Dynamo/Solar-Powered Radios...any direct experience?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by augidog, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. augidog

    augidog New Member

    does anyone own a solar/crank radio worth its' salt? shopping & comparing features is difficult enough, feeling confident enough to make a purchase is downright impossible.

    Grundig/Eton, Kaito, Freeplay...anyone own any of these & willing to give some feedback?

    thanks in advance :cool:

  2. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    I was given a freeplay crank radio several years ago. From non-use, the batteries will not charge from the wind-up generator, but it will play if you wind it up.

    I also have a "red cross" branded crank radio, but it is not like the freeplay. You have to crank the thing continuously to charge the nicad batteries, it doesn't have a clockwork mechanism like the freeplay.

    So, in short, buy a radio with a wind-up generator and cycle the batteries every so often. Don't buy one that you need to keep cranking.
  3. machiasmort

    machiasmort Active Member

    I had a freeplay also... The solar pannel wasn't effective but like AG said, the wind up version is nice because it's got spring loaded "clock gears" that let it play for a while...
  4. augidog

    augidog New Member

    thanks guys...this is more complicated than buying an MB engine :rolleyes7:

    Deanna has had a spring-driven original Freeplay for years now, inherited it from her gadget-freak dad...the mechanism is finally worn out but it did perform beyond the call of duty.

    I looked to get her another (full-size) Freeplay with solar but way too pricey and 'mort confirms the solar is iffy.

    arceeguy: i had to have something by christmas for Deanna, so i pulled the trigger on a "Red Cross" version of the Eton FR360 for her, and a black FR500 for me & my travels.


    'lo & behold, a new candidate emerges after i go with Eton/Grundig...a simple but sturdy-appearing offering from "Solarrific"...if the Etons don't work out, i'll return 'em and try this: http://market.solarrific.com/product_p/01101.htm
  5. Esteban

    Esteban Active Member

    I have the same Eton Red Cross version. Like mentioned above, cranking it is hard to keep the batteries charged. I remove batteries every so often & charge in my charger. But, the cranking will " top " them off. Using the light will drain the batteries quickly. A spare set of batteries is a good idea, too.
    I live in Fl., so a weather radio is a must. I alos,keep a few of the crank-up flashlights around the house. Overall= I am satisfied with it.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  6. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    My Red Cross branded radio looks like the Eton FR250, but in white.
  7. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    I have a little Grundig branded radio I got at Radio Shack. It is my shop radio. Works great all the way around. I use batteries most of the time...and they last nearly forever, but when they run down a couple o minutes of cranking will yeild over an hour of play. Pulls in far stations on all bands well. For $40, I am very satisfied.
  8. machiasmort

    machiasmort Active Member

    Grundig makes good stuff, surprised you found it there!

    Let me know how you guys like the Red cross radio's as time goes by...
  9. Esteban

    Esteban Active Member

    Looking at several different ones, I don't doubt that Grundig makes them all.
  10. augidog

    augidog New Member

    direct experience:

    each radio cost $50 w/shipping

    the FR500 is analog tuner w/digital readout
    the FR360 is fully digital

    both are fine as far as reception & sound

    the FR500 will run on solar-only at very low volume
    the FR360 isn't setup for solar-only but i'll assume it helps keep the battery-pack charged

    the FR500 can be powered/charged by DC-in via mini-USB (not included) or AC-adapter (not included)
    the FR360's only external charging option is AC-adapter (not included)

    the radios use the same AC-adapter

    the radios use identical battery-packs & connectors, but with different pinouts

    the USB output for cel-charging is different

    the FR500 includes cord & a card for 1 tip of your choice
    the FR360 requires a $20 purchase of cord & tip from a 3rd party

    a "complete" package would cost:

    FR500 + USB cord = $56
    FR360 + AC-adapter + cel-charger = $85


    each model, on its' own, is a nice item...both can be used with regular batteries for excellent run-time...both are equipped with emergency features that work...crank, solar, USB cel-charger, red flasher, white flashlight.

    i would expect these radios to be more technologically standardized...the inconsistancies in standards are pretty NON-emergency in nature, imo. i don't much appreciate the practice of forcing customers to purchase separate support-options to keep 2 radios from the same company up to speed. eton tech-support says they repeatedly ask engineering for consistancy to no avail.


    i'm happier with the product than i am with the company itself.

    FR500 4-of-5-stars (good price on good package)
    FR360 3-stars (full package is pricey)
    Eton 2-stars (confusing specs & part numbers, too much "unexpected" expense)
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009
  11. SirJakesus

    SirJakesus Guest

    I prefer to just keep an inverter in my car. AC power is but an extension cord away for small appliances.
    I also have a nimh/nicad charger that works off AC and 12vDC so if the power goes out for a long time like our 10 day blackout from last years ice storm I can charge 10 AA or AAA batteries on my way to and from work.
    You could also buy a small solar panel and get some car or deep cycle batteries and have yourself a small renewable power station for free juice anytime without bothering your car. Deep cycle batteries can also be easily charged from many generators with 12v output so you don't have to run your generator all the time for small loads.

    I know this is way outside the scope of what you were asking but the DC battery charger and some NIMHs kept my flashlights and 10 band radio running for those 10 days without any problem. I personally don't see the point of built in cranks or solar panels unless you're planning on being out in the woods for a month with no contact with the outside world and very little storage.
  12. augidog

    augidog New Member

    truth be told, jake, that's the full-circle i finally made, too...

    i couldn't find a single reliable solar-only radio or an old-style spring-loaded type...which was the initial idea behind going this route.

    both radios will run for a long time on replacable batteries...deanna has a load of rechargeable aaa's she can use, i can merely buy a pack of aa's once in a while.

    that said, it IS nice knowing that dee (who is sight impaired) won't be completely out of luck in a REAL emergency, and i won't be stuck with nothing to do at the campground if i forget to buy fresh batteries.