The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute's tests reveal the one Emergency Radio that can irrefutably be called The Best. The Institute forwards its recommendation to Hammacher Schlemmer's buyers so they can procure the product for its catalog, web site, and retail store. The Emergency Radio that is currently The Best can be found here.
Before undertaking testing, The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute surveyed consumers to learn which attributes were most critical when purchasing an Emergency Radio. They responded that Charge Time vs. Run Time was by far their most important concern, followed by Sound Quality, Ease of Use, and Features. These attribute rankings were applied to the data collected for this test.
Respondents were also asked which features matter most in an Emergency Radio. Based on their answers:
The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute then researched the marketplace from a reasonably wide range of competing products and obtained Emergency Radios that possess these desired attributes and features. Prior to testing, the Institute eliminated from consideration any models that did not have a required attribute or feature or if it had an obvious quality issue. Conversely, if a sample offered a unique benefit that distinguished it from other models, The Institute, at its discretion, may have included it in testing even though it may have been lacking a critical feature or attribute.
Testing involved a consumer panel survey as well as evaluations by Institute analysts and a consumer panel. Each Emergency Radio was rated for its charge time vs. run time, sound quality, ease of use, and features.
Analysts evaluated the length of time each radio ran compared to the amount of time required to charge the radios by turning their handles. The test was performed with one minute of charging and with two minutes of charging. The same process was repeated for both charge times.
First, the Institute analyst completely drained the batteries by running the radios and flashlights until the power ran out. Then, the analyst cranked the radio’s handles for one or two minutes, maintaining a rate of two revolutions a second. The analyst then timed how long each radio played before the power died. That length of time was recorded and the process was repeated multiple times, with one minute of cranking and two minutes of cranking.
Institute analysts also tested the length of time a radio ran with a full battery. This test was performed by charging each unit via their included USB cords until each battery was full. Each radio was set to the same radio station and volume was set to an equal level. The radios were played until their batteries were completely drained.
A mobile phone was also connected to each unit to see how much the phone would charge when the emergency radio had a full charge.
The radios were ranked on a sliding scale, with the highest score awarded to the radio with the highest run time, and the lowest score given to the radio with the shortest run time. In general, the faster the handle was cranked, the longer the radio would run. Consumers should note that turning the crank up to twice as quickly as the product instructions recommend would result in a much longer radio run time.
For each of the radios, analysts consider how easy it was to:
Analysts also took into consideration the run time on a fully charged battery
Sound quality testing was performed in the Institute Lab by a consumers who were surveyed. Panelists were asked to consider how good the reception was, whether there was any static, whether it was possible to hear high and low tones, and how clear conversation was.
Analysts first found the radio station that had the best reception. Then, the panelists listened to that station for 30 seconds at medium volume and for 30 seconds at high volume. They also listened to the Weather Band channel for 30 seconds.
At each channel, panelists evaluated the sound quality, assigning the highest score to the models with the best sound and the lowest score to the radio with the poorest sound quality. After testing, analysts calculated the average score for each unit.
For each emergency radio, analysts determined how easy it was to:
Institute analysts inspected each sample to determine whether it had any of the following features, which could make an Emergency Radio easier or more effective to use:
Analysts awarded points for each feature that a model had, weighted according to how important that feature was to consumers. After testing, they calculated an average features score for each sample.
The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute recommends that you consider these features when shopping for an emergency radio to ensure you will be completely satisfied with its performance:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists emergency radios as the third item-after only water and food-on a list of basic supplies to have ready in case of a disaster. Emergency radios provide access to standard radio stations and to weather bands, so you can hear vital updates on storms and other hazards. They’re designed to be used when electrical power is not available, either because of an outage or because you are off the grid, so most models operate on batteries that can be recharged by solar power or by turning a crank. Many models come with additional features such as flashlights and cell phone chargers to help your family stay safe during a crisis.
As with any product, customers must read and follow the product's user guide, marking and labeling prior to use.
The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute was founded in 1983 as an independent, not-for-profit corporation to provide independent testing and consulting services for Hammacher Schlemmer. The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute was founded in 1983 as an independent, not-for-profit corporation to provide independent testing and consulting services for Hammacher Schlemmer. Although funded by Hammacher Schlemmer, the Institute functions independently of Hammacher Schlemmer. The Institute consults Hammacher Schlemmer and fulfills its mission statement without regard to product prices, brand names, margins, or other commercial considerations. Decisions on specific products to test, the types of test to perform and how to interpret the results lie exclusively with the Institute's research staff. In addition, the Institute's status as a separate entity from Hammacher Schlemmer prevents access to sensitive information, such as inventory levels or product cost, which might influence testing decisions. The Institute's independence assures products are researched, evaluated, and rated objectively without commercial bias.