Kaito KA500 Solar Powered 5-Way AM Radio

Last updated date: June 22, 2020

DWYM Score
8.9

Kaito KA500 Solar Powered 5-Way AM Radio

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We looked at the top AM Radios and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best AM Radio you should buy.

Overall Take

This AM radio offers multiple ways to charge the battery and stay powered up. To get this radio up and running, you can use the solar panel, the hand crank, AA batteries, a USB charge or simply plug into the regular outlet. The programming buttons offer easy access to the channels you listen to the most. The extension antenna is also a plus. In our analysis of 93 expert reviews, the Kaito Kaito KA500 Solar Powered 5-Way AM Radio placed 5th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note June 22, 2020:
Checkout The Best AM Radio for a detailed review of all the top am radios.

Expert Summarized Score
10.0
8 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.2
3,076 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
This model offers various ways of charging its built-in rechargeable battery pack or run the unit. You can use the dynamo cracking feature, solar panel standard AA batteries. You can also chare through your computer via the USB port or plug it into a regular AC socket. Perfect for emergencies, it comes with a variety of features that make it the best emergency radio on the market.
- Top 5 Reviews
January 8, 2019 | Full review
The 7 pre-programmed NOAA weather channels will give you hours of entertainment, breaking news all around the globe, and a 24/7 real-time weather forecast with PEAS (Public Emergency Alert System). You can extend the telescopic antenna up to 14.5" to get higher sesitivity reception that is being assisted by the device's high-end semiconductor circuitry.
- Best Advisor
May 22, 2019 | Full review
Works as an emergency mobile battery charger with built-in standard DC 5V USB output port for charging mobile devices, such as smart phones, GPS units, MP3 players, digital cameras, and etc. Other features include a 5-LED reading lamp, LED flashlight and a red LED S.O.S. beacon light
- Gist Gear
August 1, 2019 | Full review
The kaito KA500 is made of ABS materials that are impact and water resistant. This feature makes the radio ideal for outdoor use where it can be exposed to moisture. It comes with a telescopic antenna for improved reception. The reception of this radio is enhanced by a LED signal strength indicator and advanced semiconductor circuitry design. The Built-in speaker provides audible and clear sound.
- CMUSE
April 13, 2019 | Full review
The device has a battery level indicator LED that keeps the user updated about the battery. It has integrated lamp and flashlight for user convenience. It also has a cell phone charging port.
- Weather Station Reviews
There are five different colors to choose from - black, yellow, blue, green, and red. Besides being able to handle regular AM, FM and shortwave frequencies, it also features seven pre-programmed weather channels. It’s built to last and quite sturdy. It also has a telescopic antenna and three different lights - LED light, LED flashlight, and even a beacon light.
- Music Oomph
The Kaito might look complicated because of its analog knobs. But it's pretty easy to select a frequency. It can receive broadcasts over all NOAA channels as well as over AM, FM, SW1 and SW2.
- Best Marine Radio
It is very light in weight so you can carry it anywhere.
- Compact Analysis
November 21, 2017 | Full review
What experts didn't like
Aside from being bigger than expected, this model, according to some users, has a plasticky feel and a less acceptable sound quality. However, users need to remember that this is a lightweight emergency radio so it is designed with less heft and won't compete with an entire audio entertainment system in terms of sound performance.
- Top 5 Reviews
January 8, 2019 | Full review
The device is a bit heavy, so it won't be as convenient on a hiking trip.
- Best Advisor
May 22, 2019 | Full review
Cell phone or other USB devices connected to the radio cannot be charged through the solar panel. Tuning mechanism of this device is quite primitive due to analog design.
- Weather Station Reviews
However, you need to purchase an AC adapter separately. Black looks good, but other colors make it look like a toy.
- Music Oomph
Solar power is not the most reliable and it takes lots of hand rotations to have power for only a short time when using the hand crank.
- Best Marine Radio
It is not having the digital display.
- Compact Analysis
November 21, 2017 | Full review

