Most of us rely on an alarm clock to wake up on time in the morning. While many use the built-in alarm on their cell phone, physical alarm clocks remain a popular bedroom accessory. The alarm clock as a product has advanced greatly in recent years to include more than programmable alarms and snooze options. Today’s models often feature LCD displays, ‘weekend mode’ settings, wall projectors, and Bluetooth connectivity.
However, the most important factor for choosing an alarm clock is performance. Sleepers require a clock that will reliably wake them up each morning. The best alarm clocks also come with customizable volume and snooze options to accommodate sleepers with different needs and preferences. And while high-tech alarms tend to cost more than minimalist models, the majority of alarm clocks sold today can be purchased for less than $130.
Read on to learn more about how to choose the right alarm clock for you, as well as our picks for the best alarm clocks sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Best Alarm Clocks
- Editor’s Pick – Amazon Echo Spot
- Best Value – TravelWay LED Digital Alarm Clock
- Best Wake-Up Light – Phillips Wake-Up Light
- Best Alarm Features – Electrohome EAAC601 Projects Alarm Clock
- Best Volume Controls for Heavy Sleepers – Sonic Alert Sonic Bomb
- Best Connectivity – iHome IBT29
- Best Sound Quality – Sangean RCR-20 Clock Radio
The Best Alarm Clocks – Reviewed
- Alexa-based smart home automation
- Music and video streaming
- High-resolution display
- Compact and user-friendly
- 1-year warranty
Editor’s PickAmazon Echo Spot
The best alarm clocks are capable of much more than simply waking you up. Our Editor’s Pick, the Amazon Echo Spot, is a home automation system that features an alarm clock along with dozens of additional features. The Echo Spot connects to Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service that responds to voice recognition. Alexa will read the news, stream music or videos, provide weather reports, and enable users to make online purchases. The alarm system allows sleepers to program alarms using their favorite songs or recordings, as well.
As a home automation system, the Echo Spot also locks and unlocks doors, activates security systems, streams video surveillance and baby monitor footage, and adjusts indoor thermostats. The hands-free system can also be used to make video or phone calls, or place food deliveries. Despite these capabilities, the Echo Spot is very compact. The device has a 2.5″ high-resolution screen and a 1.4″ speaker, as well as a flat base that allows it to rest on any bedside table.
The Amazon Echo Spot starts at $129.99, making it a good option for shoppers with bigger budgets. Amazon Prime members qualify for one-day delivery when they order an Echo Spot, and standard shipping is free for most non-Prime members in the U.S. The Echo Spot is backed by a one-year warranty.
- Sleepers seeking a fully customizable alarm
- Those with home automation needs
- People who enjoy waking up to music or recordings
- Shoppers with bigger budgets
- Easy to install
- Loud alarm for heavy sleepers
- Nine-minute snooze option
- Dimmable LED digits
- Includes a night light
- Takes 2 AAA batteries
Best ValueTravelWay LED Digital Alarm Clock
The TravelWey LED Digital Alarm Clock is a quality product for an incredibly reasonable price. A reliable alarm without too many bells and whistles, this clock is good for those who simply need to make sure they get up on time. Heavy sleepers will not have to worry about snoozing through their alarm as TravelWay’s digital clock features one of the loudest alarms on the market. It will continue for five minutes, giving you plenty of time to hear it and shut it off.
Additionally, the digital alarm clock features jumbo size red LED digits with adjustable lighting. Allow the numbers to shine brightly in the darkness of your room or dim the numbers to a level of brightness you’re comfortable with. For children who might be afraid of the dark, the TravelWey LED Digital Alarm Clock comes with a handy nightlight. The power cord works with any US 120V outlet, but you can also use AAA batteries for backup should a power outage occur. You should avoid using a 240V outlet to power this alarm.
- Those who prefer sleeping with a night light
- Sleepers who are partially deaf or hearing impaired
- Natural sunrise wake-up light
- Dimming function eases sleep onset
- 10 brightness settings
- Back-up alarm
- 90-night trial and 2-year warranty
Best Wake-Up LightPhilips Wake-Up Light
In recent years, wake-up lights have become a popular choice for sleepers. Rather than using loud sounds, these alarms cast bright lights that mimic natural sunrises. The Philips Wake-Up Light is a standout due to its high levels of customization. The clock offers 10 different brightness settings up to 300 lux to accommodate sleepers with different light preferences, as well as a dimming sunset function that helps users fall asleep more easily. The sunset duration is also programmable for 20 to 40 minutes in duration.
