Gear Review: The Solar Crank CR-1009, An Emergency Radio to Avoid

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Gear Review: The Solar Crank CR-1009, An Emergency Radio to Avoid

Today, I'm presenting a detailed review of a product that, despite its claims and thousands of 5 star reviews on Amazon, has left me profoundly disappointed: the Solar Crank CR-1009, an “emergency radio”. This review aims to inform potential buyers of the pitfalls of this product, emphasizing the importance of reliable, trustworthy equipment in emergency scenarios.

Before we dive into the meat of this review, I'd like to address two prevalent issues I've found with many Amazon reviews. Both are particularly problematic when it comes to evaluating life-saving emergency gear, such as the emergency radio we're discussing today.

1. They are notoriously unreliable. If you're unaware, there's a vast market for fraudulent 5-star reviews where sellers exchange free or heavily discounted products for glowing reviews. This deceptive practice has been extensively covered in various media outlets, with Simon Hills' Wired article, "Inside the Underground Market for Fake Amazon Reviews," being particularly enlightening. It's crucial to bear this in mind while browsing online marketplaces, as such reviews can skew the perceived value and functionality of products like the Solar Crank CR-1009.

2. The lack of real-world tests on emergency gear is troubling. Many people follow a checklist of items to buy for an emergency kit, select a 5-star rated product on Amazon, and that's it. In my thorough exploration of reviews for this radio, I noticed that the vast majority of four and five-star reviews consisted of users who had merely opened the box, tested the flashlight, tuned into their favorite radio station, and stopped there. None conducted a robust examination from a dead battery assessing how effectively the hand crank and solar panel charged the device. Shouldn't these be the critical points to scrutinize, considering the product's intended emergency use?

To combat these issues, I recommend the following:

Delve into the lower-star reviews. These often provide a more accurate reflection of the product's potential drawbacks. Additionally, seek out rigorous tests of the specific product you're considering on platforms like YouTube or trustworthy blogs (like this one!).  Then when you purchase the item, TEST IT!

Remember, these products are potential LIFE-SAVING EQUIPMENT! They warrant a level of scrutiny and respect befitting their critical role.

With these caveats in mind, let's return to our primary discussion.

Green cr-1009 survival radio

The Solar Crank CR-1009, a battery-powered radio ostensibly designed for emergencies, arrives in a striking lime green color, a hue that, unfortunately, is its only bright spot.

The device promises a suite of features that seem appealing at first glance. It boasts AM/FM/Shortwave/Weather Band modes, providing access to emergency radio frequencies near you. It also claims NOAA Certified Emergency Weather Alert Access, a standard feature for any emergency radio.

An IPX3 water-resistant case houses features like a low battery reminder, a 3W reading lamp, flashlight, and an SOS mode with a siren and flashing red signal light. However, despite these attributes, the product falls woefully short in delivering reliable, safe service, proving to be more misleading than miraculous.

The biggest selling point, its 5-way power system (including a 5000mAh built-in rechargeable Power Bank, hand crank, solar panel, and three AAA battery slots), is one of its most disappointing aspects. This so-called multi-power-source feature fails to provide reliable power, undermining the very essence of an emergency radio.

During testing, the radio ran for 60 hours on a full wall charge, and the reading light lasted a respectable 13 hours and 52 minutes. However, these are the only positives I can muster. The rest of the device's performance was, frankly, alarming.

The device's inadequacy was glaringly evident in its inability to charge a smartphone. When fully charged via a wall outlet, the CR-1009 managed to charge an iPhone 10 from 2% to only 57% in 2 hours before running out of juice. This deficiency makes the CR-1009 a potentially dangerous choice in an emergency, where reliable power can be the difference between safety and disaster.

Even more disconcerting was the solar charging feature, which after 6 hours and 25 minutes of direct sunlight, could only power an iPhone 11 from 31% to 34% where it died in a meager 8 minutes and 35 seconds. Neither the hand crank nor solar panel could power the radio when the battery was depleted, rendering these features useless when you need them most.

The compass included was laughably inaccurate, and the hand strap raised durability concerns. These flaws add to the long list of reasons why the CR-1009 is not only unreliable but potentially dangerous in a real emergency situation.

In conclusion, the Solar Crank CR-1009 is a product to avoid. Its enticing features are deceptive, its performance is abysmal, and its reliability is questionable at best. It fails as an emergency radio, posing more risk than reassurance to users. Consequently, I implore potential buyers to steer clear of the CR-1009. Its deceptive marketing and flawed functionality earn it a solid F rating. I hope this review emphasizes the importance of thorough product evaluation before entrusting your safety to a device as crucial as an emergency radio.


* All testing completed in temperatures ranging from 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit. For solar panel test, radio was outside with no obstruction to sun, it was moved periodically to give it best angle for sunlight.  All times were recorded using a Casio G-Shock Mudman.

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