Best Weather Radios to Stay Safe in Severe Weather in 2021

best weather radios
Midland

If you live in an area prone to severe storms, you want the best weather radio you can buy. They’re a far better way to stay on top of weather alerts and often warn you way ahead of any weather app on your mobile phone, especially in quickly changing weather conditions, all too common in dangerous weather. That’s why we’ve written this guide to help you choose the right one. In a natural disaster, it might just keep you safe.

If you are looking for a way to stay safe in the event of an emergency, then you should invest in a weather radio. They help keep you informed about what is going on in your area and warn you of dangerous weather conditions before they happen. They are also affordable, cost-effective ways to prepare yourself for emergencies. If any of this sounds interesting or appealing to you, keep reading.

Whether as part of an emergency radio, as an additional band, or even as a standalone unit, these radios come in different forms. The best weather radios can sound an alarm when weather alerts are received during a severe weather event, even if the radio is off. Some even display the type of alert received — and can store multiple alerts if they’re issued.

So, which one should you pick? We answer some common questions below we hear from our readers. If you have a question you’d like to ask before purchasing, you’re more than welcome to contact us for help! We do our best to answer questions as quickly as we can.

What is a weather radio?

A set of frequencies has been set aside for use by each nation’s weather bureaus in the US and Canada. Stations broadcast weather information, warnings, and forecasts 24 hours a day. A radio capable of receiving the weather band or a separate radio is needed to hear the broadcast.

What frequencies are used for weather radio broadcasts?

In the U.S. and Canada, listeners can find National Weather Service broadcasts on seven NOAA weather channels: 162.400 MHz, 162.425 MHz, 162.450 MHz, 162.475 MHz, 162.500 MHz, 162.525 MHz, and 162.550 MHz. In Canada’s remote areas, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation carries rebroadcasts on a standard AM or FM frequency.

What is SAME?

SAME stands for Specific Area Message Encoding. It is an enhanced technology that allows for the transmission of critical weather alerts across all radio stations in a very specific area. The SAME code, which is a five-digit number assigned to your county, will be issued along with any warnings or watches. This way you can only hear the alerts that are relevant to you. This technology allows broadcasters to attach information to a voice broadcast, such as the type of event, the area affected, and how long the alert is valid. This prevents the alarm from sounding for warnings outside of the affected area, reducing false alarms.

Who produces the broadcast I hear on my weather radio?

In the U.S., broadcasts originate from the National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),and Canada by the Meteorological Service of Canada.

Why should I buy a weather radio?

While many of us already have easy access to weather information thanks to notifications from our favorite weather apps, this isn’t a perfect system. You can easily miss an important notification, or worse yet, it might not come at all. A weather radio always listens for alerts and will sound an alarm to alert you of incoming severe weather.

Should I buy a weather or emergency radio?

Weather radios are not cheap and have limited functionality. On the other hand, the best emergency weather radios have multiple uses, can sometimes receive alerts, and use a hand crank to keep the batteries charged in the event of a power outage — making them perfect for emergency kits. Either type of radio is a good choice, though, and all weather radios on our list have backup power options.

Are Midland weather radios good?

Yes, we’d strongly recommend you purchase a Midland weather radio over other brands as they are some of the best available. However, other companies like Eton make solid alternatives. But few match Midland, however.

Can I tune to these frequencies with a scanner?

Yes. Any police or fire scanner can tune into NOAA weather radio broadcasts. Some may already come with these frequencies preset. If they don’t, tune into the clearest broadcast from the following seven NOAA weather radio stations: 162.400 MHz, 162.425 MHz, 162.450 MHz, 162.475 MHz, 162.500 MHz, 162.525 MHz, or 162.550 MHz.

I have an app that sends me weather alerts. Why should I buy a weather radio?

While notifications for weather alerts are now sent to our mobile phones through the EAS system, not all alerts are transmitted. With a weather radio you’ll receive every alert. In many severe weather situations, you’ll have a lot more time to prepare for what’s coming.

