Midland ER310 Emergency Crank Weather Radio Review – 4 Ways To Turn It On
EXAM – I don’t have white tape on my glasses but I’m a bit of a weather nerd. I have completed NOAA/NWS Advanced Skywarn Weather Spotter training, have 5 weather apps on my phone, and use Twitter to follow my NOAA office for alerts. I have a weather radio by my bedside and one in my office. So who needs another weather radio? Well, the Midland ER310 Emergency Hand Crank Weather Radio is portableso the.
The Midland ER310 is a solid weather alert radio that also tunes to AM/FM radio channels. Midland make a range of excellent radio equipment and they have been around for a long time. I will introduce you to the Midland ER310.
What is that
The Midland ER310 Emergency Hand Crank Weather Radio is a portable and rechargeable weather radio receiver and AM/FM radio.
What’s in the box
- Midland ER310 Emergency Crank Weather Radio
- Micro USB charging cable
- Quick start sheet and manual booklet
- 2600 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- AM/FM receiver
- NOAA/NWS Weather Channel Receiver
- Ultrasonic Dog Alert Tone
- hand crank power generator
- 130 lumen LED flashlight
- 20″ telescopic antenna
- 1 pound, 0.3 ounces
- 8″ width x 3.25″ height x 2.25″ depth
- ⅛” headphone jack
- USB-A power output socket
- Micro USB charger input jack
Design and features
- Jumpstart action charges the ER310 battery or devices like a phone or flashlight through the USB-A output socket [Cannot substantiate this external charging feature.]
- The fully charged battery provides 32 hours of radio listening.
- Bright LED flashlight with SOS mode
- Tunes to AM/FM radio and all NOAA/NWS weather channels
- Loud, distinctive alert tone indicates NOAA is sending a weather alert
- Durable plastic construction
- Easy-to-read illuminated LCD display
- The radio can be powered by a built-in lithium-ion battery that can be recharged with AC power or jump start, solar panel, or the use of AA batteries.
- The radio can silently monitor the NOAA channel for alerts or interrupt with alerts during AM/FM broadcasts.
Setup and Setup
After fully charging the battery of the Midland ER310 Emergency Hand Crank Weather Radio, setup is pretty straightforward. By a long press on the ‘WX ALERT’ button, the backlight of the display will light up and start flashing the LCD characters of the different functions that can be set. You can scroll through the items to be adjusted by pressing the WX ALERT button and use the up or down arrows of the “TUNE” buttons to adjust the time of day, 12 hour display or 24 hours, backlight timeout preference and weather channel number or frequency display. After a choice of setting, pressing the WX ALERT button confirms the choice and moves on to the next item, until you return to the time and the display no longer flashes.
Tests and observations
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS) has great information on weather radio monitoring here: https://www.weather.gov/nwr/
Here is the old weather radio at my bedside, still operational with only 3 channels. Coincidentally, there is the name Midland.
The Midland ER310 is first and foremost an emergency weather alert radio. It plays AM/FM radio very well but it is not a music player. The radio has a single, forward-facing speaker. News or talk radio will sound better than music, but it will also stream music stations, through its speaker or the ⅛” mono earphone jack. The voice quality from the speaker is excellent.
WEATHER ALERT TONE
There is no test feature for the ER310 alert tone/siren that sounds when the US Weather Service/NOAA sends an alert. The alert tone is so inescapable that most people wouldn’t want this bedside radio unless you’re out and about. I would not have chosen the alert tone used by Midland for the ER310 but it will not go unnoticed. You can hear the alert sound below.
It would be nice if the radio would just activate the speaker when NOAA sends an alert so that the tone sent by NOAA would play through the speaker, followed by the announcement of the specifics of the warning. Or it would be a useful change if the radio gave another less startling tone, like a repeating beep.
During a recent tornado – warning – in my area (a “warning” being more serious than a “watch” because a tornado has been spotted or there is radar evidence of rotating wind), the tone of the ER310 really freaked out my grandkids. I turned off the ER310 in favor of quieter radios I already have in place. Their tones are more appropriate “inside the house”.
As you can see, the alert tone is preset to “loud”. It’s “disturb my dog” strong. But, it’s unavoidable, which is probably why it’s designed that way. This alert siren tone would be perfect at a picnic or while camping, hiking, etc. If the ER310 is being used at the bedside and an alert sounds, you better be single or ready to be.
