solar power radio charging a cell phone on a rock

10 Best Solar Powered Radios in 2020 (Review)

Under a natural disaster situation, it is highly probable that communication networks will be restricted or may not be active. A radio is always a gadget that you will want to include in your survival kit for an emergency signal or alert.

A battery-based radio is not suitable for this type of condition because as soon as the radio runs out of power, you won’t be able to charge it until you find replaceable batteries. Under natural disaster situations, it is highly improbable that this happens.

Therefore, the best solution for staying safe is to choose one of the best solar powered radios in 2020. Powered by solar energy and by hand cranking mechanisms, you will never run out of power with these radios. Take a look at this short and interesting guide on solar powered radios to find out what the top models are in 2020.

The Best Solar Powered Radios

1. Kaito KA500 Emergency AM/FM/SW Solar Powered Radio

side facing kaito ka500 emergency am/fm/sw solar powered radio

The Kaito Voyager KA500 emergency AM/FM SW solar panel radio is the perfect tool — not only for contingency situations such as climate disasters or power outages, but also for outdoor activities.

The solar radio uses three AA built-in batteries (not included) that can get charged through different methods. The radio acts as an alert system that has an integrated high-quality AC brushless generator that allows it to recharge using a hand crank methodology (spinning a small lever to generate electricity).

Moreover, the radio features an AC/DC adapter port that also allows it to get fully charged rapidly by using an AC power outlet as a source; a useful tool to have before starting a journey. Finally, the Sun, as the inexhaustible source of energy on our planet, also serves as a power source thanks to the integrated solar cell. The solar panel’s tilt angle can be adjusted with a 180-degree angle range to fit the optimum tilt angle and maximize performance. This way, with all these power sources, the alert radio never runs out of power.

Designed to work with AM, FM, shortwave, and even NOAA weather stations with up to 7 weather channels that are already pre-programmed and numbered from 1-7, this product is easily accessed by turning the switch.

Key Features:

  • Compatible with AM/FM, shortwave and NOAA signals
  • Flashlight included
  • 3 charging methods: AC/DC adapter, hand crank and solar

Key Specifications:

5-LED reading lamp included
Includes 7 weather channels
180-degree angle range for the tilt angle of the module

2. RunningSnail Solar Powered Weather Radio

side facing runningSnail solar powered weather radio

The high-quality Running Snail solar powered AM FM radio is the perfect companion for emergency situations. Designed with a beautiful green color and equipped with three AAA batteries, the Running Snail emergency radio alerts you from hurricanes, tornadoes and severe weather while running out of power.

This product can get easily charged by using an integrated dynamo, direct USB charging or via solar power harvesting. Using a 2000mAh capacity, the weather alert radio can provide up to 12 hours of light (through its integrated 1W LED flashlight) or 4-6 hours of radio time. The radio also features an SOS alarm with flashing red light that will allow you to ask for help in the case that you are under emergency.

The Micro USB cable can be used for both charging the portable solar radio or for charging other electronics such as smartphones. In other words, you can also use the Running Snail radios as portable solar power banks. On the other hand, the integrated panel can be tilted at will under a 180-degree range. When uncovering the solar panel, you will also be able to enjoy a small reading light on the back of the cell.

Key Features:

  • FM/AM/NOAA compatible
  • Flashlight included with SOS feature
  • 3 charging methods: USB, solar and hand cranking

Key Specifications:

2000mAh battery
4-6 hours of radio time
12 hours of light

3. RunningSnail Solar Powered AM/FM Radio

side facing runningSnail solar powered am/fm radio

The Running Snail solar hand crank radio is the survival tool that you want to have in life-threatening situations. Equipped with AM/FM and NOAA channels compatibility to stay up to date with any relevant information for your area.

Moreover, this emergency radio has a compact size and a long-lasting 1W powerful LED flashlight that works perfectly for backpacking, hiking, and camping, and any other outdoor activity. The radio features a 1000mAh battery that can act as a valuable power bank that can charge your smartphone through a Micro-USB cable without the need for an adapter.

The device can get fully charged either by solar, USB, or hand cranking methods. You will be able to enjoy a 12-month warranty by purchasing this product.

Key Features:

  • 12-month warranty
  • 3 charging methods
  • Tune setup adjustable

Key Specifications:

1000mAh battery
1W powerful LED flashlight included
Weight: 7.8 ounces (221 grams)

4. FosPower 2000mAh Hand Crank Radio

side facing fospower 2000mAh hand crank radio

The FosPower 2000mAh solar weather radio is capable of providing emergency power to any small tablet or phone acting as a portable solar power bank.

The FosPower model will always have an available power source that will allow it to get charged no matter which situation you find yourself in. Among some of the most valuable power sources available that you will find, you will have a hand lever that can power a small dynamo to charge the AAA batteries.

