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Best weather radio 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated May 1, 2019
Best weather radio of 2018
You can make a choice based on the my list as you shop. If you’re scouring the market for the best weather radio, you’d better have the right info before spending your money.
I review the three best weather radio on the market at the moment. There’s a product for every kind of user on the list of affordable options below.
Test Results and Ratings
Why did this weather radio win the first place?
I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I also liked the delivery service that was fast and quick to react. It was delivered on the third day.
Why did this weather radio come in second place?
The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made.
Why did this weather radio take third place?
I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers.
weather radio Buyer’s Guide
NWR All Hazards or Public Alert logo
One or both of these logos are important to look for when you are shopping for a weather radio. Weather radios with either of these logos are up to the standards of operation set by the National Weather Service. Radios that do not include these logos may not be as high in quality.
SAME stands for “Specific Area Message Encoding.” This technology allows you to receive local alerts. The majority of NOAA broadcasts cover a large geographic area. Sometimes all you want to know is what is going on near you. You don’t necessarily care what is going on several states away. Again, some radios allow you to opt to only receive certain alerts, ignoring those which are not applicable to you.
Audio alerts and flashing lights
The best weather radios will give you some kind of audible and/or visual signal when there is a report. This could be a tone, or it could take the form of flashing lights. Many units are equipped with both capabilities. Look for a model that includes a large, clear, backlit LCD display. That way you can read what is going on at a glance.
The majority of simple weather radios are designed to operate on AC power and/or batteries and no other power options. Some weather radios do include additional options, however, especially the portable models. You may for example be able to use a hand crank to power up the device. More often, these additional power options (as well as device charging options) are included in devices known as “emergency radios.” If you live in an area which is prone to power cuts, you may wish to consider an emergency radio instead of a simple weather alert radio.
Some weather radios are waterproof (or at least water-resistant). When should you consider a waterproof model? This is a good feature if you want to install your device in the shower (this is more common than you might realize). Waterproofing is also important for portable models you intend to take hiking or boating. Also consider it if you live in an area which receives a lot of heavy rain and flooding.
After 1hours of research, considering dozens of emergency weather radios and testing eight popular models, we’re confident the Midland ER2is the best choice for most people. It has better reception, a brighter flashlight, and more-effective charging options than the other models we tested, including the ability to charge from dead by solar power or hand-cranking.
Larger and longer-lasting than our pick
The ER210’s larger cousin, the Midland ER3is a great upgrade if you want a heftier build with a larger battery to match. It gets 1hours of radio between charges compared with six hours for the smaller ER2The ER3also makes a great base station for your campsite—it’s bright, loud, and large enough that it shouldn’t blow away in a storm. There’s also an ultrasonic dog whistle to help search-and-rescue teams find you if things get really hairy. Besides portability, the only downside compared with the smaller ER2is that the crank generator gets only about minutes of power from one minute of cranking, but this is mitigated by its longer-lasting battery.
Who should get this
Weather radios are an essential part of any emergency survival kit, and even if you don’t live in an area that’s particularly prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters, being prepared is still a good idea. Those of you who are accustomed to inclimate conditions might already have a desktop radio with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) to alert you in the case of an impending storm, but if you’re looking for a reliable battery-operated alternative to get you through a blackout or worse, a battery-powered, waterproof weather radio is ideal. That blaring flash-flood warning on your phone won’t help if your phone is out of service or out of battery.
A good weather radio does more than just warn about a coming storm, however. During a power outage, transit, or some other unexpected scenario, it can also provide power for your phone and other devices, as well as a flashlight. Most weather radios pick up AM/FM radio as well, so it will also come in handy if you want some portable entertainment that doubles as a backup battery on your next camping trip (and you won’t have to worry about your streaming data or LTE reception).
How we picked
Every model we tested. Left column (top to bottom): CompassCulture Weather Radio, Epica Emergency Radio, Sangean MMR-8Center column: Eton/Red Cross FRX-3, Kaito KA-500. Right column: RunningSnail Weather Radio, Midland ER210, Midland ER310.
Ability to receive signals from NOAA’s Weather Radio All Hazards, a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. The signal covers all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and US Pacific Territories, and is much more reliable than standard AM/FM radio or cell service.
