Our Top Picks
- Kaito KA500 Voyager Emergency Weather Radio – Best AM, FM, Weather Radio
- RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Solar Powered Weather Radio
- Midland ER310 Emergency Solar Powered Weather Radio – Our Top Pick
- Sangean MMR-88 Solar Powered Radio
- RunningSnail Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio MD-090P – Best Value
- FosPower Emergency Solar Portable Radio
There are many reasons you might need a solar radio. Maybe you live in an area that gets a lot of severe weather or natural disasters, and you want to create an emergency preparedness kit. Perhaps you enjoy camping, hiking, or backpacking, and you want to add a solar power radio to your gear. It is great to have one in emergencies. Whatever reason you need a radio, we know you will find a great product that fits all of your needs.
Buying solar over strict battery-powered is the more cost-effective choice for you and your family. Solar-powered radios have come a long way and provide a variety of features. Alongside an array of features is the combination of power sources. You don’t have to rely solely on solar power. We have compiled a list of the top six best solar radios for your consideration. We will look at the features and the details you need to choose the best solar radio.
Our List of the 5 Best Solar Radios of 2020
Kaito KA500 Voyager Emergency Weather Radio
One of the best solar radios for emergencies, the Kaito KA500 Voyager Emergency Radio, can be charged in five different ways. The emergency radio charges with a micro USB cable or a USB DC output port. Three AA batteries will power it in case of an emergency. The fourth way to power it is with a durable solar panel that rotates 180 degrees to reach ultimate sun exposure. It has the best solar panel because of its moveability. If all else fails, the Voyager is also hand-cranked.
The Kaito KA500 has thorough coverage of FM, AM, shortwave, and pre-programmed with 7 NOAA weather channels. NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Equipped with a 14.5-inch antenna, this solar radio has an apparent reception. Alert mode will notify you in the case of an emergency and weather alerts, which is a feature that sets this product apart from other emergency products. Armed with additional features, the Voyager can act as a power bank for your other electronic devices. It has a flashlight, a reading lamp, an LED light, and a flashing red light.
Kaito radios are outstanding radios, and the KA500 is the best AM, FM, weather radio on our list. It is the best radio for emergencies. We love it because it is versatile, durable, and portable. The durability makes the Kaito KA500 water-resistant and impact-resistant. The versatility makes it perfect for outdoor situations, weather emergencies, or power outages. Made from a high-quality ABS material, the many powering options allow you to power through any case. The hand crank will allow you to generate your electricity to stay informed. The KA500 comes at a very affordable price and is highly rated. The charge lasts a long time, and if you have to use one of the other ways of power, those will stay a long time as well. We love that you can charge electrical devices that plug into a USB port with this device. It will help keep phones charged. The flashlight is plenty bright enough and will help you see when storms knock out the power.
This product is a closer runner to our top pick because of the multiple charging options. You can get power from various sources and get notified of weather updates at the same time. One downfall of this product deals with the company. It seems they don’t have an excellent quality control department, and radios can be sent out defective or damaged.
Despite this downfall, this product is still highly-rated, and it does everything it claims to do.
- five ways to charge
- 180-degree rotation on solar panel
- some lastingness issues
- some quality control issues
RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Solar Powered Weather Radio
The RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Solar Radio allows you to stay up-to-date with essential information during natural disasters and emergencies. It is compact and is a great survival tool. Like the Kaito KA500, this solar hand crank radio has NOAA weather channels and AM/FM stations. You can easily adjust the tune of the FM stations and AM stations. This upgraded emergency weather radio includes a new design, brighter flashlight, and three charging options.
It can also be powered by USB charging, using the hand crank or the solar panel. The battery has a capacity of 1000 mAH. This will give you almost 6 hours of light from the LED flashlight or two-three hours of radio time when fully charged. A micro USB port will allow you to charge your device or use it as a power source for your smartphone.
One of the most basic designs on our list, this RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Solar Weather Radio comes with a worry-free 12-month warranty. RunningSnail provides friendly customer service. We love this radio because of its compact design that is more than just a radio. The 1 W LED, a bright flashlight, is useful during emergencies, camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. The solar power option means it can charge while you are outside doing other things. Although this product is basic, you will be satisfied with the purchase of this emergency radio.