From The Manufacturer

Introducing the Kaito KA500 Voyager, a portable receiver designed for both daily use & emergency preparedness applications. As an emergency preparedness tool, it offers different methods to power up including an AC/DC adapter (sold separately), a built-in rechargeable battery that can be charged by the optional AC adapter, hand cranking or a USB power source, and the patented flip-up 180-degree adjustable solar panel provides power for the radio even when no battery is installed. With its revolutionary design and versatile functions, it’s not only an ideal choice of a radio for everyday use around the house, but also an indispensable tool for emergency preparedness purposes, traveling, camping, backpacking and other outdoor activities. The KA500 has a wide range of band reception including AM, FM, shortwave and NOAA weather stations. The 7-weather channels are pre-programmed and numbered from 1-7, you can easily and conveniently tune into the stations by turning the tuning knob, no more guess work involved. Plus if the radio is set at the “Alert” mode, it will be automatically activated when it receives the alert signals from the NOAA weather stations.

Overall Product Rankings

Panasonic RF-2400D AM Radio
1. Panasonic RF-2400D AM Radio
Overall Score: 9.7
Expert Reviews: 15
Retekess V115 Portable Shortwave AM Radio
2. Retekess V115 Portable Shortwave AM Radio
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 3
Sony ICFP26 Portable AM Radio
3. Sony ICFP26 Portable AM Radio
Overall Score: 9.1
Expert Reviews: 16
Kaito KA500 Solar Powered 5-Way AM Radio
5. Kaito KA500 Solar Powered 5-Way AM Radio
Overall Score: 8.9
Expert Reviews: 8
Sangean LB-100 Ultra Rugged Compact AM Radio
6. Sangean LB-100 Ultra Rugged Compact AM Radio
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 6
Studebaker SB2000RB Portable AM Radio
8. Studebaker SB2000RB Portable AM Radio
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 1
Sangean WR-11BK Wood Cabinet Table Top AM Radio
9. Sangean WR-11BK Wood Cabinet Table Top AM Radio
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 1
Vondior Battery Operated Portable Pocket AM Radio
10. Vondior Battery Operated Portable Pocket AM Radio
Overall Score: 8.4
Expert Reviews: 6

An Overview On AM Radios

Although they are often though of as a thing of the past, AM radios are still a valuable asset to have around the house. When the radio was invented, they were a popular luxury to have in your house. They have had a long life and continue to serve a purpose for many people. Perhaps one of the best reasons to keep an AM radio in the house is for live alerts of current happenings. However, before we look at the reasons to have one, let’s talk about how they work.

AM or Amplitude Modulation is a type of radio that utilizes radio waves that are transmitted through the air. Radio waves are a specified length or frequency of electromagnetic waves that are all around us. Each electromagnetic wave has attributed characteristics that are different from each other. Radio waves can reflect, polarize, diffract and refract. They are close to light waves, but our eyes just can’t see them.

Alternating Current (AC) generates electromagnetic waves. This current is used to make all our electronics function. It works at different levels in each country, which is why you may need to travel with a special connector for outlets to use American electronics overseas. In the United States, the AC works with 120 volts at 60 hertz. This basically translates to the current being able to change direction in the wire roughly 60 times per second. Most other countries use 50 hertz. These are considered low-frequency, but still emit a small amount of electromagnetic radiation through the wires into the air. It is often explained as electricity in the air.

As this electricity is given off, it makes unorganized sound. For it to be transmitted as a coherent message, it has to undergo “modulation.” This is where the AM and FM get their names. So, what is modulation? Think of it simply as a change. In order to hear music or voices through the radio, the waves must be changed from their random patterns. The best way to think of it is simply a way of communicating. A quiet mouth tells us nothing, but once it starts to talk, it creates a change that is understandable to the listener. It’s the same with AM radio. The electricity has to be changed into a format that can be understood.

The way this is accomplished is called amplitude modulation. The radio takes the amplitude or height of the signal and transforms it into a single sound. So, for each level of amplitude, a different sound is heard by the listener. The combination of amplitude transformations creates a noticeable pattern either in words or music.

The frequency range that AM transforms is from 520kHz to 1710 kHz in the U.S. Each country has other frequency that their AM and FM radios transmit, so if you travel often, you may be surprised to see music and talk shows coming through at different channel settings.

The reason that AM radio has stayed around for so long is because it can transmit signals over very long distances. The only con to this function is that it allows for more static and noise, particularly when there is inclement weather. It is so sensitive that when lightning gives off electricity, the AM radio will pick up that change in electric activity. In addition to that sensitivity, it only picks up strong signals from 200Hz to 5kHz, making it ideal for talk shows more than music.

