Weather Radios: Ratings of Sources
TheSweethome.com tests nearly 100 different products -- including six weather radios -- to name the essential components of an emergency kit. Testers include an occupational first-aid attendant and a science journalist who specializes in natural disasters and survival skills. They recommend three of the radios: an overall pick, a budget pick and a more expensive one that can weed out alerts that don't apply to the user's area.
This site for ham radio enthusiasts includes reviews of weather radios based on users' personal experience. Navigation is easy, with comments listed in a table format that can be sorted by average rating, number of reviews, last review date or price. Contributors seem knowledgeable about radios and typically provide detailed, insightful feedback.
This weather-enthusiast website includes a discussion forum on weather radios. Traffic is light, so there isn't much feedback here, but we found a few threads comparing weather radios. The most recommended model overall is the Midland WR-300, but newer threads contain more recommendations for some Reecom and Sangean weather radios. We also found several threads here that discuss troubleshooting issues for various radios.
Amazon.com lists hundreds of weather radios, though some of these are the same model in different colors or sizes. We found many models with 100 reviews or more, and several of these receive overall ratings of 4.3 stars out of 5 or better. The quality of the write-ups varies greatly, with the most illuminating reports coming from users who have needed to rely on their radios in an emergency.
Only about 30 emergency and weather radios are sold here, but a couple of models earn strong ratings with at least 20 user reviews posted. Reviews tend to be short, but each reviewer does indicate whether he or she would recommend the item to a friend.
This survivalist blog has historically based its top-recommended weather radios on reviews at Amazon.com. However, blogger Ken Jorgustin's three top-recommended picks -- all from Midland and Sangean -- are different from the top picks at Amazon.com. The site provides a useful summary of features and user opinions for the top-rated models.
This website focuses on emergency preparedness. In this post, Virginia Nicols discusses features to look for in an emergency radio and evaluates five radios from her own family's collection. Each radio gets only a short write-up a few sentences long, but that's enough to get a sense of its strongest points. Nicols recommends four radios and specifically recommends avoiding an inexpensive Durapro model that fails to live up to its name.
Walmart.com sells just a small selection of weather radios, and most of them don't get a significant amount of feedback from users. However, we found one Midland model with strong ratings from more than 150 users. The quality of user comments varies, ranging from vague remarks to useful details. Each review indicates how long the reviewer has owned their weather or emergency radio and how often they use it.
B&H Photo and Video's selection of emergency weather radios is limited, and you have to dig through listings for non-weather radios to find what you're looking for. We found only one weather radio with a substantial number of customer reviews, though others have limited feedback. The reviews themselves include a list of pros and cons, which the site helpfully sums up at the top of the page.
Graham McClung, an amateur weather enthusiast, reviews eight weather radios on this site. Although only three new reviews have been posted since April 2011, most of the radios covered here are still available. McClung's reviews are based on features rather than testing, combined with an analysis of user feedback from retail sites. He also doesn't actually rate or rank the various models. Still, his reviews provide a useful summary of each radio's pros and cons.