The Best Weather Radios

So who is the best? We’d have to give that award to Midland. The company’s radios dominate Amazon’s best-seller lists, and we’ve owned a few ourselves. Check just about any retailer: chances are they carry at least one Midland weather radio.

And it’s not on purpose that the brand dominates our list. Midland dominates in market share, and while other manufacturers have radios that can listen in on weather radio broadcasts, most aren’t as fully featured as a Midland weather radio. Here are our five favorites that we think are the best deals for both the price and functionality.

Our Picks at a Glance

Price current as of October 7, 2021

Best Weather Radio of 2021 – Midland WR300 Weather Radio

midland wr300 weather radio
Midland

It might be one of the most expensive desktop weather radios on the market right now, but the Midland WR300 is one of the company’s top-end models and the best weather radio out there. We own the WR400, and it really doesn’t do much more — the WR300 would be just as good and cheaper, and still includes an alarm clock, and can tune into AM and FM radio stations, too. If an alert comes through while you’re listening to an AM or FM station, the WR300 automatically switches over to allow you to hear it.

The Midland WR300 is Public Alert certified, meaning it can receive not only the standard SAME alerts but also newer ones, including non-weather alerts. A large, easy-to-read display tells you exactly what the warning is so you can react accordingly. For emergency power, the WR300 depends on 4 AA batteries.

Features at a Glance

  • NOAA Weather Radio with SAME
  • AM/FM Radio with Six Memory Channels
  • Backlit LCD with Continuous Backlighting Option
  • Color-coded Alert Indicators
  • Alert Override
  • Automatically switches over from AM/FM to warn you of hazardous conditions

Best Emergency Radio of 2021 –Midland ER310 Emergency Radio

midland er310 emergency radio v2
Midland

An emergency radio serves a different purpose than our other suggestions. These devices are often compact and have a method to generate power to keep the radio working. The Midland ER310 features not only a hand crank but solar panels as well, with a 2600mAh internal battery. We think this model is perfect for areas where power outages are frequent due to severe weather. The included USB port is great for charging a device (like the phone pictured above).

While the Midland ER310 does not include SAME technology, it does have the same scan and alert function when on standby. The radio continuously monitors all seven channels for weather alerts and automatically signals when a warning is broadcast on the strongest frequency. In addition to the weather, AM and FM bands are supported, and it includes a USB port to charge your devices, a LED flashlight, and even a dog whistle, too.

Features at a Glance

  • Standard Weather Radio Broadcasts
  • AM/FM Radio and Clock
  • Power by solar, hand crank, or rechargeable battery
  • LED Flashlight: 1400 Lux with lo/hi setting
  • SOS Beacon: Flashes Morse code for emergency assistance
  • 2600 mAh rechargeable Li-Ion Battery: 32 hours of normal use

Best Budget Weather Radio – Midland WR120B Weather Radio

midland wr120b noaa weather radio v2
Midland

If you can’t afford the WR300, you can still find a radio that supports all the features we think are critical, including SAME technology. It’s also Public Alert certified. To our understanding, the Midland WR120B is the company’s best-selling model.

It’s not as easy to use as the WR300, but with a little extra work, you should be able to set up the alerts for your location. It even features a built-in clock with an alarm and snooze so that you can wake up to the latest weather report each morning. The biggest issue with the WR120B is the fact that there is no battery backup, so when the power’s out, the radio doesn’t work. We’d recommend the WR300 or the ER310 over this model for that reason.

Features at a Glance

  • Weather Radio with SAME
  • Continuous Backlighting Option- Keeps the LCD on
  • Color Coded Alert Indicators
  • Alert Override automatically switches over to warn you of impending danger
  • Alarm Clock with Snooze

Best Budget Emergency Radio – Midland ER210 Weather Radio

Midland ER210 emergency radio

Think of the ER210 as the ER310s “younger brother.” It’s smaller and a bit sleeker, but also cheaper. But in exchange for a more affordable price, you’re getting a significantly smaller battery, which might be a pain as it will require a whole lot more cranking to keep it charged.

