Solar-powered radios are items you may not use every day, but they become particularly handy during emergencies. Of course, there are always electric and battery-operated radios, but they’re highly dependent on the availability of electricity or batteries.
The difference with solar radios is that you’d have a fully functional radio for as long as there is sunlight. The popularity of solar-powered technology has led to so many solar radios in the market.
What to Consider When Buying Solar Radios
Solar radios come with so many features. It can get confusing, but here’s what we think are the top three features to look out for.
Whether you want a solar radio for emergency or everyday use, its running time is a very important feature.
Most solar radios have a run time of around four to six hours, while some last up to 10-12 hours.
Choose a solar radio that has a run time relevant to your needs. For example, if the radio is only for your early morning fishing trips, a shorter working time should be enough. If you’re planning on using it during your overnight camping trips, you probably want one with a longer run time. Of course, the longest run time is always the best for radios that are used during emergencies.
It’s always best to pick the most compact and lightweight solar radio you can get. When you’re out camping or fishing, you don’t want a radio that’s heavier and bigger than most of your gear. An extremely portable radio is also super handy when trying to rush or evacuate in cases of emergencies.
Speaking of portability, consider other features such as carry handles, collapsible antennas, hooks, or strings. They make carrying the radio easier and allow you to attach or store them in your clothing, bag, or vehicle.
Waterproofing and Durability
You want to pick a radio that works in any sort of weather condition and is built to last. Pick a radio made of rugged or sturdy materials and one that has water-resistant properties. Of course, the most ideal solar radio is one that is not only water-resistant but also water and weatherproof.
Check if the radio you want has an IP rating and what it is. The IP rating is essentially a value that denotes how protected your device is from dust and water. Try to choose a solar radio with a rating of at least IP65 as this denotes dust protection and water resistance.
Solar Radios Frequently Asked Questions
How do solar radios work?
The mechanism of solar-powered radios is simpler than it sounds. Solar-powered radios are equipped with solar panels, otherwise known as PV or photovoltaic panels. These panels are responsible for absorbing the sun’s energy, or what is more popularly known as solar energy.
The solar energy is then directed to a semiconductor. The semiconductor’s job is to absorb photons (the sun’s light particles), and exciting electrons to create an electric current. This process creates an electrical current, which is what is needed by the radio to operate.
What are the benefits of a solar-powered radio?
Perhaps the most essential benefit of a solar radio is that it can be used almost anywhere. Unlike traditional radios, you don’t need to be near a power source to have a functioning radio.
Another benefit of a solar radio comes from the benefits of solar energy itself. There are no electrical bills or having to buy batteries, as all the energy you need comes from the sun. It’s cost-efficient, sustainable, and, most of all, environmentally friendly as it doesn’t emit harmful emissions.
Lastly, a significant benefit of a solar radio is that it provides its users with crucial information. Some people reside in isolated areas that otherwise have no access to broadcasting technology nor electricity. This inaccessibility limits information they receive, so solar radios are great for keeping them up-to-date with the world’s current affairs.
Can I get weather updates using a solar radio?
Not all solar radios do, but most of them should be weather update capable. Solar radios are designed for emergency use, so it makes sense that they can provide important weather updates.
Most solar radios already have preset weather alert channels, which is handy. If your choice of solar radio doesn’t come with preset channels, that’s still okay. Simply set the frequencies manually, so it matches the frequencies set by the National Weather Service.
Solar Radio Reviews
1. FosPower Hand Crank Solar Radio
FosPower is a Minessota-based company focused on the design and manufacture of various technological solutions. Their products range from portable power to audio cables and emergency supplies, and more.
The FosPower FOSPWB-2376 Radio is packed with so many features it’s hard to know where to start. Perhaps it’s best to look at the essential features first.
In terms of working time, the FOSPWB-2376 is armed with a 2,000mAh battery, which allows it a running time of between 18-20 hours, both for its radio and LED flashlight modes.
