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Last Updated on December 24, 2021
When it comes to having electricity, you may not think to have a second plan. Electricity may just be another thing that you have without giving it a second thought. If you don’t live in an area where heavy storms regularly knock out the power or you don’t find yourself camping that often, you may not even realise there are options out there for powering your devices off the grid.
As it is, not everyone has easy access to a fuel-powered generator when trouble strikes. Some may not even be able to afford a luxurious generator at the drop of a hat. The good news is that fuel-powered generators aren’t the only option available out there.
Everything from solar powered generators to hand-crank generators can be found both online and in stores for meeting your emergency power needs. Getting stuck without power is a pain no matter where you are. It can be stressful keeping watch on the battery life of your electronics and wondering if you’ll be able to make a phone call in an emergency.
8 Best Hand Crank Generators (2022 Update)
If you don’t have a way to charge your devices without electricity, it’s certainly a valid worry. After all, you never know when you may need to phone for help during a storm or other emergency. You certainly don’t want to get caught off guard.
Having any type of generator can be the difference between life and death in certain emergencies.
Some generators are heavy and not made for transporting, but others are small and easy to pack around in a backpack. Nowadays, there are many hand crank generators you can store in your house or take with you wherever you want.
1. Hand Crank Generator High Power Charger
This hand crank generator is at the top of the list for many reasons. It’s a powerful little thing that’s easy to pack around and doesn’t weigh very much only 480 grams!
It supplies 30 watts consistently and can charge even your electronics such as computers and cell phones.
This generator is waterproof and versatile.
It comes with multiple charging ports that can be used for charging a number of devices easily. You’ll have to crank it 2-3 per second to get a stable output, but you shouldn’t tire out too quickly.
- Multiple charging ports
- Provides stable, consistent power output
- If the voltage goes over 6V, sensitive devices can be damaged.
2. ZXMT Portable Crank Generator
This generator comes with the ability to detach the handle to make packing and carrying it easier.
The setup is pretty straightforward and it’s easy to take apart and put together whenever you need. It puts out 20 watts pretty consistently as well as the corresponding voltage.
The generator only has USB input options, so you’ll have to make sure whatever you’re charging uses a USB cord. It works well for emergency situations and when you need something handy.
- Weighs less than a pound
- Can charge USB devices
- Super easy assembly and disassembly for packing
- Only USB charging options
3. American Educational 7-1853 DC Crank Generator
This is probably one of the cheapest hand generators you’ll ever find and it works great.
It puts out 12 volts and has a clear plastic cover so you can see what’s going on in the generator easily.
It weighs around half a pound and has a lamp that you can connect easily to turn it into a flashlight.
It’s made for school projects, but it is reliable in emergencies just as well.
This is a powerful and super affordable generator for anything you need a hand crank generator for. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a USB port, just positive and negative connections to hook up to.
- Super affordable option
- Puts out 12 volts
- Even with low cranking it puts out lots of power
- Does not have a USB connection
4. Epica Digital Emergency Solar Hand Crank
This hand cranked generator is certified by the NOAA so you know it’s reliable. It includes three standard radio stations for during weather emergencies and an LED flashlight. Not only is it a hand cranked generator, but it can also use solar power if you aren’t in the mood to power it manually.
With only one minute of cranking, this generator can put out 20 minutes of power. It’s super quick and easy to use as well as compact for easy storage and packing. It’s designed for weather emergencies, but can stand up to any emergency situation or camping adventure.
- Can use solar power as well as hand cranked power
- Charges quickly and last a long time
- Has a built in flashlight
- Does not have a long shelf life
5. RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank
Like the generator above, this one includes a radio as well. Unlike the other, however, it is tunable to several stations on both AM and FM stations. It has a flashlight built in and has the ability to charge with both USB and micro-USB ports without an extra converter.
This is a waterproof generator with the ability to charge via solar power, hand cranking, or power outlet. It’s versatile and reliable in emergencies no matter where you are. It’s also small, lightweight, and easy to pack around with you.
- Tunable radio stations on both AM and FM stations
- Has both USB and micro-USB ports
- Can use solar power in emergency situation as well
- Using radio and charging a phone at the same time can damage the generator’s battery
6. Tech-L Hand Crank Generator
A military grade hand cranked generator, it shouldn’t be too surprising to see this generator’s price. It’s compact and comes with multiple cords for connecting devices and charging what needs power. It gives out 30 watts and can work even in extreme weather situations.
This generator has protection against overheating and current overload to protect your devices. It’s easy to set up and has a special way of getting the handle out of the way when you’re trying to pack it somewhere. It’s lightweight and powerful.
- Works in extreme weather and altitudes
- Military grade with current overload protection and powerful wattage
- Comes with extra cords for charging
- A pretty expensive generator
7. Qianson DIY Hand Crank Generator
This is another super cheap hand crank generator that’s fairly easy to use. It has flashlight abilities as well, but is really more of a basic generator. It does not have any USB or charging ports aside from the positive and negative connections.
This generator gives out 9 volts and is really just useful for small things. You may not be able to reliably charge your phone, but it will certainly help you out in an emergency.
- Super cheap generator option
- Flashlight accessory
- Small and compact
- Really only useful for flashlight use
8. Genius Factory Deluxe Hand Crank DC Generator
This generator has a plastic cover like the one mentioned above as well. It’s small and compact for carrying around and can put out up to 15 volts. You can easily switch between low output and high output with an easy switch.