One of the aspects of this device that we are not crazy about is its durability. There is no information on whether it is weatherproof or resistant. However, the RunningSnail is excellent for people on the go, enjoying nature; just keep it protected. Stay up-to-date on the weather while you are hiking the Grand Canyon or backpacking through the Grand Tetons. This device is a mini-portable radio, LED flashlight, and charger all rolled up in a compact design that saves space and weight.
- 12-month warranty
- Three power sources
- Usable as a Power Bank for devices
- Compact, space saver
- Poor switch quality
- Lacks durability
Midland ER310 Emergency Solar Powered Weather Radio
The best solar radio available is the Midland ER310, as it provides numerous features to help in a natural disaster. Whether it is a tornado, earthquake, flood, or hurricane, you will be able to get weather updates from this emergency radio. The features included in the Midland ER310 are an SOS emergency flashlight, ultrasonic dog whistle, NOAA weather scan, and NOAA weather alerts. Powered by multiple power sources, this hand-crank emergency radio has 7 NOAA weather channels pre-programmed, which will alert you in a natural disaster. It will also sound an alarm if there is an NOAA weather alert in your area. It has a unique feature called NOAA weather scan plus alert that will automatically scan and search for the NOAA station with the clearest reception. This is very important during a natural disaster caused by weather. Also available on this weather radio is AM/FM stations. You can tune to these stations with large buttons on the front of the radio. This emergency weather radio has many other features that make it so much more than an emergency weather radio.
Installed in the radio is a 2600 mAH lithium-ion battery that has three charging methods. First, you can recharge your radio using the solar panel. You can also use the hand crank. Before an emergency, you can charge the battery using a USB port. Six AA batteries can also power the radio as a backup. If your radio receives a full charge, you will be able to listen to the radio for 32 hours.
This is one of the best solar radios because of the led flashlight that is on it. The emergency flashlight is bright, coming in at 130 Lumens with two brightness settings. It will also flash in the SOS morse code in case of an emergency. We love the LCD screen to tell you what station you are listening to and notify you of the battery level. A unique feature of this radio is the ultrasonic dog whistle. When activated, it will assist search and rescue teams of your location. This is an excellent feature if you are looking for an emergency radio to put in your survival kit.
This radio made the best solar-powered emergency radios because of its enormous battery capacity. If you are looking for a radio with massive battery life, this is the emergency radio for you. The large battery capacity also allows you to use it as a power bank. Plug your mobile devices in with a USB cable, and your gadgets will become fully charged. This high-quality product makes it the best solar emergency radio with the largest lithium-ion battery capacity. Our top pick, the Midland ER310, is a great, reliable product ready for any emergency.
- Massive Battery Capacity
- ultrasonic dog whistle
- SOS alarm
- 32 hours fully charged
- Can have spotty signal
- Insufficient solar charge on cloudy days
Sangean MMR-88 Solar Powered Radio
Rugged, durable, versatile, the Sangean MMR-88 is a Public Alert Certified Radio that will alert you of severe weather updates. Similar to the Midland ER310, the Sangean MMR-88 has three charging options. Quickly charge the 850 mAH lithium-ion battery with the hand crank, USB cable, or the solar panel on top of the radio. Unlike the Kaito KA500, it does not have a solar panel that can rotate, so charging works best when the sun is high in the sky. Other features for this solar-powered radio include a built-in LED flashlight useful as a reading lamp and an emergency buzzer that you can turn on in case of an emergency that will allow people around you to find you.
The bright LCD screen will help you tune to the digital AM/FM stations as well as 7 NOAA stations. Available with 19 pre-set radio channels, it is USB A and Micro B compatible. The LED flashlight has multiple modes. These modes include hi, low, blinking, SOS Morse Code, and emergency buzzer. There is a built-in clock that has an optional sleep mode after 90 minutes of radio time. Don’t want everyone to hear your jams? There is a headphone jack as well.
If you are looking for an emergency weather radio that will give you a sense of safety, this is it. Although it can not act as a power bank because the battery is so small, it will notify you of weather updates because it receives the public certified radio alerts broadcasted during a natural disaster. It doesn’t have as many charging options as the Kaito KA500. However, it is still one of the best solar powered emergency weather radios on the market and for a great price. This product would be a great addition to your camping gear or emergency preparedness kit.