The sunrise setting in the Philips Wake-Up Light is also highly advanced, transitioning from red to orange to bright yellow. And unlike other wake-up lights, the Philips model also comes equipped with an audio alarm for those who prefer to wake up to a combination of light and sound. Two individual alarms and five ambient wake-up sounds are included.
Lastly, the Philips Wake-Up Light has a back-up battery that allows the light to perform without battery power for up to eight hours. This alarm is backed by a 90-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty.
- Sleepers who prefer to wake up to light as well as sound
- Those who find audio alarms too intense
- People who like waking up to ambient sounds
- Shoppers with bigger budgets
- Option of expert first-time installation
- LCD display with swiveling projector
- Music streaming and radio presets
- Auto-adjusting time and date
- Connects to smart devices
- 1-year warranty
- 24-hour on/off timer
- 12.1 EER rating
Best Alarm FeaturesElectrohome EAAC601 Projection Alarm Clock
Our pick for Best Alarm Features is the Electrohome EAAC601, an alarm clock that projects the time (as well as the date and indoor temperature, if requested) onto the user’s bedroom wall using a crisp, easy-to-read LCD display. The projector also has a 180-degree swivel for optimal customization; most sleepers will be able to find a suitable angle that does not require strain to read the time. Dimming and brightness options allow users to find their ideal display settings, as well.
In addition to the projector, the Electrohome EAAC601 comes loaded with other helpful features. These include connectivity to smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices, which allow owners to stream music or recordings. Other features include a dual alarm for partners with different wake-up times, calendar display, 20 radio presets, sleep and nap timers, and a back-up battery that will completely restore settings in the event of a power outage.
The Electrohome EAAC601 is widely available for $20, making it a great choice for shoppers on a budget. The alarm is backed by a one-year warranty.
- Sleepers who prefer clocks with wall projectors
- Those who enjoy listening to music at night
- Value seekers
- Loud, vibrating alarm
- Pulsating light display
- Bright LCD display
- Defusable snooze
- 5-year warranty
Loudest Alarm ClockSonic Alert Sonic Bomb
Heavier sleepers often find alarm clocks inadequate because they do not produce enough noise to effectively wake them up. The Sonic Boom from Sonic Alert is a notable exception. This alarm clock is designed to rouse even the deepest sleepers with a programmable alarm that reaches up to 113 decibels in volume. The clock also has flashing, pulsating lights to complement the loud audio, as well as a vibration setting; by placing the clock under the mattress, sleepers will experience a ‘shaking’ sensation powered by 12 volts of electricity. This will be the best option for sleepers who do not want to wake up other people in their home or apartment dwellers who want to be considerate of neighboring units.
Additionally, the Sonic Boom has a snooze alarm that can be defused; this may be a suitable feature for those who tend to hit the snooze alarm while half-asleep. The Sonic Boom is highly compact, measuring 7″ high and 7″ wide, with a flat base that will rest securely on any bedside table.
The Sonic Boom is widely available for less than $35, making it a top-value pick. Amazon Prime members qualify for free one-day shipping when they order a Sonic Boom. The clock is backed by a five-year warranty, which is much longer than average.
- Heavy sleepers
- Those who tend to hit their snooze alarm before fully waking
- Sleepers who prefer to wake up to lights and vibrations, as well as sounds
- Value seekers
- Bluetooth audio, radio, and built-in alarm sounds
- Hands-free calls
- USB charging port
- Easy-to-read LCD display
- 1-year warranty
Best ConnectivityiHome IBT29
The iHome IBT29 is one of the most cutting-edge alarm clocks sold today. The device comes equipped with audio alarm sounds, and can also wake up users with radio presets and streaming music Bluetooth-enabled devices. The device also has six built-in color modes for those who prefer visual and audio wake-ups.
Because the iHome IBT29 is Bluetooth-accessible, the clock allows owners to make hands-free speakerphone calls. It also has a USB port that enables users to stream music while their smart device is charging. Owners can program up to six radio presets, and a dual-alarm setting makes it a good option for couples with different wake-up times.
