NWR Receiver Consumer Information
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards transmitters broadcast on one of seven VHF frequencies from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz. The broadcasts cannot be heard on a simple AM/FM radio receiver. However, there are many receiver options, ranging from handheld portable units which just pick up Weather Radio – to desktop and console models which receive Weather Radio in addition to other broadcasts.
Where to Buy One
While NOAA’s National Weather Service staff produce Weather Radio broadcasts, NWS does not sell receivers. Receivers can be found at retail outlets, electronics stores, department stores, sporting goods shops, and boat and marine accessory stores. They can also be purchased via the Internet from online retailers or directly from the manufacturers.
Standalone Receivers: Standalone Receivers might also come with AM/FM bands, but their primary use will be to receive Weather Radio broadcasts. You can choose between handheld and desktop models, depending on whether you will want to take your radio with you when you go out. There are many choices from several manufacturers with prices ranging from around $20 to over $100, depending on the number of features included.
Multi-Band/Function Receivers: These receivers bundle multiple features, and Weather Radio is just one of possibly many frequency bands included. You can find the Weather Radio band included in:
- AM/FM radios
- Shortwave receivers
- CB radios
- VHF Marine radios
- GMRS/FRS 2-way radios
- Car radios
- TV/Radio combinations
Residential Grade Radios and Features
Prices can vary from $20 to $200, depending on the model.
Some useful features in a receiver can be:
Tone alarm: The National Weather Service will send a specific tone alarm before most watch and warning messages. The tone will activate the receivers even if the audio is turned off. This is especially useful for warnings which occur during the night.
SAME technology: SAME, or Specific Alert Message Encoding allows you to specify the particular area that you would like to receive weather alerts. Most warnings and watches broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio are typically county or city based. Since most NWR transmitters are broadcasting for a number of counties, SAME receivers will respond only to alerts issued for the areas you have selected. This minimizes “false alarms” for warnings happening a few counties away from you.
Selectable alerting of events: While SAME allows you to specify a particular area of interest, some receivers also allow you to disable the alarm for certain events that may not affect you. For example, if you live in a coastal county, but not right at the beach, you might not want Coastal Flood Warnings.
Battery backup: while AC power is recommended for your receiver, it can be crucial to have a backup battery in the event of a power outage during a storm.
External antenna jack: While most receivers come with an antenna that can be extended out from the unit in most cases. Depending on your location, you may need an external antenna in order to get good reception. You can often purchase these as accessories where you bought your receiver, or from most stores with an electronics department. NWR broadcasts are typically just above FM radio and between TV channels 6 and 7.
Public Alert ™ Devices
While we cannot recommend one brand of receiver over another, but we do suggest that you look for receivers which carry the Public Alert logo. This standard was developed by the consumer electronics association in conjunction with the National Weather Service.