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What Is a Rechargeable Radio?

By Benjamin Arie
Updated May 16, 2024
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A rechargeable radio is a communication device that operates on stored power. Rechargeable radios can be one-way receivers, or two-way transceivers that can both send and pick up radio signals. Several different ways of recharging a radio are possible. No matter the design, a rechargeable radio is not dependent on an external power source.

Many rechargeable radios are designed only to receive broadcasts. These models are commonly tuned for the amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM) radio bands, which carry everyday content such as music and news. Specialty rechargeable units are also available. Some radios are built to pick up weather reports or other important signals, which are on different frequencies than the standard AM and FM bands.

A rechargeable radio that can both send and receive signals is called a transceiver. These types of units are usually built to be portable, and many are small enough to be handheld. These lightweight rechargeable radios are sometimes called “walkie-talkies,” since the user can both speak and move at the same time. Transceivers are available for a wide range of frequencies, and are often employed by military, police, and other mobile users.

One of the most common sources of power for a radio is a battery pack. These battery cells contain a combination of metals and chemicals that generate electrical current. To replenish the electrical supply, most battery-powered rechargeable radios are connected to a standard electrical outlet. In some situations such as military operations, however, this standard power may not be available. Alternative electrical sources such as solar panels or portable generators can also be used to replenish the radio’s battery cells.

Mechanical movement can also be used to power a radio. Many portable radio units contain a small electrical generator or dynamo, which can be turned through a hand crank. The electricity produced through a hand crank can power the radio directly, or be temporarily stored in a capacitor. One major advantage of a hand cranked rechargeable radio is shelf life. While standard batteries can go bad after long periods of disuse, a radio with a hand crank can be stored for years and used only when needed.

A rechargeable radio that depends on crank power is not perfect. These devices must be re-cranked often, or they will be rapidly depleted. The manual cranking mechanism can be inconvenient or even impossible to use in some situations. To compensate for this drawback, some rechargeable radio designs combine several different power sources, such as battery packs and solar panels.

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Discussion Comments

By Logicfest — On Feb 08, 2015

@Melonlity -- Do you know how to totally avoid that problem? Buy a radio that takes normal batteries and then use rechargeable batteries for it.

A good number of people have gotten around using conventional batteries by simply getting rechargeable ones instead.

And, here's the cool part. You don't have to worry about battery packs that companies don't want users to replace, proprietary packs that are almost impossible to buy or any of that stuff.

By Melonlity — On Feb 07, 2015

@Terrificli -- Point taken, but a radio shouldn't eat through batteries too often unless it is one of those high wattage things with big speaker. Most portable radios, however, are small and don't use much power.

Now, a problem with the rechargeable radios is that some companies make them so that the user can't easily change the rechargeable battery. The thing about rechargeable batteries is that they are only good for so many charges. When one goes bad, you need to have a way to change out the rechargeable battery pack or the radio will be useless to you.

By Terrificli — On Feb 06, 2015

I hate to disagree, but I would argue that a rechargeable radio is very dependent on an external power source. Without that, you can't charge your radio and an uncharged radio is basically a piece of junk.

The great thing about a rechargeable radio, though, is that you don't have to deal with a bunch of blasted batteries. Those things can get expensive.

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