When it comes to charging time, the FosPower solar radio has triple charging technology. You can charge it via the integrated solar panel or using AAA batteries. In the unfortunate instance that you can’t get AAA batteries and the sun isn’t out, you can still charge the radio via manual cranking.
The FosPower is admirable when it comes to portability. It’s extremely lightweight at 10.9 oz and has a compact size, matching the standard smartphone size.
In terms of durability, the FosPower FOSPWB-2376 has a tough exterior and is made of sturdy hard plastic overall. It carries an IPX3 rating, which means that it is resistant to water sprays of up to a maximum direction of 60 degrees. Thanks to its limited lifetime warranty on all its solar radio products, the brand also provides added reassurance.
When it comes to actual radio functions, the FosPower is versatile in that it allows you to listen to both AM and FM radios. It also has emergency radio access, allowing you to tune into emergency NOAA weather broadcasts.
Other impressive features of this solar radio include its integrated power bank design. The battery can be used to power up most USB-enabled devices.
The FosPower radio also has two LED light sources, ensuring you never run out of light during an emergency. It comes with a bright LED flashlight and a slightly dimmer reading light. Finally, it comes equipped with an SOS alarm feature, which is another plus factor during any emergency. It’s a great way of alerting anyone around you if you are in distress or need help.
If there is one thing that we could improve with the FosPower, it’s probably including an instruction manual. The purchase comes without one, although they do have one online which is easily searchable.
All in all, the FosPower is an excellent compact, powerful, and feature-rich solar radio for outdoor or emergency use.
- Powerful and large-capacity battery – 2000 mAh.
- Long working time – between 18-20 hours both for radio and LED light.
- Triple charging technology – solar, AAA batteries, or manual cranking.
- Extremely portable – lightweight at 10.9 oz and is the size of a standard smartphone.
- Durable and water-resistant – hard plastic material with an IPX3 rating.
- Versatile radio – AM, FM, and NOAA weather access.
- Two LED sources – a bright flashlight and dimmer reading light.
- Does not come with an instruction manual – only available online.
2. Midland Solar Emergency Radio (Upgrade Pick)
Midland also known as Midland Radio or Midland Radio Corporation, is a Missouri-based American company. The company has been operating since 1959 and specializes in the development and manufacture of various radio communication products.
Midland’s ER310 radio is a compact and portable solar radio, weighing only 1 lb and measuring 8 inches long. It’s a good solar radio for use during camping, hiking, or even a simple day out by the park.
It’s also a great emergency radio, and you’ll find out why with the features we will describe below.
A unique feature of the Midland ER310 is its ultrasonic dog whistle. Once activated, the whistle creates a high-frequency noise. You probably can’t hear this noise, nor can other people, but dogs can. This ultrasonic sound helps alert tracking dogs, helping them locate you during a search and rescue operation.
Another great emergency feature, this time for humans, is the integrated SOS beacon. The ER310 flashes a bright distress signal, allowing people nearby and even from a distance to easily spot you.
An outstanding feature of the Midland ER310 is its long run time. When fully charged, the radio can last for up 32 hours.
The battery has a built-in flashlight with an adjustable brightness level, allowing you to conserve battery life even more.
The ER310 is also flexible when it comes to charging options. There’s solar, USB, or wall charging via the rechargeable battery pack, AAA batteries, and manual cranking. The integrated USB ports also allow you to use the ER310’s battery pack to charge your other USB-capable devices.
The Midland ER310 comes in a well-constructed hard plastic and rubber casing. The combination of these durable materials allows it to withstands accidental drops.
Lastly, the Midland is capable of clearly transmitting AM and FM radio stations. It’s also equipped with an NOAA weather scan and alert feature. The NOAA scan automatically scans through the seven available weather channels and locks into the one with the strongest signal. The alert feature makes a loud sound to indicate that your area is at risk of severe weather.
One major disappointment with the Midland ER310 is that Midland has not tested it around wet conditions. Because of this, they can’t attest to the radio’s water resistance. It would easily have been the overall best solar radio if tested and proved to be waterproof.
