is a Weather Radio?

Weather radios are specialized devices designed to pick up public broadcasts about weather conditions. These continuous reports usually come from government-owned radio stations that are in operation specifically for this purpose.

While most of the time, the weather reports are routine, on occasion, the broadcast will be interrupted by emergency weather news like tornado or hurricane alerts. Sometimes listeners will also receive a non-weather-related emergency alert and news. The information may be related to events like natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or child abductions.

Some people keep a weather radio on all the time, especially those who live in areas that are prone to major weather emergencies, such as tornadoes and flooding.

Weather radios can function like smoke detectors in the home. They alert residents of possible weather-related dangers and give them time to react and take safety measures.

Main Considerations When Buying a Weather Radio

Buying a weather radio is a serious purchase. Having one can save lives. There are a few points to take into consideration before making that final purchase.

Weather Band Radios and Weather Alert Radios: What’s the Difference?

There is a big difference between weather band radios and weather alert radios. Weather band radios have to be turned on to receive emergency alerts, just like any radio in the house. If the radio doesn’t have power, people don’t hear the warning.

In addition, weather band radios have to actually be tuned into a weather station. If someone is listening to something else on the AM/FM band, they still won’t hear the alert.

On the other hand, weather alert radios automatically receive alerts. It doesn’t matter if they are turned on at the time. They override radio functions to broadcast the alert. So, even if they aren’t listening to a weather broadcast at the time, if there is an emergency, the radio will automatically tune into an NOAA channel.

What Is the NOAA Radio Network?

NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Among other things, NOAA tracks weather and climate changes in the United States and surrounding territories. They have a transmitter network across the U.S.

Qualified NOAA radios receive emergency broadcast signals from NOAA Weather Radio (NWR). NWR also gives warnings and information for all types of hazards and, not just severe weather. They also provide news about national, technological, and natural emergencies.

All weather radios in the U.S. receive the NWR broadcasts. But, the ones that are NOAA-qualified are officially tested by the agency.

Why You Need One

Weather radios are for more than just figuring out if a person needs an umbrella for the day. They can help save lives, especially for people who live in an area that is prone to natural weather emergencies.

In addition, many weather radios are equipped with special features that alert people with special needs of emergency situations.

Tone Alarms

Some radios are equipped to receive tone alarms from NWS (National Weather Service). The 1050 Hz alarm will sound before a watch message or warning is broadcasted. In most cases, it will activate even if the radio’s audio is switched off.

SAME Technology

SAME (Specific Alert Message Encoding) lets users pick the specific area(s) that they want to hear the alerts for. If a person doesn’t want to hear warnings for every county in the U.S., this is a useful feature to have.

Alerting of Events Selection

In addition, some radios may also offer selective alerts for specific events. For example, people living in a coastal county may receive a flood warning. But, if they don’t live at the beach, it may not apply.

Battery Backup

An important feature is a battery backup. It is essential for people who live-in high-power outage areas. Sometimes an AC outlet may not be an option. The radio can still be used with no power available.

External Antenna Jack

For people who may have difficulties getting decent radio reception, having an external antenna may help. In order to use the external antenna, however, they will need a jack to connect it to the radio.

Special Needs External Device Jack

An external device jack is a crucial feature for anyone with special needs. It is designed to be incorporated alongside the radio device that shakes the bed or flashes strobe lights to indicate an emergency.

Reviews

Midland WR120/WR120EZ Weather Radio

Sometimes listening to weather news from every surrounding county can be tedious. The Midland WR120/WR120EZ model offers a solution for this.

The SAME feature allows users to choose specific counties to hear weather news and alerts about so they only hear the news that’s important to them and not extras that don’t affect them or their loved ones.

Next, this model receives all 7 NOAA channels so users receive all up-to-date alerts and warnings directly from NOAA and don’t have to wait for alternative weather stations to receive the news and relay them to listeners.

Also, the WR120B/WR120EZ models are both public-alert certified. The unit itself has a 90-dB siren, flashing LED warning light and voice alert system. These features are invaluable for anyone with special needs or people with large homes who may not hear alerts.

The radio also has alert jacks to plug in additional devices. This is a necessary option for special needs people who need additional alert systems installed throughout their homes.

