The best weather radio?
The one that you have! You do have one, right? With that said, if you don’t have one and you’re wondering what’s the best weather radio, well, here’s my opinion…
Note: When minutes count, a weather alert radio may save your life! Especially important at night while you are sleeping!
I’ve updated this every year for awhile. In the past, I have chosen the Midland WR300, the Midland WR120EZ, and the Sangean CL-100. I have owned and used all three of them. I have others too, which are integrated into so called “emergency radios”. But I’m strictly referring to a purpose-designed weather alert radio as opposed to a multi-functional or crank-up wind-up type (many of them kinda cheap…).
I have been recommending the Midland WR120EZ as sort of the best weather radio for economy. You might say the best cheap weather radio. Though still very good performance. It’s not that the others are very expensive, but they are about twice the cost.
Okay, why did I dump the WR120EZ off the top of the recommend list? Really it’s just one main reason… It is WAY TOO LOUD with no way to adjust the alert volume! It drives me nuts in this regard. As you’ll see below, I talk about it and show what I did as a “band aid”. I’m not deaf, and I don’t want to be jolted awake at night to have to peel myself off the ceiling from being blasted out of bed by the shock wave of its outrageously loud screeching (I think I’ve made my point). But it’s a good radio otherwise…
Why I switched to the Sangean CL-100
>> Sangean CL-100
(view on amzn)
Okay, what did I switch back to as my primary? My good old Sangean CL-100. I do really like that radio.
Let me back up for a second. I also really liked my old Midland WR300. But after years of service it broke. I really do want to buy its successor, the WR400, which is acclaimed by many to be the best weather radio today. It very well may be. I hope it has adjustable alert / alarm volume!!
Back to the Sangean CL-100… It has every feature that I want. Yes, the alert volume is adjustable! Plus, when the alarm / alert begins to sound, it has a “ramp up” volume. It doesn’t immediately BLARE. Rather, it starts quiet and after a few seconds (5?) it has reached the preset volume level. That’s really nice.
It is a solid and somewhat heavy radio, the heaviest of them all. That’s not an issue. If anything it indicates a significant construction / materials.
The SOUND is awesome. Very nice audio. Adjustable too. The best sounding weather radio in my opinion. It does also have AM/FM (as many do) so the good audio reproduction helps if you listen to that.
NOAA weather radio reception is excellent. In addition to its telescoping antenna, there is an external antenna jack should you need it.
I also utilize the accessory jack for a flashing red LED light. When an alert sounds, the light flashes too, for about 30 seconds or so. Nice additional indication!
I could get into more, but you can check these things for yourself. It’s this years favorite. My best weather radio recommendation at this time.
But I do want to get a Midland WR400 too!
Weather Radio Alert Accessory Strobe Light
A visual alert that will flash red when there’s a weather alert warning:
The rest of this article is about the WR120-EZ, previously posted:
About the Midland WR120EZ
I’ve included a mod (modification) to my Midland WR120EZ. Why? Because it has a VERY LOUD alert with no volume adjustment for that (which may not be an issue for many people) (see my mod below).
>> Midland WR120EZ
(view on amzn)
The Midland WR120-EZ is a NOAA Weather Alert Radio. Why this year’s pick? Because it’s the best value for your money in my opinion.
It’s not expensive and there’s no excuse not to have one for the safety of your household and family – especially if you live where tornadoes are possible, or hurricanes, or severe thunderstorms (which covers just about everyone).
[ Read: 10 Ways To Know If A Tornado Is Coming ]
– Purpose built & specifically designed as a weather alert radio.
– Midland is a well known quality brand.
– It’s popularity reflects being a best choice.
– Excellent price and value.
– Great features, listed below:
Midland WR120-EZ Features
- ‘S.A.M.E.’ technology -Localized Reception
- Continuous Backlighting Option- Keeps the LCD on
- 25 Programmable Locations (counties /provinces)
- Color Coded Alert Level Indicators
- Alert Override automatically switches over to warn you of impending danger
- Time & Alarm Clock with Snooze
- Silent programming
- Single, Multiple, or Any S.A.M.E program settings
- 3 Selectable Warning Systems: 90dB Siren Alarm, Flashing LED, Voice Alert
- Uses 3AA Alkaline batteries for emergency power back-up
- All 7 NOAA / Environment Canada Weather Channels
- Stores up to 10 Different Previously Received All Hazards and Weather Alerts
- Public Alert Certified
- Over 60 Emergency Alerts
UPDATE: A commenter emphasized the value of the national Emergency Alert System (EAS), which is part of this radio (and others).
“The real value is for “SHTF” EAS warnings. That’s up to and including presidential alerts.”
“Your local radio or television station may be part of EAS, but it’s unlikely to survive for long in a serious scenario, whereas NOAA Weather Radio is more resilient than most people realize – including government officials.”
Tip: The Midland WR120-EZ has a unique feature that lets you select which of the alerts you want the radio to respond to. The other good weather radios have this too.
For example you might not want the tone alert for many of the “Advisory” or “Watch” alerts (maybe you just the “Warnings”). The radio will still respond to these alerts though by providing the text in the LCD display, but just not the loud tone.
The entire list of alerts may be viewed in the menu. You can set which alerts will sound the tone. Note that some alert tones such as “Tornado Warning” cannot be turned off to insure you get this very important alert.
Midland WR120EZ Modification for Loud Alert Volume
The alert on this weather radio is very loud. It’s supposed to be! Hey, it’s giving you a warning, right? And for most situations that’s perfectly acceptable.
Here’s my issue… if it’s in your bedroom and a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued in the middle of the night, you’re going to hit the ceiling when you awaken to this alert!
I searched online for anyone having done a mod to this radio to adjust the alert volume. Couldn’t find anything. It’s apparently just the way the circuit is designed. So, I came up with my own modification to lower the volume. It works!
Don’t laugh! I used some white tape to cover over the speaker grill. The more you put on, the more it quiets the alert. There’s a menu setting in the radio to test the alert, so you can adjust the volume this way to your liking as you test it.
[ Read: Emergency Radio Choices ]