Now that you know all about how an AM radio works, let’s look at the different types. If you like to travel with your radio, even if it’s just from room to room in your house, you’ll want to opt for a portable AM radio. The Sangean AM/FM Portable Digital Radio is an excellent option. With an aesthetically pleasing design, rubber bumper around the edges and preset options, this AM radio is great for hauling around the house. It is battery-operated, and the digital display features a battery power level indicator. If you prefer to keep the adapter on hand, you can purchase that separately through Sangean.

The Kaito Solar AM Radio is great for a day at the beach or out on the boat. This radio features not only a solar panel, but also a hand crank generator that will keep it going in case of a cloudy situation. There is a place for batteries as an additional backup, and if all else fails, you can purchase an adapter separately for listening while in the house.

When AM radios first came out, they required an analog tuner and antenna for getting the best reception. The Panasonic RF-2400D AM/FM Radio works similarly, making it as retro as you can get. With an extension antenna and a manual knob for selecting your station, this AM radio will take you back in time. It can be powered by batteries or an adaptor, depending on where you’d like to use it.

When you want an AM radio specifically for severe weather alerts or emergency protocols, the Retekess V115 Portable Shortwave AM Radio is the one to have. This AM radio has audible hazard alerts and comes in a choice of English, Spanish or Chinese. The digital display is big and bright, and the buttons are very well-marked so you won’t be confused about how to operate this AM radio. In addition, it features a large, extension antenna for the best reception.

DWYM Fun Fact

In 1896, Guglielmo Marconi was named the father of radio after he sent the first radio transmission. The first transmission was only a mile and a half. But by 1899, he was able to send signals over the English Channel between France and England. In 1901, he sent transmissions between Cornwall and Newfoundland across the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 2100 miles. He had numerous patents for all his work and was a true pioneer in the world of radios.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was home to the very first commercial radio station, KDKA. The letters in the call names of radio stations were established by location. The stations that are located west of the Mississippi River start with “W” and the stations east of the Mississippi River start with “K.”

The Eiffel Tower was left standing because it was turned into a radio tower to intercept transmissions in WWI. The country of Colombia found another military use for the radio. The Armed Forces of Colombia commissioned a pop song that included a morse code message to kidnapped military personnel. It read, “19 people rescued, you’re next. Don’t lose hope.”

Broadcasting at 500kW, WLW or 700KHz AM, was the strongest commercial radio station that, during the clearest of times, could be heard halfway around the world. It is said that people living close to the transmitter could hear the station in their pots and pans.

The AM Radio Buying Guide

  • If you will be using your AM radio for specific talk shows, it might be best to purchase an analog radio. With an analog radio, you can manually adjust the tuning to get a better reception than with a digital that doesn’t always find the frequencies clear enough.
  • A few tips for getting a radio program to come in clear are to turn your treble to the lowest setting and your bass to the highest setting. The tone can also be turned all the way down, and in combination, this can bring in a much clearer talk show.
  • Your AM radio will usually get the best reception when placed near a window. One exception: If it is placed in a window that is near a power line, then you may pick up interference.
  • Using a small type of marker to track where the best reception is on the dial can help you the next time you want to find that station.
  • The orientation of your antenna is another way to get your AM radio to function at its best. The AM radio antenna is a rod with a small wire that should work best when aligned with the signal from the broadcast tower. It is not the telescoping rod, which is for FM Radio.
  • The worst interference occurs when your radio is within a foot or two of the source of interference. For example, if your AM radio is near a florescent light, television or even a cell phone charger, it will have more interference than normal.
  • Some sources of interference cannot be avoided or shut off, such as hard-wired smoke detectors, aquarium heaters, motion sensor lights and even a faulty electrical switch within your home.
  • Remember that AM radios dated before 1991 will not have the extended range of frequencies that an AM radio has post-1991, when the FCC added an extension of frequencies from 1605 to 1705 on the dial.
  • A digital AM radio is ideal if you need to be doing other things while the talk show is broadcast. So if you are across the room from the radio, you can just use the remote to scan through the other stations.