- 0-30 volume setting
- Retractable antenna
- 10 hours of power in AM mode
- small battery capacity
- not ideal for use as a power bank
RunningSnail Solar Crank NO AA Weather Radio MD-090P
The RunningSnail Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio is the big brother to The RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Solar Radio. It offers more battery capacity than the hand crank and is available in two colors. The battery used to be capable of being a 2000mAH power bank. The 2000mAH would give you 12 hours of light or 4-6 hours of radio time. However, RunningSnail has upgraded this model for 2020 after customer’s feedback on the old model. Now the battery has a massive capacity of 4000 mAH. The 4000mAH is useful as a power bank to charge more than one smartphone at a time. So now, instead of having to carry multiple devices for charging multiple phones, you can simply take the RunningSnail and be able to charge those numerous devices.
An SOS Alarm flashes a red light so someone can find you in case of an emergency. Three charging methods will allow you to recharge the lithium-ion battery. Like other devices on this best solar radio list, you can recharge the battery using the hand crank, solar panel, or micro USB cable. The solar panel does rotate up to get the best angle from the sun. One of the best features is switching from powering the emergency radio with the lithium-ion battery to powering it with three aaa batteries.
One of our favorite features of this emergency weather radio is the motion sensor reading lamp. You can use this lamp in case of an emergency without waking your family. Camping with your family and have to get up in the middle of the night? The lamp will be dimmer and allow you to make your way to the tent door without shining the bright 1W LED flashlight in your family member’s eyes. The 1 W flashlight shines brightly from the radio’s end with three modes of brightness. We love that it has four charging methods and that the lithium-ion battery is replaceable. The biggest downfall of this product is that it does not alert in the case of emergency weather. You have the ability to tune in to AM/FM/WB stations, which you can turn the weather channels to listen to the NOAA weather stations, but it will not alert with weather updates. If you are looking for that feature in a solar-powered radio, you should keep looking.
This device provides an excellent, crisp sound and has a long radio time. The solar panel is very efficient and can quickly rotate any time maximum sun exposure. It is the best value for your money. This product is available for an affordable price, and it is worth every dime.
- Huge battery life
- crisp sound
- rotating solar panel
- difficult to tune
FosPower Emergency Solar Portable Radio
With many of the same features as other radios on this list, the FosPower Emergency has three ways to power it anytime, anywhere. The three sources for the FosPower are three AAA batteries, a solar panel, and a hand crank. Once the AAA batteries die, the panel and hand crank will recharge the batteries so you can have power whenever you need it. The integrated, 4000 mAH power bank will keep other devices powered in an emergency. Other features include a 1W LED flashlight with zoom capabilities, an SOS alarm, 2 LED lights, and radio broadcast access. It gives the user dependable access to NOAA weather broadcasts. The 2 LED lights include a reading light and a flashlight for lighting in any emergency.
The aspect we love the most about the FosPower is the rain-resistant rugged shell. It is waterproof and withstands being in the rain. It is drop resistant as well, so if you drop it or it falls out of your bag while hiking, no need to worry. This feature makes it ideal for outdoor gear. We also love that it comes with a limited lifetime warranty, and you get up to the second emergency weather forecasts and news broadcasts from NOAA and other stations. It is very user-friendly and easy to operate. FosPower is often a brand picked by many people looking for a solar-powered radio. Reliability and high-quality make this product highly rated.
This device does not rely on electricity to be powered. You can not plug it into the wall and use it. You don’t even use electricity to charge it. It will only run off of three AAA batteries, solar power, or a hand crank. This inability to use electricity makes it great for the outdoorsman or even your recreational vehicle. Having a solar-powered radio in your RV is ideal for emergencies.
Like the KA500, the FosPower has some longevity issues. Some customers were not impressed with their device’s life span. However, if you want a solar-powered radio to be your lifeline during a natural disaster, the FosPower won’t let you down. It is excellent for hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and blizzards.
If you are looking for a radio to take to the beach or the swimming pool, this one fits the bill, because it is waterproof, you don’t have to worry about dripping on it or getting splashed. You can also charge your phone while you are enjoying the water.
Check the price on Amazon
Our Solar Radio Top Pick
We love all of these solar emergency radios for one reason or another. If we had to answer the question, “what is the best radio for emergencies” we would choose the Midland ER310 Emergency Solar Powered Weather Radio. It is also the best NOAA radio because it has the NOAA weather scan plus alert system, which automatically scans and searches for the most transparent NOAA weather stations. It will also send out an NOAA weather alert when needed. In addition to these reasons, it is our top pick because of its massive battery capacity, reliability, and high-quality material. The hand-cranking is smooth, and the hand crank is durable. It will outshine the RunningSnail Emergency Hank Crank and offer weather alerts, unlike the RunningSnail Solar Crank. It provides the same number of charging methods as most of the solar radios. Overall, the Midland Er310 is a great product and our top pick.