In addition, this emergency weather radio also has a 25-county system for memory. So, when it is programmed for specific alerts per county, users do not have to repeatedly reprogram the preferences.

This radio also has a built-in clock and snooze and alarm feature so users can easily set this on a bedside table instead of using a standard alarm clock.

The Midland emergency radio also has multi-lingual capabilities in French, English and Spanish so even users that are not fluent in English won’t miss a weather or civil danger warning.

Lastly, the radio has a 9V DC plug-in as its main power source. However, users will want to keep 3 AA batteries on hand for power back-up in the case of an emergency.

Specifications

  • SAME feature
  • 25 programmable counties
  • Voice, display, tone alert systems
  • 7 pre-set NOAA weather channels
  • Alarm clock with snooze feature
  • 3 languages: English, Spanish, French
  • PEAS certified
  • 3AA batteries back-up
  • External device jack

Kaito KA500 Weather Alert Radio

Need a deluxe weather radio with alert capabilities? Kaito may be the answer. The KA500 model is an NWS (National Weather Service) certified shortwave emergency radio.

First, there are 6 ways to power this radio: solar panel, crank generator, 3 AA batteries, a wall adapter, 5V USB input, and a built-in rechargeable and replaceable battery pack.

Also, this portable radio’s coverage is comprehensive. It has AM/FM capabilities and it also has 7 NOAA weather channels that are pre-programmed. In addition, this radio also has 24/7 weather forecast capabilities for the USA and Canada and it also Public Emergency Alert System (PEAS) enabled.

Like many emergency radios, this unit also has a light with 3 settings. The settings include an LED flashlight, a reading lamp and an SOS light beacon in a red LED.

Next, this radio also has an external telescopic antenna. The antenna is 14.5” high for optimal tuning. This radio also incorporates an LED signal indicator that shows the strength of the radio signal and an advanced semiconductor design to help fine-tune accuracy.

Lastly, the radio itself water-resistant and impact resistant. The weather radio is made from ABS material. The KA500 has strong construction, it is rugged and durable for any emergency situation.

Specifications

  • AM/FM/NOAA radio capabilities
  • PEAS enabled
  • 6 ways to charge the radio
  • 7 NOAA pre-programmed weather channels
  • 14.5” extendable antenna
  • 3 light settings
  • Impact and water-resistant

FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio

The FosPower emergency radio offers an all-in-one solution for emergency situations. When the weather gets rough, keep this radio close by you. Its features may be lifesavers.

First, the Solar Hand Crank portable radio has standard AM/FM broadcast frequency capabilities. But, it is also NOAA emergency certified to provide you with up to the second emergency news broadcasts that are dependable and accessible from both NOAA and AM/FM stations.

The radio has a 2000mAh power bank which can provide enough emergency power to any mobile device in emergency situations. It works with most USB powered devices. It also has 2 light sources. The 4-LED light for reading and 1W LED flashlight those times when the lights go out.

In addition, the unit has 3 power sources. The solar crank emergency radio’s AAA batteries, a solar panel and a crank lever provide full battery power. The solar panel and crank are regenerative. This ensures you have power whenever you need it in an emergency.

Need to contact family on the smartphone? This weather radio can also charge mobile phones or small tablets.

Lastly, the FosPower weather radio is lightweight, only 10.9 oz. The Solar crank radio is IPX3 water-resistant and compact. So, it easily fits into a large pocket. Measures: 6.2×2.9×2.1 inches. Its rugged shell makes it durable enough to withstand many emergency situations.

Specifications

  • AM/FM/NOAA radio capabilities Frequency range AM:520 – 1710KHz FM: 87 – 108MHz WB: 162.400 – 162.550MHz
  • 3 Power Source option (AAA batteries, crank lever & solar panel)
  • 2 light sources : 4-LED reading light (20LM) & 1W LED flashlight
  • Working Voltage: 2.7 – 4.2V
  • Waterproof level: IPX-3
  • NOAA certified
  • Batteries: AAA 1.5V LRO3 (not included)

RunningSnail Emergency Crank Radio

The best weather radio is capable of receiving broadcasts for emergency weather alerts. The RunningSnail weather radio is a compact option that delivers these special NOAA broadcasts.

