Best Solar Radios 2024

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Solar radios promise a lot. They offer the ability to listen to the radio and use additional features such as flashlights and phone chargers without requiring batteries.
But do solar radios actually work? Which are worth buying?

We’ve researched the market to find the best solar radios available in the UK right now. We analysed the top-selling products to select 5 of the best based on features, price and performance.

Best Solar Radios in the UK

1. RunningSnail MD-088

  • Performance: 3/3
  • Features: 2/3
  • Value for Money: 3/3
  • Overall score: 89%

The RunningSnail MD-088 Wind Up Solar Radio offers an impressive combination of features and can be charged in three ways: solar, via the hand crank, or by attaching a USB cable.

It’s a small yet robust device that would be very useful when camping or travelling.


  • AM/FM radio
  • NOAA weather radio (lets you pick up weather reports if you are in the USA)
  • 3 charging methods: solar, hand crank, USB
  • Micro USB cable included
  • 1W LED flashlight
  • IPX-3 Water Resistant
  • Phone charging function

Design, use and performance

The RunningSnail MD-088 is bright red, making it easy to find if you’re camping. It’s very compact, measuring just 14 x 8 x 6 cm and weighing 260 grams, and can easily be held in one hand if you’re using it as a torch.

This product offers plenty of features that make it a handy device for a “grab bag” or emergencies. The three charging options mean you should always be able to keep it charged up without batteries. Even if it’s dark or cloudy, you can charge it using the hand crank.

The MD-088 does feature a phone charger, but you can’t really rely on it to keep your phone charged up for whole a weekend away camping. This feature is best thought of as an emergency last resort—you will still need a separate portable charger for your phone.

The radio itself has decent sound quality for something so small, and can work for 4-5 hours on a full charge.


  • Lots of useful features
  • Radio has decent sound quality
  • Small and light
  • Attractive design


  • Phone charger feature isn’t very powerful
  • No headphone jack


Given its versatility and range of features, this radio is an excellent choice for camping or an emergency “go bag”. However, don’t expect too much from the phone charger feature unless you are prepared to wind the hand crank for hours!


2. DEGEN DE13 Solar Radio

  • Performance: 3/3
  • Features: 2/3
  • Value for Money: 3/3
  • Overall score: 89%

The DEGEN DE13 is very similar in terms of features to the RunningSnail MD-088 reviewed above. One of the main differences is that it can also take 3 X AAA batteries, which offer an extra way to power the device.


  • FM/MW/SW radio
  • 3 charging methods: solar, hand crank, USB
  • Can be powered using 3 x AAA batteries
  • LED flashlight
  • Phone charging function
  • Headphone jack

Design, use and performance

The bright green DEGEN DE13 isn’t particularly attractive, but it is very functional and packs a lot of features into a small device.

The DE13 measures 13.3 cm long by 6.2 cm high and 4.7 cm wide, so it fits comfortably in the hand. It only weighs 256 grams, so it’s easy to carry around or take with you on your travels.

This radio offers a convenient selection of charging methods (hand crank, solar panel or USB), plus the option to power it with batteries. Battery life is impressive—you can expect the radio to work for at least 7 hours on a full charge.

It also has a bright LED torch and FM, MW and SW (shortwave) radio. However, the shortwave receiver isn’t very powerful, so you are unlikely to pick up any stations clearly.


  • Good battery life
  • Feels tough and sturdy
  • Easy-to-understand instructions


  • Controls are small and fiddly
  • Can’t charge all phones


This is a handy little radio that could be very useful when camping, fishing or in emergencies. The battery lasts a long time and the product feels quite sturdy for the price. However, the controls are small and fiddly, and the phone charging function isn’t compatible with all modern phones.


3. FosPower Emergency Solar Radio

  • Performance: 3/3
  • Features: 2/3
  • Value for Money: 3/3
  • Overall score: 89%

The FosPower Emergency Solar Radio (model number FOSPWB-2376) is another solar radio that offers multiple charging options. It has a few extra features that make it stand out from the crowd, including a reading light and an emergency alarm.


  • AM/FM radio
  • 3 charging methods: solar, hand crank, USB
  • Can be powered using 3 x AAA batteries
  • NOAA weather radio (US only)
  • Built-in 2000mAh power bank for charging phones
  • SOS alarm function
  • 2 lights: Torch and reading light

Design, use and performance

The FosPower Emergency Solar Radio has a very functional look to it, with an orange and black design.