Another possible setback is that Midland does come at a higher price than similar products. In fact, it is the most expensive product on this list, which is why we’re naming it our premium pick.
Overall, the Midland ER310 is packed with excellent emergency features and is ideal for use when exploring the great outdoors.
- Unique ultrasonic dog whistle to help determine your location during an emergency.
- SOS beacon for when you’re in distress.
- Extremely long run time of up to 32 hours.
- Built-in flashlight with adjustable brightness.
- Flexible charging options – solar, battery pack, AAA batteries, or manual cranking.
- Portable and durable – made of hard plastic and rubber casing.
- Integrated NOAA weather scan and alert features.
- Relatively expensive.
- Not established to be water-resistant.
3. Esky Portable Solar Powered Radio (Budget Pick)
Esky is an Amazon Store offering a diverse range of products like solar radios, key finders, office scanners, and more.
The Esky 3 is a portable solar radio measuring 5.9 inches long and lightweight at only 7.52 oz. It comes available in two color variations of red or yellow. It also comes with a lanyard attached to it, making it easy to carry or hook onto a surface.
Design is a key feature of the Esky 3, with the design focus being on durability. It was built with harsh weather conditions in mind, so it’s made of high-quality, rugged material. The Esky 3 is water-resistant, so you can practically use it in all weather and disaster conditions.
In terms of charging mode, the Esky has triple charging capabilities. It regenerates via solar, micro, or standard USB and manual hand cranking. On a full charge, the Esky 3 lasts a reasonable run time of seven hours.
It’s also a versatile emergency radio, with the ability to transmit AM, FM, and NOAA weather updates.
The Esky 3 has a built-in flashlight, which emits 140 lumens of brightness, strong enough for almost all lighting needs.
Finally, the Esky 3 comes at a very affordable price, especially considering the above features. It’s the cheapest solar radio on this list, making it our value pick.
One drawback to the Esky 3 is that it could do with a stronger antenna. Although the current antenna attached to it is reasonably functional, it sometimes gives unclear AM and FM reception.
Another drawback is the integrated solar panels are too small, resulting in a relatively long charge time of 10-12 hours.
In short, if you’re after an affordable solar radio packed with essential features, the Esky 3 is definitely a top contender.
- Portable, compact, and lightweight – 7.52 oz, 5.9 inches, with lanyard attachment.
- Durable, rugged, water-resistant design.
- Triple charging mode – solar, USB, manual cranking.
- Transmits AM, FM, and NOAA weather updates.
- Bright built-in flashlight – 140 lumens.
- Radio transmission could be improved with a stronger antenna.
- Small solar panels resulting in a long solar charge time of 10-12 hours.
4. Raynic Solar Hand Crank Emergency Radio
Raynic is a Chinese manufacturer of a range of electronic and solar technologies. Their most popular products include solar radios, car dash cams, digital alarm clocks, and nightlights.
A multipower option is a standout feature of the Raynic Solar Radio. You can charge it using solar, manual cranking, USB, AAA batteries, and even AC power. Having these alternatives to juicing up your radio certainly comes in handy, especially during cloudy days when solar charging is near impossible.
Lighting-wise, the Raynic is equipped with two LED light sources. One of them is a 2.5W reading lamp, while the other is a brighter 3W flashlight.
In terms of emergency features, the Raynic also has a red flashing light indicator. It flashes and gives out an SOS alarm to attract attention to yourself during an emergency.
Still in line with emergency features, this AM/FM solar radio has seven preset weather channels for convenient weather monitoring. It also is capable of alerting you when your area is at risk of expecting severe weather.
Durability and portability wise, the Raynic is relatively lightweight at 1.2 lbs and compact at 7.5 inches long. It has a built-in built that doubles as a carry handle or a strap to attach to your bag. The strap itself comes with a tiny compass that is extremely helpful for navigation. The entire unit is made of tough plastic material and water-resistant with an IPX3 certification.
One unimpressive feature of the Raynic is it doesn’t last long when the lights are left constantly on. This solar radio tends to drain quickly if you leave the flashlight or reading light on for a long while. We discovered that intermittently turning the lights off between use is one way of bypassing this quick drain issue.