It provides one of the best values in the market with 7 NOAA channels, keeping you informed of the latest weather or hazard information like tornadoes or hurricanes. Plus, it has many additional features that may come in handy in an emergency situation.

This new weather radio is based on the MD-090 emergency flashlight radio model but now provides 4000mAH power. This is twice or even four times stronger than other weather emergency radios. The RunningSnail solar radio upgraded to 4000mAH replaceable 18650 Li-ion battery which is found in every household and easy to purchase.

This new weather radio is based on the MD-090 emergency flashlight radio model but now provides 4000mAH power. This is twice or even four times stronger than other weather emergency radios. The RunningSnail solar radio upgraded to 4000mAH replaceable 18650 Li-ion battery which is found in every household and easy to purchase.

The MD-090P also provides the most powerful lighting functions in an emergency. Included is a user-friendly design with super-bright 3 mode flashlight to provide ample light in the darkness. You can choose the far beam mode, dipped beam mode or the far and dipped mode.

The flashlight can be seen past 20 meters. When the reading lamp is switched to ‘auto’, it also has a motion sensor that turns on automatically when motion is detected and turns off after 30 seconds to avoid disturbing anyone in the middle of the night. In case of emergency, there is also a red flashing SOS alarm light that activates on the radio.

If you have a power outage, there is no need to worry about powering up this radio. It has 4 different ways to generate power. You can charge via hand crank or solar charging. It also has micro-USB cable charging capabilities. In addition, the radio can also power up using the replaceable 18650 Li-ion battery.

The RunningSnail can also power small portable devices such as smartphones via the USB cable. But, using the USB charging capabilities may drain the radio power faster.

Lastly, the MD-090P model has everything you could want in a weather radio.  With 7 NOAA channels, 4 ways to recharge the battery, many flashlight options and SOS signal – the RunningSnail is a dependable little power source in emergency situations.  This model is water-resistant and comes in 2 color options.

Specifications

  • AM/FM/NOAA radio capabilities
  • 7 NOAA channels
  • Solar, crank, USB, Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • 4000mAh power bank (18650 Li-ion battery)
  • Charges more than one smartphone
  • 3 flashlight modes & reading lamp
  • Motion sensor light
  • SOS flashing light alarm
  • Water resistant
  • 2 colors

RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Self Powered Radio

Another RunningSnail addition to this weather radio review list, the upgraded new hand crank model is a simplified version of a weather radio. This is not an all-in-one system but it is geared for those who don’t want all the extra bells and whistles.

This MD-088 model receives AM, FM and 7 NOAA weather channels pre-set into the unit so users may receive emergency weather information as simple as touching a button on this simple radio.

In addition, this radio has a 1000 mAH power bank that you can use for charging your cellphone using a micro-USB cable directly into the radio. With the new model, you don’t need an adapter.

In comparison to other weather radios, this model is relatively small and stylish. The RunningSnail model has a compact sized flashlight radio with 1W longer lasting LED to keep you safe in case there is a power outage.  It is also IPX3 water-resistant and has 3 color options to choose from. 

Lastly, the radio can be charged 3 different ways – micro USB charging, solar charging and manual hand crank wind up to charge the internal battery.

Keep in mind, however, that this is a basic weather radio. Therefore, it does not have PEAS, SAME, or external jacks for other devices.

Specifications

  • AM/FM Radio capabilities
  • 7 pre-set NOAA weather channels
  • LED flashlight
  • 1000 mAH power bank
  • Compact design
  • IPX3 Water-resistant
  • 3 rechargeable power source (Micro USB, Solar & hand crank)
  • 3 colors

Conclusion

Everyone needs a reliable weather radio, even more so for residents who live in areas with frequent severe weather conditions. However, the “best weather radio” may depend on individual needs.

In general, NOAA weather alert radios are better than simple weather radios, but people with special needs may also need additional alert capabilities such as those offered by Midland’s WR120/WR120EZ model.

Other special features like flashlights depend on how much you would want your emergency supplies tied to the emergency weather radio. However, as long as the radio has access to NOAA weather broadcasts, everything else is a matter of preference.