Depending on the information you want to access, and how and where you plan to access our broadcasts, you have many options. There are Standalone Weather Radio receivers as well as Multi-Band/Function Receivers with the Weather Band included. If you are want to be alerted to Warnings and Watches day or night, a Standalone receiver might work best for you. If you just want to be able to tune to in the Weather Broadcast, but you do not care about receiving alerts, a general multi-band/function receiver could be better.
Standalone Receivers: Standalone Receivers might also come with AM/FM bands, but their primary use will be to receive Weather Radio broadcasts. You can choose between handheld and desktop models, depending on whether you will want to take your radio with you when you go out. There are many choices from a number of manufacturers with prices ranging from around $20 to over $100, depending on the number of features included.
Multi-Band/Function Receivers: These receivers bundle a number of features, and Weather Radio is just one of possibly many frequency bands included. You can find the Weather Radio band included in:
VHF Marine radios
GMRS/FRS 2-way radios
Residential Grade Radios and Features
Prices can vary from $20 to $200, depending on the model. Many receivers have an alarm feature, but some may not.
Among the more useful features in a receiver are:
Tone alarm: The National Weather Service will send a 1050 Hz tone alarm before most warning and many watch messages are broadcast. The tone will activate all the receivers which are equipped to receive it, even if the audio is turned off. This is especially useful for warnings which occur during the night when most people are asleep.
SAME technology: SAME, or Specific Alert Message Encoding allows you to specify the particular area for which you wish to receive alerts. Most warnings and watches broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio are county- or independent city-based (parish-based in Louisiana), although in a few areas of the country the alerts are issued for portions of counties. Since most NWR transmitters are broadcasting for a number of counties, SAME receivers will respond only to alerts issued for the area (or areas) you have selected. This minimizes the number of “false alarms” for events which might be a few counties away from where you live.
Selectable alerting of events: While SAME allows you to specify a particular area of interest, some receivers allow you to turn off the alarm for certain events which might not be important to you. For example, if you live in a coastal county, but not right at the beach, you might not care about Coastal Flood Warnings.
Battery backup: Since power outages often occur during storms, having a receiver with battery backup can be crucial. However, unless you have a portable unit which you will use away from other power sources, an AC power connection is recommended.
External antenna jack: While most receivers come with a whip antenna which can usually be extended out from the unit, depending on your location you may need an external antenna to get a good reception. Some receivers come with an external antenna jack (normally in the back of the unit) which will allow you to connect to a larger antenna (indoors or outdoors). You can often purchase these as accessories at the place where you bought your receiver, or from most stores with an electronics department. NWR broadcasts are in the Public Service VHF frequencies, just above FM radio and between TV channels 6 and 7 – so an antenna designed for VHF televisions or FM radios should work. Or, you can make your own antenna.
We can not recommend one brand of receiver over another, but we do suggest that you look for receivers which carry the Public Alert logo. The Public Alert Standard (CEA-2009) was developed by the Consumer Electronics Association in conjunction with the National Weather Service. Devices which carrying the Public Alert logo meet certain technical standards and come with all the features mentioned above
For information on Weather Radio receiver recalls, go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission web site and choose “Radios Weather” in the product Type list