Emergency weather radio is an essential part of any emergency kit. Its main purpose is the keep you informed by getting first hand information from the authorities. This will give you extra time to prepare and evacuate. The emergency radio receives not only weather related data (from weather stations around the country), but other emergency broadcast such as natural disasters, chemical warnings and AMBER alerts. The device broadcasts on VHF (Very High Frequency) with frequency modulation (FM). All the disaster alerts are broadcasted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on frequencies from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz. These national weather alerts are not available on a simple AM/FM radio receiver.A compariosn table of all the models reviewd in this article. For more detailed info please scroll down.
What features to look for when choosing emergency receiver?
When looking for the best emergency radio you will stumble across many different model, brand, sizes and features, but there is couple of things, you need to look for when buying one.
- Crank power – helpful when you don’t have additional powering sources and your batteries are exhausted.
- Multiple power sources – In general, keep an eye for multiple power sources like external AC power, batteries, and hand-crank or other type of charging method. All of the radios in our list are equipped with at least three power sources.
- NOAA or Public Alert – with these features you can be sure your radio meets specific tech standards. So be sure to check if they are available before buying one.
- SAME technology – Because NOAA alerts are country or city based with this technology you can make sure the disasters you are notified are for the areas you have selected.
- Flashlight – very helpful in power outages situation and as emergency beacon
- Phone charger – useful for satiations when your phone has died and you need to make an emergency call; be sure to check cable computability with your mobile device.
For us choosing the best emergency radio comes down to these couple of features. So with these criteria in mind let’s take a look at couple of emergency receivers you can get online.
Note: If you want to charge you phone on go, and you are not interested in emergency radio the prefect solution is the high capacity power bank.
These are five emergency weather radios that have phone charger and are good all-around models and will probably be helpful to you and your family in difficult times.
Kaito KA332W with Phone Charger
Kaito KA332W is a 5-way powered emergency radio that is designed for both daily use and emergency situations. The five main powers sources will keep you charged and ready at any given times.
As a major energy source Kaito used a rechargeable battery with a capacity of 3.7V / 500mAh. It uses DC 5V USB port as phone charger and alternative power source.
It is equipped with a small solar panel – underneath extendable antenna – designed to power the radio or as extra energy to internal NiMH battery. The panel is very sensitive and is able to capture even small quantities of solar energy. In addition to the solar panel, dynamo generator can be used as a backup for the receiver or to power the NiMH battery.
The radio uses two main modulations AM and FM can operate as normal radio or receive all 7 NOAA weather channels.
The unit is small and compact and build quality seems good. It would be better if it was waterproof, but the radio is small enough to fit in a small waterproof bag or in a pocket of your backpack.
The crank is easy to use and the handle is with the necessary length. In cases when you are not using the crank it can be tucked underneath device.
The sound quality is not as good as one my want, but it is acceptable enough to understand the important news or the transmitted NOAA messages. If the quality of the speaker bothers you much, you can always use earphones (included) to improve it.
Flashlight uses three light-emitting diodes and running without any problems.
Overall – a good quality radio, compact and with enough features to serve you well for years.
- FM: 88 – 108 MHz
- AM: 520 -1710 KHz
- # of NOAA Weather Channels: 7
- Internal speaker
- Headset jack socket: 3.5 mm
- 5V DC input: micro USB
- 5V DC output: standard USB
- Rechargeable batteries: 3.7V Li-ion battery 500 mAh
- Dimensions: 6 x 2 ¾ X 2 inches
- Weight: 7.6 oz
- Compact portable 5-way powered emergency AM/FM NOAA Weather radio
American Red Cross FRX3
The FRX3 is stylish emergency weather radio produced by the U.S. based company Eton for their lineup of products targeted toward preparedness-oriented situations.
This radio comes with a couple of different powering options such as: the solar panel – which takes up to 10 hours to power the NiMH battery; the hand crank which can charges the build in NiMH batteries and give you from 5 to 7 minutes radio for 90 seconds of spinning; the 3 AAA batteries are not included but can give you additional power when it’s needed and finally the standard DC power adapter.
This weather alert device comes with all seven NOAA weather channels and digital tuning AM/FM radio. A nice feature to the radio is a knob that you can use to tune the radio (AM/FM/VHF weather), in addition to the up and down standard buttons. The receiving antenna is telescopic and not used can be retracted nicely on the back side.
FRX3 comes with quality crank and when used it’s very easy to turn and you won’t be tiered even after 10 minutes of turning.
One downside of this radio is probably the flash light (2 LEDs) which a little bit weak but never the less serves the purpose of additional emergency light source. Below the flash light there is a blinking red light that can come in handy when you want to attract someone’s attentions.
The feature that shines in FRX 3 is the phone charger and in particular the dump function. With this function the device transfers the charge form the NiMH battery to you mobile phone – a useful option for emergency situations.
Overall a quality emergency weather radio with lots of powering options.