The ability to receive dedicated weather alerts from NOAA’s Emergency Alert System is also important if you live in a tornado- or flash-flood-prone area. These messages, which are broadcast over the weather-band frequencies, automatically turn the radio into a siren of flashing lights and sounds to warn of upcoming storms or other crucial information that could affect the general area. There are also hyper-specific Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) alerts, which require you to manually program your location and then transmit a series of codes that are relevant to only that exact position (SAME-enabled radios tend to be stationary, rather than portable). It’s not a total dealbreaker if your radio can’t pick up either of these alert signals, as long as it still gets the main NOAA signal. But it does mean you will have to remember to turn it on in anticipation of inclement weather. This is primarily an issue for people in tornado- or flood-prone areas where sudden weather events are more of a concern, but it’s a good peace-of-mind feature to have regardless of your geographic location.
Multiple charging options and a reliable battery are crucial in an emergency situation. A pair of AA batteries alone won’t get you through a serious storm (neither will a USB wall charger), so we looked for models with solar panels and/or hand-cranked generators. If a radio can use the solar panels or hand crank to charge from dead, that’s even better.
Additional features like a flashlight or the ability to charge your phone are helpful as well. Especially if you can charge your phone by crank.
After considering all these factors, we ended up testing eight different models: the Compass Culture Weather Radio, Epica Emergency Radio, Eton/Red Cross FRX-3, Kaito KA-500, Midland ER310, Midland ER210, RunningSnail Weather Radio, and Sangean MMR-88.
One minute of cranking provided more than 4minutes of radio, and nearly a half hour of flashlight power.
When the ER210’s siren sounds and the lights begin flashing, you can press any button to switch to your favorite (preprogrammed) NOAA weather channel to give you the news. If you fail to turn on the radio before a minute goes by, the weather memory indicator will flash every five seconds to let you know that an alert has been issued. So even if you’re out of the house when the alarm goes off, you’ll still know that some ugly conditions are headed your way once you get home.
In our initial tests, the Midland ER2easily overpowered every other radio’s alert, with the exception of the ER310, which is made with similar components. Even when the models were placed outside, the ER2and ER3still made it clear that there was some kind of emergency. Meanwhile every other alert just sounded like a distant, unplaceable beeping. At one point after initial testing, I neglected to turn off the weather alert feature and was greeted by a real-life tornado warning from the ER2while I was on the phone with my insurance company. Trust me, it’s loud—or if you don’t trust me, you can ask Tara at UnitedHealthcare customer service for her thoughts.
The ER2also has all the power and charging options we were looking for. It operates on a replaceable, rechargeable 2,600 mAh lithium-ion battery pack that you can juice up via the built-in hand crank, top-mounted solar panel, or Micro-USB port. The solar panels charge automatically as long as the radio is in the path of sunlight. They also function even when it’s totally dead; as soon it shut off, it began to charge itself again. The ER-2was also one of the only models we tested that actually delivered on the power of its crank charge as advertised: One minute of cranking provided more than 4minutes of radio, and nearly a half hour of flashlight power (although the cranking sound of the internal hand generator at work is a little loud and annoying).
The ER2(left) is smaller and easier to hold than the ER310.
Weather radios come in many shapes and sizes, and at 2¾ by by 6½ inches, the ER2fits comfortably into most people’s hands without feeling overly awkward; by comparison, the ER3feels like a commitment to carry, and the crossbars on the Eton/Red Cross FRXare too small and rigid for some hands to fit through. Several other models we tested came with canvas straps, which were also fine, but we still preferred the size, comfort, and durability of the ER210’s plastic handle.
The ER210’s handle also held up well in our drop test, especially compared with the Epica Emergency Radio’s handle, which shattered after a tumble to the sidewalk. By contrast, the ER2emerged unscathed from both our drop tests and our water-resilience tests, with a few barely noticeable scratches to show for it. This made it among the sturdiest models we tested. Should anything go awry with the hardware, Midland offers a one-year limited warranty.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Nearly every other weather radio we tested could last for upwards of 1hours with the flashlight and radio on full blast—but the ER2ran for only about six hours. This shouldn’t be a problem for most people, however, because you’re not likely to use both features nonstop until the power drops. You should be fine if you’re mindful of how much energy you’re using at any given time. Although, again, the plentiful and effective charging options mitigate this in most scenarios.