While the iHome IBT29 is very high-tech, it is available for less than $50. Amazon Prime members qualify for free one-day shipping, as well. The iHome IBT29 is backed by a one-year warranty.
- Sleepers who prefer to wake up to music or recordings
- Those seeking a Bluetooth-connected alarm
- Value seekers
- Has rich base and vibrant sound
- Up to 18 station presets
- Easy to read LED screen
- USB port for charging smartphones
- Backup AA batteries
Best Sound QualitySangean RCR-20 Clock Radio
If sound quality is a large factor for you, the Sangean RCR-20 Clock Radio should definitely be your pick. More than just an alarm clock, this product can double as your main bedroom speaker. The RCR’s speaker has a powerful sound back by a bass reflex tube, giving its audio a richer bass sound. You also have the option to adjust the bass, treble, and balance to your individual liking, a feature not common among alarm clock speakers.
The Sangean RCR-20 combines a simple-to-set alarm clock system with the ability to enjoy your favorite radio shows. Preset up to 18 stations (nine AM and nine FM) to only hear the channels that you want to.
Finally, this clock radio has a bright LED screen that’s easy to read and a USB port for charging smartphones. Although it’s powered by an AC adapter, it comes with a pair of backup AA batteries. This option is handy in the event of power outages, as you won’t have to worry about oversleeping or having to reset your alarm.
- Anyone who wants an alarm with backup battery power in the event of an emergency
- Those who like having extra USB ports for phone charging
Buying Guide – How to Shop for an Alarm Clock
Alarm clocks have come a long way in recent years. In addition to programmable alarms and snooze options found on traditional models, many of today’s alarm clocks are Wi-Fi-accessible, and include phone, email, and live-chat functions. Other features may include brightness control, automatic time syncing, and different modes for weekday and weekend alarms, and most newer clocks also allow owners to choose from a wide range of different alarm tones and sound effects.
This guide will look at the shared features and functions of most alarm clocks sold today, as well as our top picks for alarm clocks at different price-points.
Common Features and Functions of Alarm Clocks
Every alarm clock is different, but characteristics shared by most models sold today include the following:
- Alarm Customization: An alarm clock, by definition, allows users to program alarms based on their individual needs. Basic designs allow one or two different alarm times, while more advanced models may allow up to six or more. A select number of newer clocks also offer dedicated weekday and weekend alarms that allow users to get more sleep on days when they don’t work.
- Snooze Button: When users hit the snooze button, it triggers a delayed alarm that allows them to sleep or rest for a few more minutes. Traditional alarm clocks feature an automatic 10-minute snooze, but most models made today allow users to customize the snooze duration as they see fit. Some alarm clocks also feature ‘gradual wake up’ settings that sound the alarm at quieter levels that gradually increase until the user turns off the snooze.
- Visual display: In addition to the current time, some alarm clocks display other information, such as the current date and temperature. Many modern designs feature LCD displays that can be brightened or dimmed to match the user’s visual preferences.
- Time projector: Some alarm clocks will project the time onto ceiling and wall surfaces. This allows sleepers to check the time without shifting positions in bed.
- Sleep music timer: Alarms that allow music playback may come with a sleep timer that allows users to listen to music for a preset length of time as they fall asleep.
- Volume: Some people prefer loud alarms, while others find that quieter alarms are more effective. Alarm clocks usually allow users to adjust the volume to their ideal level, and some also feature vibrating alarms for gentler wake-ups. The maximum volume in an alarm clock sold today may range anywhere from less than 60 decibels (dB) to more than 110.
- Sound quality:Some alarms, especially those that play music, use stereo speakers of varying size and intensity. The level of volume that a speaker can handle without distorting is determined by its watts root mean square (or Watts RMS) level. It’s common to find radio alarm clocks with between seven and twelve Watts RMS. In terms of frequency range and other sound quality indicators, make sure to check the reviews before buying online.
- Automatic time sync: Traditional alarm clocks require users to manually adjust the time when the device is unplugged or the power goes out, but some newer models automatically sync based on an internal clock. These models may automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time too.
