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Emergency radio reviews

Battery-powered radios that charge using solar panels or by cranking a handle could keep you in touch when the mains power goes off.
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Six battery-powered radios priced from $45 to $119 were tested in the CHOICE labs. Our rigorous, unbiased tests reveal which radios:

  • are easiest to use
  • play for the longest
  • have the highest volume

On this page, you'll find the models we tested and information about how we test.

Why buy an emergency radio?

It can be pretty frightening when the power and lights go out. A battery powered radio can provide essential information about where that storm cell or fire is heading.

The radios in this test have been designed with this in mind and include a crank handle to charge their battery. Five also have solar cells incorporated and one has an extra solar cell as a separate unit.

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*Billed quarterly as $23.95

Brands and models tested

  • Eton Scorpion
  • Freeplay Companion
  • Freeplay Encore Player (703)
  • Freeplay TUF Radio
  • Tech Brands Multipurpose Dynamo Radio (ST-3356)
  • Tech Brands Multipurpose Solar & Dynamo Radio (ST-3358)

How we test

Ease of use Our tester James Thomson assesses the controls for selecting the band, volume and choosing a station. He pays careful attention to the accuracy and feedback from these controls, either from the button or dial itself, or an associated display.
Playing time James fully discharges the battery and times how long the radio will play at 65dB after 120 cranks in one minute; after 20 minutes in bright sunlight, and when fully charged using mains or USB power inputs.
Maximum volume is measured at 0.25m. The volume is turned up until voices start to distort and become difficult to understand.

For more reviews of radios and audio accessories, see our Sound section.

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