Best Solar Radios (UK 2018)

Solar radios have a variety of uses. You can use them while you’re camping, fishing, trekking, sunbathing on the beach, or gardening.

Solar radios are also very useful when there’s a power cut or in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster. Many solar radios come with additional survival features like a flashlight or a siren for use in emergencies.

One benefit of solar radios is that you’ll save money on batteries and will reduce your carbon footprint by not using so much mains power.

While the idea of being able to power your radio using just the sun sounds amazing, don’t expect to be able to use a solar radio all the time if you live in the UK. Solar radios usually require direct sunlight, which isn’t always available in our notoriously rainy climate.

However, you won’t be limited to only using your radio in direct sunlight as most solar radios offer a range of powering options. Often, you will be able to charge the radio by winding it up or plugging it into a computer or other USB power outlet.

Here’s a roundup of 5 of the best solar radios available in the UK in 2018.

Best Solar Radios in the UK (2018)

1. Degen DE13 Solar Radio

The Degen DE13 is a very versatile solar-powered radio. In addition to solar, you can power it using a hand crank, USB cable or with 3 x AAA batteries. It also has a flashlight and is the only radio on this list to have a shortwave radio receiver.

Features

  • SW/MW/FM radio
  • 4 power options: Solar, hand crank, USB or 3 X AAA batteries
  • Can be used to charge a phone
  • Flashlight
  • Headphone jack

Dimensions: 13.3 x 6.2 x 4.7 cm
Weight: 256 g

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Lots of features
  • Long battery life
  • Small yet robust
  • Has shortwave radio

Cons

  • Instructions are quite poorly written

Summary

This radio feels quite robust and well made for something so small and inexpensive. Being able to pick up shortwave radio means you will be able to listen to international stations you wouldn’t get on a regular AM/FM radio. You can also use it to charge a phone if you’re stuck with no battery in the middle of nowhere.

2. Duronic Hybrid Radio

The Duronic Hybrid Radio is one of the most popular solar radios in Britain. It’s very cheap and has several different charging options: solar, winding it up using the hand crank and USB. This radio is very compact at just 13 cm wide, so it should easily fit in your backpack if you’re going hiking or camping.

Features

  • AM/FM radio
  • Headphone jack
  • Extendable aerial
  • Built-in 300mAh 2.4V battery
  • USB charging cable included

Dimensions: 13 x 7.3 x 4.1 cm
Weight: 203 g

Pros

  • 3 different ways to charge it
  • Low price
  • Light and small, making it ideal for backpacking or travelling
  • No batteries required

Cons

  • Sound quality isn’t very impressive, though you wouldn’t buy it for the sound

Summary

If you’re looking for a cheap portable solar radio, the Duronic Hybrid Radio is ideal. It’s very small so you can easily take it with you on camping or fishing trips. Being able to charge it by leaving it in the sun or winding the hand crank means you can rely on it during a power cut or while camping.

The sound quality leaves something to be desired, but this isn’t the kind of radio you buy for the sound quality. Read our full review of the Duronic Hybrid Radio here.

3. iGadgitz Xtra Portable AM/FM Radio

The iGadgitz Xtra Wind Up Solar Radio is a small and light solar AM/FM radio. It can be charged by the wind-up handle, a USB cable or the solar panel. A blue light comes on to let you know when it’s charging.

Features

  • AM/FM radio
  • 300mAh 2.4v battery
  • Can be charged via solar, hand crank or USB
  • Battery lasts up to 7 hours
  • Headphone jack
  • Telescopic aerial

Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 4 cm
Weight: 203 g

Pros

  • Good amount of volume
  • Very small and light
  • Three charging options: wind-up handle, solar panel, mini USB cable
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • The sound quality isn’t very impressive
  • Rubberised coating can become sticky

Summary

The iGadgitz Xtra Wind Up Solar Radio is a great gadget to have around in the case of an emergency or if you’re heading out into the wilderness. The radio provides a surprising amount of volume for its size, even if the sound quality isn’t great.

4. Duronic Apex

The Duronic Apex is slightly more expensive than the Duronic Hybrid Radio reviewed above. Like the Duronic Hybrid Radio, it can be charged by solar power, a wind-up handle, or a USB cable. One additional feature with the Apex is a flashlight which can be used for up to 6 hours on a full charge.

Features

  • AM/FM radio
  • Can be charged via solar, hand crank or USB
  • Can be used to charge a phone
  • Battery lasts up to 9 hours
  • Clock and alarm

Dimensions: 15 x 7.5 x 5.5 cm
Weight: 381 g

Pros

  • Solar charging works well, and the red light will show you when it’s charging.
  • Winding it up for a minute gives about 30 minutes of use
  • Powerful torch
  • Budget price

Cons

  • Sound quality leaves something to be desired
  • Aerial is quite flimsy

Summary

The Duronic Apex is a great radio to take with you on camping trips or to use in other situations where you might need the torch feature. The built-in speaker doesn’t sound very impressive, but you wouldn’t buy this kind of radio for the audio quality anyway. One of the best things about this radio is that you can use it to charge your phone when you’re off-grid. Read our full review of the Duronic Apex here.

5. Roberts DAB / FM Digital Solar Radio

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 radios like the Duronic Hybrid and can be powered using mains power, this radio is more suited to using around the house than taking on camping or fishing trips.

Features

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

Dimensions: 20.2 x 14 x 7 cm
Weight: 621 g

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

The Roberts Digital Solar Radio is ideal for using 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.

Camping
Solar-powered radios are very useful for camping.

Solar Radio FAQs

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 a few percent unless you’re prepared to spend hours turning the hand crank! However, a few percent 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.

 

Conclusion

If we had to pick just one of these radios to recommend, it would be the Degen DE13 due to its versatility, robust build and reasonable price. It’s feature-packed with lots of useful functions such as a flashlight and the ability to charge a phone.

For some more options to consider, see these articles:

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