Also, you will have an integrated solar cell in which the tilt angle can be adjusted to fit the ideal optimum position for solar power harvesting. Finally, through its integrated USB port, you will be able to rapidly charge your smartphone or electronic device.

The FosPower radio will have a 1W flashlight on the front side of the device and a 4 LED reading light that you can use to read while you are at a campsite with your loved ones or friends. The radio will receive an NOAA weather alert and will receive up to date weather forecasts from emergency news broadcast and AM/FM stations.

Key Features:

  • SOS signal integrated
  • IPX3 water resistance grade protection
  • USB/Solar/Hand Cranked Powered

Key Specifications:

2000mAh power bank
4LED reading lamp and 1W flashlight
Frequency Range: AM: 520 – 1720kHz / FM:87-108MHz

5. Sangean MMR-88 AM/FM/

side facing sangean mmr-88 am/fm/

The Sangean MMR-88 AM/FM solar radio is a simple device designed to provide support under power outage conditions. This radio has been equipped with a beautiful bright LCD screen display and a digital AM/FM/WX tuner with 19 pre-set channels (mixed between AM/FM).

The Sangean radio has an 850mAh Lithium-ion battery that can get easily charged via hand cranking, USB, or through solar power thanks to its integrated solar panel on the upper side of the device (no adjustable tilt angle available). You will also be safe since the device is capable of receiving Public Alert Certified Radio alerts to keep you aware of any weather warnings.

The emergency weather radio features a built-in LED flashlight and a loud emergency buzzer that you can use to keep nearby people aware of your presence.

Key Features:

  • 3 charging options
  • Bright LCD screen and digital AM/FM/WX tuner
  • USB A and Micro B cable compatible

Key Specifications:

850mAh lithium-ion battery
19 pre-set radio channels
Weight: 13.8 ounces (391 grams)

6. Safe-T-Proof Solar Hand-Crank Emergency Radio

side facing safe-t-proof solar hand-crank emergency radio

The Safe-T-Proof solar hand-crank emergency radio is the perfect gift to the outdoor lover. Manufactured with a unique shape structure and a practical design, the Safe-T-Proof radio takes portability to another level. Easily carry it everywhere with an integrated handle and a compact design to take it into the wild at any time. Very useful under natural disaster conditions.

The T-Proof radio features a flashlight and AM/FM signal compatibility along with a cell phone charger, a blinker, and a siren alarm. The radio also features a plug-in for DC-based devices and another plug-in for smartphones.

The most interesting thing about this device is that the solar panels are integrated inside the handle of the radio where the sunlight passes through a transparent cover.

Key Features:

  • Extremely portable handle design
  • Suitable as a smartphone charger
  • Siren alarm and blinker integration

Key Specifications:

Weight: 10.9 ounces (309 grams)
Dimensions: 3.5 x 7.5 x 4 inches
6VDC plug-in available

7. Kozo NOAA Weather Radio

side facing kozo noaa weather radio

The Kozo NOAA emergency weather radio is another product that has received multiple positive solar radio reviews due to the combination of price and quality.

This small and lightweight radio is easy to carry, making it suitable especially for emergency situations and weather conditions of any kind. Moreover, since it is intended to be used outdoors, it also features the most valuable charging power sources that you can use in a situation where there is no power available from the grid. In other words, we are talking about a dynamo, solar power, and USB. By using any of these charging methodologies, you will be able to fully charge a set of batteries and a 500mAh lithium battery.

When using the dynamo, you will find out that after spinning the lever for 1 minute (nearly 130 turns) will provide up to 18 minutes of radio time and up to 30 minutes of a bright flashlight.

An interesting feature of this radio is that the integrated antenna opens up to 15”, which is enough to receive radio frequencies even in rural mountainous areas.

Key Features:

  • FM/AM/WB/SW band switch available
  • Headphone output available
  • Compact size

Key Specifications:

15” long antenna
1-minute hand cranking – 18 minutes radio/30 minutes of light
500mAh lithium battery or 3 AAA batteries

8. Midland ER310

side facing midland er310

The Midland ER310 solar radio features three sustainable ways to get charged: solar power (flat integrated solar cell), hand crank and USB based connection. All of these options charge a 2600mAh lithium-ion battery (one of the longest power banks available in this list) that can provide up to 32 hours of radio operation. Moreover, the ER310 can also get powered by 6 AA batteries that provide the perfect backup power solution.

The radio has an emergency SOS flashlight beacon that flashes in Morse code under an emergency scenario. Additionally, the ER310 features a bright CREE LED of 130 lumens that can be used as a signal to request help (two brightness settings are available: low and high).

Pre-synchronized with 7 NOAA weather channels (WX) that will alert you about any upcoming severe weather with AM/FM radio signals. Integrated with an LCD screen, tuning and volume buttons as well as a battery level indicator.

The most unique feature about this emergency tool is its integrated ultrasonic dog whistle that can be activated to assist search and rescue teams in locating you.