The CompassCulture Weather Radio is physically identical to our runner-up pick, the RunningSnail, with a red case instead of a green one. However, the battery didn’t last as long after charging from dead with the solar panel or the hand crank; we tried three times to replicate the results, and it failed each time. Still, if the RunningSnail isn’t available, the CompassCulture would make an adequate replacement.
As a company, Sangean is known first and foremost for its radios. So it’s no surprise that the audio quality on the Sangean MMR-8was vastly superior to anything else we tested. But most people looking to buy a weather radio aren’t too concerned with crisp tones and solid bass response. For some reason, the digital radio tuner also went up by single digits, even though there are no even-numbered FM stations. The controls were surprisingly counterintuitive, and the crank charge was essentially useless.
The Kaito KA-500 has a great reading light that’s similar to the RunningSnail’s, and the manual tuning is split into separate bands for AM/FM and NOAA, so you can have two different presets, depending on your needs. But it’s clumsily designed, with too many button/switch options to keep track of, and too many crevices on the radio and solar panel for water to seep under. Plus, the battery life was terrible, even on the “energy-saving” standby mode. After three minutes of hand-cranking, it lasted only 30 minutes on standby, even though it was under direct sunlight the whole time.
Radios over £150 are top-of-the-range models with amazing state-of-the-art features. For this price you can expect WiFi connectivity, DAB+, crisp sound quality and quality engineering. You can also buy radios like the Pure Evoke C-Fand the Roberts Blutune100 (pictured below), that function as a DAB radio, wireless speakers, and CD player.
As weather radio coverage and awareness has expanded over the years, enterprising companies have produced various receivers designed specifically to provide weather radio information to everyone from the simply curious to those who are in critical need of emergency weather information; such as those facing an imminent hurricane or tornado strike. These receivers range from the very simple to the fairly elaborate and below we’re going to review what we believe to be the best weather station radios on the market today.
SAME: The SAME protocol is designed and used to encode NOAA’s weather radio alerts and give listeners in a specific area unambiguous warnings of a weather-related threat.
Channels: The more weather channels the weather radio device can pick up, the better. In addition, many weather radios provide the option to listen to standard AM/FM radio.
Alerts: This automatic feature allows your device to go off whenever a weather alert has been issued for your area. Without this feature a weather radio in a high risk area isn’t worth much.
Notifications: In many cases you need to know more than the fact that there is adverse weather on the way. You need to know about evacuation orders and if there are road or other closures.
Antenna: If you live in a high risk area you’ll want to be sure your weather radio either has a decent antenna or contains a port where you can plug one in.
Build quality: If you plan on using your weather radio outdoors then you’ll want to be sure your weather radio is built to survive whatever Mother Nature may throw at it.
Most major retailers sell different kinds of weather radios that are equipped with different abilities and features. You have to be careful which kind you purchase—there are still a good number of radios out there that only offer weather band, letting you listen to the feed, but not receive individual alerts for your county.
The biggest complaint people have about weather radios is that they go off for “every little thing,” so they disable them or return them to the store. If it’s that much of an issue, spring the extra few bucks and get one of the higher-end devices. Your safety is well worth the money.
As I found out a couple of months ago, many of our dear readers angrily swear by these sirens because they saved their second-cousin’s grandma’s ex-husband’s niece back in the great outbreak of 19whatever. Fine. Just recognize that they’re not designed for you to hear them in your living room, and they’re even less effective if you’re asleep or there’s something that prevents the audio from reaching you (wind blowing the wrong way, television or music drowning out the sound, a loud thunderstorm, the sound of debris raining down on your house).
If you’re hellbent on relying on tornado sirens, at least buy a weather radio as a backup.
Let’s not forget our friends up north. Weather radios that work here in the United States will also work in Canada thanks to cooperation between the National Weather Service and Environment Canada. The latter has assigned SAME codes to counties across the country—and tuned their weather radio signals to the same seven frequencies we use here in the U.S.—allowing Canadians to purchase these devices and use them for severe weather just as we do.
A good camping radio can ensure an enjoyable and safe camping experience.
