The primary difference between models of NOAA Weather Radios is whether or not they have a tone-alert feature and if they use the SAME technology.  

Tone Alerts:
When we issue warnings for situations that may be life-threatening, there is a special tone sent with the warning.  This signal will cause weather radios with the tone-alert feature in the listening area to alarm in some way (usually with a loud siren or alarm), alerting you of the situation even if your radio is not on at that particular moment.  You can buy a NOAA Weather Radio with the tone-alert feature for as little as $20. 

SAME Technology:
SAME stands for "Specific Area Message Encoder".  When we issue warnings, we also also send special signals (heard as a series of 3 short bursts before the warning), that tell certain types of receivers about the type of warning and the area it affects.  You can program these SAME receivers to alarm only for specified warnings and counties.  For example, say you live in Macomb, Illinois and you only want to be awakened for severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings in your own county.   With these SAME receivers, you can program your receiver to alarm only for a Severe Thunderstorm Warning and Tornado Warning  and only for McDonough County, IL.   SAME receivers start at around $50 to $75 retail.  

Where to get a Weather Radio:
NOAA Weather Radio receivers can be purchased at many retail stores that sell electronic merchandise, including stand-alone electronic retail outlets, electronics departments within department stores, and some drug stores. NOAA Weather Radio receivers can also be purchased through some mail order catalogs. In addition, NOAA Weather Radio receivers are often sold in boat and marine accessory businesses since they are popular in the marine community. These are just some of the places that NOAA Weather Radio receivers can be purchased.

  • For residential grade receivers, prices can vary from $20 to $200, depending on the model. Many receivers have an alarm feature, but some may not.
  • For Industrial/commercial grade equipment, designed for reception of Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcasts as well as NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts, prices may vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.