You can charge it using the solar panel, via the hand crank or with a USB cable. You can also insert 3 AAA batteries.

This radio has some interesting features that might make it a better option than the alternatives depending on what you are looking for.

It has a loud SOS alarm, so could be useful in emergencies or when camping or hiking in remote areas. There are also 2 lights, a torch and a reading light, so you can use it to read after it goes dark!


  • SOS alarm function could be useful in emergencies
  • Solar panels work well
  • Useful reading light function


  • Sound quality isn’t great
  • Phone charger doesn’t work with all phones


The SOS alarm function makes the FosPower Emergency Solar Radio a good choice if you want something you can rely on in emergencies. The addition of a reading light is another nice function. However, as a radio this product is quite disappointing as the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired.


4. KAYINOW Portable Hand Crank Solar Radio

  • Performance: 2/3
  • Features: 3/3
  • Value for Money: 2/3
  • Overall score: 78%

The KAYINOW solar radio (model number 580-11) is one of the few solar radios on the market that can be used as a Bluetooth speaker. This makes it a good choice if you want to play music from your phone instead of listening to the radio.


  • AM/FM radio
  • 3 charging methods: solar, hand crank, USB
  • Built-in 5000mAh power bank
  • Can charge a phone
  • 2 lights: 3W flashlight and 3W reading lamp
  • Micro SD card reader for playing MP3s

Design, use and performance

Design wise, the FosPower Emergency Solar Radio looks very similar to most other solar radios on the market. The blue and black finish is subtler than some of the more garish alternatives.

This radio has good sound quality for its size, and offers a decent amount of bass. It can be turned up quite loud without distorting.

However, the radio reception isn’t great due to the small aerial. This isn’t an issue if you are using it primarily as a Bluetooth speaker.

The ability to stream music from your phone and turn the volume up quite loud mean this product could be a good alternative to expensive jobsite radios from brands such as Makita. It’s also water resistant.

This product has a lot of features, including a micro-SD card for playing MP3s. There’s also a compass, though it doesn’t work very well.


  • Good sound quality
  • Can be turned up loud
  • Features Bluetooth
  • Lots of features


  • Radio reception is poor
  • Compass doesn’t work very well


If you want a cheap Bluetooth speaker with solar charging and a few extra features, the KAYINOW solar radio is a great choice. As a radio though it leaves something to be desired, as the reception is unreliable.


5. Roberts SolarDAB 2

  • Performance: 3/3
  • Features: 1/3
  • Value for Money: 2/3
  • Overall score: 68%

The Roberts Digital Solar Radio is one of the few solar-powered radios to offer DAB radio as well as FM. As it’s larger than most solar radios and can be powered using mains power, this radio is more suited to use around the house than taking on camping or fishing trips.


  • FM/DAB radio
  • Can be powered by solar, mains or AA batteries
  • Solar and battery level indicators
  • Line-in socket
  • Saves preset stations

Design, use and performance

The SolarDAB 2 is a bit different to the other solar radios reviewed here. It’s clearly designed more for use at home than for camping or emergencies.

There’s no flashlight, phone charger or hand crank here. Instead, you get DAB radio and the option to power the radio via the mains.

This makes the SolarDAB 2 a good choice for keeping on a sunny window sill at home. It’s quite pricey, but the solar charging function will save you on energy bills and batteries in the long run.

As you’d expect from Roberts, the sound quality is good. However, it can start to distort or vibrate if you turn the volume up high.


  • Station name is displayed on both DAB and FM as it uses RDS on FM
  • Choice of power sources: solar, AA batteries or mains power
  • Excellent sound quality


  • Requires a consistent amount of sun to stay charged when relying on solar power
  • Battery cover rattles when the volume is turned up very loud
  • Quite expensive

The Roberts Digital Solar Radio is ideal for use in the garden or on a sunny windowsill where you’ll be able to use it for days with minimal mains charging.

This radio is larger than many of the others reviewed here, so it’s less suited to camping. However, it has better sound quality and lets you listen to DAB digital stations as well as FM. Read our full review of the Roberts Digital Solar Radio here.



Solar-powered radios are very useful for camping.

Solar Radio FAQs

Do solar radios actually work?

As long as you buy a quality solar radio, the solar panel will work and will charge the internal battery. However, you need to leave the radio in a sunny place (outside or on a windowsill).