It’s made for school projects and science experiments, but it does a great job at powering a flashlight in an emergency. It’s affordable and easy to power without getting tired very quickly.
- Puts out 15 volts
- Easy to switch between low output and high output
- Fun to watch the generator work with the clear covering
- Only useful for powering flashlights
What is a Hand Crank Generator?
Hand crank generators are one of the oldest and most reliable types for producing electricity in an emergency and they happen to fit within the smaller generator category. They originated in the 60s when the military needed a way to power devices without electricity.
The most elaborate hand-cranked generators are military grade and run as high as a couple hundred dollars, but you can also find hand crank generators that are just as effective for much, much less.
A hand crank generator is designed to be small enough to take with you camping but powerful enough to charge your devices.
Most hand crank generators these days have a flashlight function and a USB port to make charging cell phones and other electronic devices easier, but you can definitely still find hand crank generators that resemble the original military design too.
Because they are powered by you cranking the handle, hand crank generators don’t rely on fuel and are the most reliable in an emergency. You don’t have to worry about resources and fuel that could be scarce during a disaster.
Hand crank generators certainly can’t be used to power your fridge or, but they’ll come in handy keeping your cell phone charged and you won’t have to worry about the battery dying.
How To Choose a Hand Crank Generator
Just like with any generator type, there are features you want to keep in mind before and during the process of buying a hand crank generator. Not all hand crank generators are alike and some may be better suited to meet your needs, so take some time beforehand to think about what you’ll be using your generator for and what functions you need in particular.
If you’re planning on taking a generator when you go camping, you may find that one with a more traditional design suits your needs just fine. However, if you are keeping it for during an emergency, choosing a generator with a USB port may make things run smoother when you actually get around to using it.
Most of the time, any hand crank generator you find online will have good photos and basic usage instructions. You should be able to discover how that particular generator works and if you’re lucky, previous buyers may have left helpful reviews. If so, make sure to read through them thoroughly and make sure there isn’t anything you missed while reading the product summary.
Below are just some of the top features to keep in mind and things that can be easily compared across even the most basic generator types.
1. Power Output
At the top of your list should be the power output the hand crank generator will provide. Some generators can put out as much as 400 watts per crank and others may be limited to 5 watts.
Each product should display the wattage and voltage in an easy to find location but if you can’t find it, ask a salesperson for help or look through the product reviews.
When it comes to the power output, electronic devices vary. Some phones only require 6 watts whereas others may border closer to 10 watts.
If you’re hoping to power several phones at a time and possibly run a flashlight with your hand crank generator, make sure to do the math and research before shopping for a generator.
Even if you only want to power one cell phone, make sure you know how much wattage you need to power it up.
Keep in mind how much voltage you’ll need as well. Without a strong enough voltage, your generator won’t be able to power that many devices which can be a pain to find out in an emergency.
Along with power out comes the possibility of other power sources.
Some generators will have the capability to run on solar power as well which could be worthwhile.
If you live in an area that gets lots of sun or are camping somewhere that does, solar power abilities will allow you to use your generator without having to crank it or tire your arm out so quickly.
Not all generators will include this feature but if yours does, it’s certainly a bit of a perk.
2. Efficiency and Durability
Generators can go through a lot, especially if you’re taking them camping or traveling.
Even if you intend to leave your hand crank generator in a box at home for an emergency, the durability of your generator should be a heavy factor when you consider which one to buy.
There are many hand crank generators that are used for children’s school projects and while they may also work fine at charging devices in an emergency, they’re typically made of plastic and not very durable.
Military-grade generators, on the other hand, are going to be designed to withstand just about anything and could take a hard beating before they start to break.
Another thing to keep in mind is how efficient your hand crank generator is. Even though most generators can produce 15 to 20 minutes of power off of just a minute of cranking, they may not always be super efficient. The most efficient generators will require less cranks per second to produce stable output.
In other words, if one crank produces 50% of a revolution, then your generator is only 50% effective. No generator will be 100% effective, but you’ll definitely find some that are on the higher end when it comes to efficiency ratings.
Not everyone can afford an expensive generator which is quite possibly why several people look into hand cranked generators. Just like with every other type of product, however, you’ll find hand cranked generators that are super expensive and generators that are only a couple of dollars.
It’s important you know your budget and don’t try to overspend just because you can. You should be able to find a perfectly good generator within your price range if you keep looking, so don’t be tempted to give in after the first couple of tries.
You need to keep your budget reasonable, of course. You can’t expect to buy a top of the line hand crank generator for only $20, so be reasonable with the budget you set. The more durable, powerful, and efficient you want your hand crank generator to be, the more expensive it will run.
Most hand crank generators are going to be super portable and lightweight. Some may weigh around a pound or two while others can be as light as only a couple of ounces. As can be expected, generators that are more durable will be slightly heavier than cheap plastic ones.
If you’re going to be keeping your generator at home, having one that’s slightly bulkier and heavier than another may be perfectly fine. If you’re buying a hand crank generator to take backpacking or camping, however, it may be worth the extra money to find one that’s a bit more portable.
Whichever hand crank generator you choose, make sure it’s the best for your intended circumstances. Some may lose their efficiency over time whereas others are designed to last years. Look into each product carefully before making a purchase and you won’t be rudely surprised by it in the future.
When you reach for your hand crank generator in the middle of an emergency, the last thing you need is a rude awakening or to find out that it isn’t going to work anymore.
Spending the extra research time and doing a bit of reading up beforehand can save many future headaches and help you end up with a generator you know you can rely on.