Benefits of Solar Radios
A solar radio is beneficial in many ways. Whether you want your radio to be an emergency radio or a radio added to your outdoor gear, you can benefit from purchasing a solar radio. Let’s look at the benefits if you were to use your solar radio as an emergency radio.
To use a radio in emergencies can be the difference between life or death. All of the solar radios on this list are good emergency radios. Most of them have the 7 NOAA channels preprogrammed for weather updates and alerts. The weather channels would tell you to take cover in the event of a natural disaster. The features on the emergency radios are beneficial as well. They will allow you to use them as a power bank to charge devices, so 911 can be called if needed. They may also have an SOS alarm to help locate you as well as a flashlight in case of a power outage. The LED flashlights will shine brightly. The best benefit of all for these solar radios is the ability to have multiple power sources to keep the radio working whenever needed.
If you were looking at using your solar radio to add to your outdoor gear, there are many benefits. Besides the advantage of using it as an emergency radio, the solar radio will work as a radio so you can listen to your favorite songs while enjoying the outdoors. You can have almost 12 hours of radio time on most of these solar radios. You can use most of them as a power bank to keep other gear charged like mobile devices or cameras. The led flashlight will guide your way in the dark, and the weather channels will notify you of emergency weather.
Owning a solar radio has many benefits, and it comes down to the purpose you have for the solar radio. The benefits come from the plethora of features each radio provides.
How to Choose the Best Solar Radio
The most important thing to do before choosing the best solar radio for you is to determine why you need one. What purpose will the solar radio have? Will it be an emergency radio for an emergency weather preparedness kit? Will it be added to your outdoor gear for use on hikes, camping trips, or backpacking trips? Do you want them to last a long time, or are they only going to be used for special occasions? Once you have seriously considered the purpose of your solar radio, all other choices will be easy. Choosing additional features will help you get the best radio.
Some key features you will want to consider while choosing the best solar radio are:
All of these radios have multiple powers sources that can power the radio. When choosing the best radio, think about where you will use the radio. If you have access to electricity, you will want a radio with a lithium-ion battery charged with a USB cable charger. An excellent backup power source is batteries you can purchase at the store. Some radios will take AA batteries, and others will take AAA batteries. If you plan to put your radio in an emergency preparedness kit, be sure to add in some extra batteries.
Another common power source for a solar-powered radio is a hand crank. You can power the crank radio through hand cranking the hand crank on the radio. Hand cranking can get tiresome, and durability can be an issue with the hand crank. However, hand cranking your radio is better than not having a radio.
The solar panel on the radio is another to power your emergency radio. It is a very efficient way to charge the radio. The solar panels are essential if you are going to be adding it to your outdoor gear. You can charge the radio while listening to the radio or using it as a power bank. Some solar panels will rotate for optimal sun exposure, so be sure to look for this feature when buying a solar-powered radio.
Whether you want all of the power sources or just a solar panel radio, it is vital to make sure your device has a full charge. Using AA or AAA batteries will help keep it fully charged and plugging it into the way to charge the built-in battery. It will hard to get a full charge from using the hand crank, and you will probably not get 12 hours of radio time, but some weather updates using the hand crank will be beneficial in case of an emergency.
A flashlight is essential in both an emergency preparedness kit and outdoor gear designed for hiking, camping, and backpacking. The radios on this list have built-in flashlights to help lighten your load. The hand crank, AAA batteries, solar panel, and lithium-ion battery will power the radio’s flashlight. An LED flashlight will be brighter and will use less energy than other flashlights. We recommend getting an LED flashlight for emergencies because you can see them further away, making it easier to find you when lost on a backpacking or hiking trip. Several radios also have reading lights that will allow you to read when it gets dark, and these will not be as bright, so you don’t disturb those around you. These reading lamps usually are not LED bulbs.
Many of these solar-powered radios will also act as emergency radios or weather radios. Having these radios powered through solar power will help ensure you get the proper alerts. A weather alert is commonly released by NOAA to notify people in the area of severe weather. These notifications can save lives, especially when it comes to tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, and severe thunderstorms. A product that has weather alerts may be essential for your emergency kit.