- Digital AM/FM radio
- Solar panel
- All 7 NOAA / Environment Canada weather band radio stations
- Rechargeable Ni-MH battery
- DC input with mini-USB cable
- 3-LED flashlight, and red LED flashing beacon
- USB Smart Phone Charger
- Glow-in-the-Dark locator
- Hand Turbine
- Headphone output
- Dimensions – 6.9 x 5.8 x 2.6 inches ; 14.9 ounces
American Red Cross ARCFR160WXR
This little brother of FRX3 is a small compact weather emergency radio that has nearly all the features as his big brother with exception of the AAA batteries powering option.
The small size makes this device a useful tool for hiking, camping and other outdoor activities. It is useful in emergency outdoor cases such as: charging your cell phone, GPS and other electronics. This tool is good addition to the standard emergency toolkit.
On the top of the radio we can find the solar panel and the button to turn one the LED light. It conations three different and if you long press the button the lights will stay on.
FR160 has an extending antenna that can be pull out to improve the reception of the AM/FM/VHF radio transmitter.
On the side we find the headphone socket and the USB sport, so you can charge your phone.
At the back of the radio is the crank. As with the previous Eton model manually turning the crank for about 5 min minutes will result in 15 minutes of low volume play. The solar panel is identical with the FXR3 model and 10 to 12 hours of direct sunlight will give you around 3 to 4 hours of radio play.
The radio has no digital display and is operated by the 2 knows on the front side – tuning and volume. There is horizontal slider which you can use to switch between the 7 available NOAA weather bands.
It lacks some of the FRX3 model’s functions but considering its size, that isn’t a down side. Overall a really great item and we encourage you to consider it for your emergency kits or vehicles.
- AM (520-1710 KHz) and FM (87-108MHz)
- 7 NOAA weather bands
- 3 white LEDs serving as flashlight
- Powered by solar or dynamo both of which charge internal Ni-MH battery
- USB cell phone charger (no USB cable)
- 5 mm headphone output
- Dimension – 1.8 x 5.2 x 2.5 inches ; 8.5 ounces
Epica Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio
The radio contains a flash light, phone charger, solar panel, and AM/FM/NOAA radio receiver.
Epica weather radio can be recharged 3 ways. You can use the hand crank to crank it the build in solar panel or you can use the USB connection to charge it trough computer or with DC adaptor.
The box contains 3 connectors. There are mini USB and micro USB and iPhone adapters that plug in one single connector to charge your phone. The radio has second separate cable that can be used to charge the build-in battery. You will need around two hours to get your device fully recharged.
The multiband tuner allows you to reach AM and FM stations and 7 NOAA national weather stations. The radio has a digital display to show you the current station. You can use the buttons on the top to change the frequency and the band you are set to like AM, FM or weather channel. The radio has a scan functions which is accessible trough long pushing one of the seek buttons.
One minute of cranking will provide 30 minutes of LED flashlight or 20 min. of radio power. Which is pretty good result. The phone charger takes power from the internal battery and when you use it you don’t want to crank the crank. You should spin the crank charge the battery a bit and then plug in your phone and get e brief charge to make emergency phone calls.
The flash light consists of 3 LEDs. It is not something special that you can use for long term exploring but it may come in handy.
The radio is water resistant but not water proofed. So it probably will stand up to a rain but not a drop in the water, keep that in mind when using it.
There is also a plastic carabineer you can tie to string or a rope and hand t on a tent or backpack, but it looks little flimsy and it’s plastic and it has a good chance to easily brake off.
Ambient Weather WR-111B
WR-111B is pretty decent looking radio with red and black design and nice small size that can fit in the palm of your hand.
Genera features of this radio are: AM/FM NOAA weather, flash light, solar panel, charging hand crank, and cell phone charger. Lots of stuff packed in this little radio that can come handy in case of emergency.
On the back there’s a hand crank with recommended two times a second spinning ratio. If the battery is dead you have to do the spinning for about 2 or 3 minutes and after that one minute of cranking will give you about 50 minutes of radio time.
The battery is bellow the crank and it is a single CR123A rechargeable battery. If for some reason you need to replace it you can do that quite easily. The manufacturer recommends that you remove the battery if you going to store the device for a long time.
Also in the back is the antenna that sticks out about two feet for a better reception.
On the top you will find the solar power panel and the flashlight button. The solar power charger is a battery life extender and cannot fully charge the battery. The flashlight is 3 LED flash light that is not super bright but if you are in a blackout this will help you with some basic tasks around the house.
On the back is where you can charge either the radio itself or some other devices. The rubber peace lifts up and you will find the headset jack, the cell phone charger and the radio charger. The radio comes with several cords and adapter chargers – micro USB, mini USB, and Apple connector.
The cell phone charger works decently well and you will have no problem using it. It will not charge you phone fully but it will be helpful for short emergency phone calls.
Moving on to the radio options, this device has the standard package that includes – NOAA and AM/FM radio bands. There are 7 channels of NOAA weather radio and you can cycle trough them with convenient button on the front side of the panel. This model also has a weather alert option such that if there is an emergency this mode will continuously scan the weather band and if there is an emergency the radio will turn on and alert you to that. It is recommended while in this mode to plug the USB in external powering source to keep the battery alive.
Overall this is a great radio for putting either in your bug out bag your get home bag or just keeping around the house. Or if there’s a blackout or some type of weather emergency that you’re just you need to keep track of.