The Raynic solar radio changes channels using a twist knob like traditional radios. But an issue we found with this is that the knobs tend to be extremely sensitive. You have to learn to carefully turn the knob. Otherwise, you risk skipping the station you wanted to listen to.
Overall, Raynic’s multipower capability makes it a great solar radio choice for use in irregular weather conditions.
- Multipower options – five charging modes: solar, crank, AC, USB, AAA batteries.
- Two LED light sources – reading lamp and flashlight mode.
- Great emergency features – flashing red light indicator, SOS, and NOAA alert.
- Durable, portable, and water-resistant.
- Tends to rain quickly when lights left continuously on.
- Sensitive tuning knob.
5. Kaito Solar Power Radio
Kaito is a California-based company that specializes in solar radios. In fact, they were the first company to include solar panels as a charging method for portable radios.
If you’re the type who wants to color code your gear, you’d love the various color options of the Kaito. This solar radio is available in black, yellow, red, green, and blue.
The Kaito also bags the spot for the most multipowered solar radio. If you think five power options were already impressive, you’ll be surprised to learn that Kaiko has six. That’s solar, manual crank, AA batteries, 5V USB, 5V AC/DC using a wall adapter, and a built-in NiMH battery pack.
Like most products on this list, the Kaito also serves as an emergency charger for most USB-capable devices. Again, like most products on our best solar radio list, the Kaiko is AM/FM and NOAA weather channel capable.
Another standout feature of the Kaito is its lengthy telescopic antenna that extends to 14.5 inches long. It also comes with an extremely sensitive reception to enhance your listening experience. Additionally, it has a LED signal strength indicator that provides pin-point accuracy when tuning in to your favorite station.
The Kaito has great lighting and emergency features thanks to its LED flashlights, red SOS beacon light, and 5-LED reading lamp.
Finally, the Kaito is made of impact-resistant and water-resistant ABS material, making it ideal for indoor and outdoor use.
What seems to be lacking with the Kaito is a battery level or charging indicator. There is no way to tell if the battery is fully charged or not. This situation can be unsafe when charging through a wall socket as it runs the risk of overcharging.
Another possible setback comes with the Kaito’s size. This may or may not matter to you depending on your intended use for a solar radio. However, if you’re using this for camping or backpacking, you may find its nearly 9-inch size too bulky.
All in all, the Kaito is a top contender if you’re after a solar radio with crisp and accurate tuning abilities.
- Available in four color options.
- 6-power modes – solar, AA battery, manual crank, AC/DC, USB, NiMH battery pack.
- Long telescopic antenna for crisp reception.
- LED signal strength indicator for accurate tuning.
- No battery charging indicator, which runs the risk of overcharging.
- Relatively bulky size at nearly 9 inches long.
6. Puiuisoul Portable Weather Solar Radio
Puiuisoul is another Amazon retailer. Their product offering is a bit niche in that they currently only market emergency radios.
An extremely powerful battery is the key feature of the Puiuisoul. This solar radio is powered by a 4000mAh lithium-ion battery, which is the largest in the current market.
Its large and powerful battery certainly reflects in its integrated lighting features, which shine extremely bright. The Puiuisoul comes with three light modes. The first is a reading lamp, and the second is a flashlight mode that can illuminate areas up to 10 meters.
The third lighting mode is a standout feature of the Puiuisoul. This mode comes in the form of a motion-sensor lamp. When this mode is chosen, the reading lamp mode is activated if any movement is detected within 3m of the radio. The light automatically turns off when no motion is detected within 30 seconds, which helps with battery conservation and efficiency.
The Puiuisoul can transmit AM, FM, and NOAA radio frequencies with an integrated SOS alarm for emergencies.
Charging wise, the Puiuisoul has a triple powering mode, which is solar, AAA, and USB charging.
Finally, this solar unit is IPX3 certified, so it’s safe to use even during the rainy season.