Key Features:

  • Ultrasonic dog whistle
  • 7 NOAA weather channels
  • Morse code signal

Key Specifications:

2600mAh lithium-ion battery
130 lumens of light
32 hours of radio operation on a full charge

9. Greadio AM/FM NOAA Radio

side facing greadio am/fm noaa radio

The Greadio AM/FM NOAA radio is a small and simple device that fits in the palm of your hand and that can be very useful under a blackout or a contingency situation.

Designed with a 2000mAh lithium-ion battery capacity and the possibility to use the other 3 batteries (activated by selecting a switch), the Greadio will never run out of power. Thanks to its integrated solar panel (with adjustable tilt angle capability), the Greadio can get charged completely with the direct sunlight that reaches the surface of the cell. When completely charged, the AAA batteries can provide between 10-12 hours of radio time or up to 15 hours of flashlight time.

The emergency radio features a 1W radio flashlight and a reading lamp (that provides similar performance to the solar flashlights).

Key Features:

  • Switch between lithium and AAA designed batteries
  • Radio with SOS light
  • 2 LED sources

Key Specifications:

10-12 hours of radio time
15 hours of flashlight time
2000mAh lithium battery

10. VMEI NOAA Weather Radio

side facing vmei noaa weather radio

The VMEI NOAA portable emergency weather radio is another valuable option that you can consider if you are looking for a solar powered radio.

Integrated with an SOS alarm and a flashlight that is perfect to alert others about your location and to be able to see other objects at night. The VMEI radio can get powered either through a 2300mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery or through 3 AAA batteries. Any of these two battery sets can get easily charged by either the integrated panel or via the hand crank generator.

Also, you will enjoy the possibility to charge your smartphone by simply connecting the phone to the radio through the Micro USB port available. An additional feature useful in emergency situations is the integrated compass that can be used to locate yourself in the area. It also features a headphone jack to closely listen to the radio.

Key Features:

  • Headphone jack port
  • Compass integrated
  • Carabiner integrated for the traveler

Key Specifications:

2300mAh lithium-ion battery
AM/FM/NOAA radio signal compatibility
Weight: 14.4 ounces (408 grams)

How to Choose a Solar Powered Radio – 3 Features to Look For

runningsnail solar powered weather radio on the floor next to some camping gear

Available Power Sources

The solar powered radio needs to have multiple power sources available to ensure durability and long performance under extreme situations. The most common methods in these types of devices are hand cranking, solar panels, and USB connections. It is important to notice that those products which can tilt the angle of the panel will always be preferable over the ones that have a flat solar cell installed.

More than that, some products will allow you to select two types of batteries. Either lithium-ion or AAA tech batteries. This feature is very useful. If you run out of power in one of them, you will be able to instantly use the other battery without having to recharge it via solar or through a dynamo.

Working Time

The working time is the next factor to consider. A solar powered radio is intended to last as many hours as possible on a single charge. Some will provide between 4-6 hours while others may be able to provide up to 8 hours of work with the radio. You must be careful not to confuse the working hours for the integrated flashlights with the working hours for the radio itself.

Additional Features

Finally, additional features can also make a difference. Remember that these radios are intended for both emergency situations and outdoor sports or activities. Therefore, they should be easily combined with solar rucksacks through a carabiner or attachment device.

Other features such as a compass, dog whistles, SOS red lights, headphone jack ports, and an IP rating protection can also make a difference. Always remember that as a valuable camping tool, you can also combine it with other devices such as camping solar panels that will make your off-grid experience much more pleasant.

VMEI NOAA Weather Radio connected to a camping rucksack

How Do Solar Hand Crank Radios Work?

Solar hand crank radios work by utilizing one of two mechanisms: solar energy conversion and a dynamo.

One of them is based on solar energy conversion, working just like any other solar-based device (e.g. solar watches) by placing the integrated panel under the sunlight, it generates DC electricity that is later used to charge the lithium or NiMh battery.

The second mechanism is based on a dynamo. A dynamo is an electrical machine that generates DC electricity when its rotor spins thanks to a mechanical force. This dynamo is integrated into the structure of the radio.

A hand crank radio will have a small lever that is connected to the rotor of the dynamo. While spinning the small lever, you are also spinning the rotor which, at the same time, creates an electrical current in the output of the dynamo that is used to power the integrated batteries. To better understand the working principle of a dynamo, you can watch this video.

How to get Weather Updates Using a Solar Radio?

The best way to get weather updates in a solar radio is to stay tuned with the National Weather Service, which sends messages under the following frequencies:

  • 162.400 MHz
  • 162.425 MHz
  • 162.450 MHz
  • 162.475 MHz
  • 162.500 MHz
  • 162.525 MHz
  • 162.550 MHz

Solar weather radios already have pre-set channels for these radio frequencies in many cases, and if not, you can simply tune the radio to those frequencies to stay updated.

References

  1. Kaito KA500 – Kaito
  2. Mmr-88 – Sangean

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