Another type of alert you may look for is an SOS alarm. The SOS alarm will help notify rescuers of your location. It can take many different forms, including the flashing of red light from the flashlight, or the LED flashlight might have a morse code setting. This alert is to be used by you in case of an emergency. An SOS alarm is a feature you should consider no matter the purpose behind your purchase.
There are three common radio sources on a solar power radio. These modes are AM, FM, and WB (weather broadcasting). The seven NOAA stations come preprogrammed on many of these radios, a great, necessary feature for your emergency kit. When waiting out bad weather or just sitting enjoying the beautiful nature around you, you may want to listen to local stations. Some of the radios on this list could give you up to 12 hours of radio time.
Another aspect to consider when looking at purchasing a solar radio is working time. Each one has various working time. As mentioned, some radios will give you a listening time of 12 hours while others only 6-8 hours—adding more features used at one time will change the working time. For example, if you are using it as a power bank and listening to music, you will not get as much working time. If you are using the LED flashlight and listening to music or weather channels, you will not get as much working time. Using the hand crank to power, your gadget will significantly diminish your working time. Most solar power radios will charge with their solar panels while using it in the sun.
What is a Hand Crank Radio?
The hand-cranked radio is a product that can be powered by a hand crank. Two sources generally power a solar hand-crank radio. The first is solar energy conversion. Like other solar devices, placing your device in proper sunlight will charge the batteries inside. The solar cells receive the sunlight and convert it to the energy that will power the batteries. When the batteries charge, they will power your solar radio. Placing the solar panels in more direct, more intense sunlight will power your batteries quicker for quicker charge time.
The second way a solar hand crank radio works is by using dynamo. As an electrical machine, the dynamo will convert energy by using your force. You use your hand to spin the hand crank, which will turn the rotor and produces DC electricity. This electricity will power your battery. It is a beneficial feature if you do not have a power source or sunlight, but it can be inefficient and will not get a long working time. The LED flashlight maybe dimmer when running on hand crank power.
What are the Most Trusted Solar Radio Brands?
With hundreds of solar radio brands on the market, it can be hard to determine which brands are the greatest. Not all of them are durable, reliable, or trustworthy. We suggest the brands that made it on our best list. We love RunningSnail and Midland as well. FosPower is a trusted brand, and Kaito makes good radios that are durable and rugged. These brands pre-program their products with NOAA stations and are efficient emergency radios.
How to Choose a Reliable Emergency Radio
If you are looking to purchase a solar radio for an emergency kit, you need to know how to choose a reliable product. With hundreds of products on the market for an emergency, it can be hard to narrow down a reliable emergency device. They come in so many different sizes, shapes, prices, and with so many features. Here are a few things to consider when buying an emergency radio.
If you are looking at purchasing a radio strictly for an emergency, stick to the basics. You want a product that will deliver NOAA alerts. Look for one with AM and FM modes as AM frequencies send NOAA alerts, but you can get more local information using FM stations. AM has a more extended range in case power is knocked out around you, and you need to get information from a more distant source.
Look for a radio with either a “Public Alert” and/or an “NOAA” logo. Developed with the help of NOAA and National Weather Service, these two entities are often competitors. If the device has a “Public Alert” sticker, that means it meets specific technical components. These components will allow specific alerts and a tone before the warning comes through.
Multiple Power Sources
As we mentioned, when purchasing a reliable emergency radio, make sure it has multiple power sources. A hand crank or solar power radio is ideal. One that charges only from an electrical outlet will not be very reliable.
Any gadget on this list would make an excellent emergency radio. Whichever product you choose, make sure to test it monthly to make sure it is working. If it takes batteries, make sure to have an extra set in your kit. You will not want to store batteries in the device as corrosion can occur. If it holds a charge, make sure you fully charge it. Having an emergency radio will help you know when you can come out of cover during a natural disaster, so having one in your kit is extremely important.
When looking to purchase a solar-powered radio, it is essential to decide its purpose for the radio. Will it be added to an emergency kit, or are you going to be using it on your outdoor adventures? After you determine the purpose, think about the features you want on your radio. You will need to determine which power sources are best for you, what kind of flashlight is ideal, and if you want weather alerts or not.
Choosing a radio from a trusted brand is essential, and you can’t go wrong with the brands we’ve listed. There are many advantages to solar radios, including eco-friendly, economical, reliable, portable, and great for emergencies. They are great if you want to live off the grid because they don’t need an outlet to be powered. We hope you have a clear insight into what to look for in a solar radio and find one you love. We only back the best products and the ones that are the most reliable.
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