An unimpressive feature of the Puiuisoul solar radio is extremely quick battery drainage when light is used with the radio. However, keeping it on the radio alone achieves a relatively long run time.
Another thing is that the radio sound quality isn’t the best. It’s not ideal for FM music listening, but it’s definitely good enough for listening to the news and weather alerts.
Overall, the Puiuisoul is a decent option if you’re after a solar radio primarily for emergency news and weather monitoring.
- Largest and most powerful battery capacity in the market – 4000mAh.
- Motion sensor lamp mode – detects motion up to 10 meters.
- Triple charging mode – solar, AAA batteries, USB.
- Water-resistant with an IPX3 rating.
- Drains extremely quickly when radio and light mode are used concurrently.
- Average sound quality.
7. Mesqool Hand Crank Solar Radio
Mesqool is a Chinese brand focused on the design and manufacture of various electronic and solar products. Their products include chargers, speakers, solar radios, and more.
The Mesqool solar radio features an all-in-one design. It’s an AM/FM radio, LED flashlight, reading lamp, power bank, SOS alarm, and compass all in one compact unit.
The Mesqool is compact solar radio with a maximum length of 6.78 inches. It’s extremely lightweight at 0.8 lbs and comes with a nylon wrist strap for easy portability.
In terms of the Mesqool’s lighting capability, the unit is equipped with a 3W LED flashlight on its front panels. This light is bright enough to help navigate your way around during blackouts, at camp, or in other emergencies. It also has a 6 LED bulb atop the radio, useful as a reading lamp or night light.
The Mesqool can transmit AM radio frequencies from 520-1710 kHz and FM radio from 87.5-108 MHz. It also transmits all seven NOAA weather stations, so you’re always up-to-date with your area’s latest weather conditions.
In case of emergency, the Mesqool solar radio gives out a reasonably loud SOS alarm to attract attention towards you. When the NOAA weather alert is activated, a red beacon light also flashes to emphasize the alarm.
One thing missing with the Mesqool solar radio is its waterproofing. It’s not water-resistant either. That means this solar radio can only be used indoors or outdoors in dry conditions to prevent damage.
Another issue we found is with the tuning bar. This display bar that’s meant to let you know which frequency you are on is slightly inaccurate. That means you have to play around with the tuning knob to land into the right frequency you’re after.
In short, the Mesqool solar radio is a good all-in-one emergency radio and light device for use in dry conditions.
- All-in-one solar device – includes a compass.
- Dual lighting – flashlight and reading lamp.
- Transmits all seven NOAA weather stations.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Not waterproof or water-resistant.
- Tuning bar slightly inaccurate.
8. Sangean Emergency Solar Radio
Sangean is a Taiwanese company focused on designing, engineering, and manufacturing portable electronic and solar products.
Durability in design is one of the key features of the Sangean solar radio. It’s built with tough plastic material and reinforced with rubber around its sides for shock protection against accidental drops. It also carries an IPX3 rating, which means it can resist water sprays and safe for most weather conditions.
Another thing to love with the Sangean solar radio is its bright digital display screen. It makes tuning in to your favorite frequency easier and allows you to monitor your battery’s status.
Ease of listening is another key feature of this solar radio. It comes with 19 presets to easily save your favorite FM and AM channels and the 7 NOAA weather stations. It’s definitely a great feature that saves time and effort in having to regularly scan through frequencies.
In terms of battery life, the MMR-88 lasts over 10 hours when fully charged. The charging time varies, with the quickest charging time achieved via USB charging at just two hours.
That brings us to one potential setback for this Sangean solar radio: slow solar charging. A full charge via solar requires at least 15 hours under direct sunlight. That means this radio is not ideal for long-term use, especially if you’re only relying on solar charging.
The rechargeable battery included with the unit is not of the best quality and certainly low in capacity. Its battery capacity is only 850mAh, which is more than half the capacity of most solar radios on this list.
Overall, the MMR-88 is a good option if you’re in the market for an extremely durable and user-friendly solar radio.