If the Midland ER310 Emergency Crank Weather Radio’s 2600mAh battery runs out, it will charge within 5 hours using the micro USB charging port on the handle side of the radio.
Cranking can provide power to a depleted battery and the longer and faster you crank, the more power the battery receives. The manual states that one minute of cranking produces 9 minutes of radio use time.
As for the crank charger’s ability to charge cell phones as described in the manual, I have not been able to substantiate this product claim. I tried to crank charge two different phones by connecting their charging cables to the USB-A output jack and cranking the ER310 as fast as I could. Neither phone showed its charging symbol, which would have indicated that the phone was charging.
The solar panel on top of the radio really charges the radio. I couldn’t reach a full three bar battery indicator after the radio spent hours in direct sunlight, but I get a solid two bar battery charge with sunlight alone. The radio runs for hours on both battery bars. If the radio is fully charged and then used in direct sunlight, the solar panel seems to keep the battery near full capacity.
Highly available AA batteries can power the Midland ER310 Emergency Crank Weather Radio, but it will take 6. I much prefer using the built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery. I haven’t used the radio with AA, but good to have the option given their easy availability.
There is a small switch labeled “LI/AA” under the rubber cover on the handle side of the radio. The switch should be towards ‘AA’ if AA batteries are powering the radio.
NOAA/NWS transmits on its full-time weather radio channels, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through its individual NOAA offices across the country. Stations may fail from time to time due to maintenance issues or technical issues.
You can browse all 7 NOAA weather radio channels and determine the clearest for your location. If you can receive a NOAA broadcast with the antenna down, it is definitely the one to register for “antenna up” operation.
If you set the ER310 radio to monitor your local NOAA weather channel, it will do so silently, full time until you turn the feature off. A single press of the ‘WX ALERT’ button activates monitoring of the NOAA channel.
The manual does not state that the ER310 is weatherproof. Although it is portable, it does not have a water resistance rating.
Oh, gravity. I can confirm that the ER310 is durable. someone’s grandchildren may I knocked this radio off one or more window sills when I had it solar charged. Several times. There was no breakage or malfunction as a result of these 3-foot (note, plural) drops onto the hardwood floor. Plus, the expected youthful curiosity of button-poking, flashlight flashing, and more drops was harmless to the ER310. I can now call it kid-proof.
If ‘WX ALERT’ channel monitoring is enabled while listening to an AM or FM broadcast when NOAA transmits an alert, the AM/FM broadcast will stop and the weather alert tone will sound. Press any button to stop the siren and you will hear the weather channel you set. If you miss a weather alert, a flashing weather memory indicator (the red LED next to the ‘BAND’ button) will be present for an hour after the alert and you can press ‘BAND’ to hear the NOAA broadcast. Recent warning statements are usually included in the standard broadcast broadcast on NOAA channels.
The Midland ER310 Emergency Hand Crank Weather Radio LED Flashlight provides a narrow spot of 130 lumens of bright light. The light has dim, bright and SOS modes which are all activated by pressing the single square rubber button on the top of the radio.
No dogs were harmed during testing of this radio. A long press of the light button activates the ultrasonic “alert dog” tone. This feature lets rescue dogs “know you are there” if you are buried under rubble or hidden from view for any reason. Humans can’t hear the sound generated by this feature, but my dog certainly can. This is not a fake feature. I’ve tried the dog alert tone on two dogs and (1) they don’t like it, and (2) it’s real. Come on, you’re teasing your cat with a laser, right? Seriously, I only did it a few times for a second at a time. The dogs immediately looked at me and stood up if they were lying down. This feature works.
The AM/FM function of the ER310 is limited to staying on one AM station and one FM station. You’ll need to tune the others with the up or down arrow buttons to listen to them. There are no preset stations as you might expect on some portable AM/FM radios.
What I like
- Power the ER310 by AC charging, jump starting, solar or AA batteries. A nice variety of options.
- Excellent reception
- Very clear speaker sound
- Solid and durable construction
What I would change
- A test option for the alert sound would be very user friendly
- The alert siren tone shall have an adjustable volume. It is preset to “strong”.
- An option for “no alert tone” alerts would be very nice. Simply turn on the speaker during an alert.
The Midland ER310 Emergency Hand Crank Weather Radio is a well-designed weather monitoring AM/FM radio that you can consider adding to your emergency preparedness kit or leave it set up full time so that it can alert you when needed.