Features at a Glance

  • Power by solar, hand crank, or rechargeable battery
  • LED Flashlight: 1400 Lux with lo/hi setting
  • SOS Beacon: Flashes Morse code for emergency assistance
  • 2000 mAh rechargeable Li-Ion Battery: 25 hours of normal use

Best Compact Weather Radio – Midland HH50B Pocket Weather Radio

midland hh50 pocket weather radio
Midland

Most Midland devices are pretty large, so they’re not exactly what we’d call a portable radio. The Midland HH50B addresses this issue, making it the perfect companion for outdoor activities, with long battery life on just three AAA batteries.

An alert function automatically turns on the radio when an alert tone is received. A six-inch collapsible antenna helps to improve reception, although it doesn’t seem to have the range of Midland’s larger weather radios, though. Still, for the price, it’s a steal, and the radio is built well.

Features At a Glance

  • Standard NOAA Broadcasts (No SAME capability)
  • Standby Mode with Alert Override
  • Alert Test Mode
  • Auto Scan for weather channel on start-up
  • Telescopic Antenna
  • 3 AAA alkaline batteries (included)

Price current as of October 7, 2021

Honorable Mention – Eton Sidekick AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio

eton ultimate camping AM FM noaa weather radio
eton

Outside of Midland, there aren’t many other brands that we think deserve a “best” rating. However, Eton makes an outstanding camping radio that includes the weather radio bands and SAME technology — in a radio that never needs its batteries replaced, thanks to solar power and an internal rechargeable battery.

You can either charge it using the hand crank or the integrated solar panel. Other features include a bright LED flashlight, red emergency beacon & huge ambient light with dimmer. There are even USB ports to charge your devices. If you spend a lot of time in the Great Outdoors, the solar-powered Eton Sidekick is for you.

Features at a Glance

  • Weather Radio with SAME
  • AM/FM radio
  • Solar or hand crank powered
  • Bluetooth capability
  • USB port to charge other devices
  • Three types of lighting options: LED flashlight, red emergency beacon, ambient light with dimmer

Price current as of October 7, 2021

What to Consider When Buying a Weather Radio

Your location, budget, and needs will all play a part in which model is the best weather radio for you. We have a few tips below on what to look for.

  • While you can run your weather alert radio on battery power, we recommend keeping desktop radios plugged in. That way battery life is conserved for when the power goes out. Emergency radios typically have a hand crank that allows you to quickly give the battery a recharge.
  • The best weather radios to buy are those which support SAME technology. During severe weather events, multiple alerts will be issued. With SAME, you can block out the alerts that aren’t relevant to your location.
  • Digital radios are better, as it is easier to tune to the correct frequency. Nearly every weather radio sold is digital so that you won’t see these very often. Nevertheless, we’d avoid them.
  • ‘Public Alert Certified’ radios are the best models to buy. SAME was recently expanded to offer alerts on non-weather events. To our knowledge, only Midland radios are Public Alert certified as of right now.
  • Location will play a part in whether a radio will work at your location. NOAA claims that 95 percent of people are in the range of a transmitter. However, the signal may not be strong or clear enough in some places for SAME and the weather alert to work properly. Use this page to see if you’re in range of a nearby transmitter.

Weather Alerts You’ll Hear on NOAA Weather Radio

The purpose of a weather radio is to get immediate notification of NOAA weather alerts. But you might not know what these alerts mean. Here are definitions to some of the NOAA alerts you may receive on your radio.

Wrapping Up

If there’s a chance of severe storms in your area, it’s essential to have an emergency weather radio. It is the best way to stay informed and protect yourself at all times. You can’t leave everything up to local authorities or TV/radio stations since they may not always be broadcasting the most urgent warnings. With a weather radio, you’ll never have to worry about missing an alert or being caught off guard by severe conditions ever again.

The best weather radio manufacturer in our opinion is Midland, for sure. But the Eton camping radio is a different take on the traditional emergency radio, and we could see plenty of uses for that bright ambient light around the fire at night. But any of these models will do a great job in keeping you safe.

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