The Best NOAA Weather Radios to Give You Advanced Warning
Investing in a NOAA weather radio is investing in staying safe and informed even (or especially) if you don’t have access to electricity. Designed specifically to pick up alerts about extreme weather and natural disasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, they’re powered by batteries, hand cranks, solar panels, or a combination of the three. Most models have loud alarms and flashing lights. Plus, many of them have extras like AM and FM stations, phone charging ports, and flashlights to make the wait for power a little easier. Check out our buying guide below before diving into the reviews of the best radios to help you figure out which has all the features you might need.
How to Choose an NOAA Radio
When looking for the NOAA radio, you will want to consider your power source, how rugged it is, and extra features.
Power source: Your radio will be powered one of three ways—solar, hand crank, or batteries—and some will include up to all three. A hand crank is the most reliable, as you can always create your own power. Solar is usually accompanied by another power source, but it’s a great option if you’re hiking or camping out under the sun. And battery power is convenient and low maintenance—just be sure that you have extra batteries on hand so you don’t end up with a dead radio.
Durability: If you’re going to be taking your radio with you into the outdoors, be sure that it can handle the journey. This means you will want to choose one that is immune to water, drops, and dirt. If you simply want a radio to keep you informed at home, you can go with a less burly—and often cheaper—model.
Extra features: Don’t sleep on some of these—they may seem like an unnecessary expense now, but if you end up without power for a few days, they can become essential. Many NOAA radios have built-in flashlights and reading lights, USB phone chargers, and even Bluetooth. You may want to choose one that automatically sounds an alarm if extreme weather is coming—particularly if you live in an area prone to natural disasters.
How We Chose
To find the best options among the many NOAA radios out there, we relied on Popular Mechanics’s decades of experience testing and evaluating other kinds of radios and outdoor gear. We took into account their power sources, additional features, sound clarity, and cost. Then we researched expert sources, such as Travel and Leisure and Wirecutter, and more than 40,000 customer reviews on retail sites like Amazon and Walmart. Those customer reviews helped us calculate our Consumer Score, which represents the percentage of people who bought these NOAA radios and rated them at least four out of five stars.
Stay up to date on weather changes—even if you lose power.