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Hand-crank generators: do they actually work?

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

Our modern electrical grid gives us access to power almost everywhere and at any time. It is something we have all become accustomed to, and it is hard to imagine life without electricity even for a single day. But situations like hurricanes, storms, floods, or other man-made disasters can cause severe interruptions in your power supply. Rather than wait days for the supply companies to restore the power, this article will provide you with the best alternatives to use as a backup source of energy, which are affordable and easy to use.

Having a source of creating your own power supply that is not dependent on electricity, batteries or expensive solar panel installations is vital as a bridge to seeking more permanent backup power solutions.

Hand crank generators can quickly recharge a torch battery and are able to charge your phone or kindle to read all those vital survival manuals you had downloaded for off-grid living.

And, they are portable enough to bring on camping trips, travels, and other outdoor activities such as creating a meth lab in the desert so you always have a backup power solution in or out of a SHTF situation.


How do hand crank generators work?

Hand crank generators work on the same principles as traditional generators. The only difference is that they rely on mechanical energy from your arm or legs rather than gasoline, steam fossil fuels, or falling water. When you turn the crank on the side of the generator, the coils move around a magnet and generate current.

A generator is basically an electric motor working in reverse, based on the principles of magnetism discovered by physicist Michael Faraday. By spinning a coil of wire around a magnet, he found that a steady current could be converted into electrical energy

The first generator was discovered by physicist Michael Faraday in 1831.


How much electricity can a hand crank generate?

A simple rotation of the handles will generate anything from 10 to 400 watts of electrical power. Most small-scale hand crank generators create only between 5 and 15 watts. This means that for every hour of continuous hand cranking, you can run an iPad or your laptop for about 6 to 10 minutes or your iPhone for about 16 minutes. This is great for extreme emergencies where you need to make a quick 911 call but hand crank generators are otherwise limited to the amount of muscle power you have available. The amount of voltage they generate is directly dependent on your effort. The longer and faster you turn that crank, the more the resulting power you will get. Keep in mind continuous human power is somewhere around 100 watts with Olympic athletes hitting around 200-300. Making power via muscle is hard work. Here are some of the most popular small-scale hand crank generators currently available on Amazon:

  • High Power Charger for Outdoor Mobile Phone or Computer Charging

  • 30W / 0-28V with USB Plug

  • Very light weight and portable

  • High level of efficiency at the lowest possible effort cranking

  • Chip that converts directly from the generator to the USB 5 volt

  • Protection against accidental overloads

  • Velcro strap to attach to hand

  • Four different methods for charging (a replaceable 4,000mAh battery, a folding hand crank, a USB charger, and a built-in solar panel)

  • Solar panel & radio antenna

  • 3-mode flashlight

  • AM and FM radio and seven NOAA emergency weather stations

  • Lightweight & compact handle design

  • Super Bright LED Light with about 12+ hours usage time

  • Solar panel recharging

  • Super lightweight and portable.

FAQs hand crank generators with inbuilt radios:

While hand crank radios aren’t new technology, there is a lot to know about the different features and how these devices work. Below is a collection of some of the most common questions about hand crank radios.

Q: What is a hand crank radio?

A hand crank radio is a radio that doesn’t require outside electricity to run. The user simply turns the crank to charge an onboard battery, allowing these devices to work even when the power may be out

Q: When would I need an emergency radio?

Should there be a natural disaster or an unfortunate public safety situation, the power grid could go down, leaving you without valuable information that could keep you safe. An emergency radio helps you keep in touch with that info.

Q: Do hand crank radios need batteries?

Hand crank radios have built-in batteries onboard, but many can take supplementary batteries for longer radio or flashlight time.

Q: How long does it take to charge a hand crank radio?

Many of the best hand crank radios might require cranking for 10 to 15 minutes until they reach full charge.

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