You may need to supplement the solar charging with winding the hand crank, using batteries or plugging the radio into the mains some of the time, especially when the weather is cloudy.

Will a solar radio work abroad?

Yes, the radios reviewed above will be able to pick up local and national stations when used abroad, but not UK stations. You should be able to pick up some international broadcasts on shortwave radio using the Degen DE13.

Can solar radios be used to charge other devices such as phones?

Some, but not all, solar radios allow you to charge other devices such as phones and tablets via USB. Smartphones are quite power-hungry, so you might not be able to charge your phone more than 10-20 percent unless you’re prepared to spend hours turning the hand crank! However, that small amount of battery could make all the difference in an emergency situation.

Among the radios on this list, both the Duronic Apex and Degen DE13 allow you to charge a phone.

Will a solar radio work in the car?

A solar radio should be able to pick up a signal fine in the car, though solar charging will work best when the radio is outside in direct sunlight.

How long can you listen to a solar radio for before the battery runs out?

Solar-powered AM/FM radios usually have a built-in battery that lasts for about 8-10 hours on a full charge. However, it might be difficult to charge it fully using sunlight alone, especially in the UK! You can supplement solar charging with USB charging or winding the hand crank (if the radio has one).

Can you get a solar-powered DAB radio?

Yes, though there aren’t many models available. The most popular is the Roberts DAB / FM Digital Solar Radio, though you could also consider the PowerPlus Stork.

Do solar radios take rechargeable batteries?

No, solar radios usually have a built-in rechargeable battery, so you won’t need to buy batteries separately.

Some radios, such as the Degen DE13, let you add regular rechargeable batteries as well, which is useful if you need power quickly and don’t have time to wind the hand crank or leave the radio in the sun to charge.

Are solar radios waterproof or splash resistant?

Not all of the radios reviewed here are described as splash resistant by their manufacturers, let alone waterproof. It’s hard to find a water-resistant solar radio, which is a shame as solar radios are usually used outside, exposed to the elements.

One water-resistant solar radio is the Unionshopping Self Powered FM Solar Weather Radio, which also features a hand crank and an LED flashlight.

If you’re interested in water-resistant radios, you should check out our roundup of the best waterproof and water-resistant radios.


Features to Look for When Choosing a Solar Radio

Solar radios often have added features that would be useful while camping or in survival situations. These include the following:

  • Hand crank – A hand crank lets you charge the radio’s battery by turning a handle. The kinetic energy gets transformed and stored. Most AM/FM solar radios have a hand crank, but DAB solar radios rarely do.
  • Phone charger – Some solar radios have a mini USB socket which can be used to charge a phone. This can be useful in emergency situations, though you shouldn’t rely on a solar radio to keep your phone charged up for long periods of time as they usually don’t have enough power to fully charge a phone, at least not quickly.
  • Flashlight – This could be very useful when camping or in the event of a power cut. A flashlight and a hand crank is a great combination as it means you can use a torch in the dark without having to worry about the batteries running out.


Solar Radio Brands

There’s a good chance you won’t have heard of most of the solar radio brands mentioned in this article. Most solar radios are made in China, often by brands that don’t share a lot of information about themselves online.

Here’s some info about some of the most popular manufacturers of solar radios.

  • DEGEN – DEGEN appears to be a Chinese radio brand, though we couldn’t find much information about them online. They don’t appear to have a website or social media presence.
  • Duronic – Duronic is a British brand who make a range of products including vacuum cleaners, desks and kitchen gadgets. You can visit their website here.
  • iGadgitz – iGadgitz is a UK business that sells a high volume of products on eBay. They make a range of products including a lot of portable camping gadgets. You can visit their website here.
  • Retekess – The brand Retekess was formerly known as Tivdio. They appear to be a Chinese brand, though their website doesn’t list an address. They sell a range of wireless products.
  • Roberts – Roberts is a well-known British brand who have been around since 1932. They only have one solar radio available at the moment, the SolarDAB 2.
  • RunningSnail – RunningSnail is a Chinese brand specialising in emergency radios.



If we had to pick just one of these radios to recommend, it would be the RunningSnail MD-088 due to its impressive range of features, compact size and reasonable price. It’s incredibly versatile, and would be ideal for camping, emergency situations or for keeping in a “go bag”.


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