DaringSnail MD090P Emergency Radio Review: Is it Worth It?
This inexpensive solar hand crank radio really works and offers an easy way to stay informed when the power goes out.
When the power goes out, staying informed is a matter of safety. Most of us carry a cell phone wherever we go, but without a way to recharge when the battery runs low, we can become isolated. Owning a hand-crank radio solves a few problems. First, it operates efficiently on its own battery, so you can listen to many hours of news and weather reports without depleting your phone. Second, the hand crank turns a small generator inside the radio that recharges the battery—no other source of electricity is required. Finally, most hand-crank radios feature a USB charging port so that they can serve as a portable charging station for phones or other small electronics.
I recently tested eight emergency hand-crank radios, and the DaringSnail MD090P emergency weather hand-crank radio proved to be best overall. It offers excellent AM, FM, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather radio reception with good sound quality. The MD090P also boasts a large-capacity battery that makes phone charging easy while leaving plenty of power for continued runtime.
This compact and lightweight radio is the right size to store in a “go bag” for emergency use or to stow away in an office, workshop, or storm shelter. Although the manufacturer is a relatively unknown name in electronics, DaringSnail’s basic design was surprisingly capable, and the radio is also an affordable option compared to brands like C. Crane, Eton, Kaito Electronics, and Midland. Ahead, find out why this radio might be a good choice for your emergency kit.
The DaringSnail MD090P emergency weather hand-crank radio: At a Glance
- 4,000 milliampere hour (mAh) battery chargeable via AC adapter, hand crank, or built-in solar panel
- USB port for emergency charging of cell phone or other small electronic devices
- Built-in LED flashlight and reading lamp with motion sensor
- Receives AM, FM, and NOAA Weather radio bands
- Analog tuning does not support preset favorite radio stations
- Does not include a NOAA Weather Alert feature
Get the DaringSnail MD090P emergency weather hand crank radio at Amazon for $35.90.
What is the DaringSnail MD090P emergency weather hand-crank radio?
The DaringSnail MD090P is an emergency AM/FM/NOAA Weather radio powered by a rechargeable 3.6-volt 4,000mAh lithium-ion battery. The fully charged battery powers up to approximately 20 hours of radio runtime per charge. The device can also be used to recharge a depleted cell phone battery via the onboard USB output port. The radio offers good sound quality and surprisingly sensitive signal reception at a modest price point. Other convenient features include a flashlight, reading lamp with motion sensor, and an SOS siren function that can be used audibly and visually to attract rescuers.
Measuring 6.5 inches long by 3.25 inches wide by 2.5 inches deep, the radio is about the size of a brick and weighs less than a pound at just 13.35 ounces. Two knobs on the front of the unit control tuning and off/on/volume. The tuner display is a simple analog needle and frequency range display. The 11.5-inch telescoping whip antenna adjusts in any direction for FM and NOAA radio reception. An internal antenna picks up AM frequencies, as is typical with this kind of radio, so for the best reception, the user may need to reposition the radio itself when it’s on the AM setting.
Under normal conditions, the included mini-USB AC charging cable (wall hub not included) is the fastest charging method and the easiest way to maintain a fully charged battery on the radio. When the power goes out, an onboard solar panel can help to maintain battery life if the sun is shining, or the user may turn the hand-crank dynamo for manual charging.
Is the DaringSnail MD090P emergency weather hand-crank radio easy to use?
The radio was ready to go right out of the box. The battery arrived partly charged, so I simply turned it on and started scanning for channels. Two knobs control everything, and the antenna is a simple telescoping whip. It’s extremely easy to use.
With the analog display, the needle does not point precisely to the corresponding frequency, but it was good enough to get close to any station I searched for. The inconvenience of analog tuning is that it does not support preset stations. I had to search the dial every time I changed stations or bands—that took only about a minute, which was not long enough to be an annoyance.
Charging with the AC adapter worked like any other electronic device. To get a noticeable boost with the hand-crank method, I had to crank at about two to three rotations per second for a full minute to get about 10 minutes of runtime on a depleted battery. I tested the solar panel by placing the radio in full direct sunlight (powered off), outdoors, for 6 hours and got about 5 hours of runtime.
Is the DaringSnail MD090P emergency weather hand-crank radio good quality?
From a pure functionality standpoint, this radio is quite good. In my comparison tests, it tied with two other radios for picking up the most stations and earned a 5 out of 5 rating. The clear sound quality received a 4 out of 5 rating. It was easy to use and performed its functions as expected.
However, there were a few issues. The control knobs seemed to be of a modest quality, and they moved stiffly and somewhat inconsistently. Also, battery usage was not as efficient as in some of the other radios I tested. For instance, the C. Crane CCRS CC Radio Solar wind-up emergency radio produced twice the radio runtime per charge with a slightly smaller (3,600 mAh) battery—but it cost three times as much.
Is the DaringSnail MD090P emergency weather hand-crank radio worth the money?
In testing, this radio had a few minor quality issues but performed very well in all functional aspects. Radio reception was excellent, and both the sound quality and runtime were good. Of the eight radios I tested, the MD090P was priced nearly $20 below the average, but the actual performance and added features earned it the title “Best Overall” for emergency use. That’s why I believe it makes a good investment in backup communication and is definitely worth the money.
Should you buy the DaringSnail MD090P emergency weather hand-crank radio?
Getting stranded in bad weather when a power outage strikes is a potentially dangerous situation without a communication link to the outside world. Fortunately, hand-crank radios are cheap, reliable, and easy to use. There is no reason why people who value preparedness should not own at least one, if not several, of these devices to keep themselves and their families connected and informed during an emergency.
A good hand-crank emergency radio should have reception sensitivity to pick up multiple AM and FM radio stations for important news as well as the NOAA Weather frequency for the local area. A large battery capacity improves functionality as a portable phone charger, further helping users stay connected. The MD090P offers above-average performance for a below-average price, making it a smart value investment that buyers will appreciate if the need arises.
Get the DaringSnail MD090P emergency weather hand-crank radio at Amazon for $35.90.
Meet the Tester
Mark Wolfe is a product tester and writer with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industry. He kept his tool box well stocked in order to build or repair fences, walls, irrigation systems, and equipment on any given day. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest hand tools, lawn care products, outdoor power equipment, and other outdoor living goods.