Buying the best camping radio is very subjective to one’s needs. The family camper’s needs are vastly different than that of a serious survivalist who needs a hardcore emergency radio and there are makes and models to serve every camper’s needs. There are some factors that every camper must consider before they purchase the best radio for their needs.
Power requirements are probably the most important factor for any camping or emergency radio.
It obviously goes without saying that a camping radio must be able to run on batteries and must be conservative on power usage. Most modern radio’s sip power if it’s not loaded with a host of functions and should really be lasting a weekend on battery power alone (think around 25-30 hours).
However if you are buying a radio for the outdoors, you will be silly not to look for a unit with additional power source capabilities.
AC-adapter/Car charger: There are very few camping radios that do not have a built in AC charger port. Although your campsite might not have power, a car charger or solar panel will keep the music or weather report alive.
Solar power: Camping and emergency radios are very efficient on power and if you have a built-in solar panel your radio will be charged for continuous use. We have found that having a radio with a built-in solar panel is one of our musts in buying a unit. Not having to consider battery supplies or conservative usage of the radio is a major factor for us.
Crank/Dynamo radios: It’s very common to find a crank on any emergency radio. This is obviously a very handy feature and is great for redundancy. Keep in mind however that it takes a fair bit of cranking for the dynamo to charge the battery for usage. Although the models differ greatly on this, it’s fair to say that minutes of cranking will provide 4-minutes of usage on low volume.
As you can imagine cranking the night away to listen to music is not ever going to work and will only be for emergency situations.
This budget radio comes with all the necessary functions at a low cost.It’s a compact radio that can run on batteries, AC power, solar power or charge via the crank handle. min of cranking will deliver min of play time, 30min of flashlight or 5min of talk time for your cell phone. It’s got a build-in micro-USB cellphone charger, a bright LED flashlight and is NOAA weather radio enabled.
Eton FRX 3
Eton is a high-end manufacturer of solar and emergency radios and it won’t be the only time you see their name on the list.
The Eton FRX ticks all the boxes for a great camping radio. It’s able to accept all power sources ( batteries, AC,crank and solar). Tests have shown that minutes of cranking can deliver up to 1minutes of operation. It’s NOAA/S.A.M.E. enabled and have a built-in bright LED light.
To top it off as a great survival radio it has a morse location beacon and a high-pitch alert for others to find you. This radio is also sold under a Red Cross label, whereby donations go to them.
This is the multi-tool of camping radios.This palm-sized unit comes with a host of features.It’s rubberised outer shell makes it splash proof and it is completely solar powered for up to 30 hours of usage. It’s got a built in flashlight with an altimeter, a barometer and even a bottle opener. With an installed Carabiner clip you can attach it to outside of your pack to continuously charge it. It also has a built-in USB port to charge other devices. The Eton Scorpion is the slightly less tricked out radio, however it does have a crank handle for emergency power.
The most important and basic feature of a weather radio is its capability to tune in to weather bands. Thankfully, all three radios are emergency-ready in this respect.
As a bonus, they can provide AM and FM entertainment as well for everyday use.
Of the three weather radios, only C. Crane Pocket Weather Radio is not built with a hand-cranking mechanism, which is very useful especially during power outages. If you can store some batteries though, it will provide trusty weather information and help pull you through a tough time.
Depending on what you are looking for, either Kozo or C. Crane wins in this department. As an emergency weather radio, Kozo has the most useful add-ons.
Aside from the radio reception, it is engineered with a power bank, a flashlight, a distress red light, and a siren; whereas, ELECLOVER only has a 60-lumen flashlight and a 1000mAh power bank.
Compared to C. Crane, which is basically used as a weather radio, the other two will do more than just provide you access to weather reports.
C. Crane’s Pocket Weather Radio is almost the triple price of the either ELECLOVER Portable Dynamo Weather Radio or Kozo Emergency Weather Radio. Being more of a transistor radio than an emergency radio in terms of its added features, you might need to seriously evaluate why you’re getting C. Crane’s.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your weather radio wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of weather radio
- №1 — Real NOAA Alert Weather Radio with Alarm
- №2 — Midland WR120/WR120EZ NOAA Weather Alert All Hazard Public Alert Certified Radio with SAME
- №3 — Midland ER-210 Emergency Weather Alert Radio