- Extremely durable – reinforced with rubber on all four corners.
- User-friendly listening- 19 preset stations
- Bright digital display screen.
- The relatively long battery life of over 10 hours.
- Slow solar charging – requires at least 15 hours for a full charge.
- The low battery capacity of 850 mAh.
9. TENROOP Solar Weather Radio
TENROOP is an Amazon retailer that focuses on clothing but have somehow also added a solar radio to their range.
A large and powerful battery capacity is the selling point of the TENROOP solar radio. Their upgraded version currently holds a battery capacity of 5000 mAh, which is twice the capacity of most solar radios.
Another key feature of the TENROOP solar radio is a long run time of 20 hours. This is twice the average solar radio’s battery life but is expected due to its battery size.
The TENROOP provides a good radio tuning and listening experience. It is equipped with an automatic gain control technology that maintains the radio’s signal amplitude to a suitable level. This feature provides enough amplification for weaker signals and prevents stronger signals from overpowering.
Finally, like most solar radios on this list, the TENROOP has a few extra functional features. It comes with a flashlight and reading light, SOS alarm, triple-charging capability, and also acts as a power bank.
A major design flaw of the TENROOP team when designing this solar radio is the labels. The radio’s buttons are marked using small white print. The size and color against the bright orange background make it nearly impossible to read and see low-light conditions. They probably would have been more visible had the text been black.
Another related issue we have is that this solar radio comes without an instruction manual. This again makes use of the radio a bit challenging and requires playing around with.
Overall, the TENROOP is a great choice for a basic solar radio with a large battery capacity and lasts long.
- Large and powerful battery – 5000 mAh.
- Long run time of 20 hours.
- Great radio tuning – automatic gain control technology.
- Extra functional features – lights, SOS alarm, triple charging, and power bank capabilities.
- White button labels hard to read, especially in low-light conditions.
- No instruction manual is included.
10. SOLELOZ OLELOZ NOAA Weather Solar Radio
Soleloz is an Amazon retailer solely of solar radios.
Portability is a selling point of the Soleloz radio. It is extremely lightweight at only 0.61 lbs and is also super compact at only 4.6 inches long. It also comes with a lanyard that easily hooks into your hands, bag, or any other hooked surface.
Another great feature we love about the Soleloz is it has a clear battery indicator. The display screen shows four power stages to represent battery levels of 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. It’s definitely a great feature to have and keeps you always on top of your radio’s run time.
Speaking of battery, the Soleloz solar radio can be powered in four ways. There’s the solar panel, the hand crank generator, the AAA battery backup, and a USB port.
The Soleloz solar radio also comes in handy in emergencies. It’s equipped with an SOS distress signal, a flashlight, and a powerful siren.
One drawback to the Soleloz, especially as a solar radio, is its super long solar charging time. It takes at least 25 hours under direct sunlight to achieve a full charge. This makes it impractical if you’re only using solar power.
Another less major setback is the relatively low battery capacity of 1500 mAh. While it is not the lowest battery capacity in solar radios, it’s certainly not at par with the average solar radio’s battery.
In summary, if you’re after a lightweight and portable solar radio with versatility in charging modes, the Soleloz is another great choice.
- Extremely portable and lightweight – 0.61 lbs and 4.6 inches long.
- Clear battery indicator – shows four levels of the battery.
- Four-way charging – solar, hand crank, USB, and AAA batteries.
- Handy emergency features – SOS signal, flashlight, and powerful siren.
- Extremely long solar charge time of 25 hours for a full charge.
- Relatively low battery capacity – 1500 mAh.
Solar radios may not be as sophisticated as our high-end home radios, but they’re definitely great for outdoors and emergencies. Our top pick and a clear winner for the best solar radio is none other than FosPower Hand Crank Solar Radio.
This solar radio is compact, portable, has a reasonably powerful battery, and can run for an impressively long time. It’s also packed with other extra helpful features, which turns this radio into an all-in-one emergency or outdoor device. This FosPower solar radio is definitely a must-have addition to your emergency or outdoor kit.