- Power source: The majority of alarm clocks sold today are powered through AC electrical outlets, while some are battery-operated. Some AC-powered models can also be loaded with backup batteries in case of power outages.
- USB charging: Like many electronic devices sold today, some alarm clocks feature USB ports that can be used to charge smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
- Bluetooth compatibility:Many newer alarm clock models can be linked to Bluetooth speakers using a wireless connection.
It’s becoming increasingly common for alarm clocks to integrate smart features into their design. These items use wireless connectivity to link with apps via the internet, providing a variety of extra uses and features. Using the Amazon Echo Spot as an example, smart alarms often let you use voice commands to set timers or make phone calls. It’s also possible to turn on music or access the internet or a TV program. These features are often hands-off, letting you get more accomplished without having to manually set an alarm or pick up a phone.
These attributes provide a modern touch for your alarm, giving it abilities far beyond just waking you up on time.
Important Considerations for Alarm Clock Shoppers
When shopping for a new alarm clock and comparing different brands and models, here are a few important questions to keep in mind:
- How much should you pay for an alarm clock? Traditional alarm clocks are widely available for $40 or less through most online retailers, and some newer designs are sold at similar price-points. However, some advanced models may cost as much as $130 or more. Ultimately, you should determine a feasible alarm clock budget before you begin comparing different models.
- How many customizable alarms does the clock allow? Some users only require one or two alarms, but people with rotating work schedules or other day-to-day variances may need a clock that allows them to program several different alarms throughout the week.
- Does the clock feature multiple alarm sounds? This is an important consideration for people whose sound and music preferences tend to change from night to night.
- Is the snooze alarm adjustable? While traditional alarm clocks have a default snooze of roughly 10 minutes, an adjustable snooze may be more suitable for some users.
- Does the clock automatically sync? People whose residences are prone to power outages may find that automatically syncing alarms are more suitable.
- What is the volume range? Some alarm clocks are softer than others, and users should select an alarm clock based in part on their preferred volume. It’s important to note that many alarm clock manufacturers do not disclose the specific decibel range for the alarm volume.
- Is there a visual display? A visual display that shows the date, temperature, and other information can be helpful for some users, and displays that project the time onto ceiling or wall surfaces allow sleepers to check the time without rolling over.
- What is the power source? Assuming the alarm clock is AC-powered, cord length may be an important factor for users depending on their bed’s proximity to an electrical outlet (though extension cords can be used). Clocks with backup batteries are usually suitable for people who frequently lose power.
- How big is the alarm clock, and how much does it weigh? Though most alarm clocks are relatively compact and lightweight, some are more suitable for smaller spaces and travel than others.
- Does the alarm clock feature USB ports? These allow users to charge their smartphone, tablet, and other devices using the clock itself.
- Is the alarm compatible with bluetooth speakers? Because of their wireless connection, bluetooth speakers may be more suitable for some bedroom configurations than wired speakers.
- Is there a trial period? Some alarm clocks — mostly higher-end models — allow customers to return their alarm within a certain window period. Most, however, do not offer trial periods.
- How long does warranty coverage last? Most alarm clock warranties will cover the product for up to one year, but some alarm clocks do not come with warranties.
Alarm Clock Alternatives
Let’s look at a few relatively low-cost alternatives for those who would prefer not to invest in an alarm clock.
Phone Alarm: Virtually all smartphones sold today (as well as older models) come equipped with an alarm clock, as well as multiple alarm options and different sound effects and ringtones to accommodate users with different preferences. These features are free to use apart from the initial cost of the phone itself; although smartphone price-points vary by provider or retailer, the average cost of a new smartphone in 2017 was more than $500.
The bottom line: As long as you already have a working smartphone, using the device’s pre-programmed alarm is a cost-effective alternative.
Smart Lights: If you’re not into blaring alarm clocks, you can always choose lighting to create a noise-free alarm. During certain times of day, light can stimulate the body, suppressing melatonin levels and naturally signaling to your body that it’s time to get up and start a new day.
Alarm Apps: The average alarm clock app — which can be downloaded onto a smartphone, tablet, or other electronic device — costs $1 or $2, and many are free. Apps offer many of the alarm, snooze, and automatic time sync features as top-rated alarm clocks. For more information about alarm clock app options, please check out our Top Sleep Apps page.