Think what you will of hand crank chargers, but they’re still a reliable option when it comes to providing backup power during emergencies, camping, or when you find yourself needing just that one power bar to send out an important call.
It used to be that they were used primarily to power flashlights in the early days, but now their basic design has evolved to incorporate other features that make them all-purpose gadgets for a variety of needs.
There are models that function as weather radios which warn hikers of dangerous storms; others even incorporate a beacon which is extremely useful if one gets lost or swept downriver in a flood.
There are also chargers that include mini-solar panels to allow passive charging so one does not have to resort to manually cranking it to generate electricity. Some of them can even be used to charge not just a cellphone but a laptop and a tablet too.
This is why they’re very practical to have for backpacking and travel. Because they’re compact and lightweight, they can be tucked away in a pocket and used only when needed.
In fact, a hand crank charger should also be in every disaster kit because it can come in handy when one is in an off-grid situation.
But as useful as they are when one is in an energy pinch, one should also be aware that these type of gadgets have their own limitations. They’re not designed to be your primary charger; they’re emergency tools to be used as a last resort. So don’t go expecting that’ll they’ll charge as quickly and efficiently as the standard cellphone or laptop charger.
In this list, I’ve picked out the best ones that are reliable enough for long-term use. From simple mobile phone chargers to all-around heavy-duty ones, these chargers are useful enough for whatever backup power needs that one will require.
Here are my top 4 hand crank chargers on Amazon.
Table of Contents
- Best Hand Crank Chargers
- 1. K-Tor PS2 USB 1 AMP Hand Crank Generator
- 2. Powerhouse 60 Watt Hand-Crank Fast Charger – USB-C Power Delivery (PD)
- 3. Qianson DIY Hand Crank Generator Flashlight Portable Charger 4W Dynamo Hand held Generator 100-300m
- 4. Hand Crank Generator High Power Charger for Outdoor Mobile Phone Computer Charging 30W / 0-28V with USB Plug (Green Generator + DC Regulator)
- How To Pick the Best Hand Crank Chargers
Best Hand Crank Chargers
- K-Tor PS2 USB 1 AMP Hand Crank Generator
- Powerhouse 60 Watt Hand-Crank Fast Charger
- Qianson DIY Hand Crank Generator Flashlight Portable Charger 4W Dynamo Handheld Generator 100-300mA
- Hand Crank Generator High Power Charger for Outdoor Mobile Phone Computer
1. K-Tor PS2 USB 1 AMP Hand Crank Generator
This is an updated model that works more efficiently and charges much faster than the previous version. It has a simple two-prong power socket with a crank that can charge any phone that has a USB cable and USB connection.
Made with strong polycarbonate blend plastic, it’s durable and portable for travel. The crank itself is comfortable and easy to rotate for a long time. It charges at one amp, five volts. In order to charge a dead cellphone in order to make a call, it requires cranking it for four minutes. One user tried using this to fully charge his cellphone and it took him a couple of hours.
- Made in USA
- Reliable customer service
- Only good for mobile phones and tablets
- A bit heavy at 15 ounces
2. Powerhouse 60 Watt Hand-Crank Fast Charger – USB-C Power Delivery (PD)
This hand crank charger is four times faster than most manual chargers on the market which makes it an ideal gadget to bring along when you’re off-grid. It also includes a solid and simple steel clamp mounting system so that you can fasten it into a wall or surface for greater stability.
This gadget is capable of supporting up to 60 watts so this is useful for charging high-power devices that have USB ports. According to the manufacture, 45 seconds of cranking is enough for a text message, and three minutes is good for a five-minute call. One user said it took only four minutes and 20 seconds to charge his iPhone by over 10%. Another said it charges about 1% a minute when the charge on the device is under 50%.
It uses ball bearing and gears to produce power with less cranking. It also supports continuous use so that several users can alternate cranking the device to produce the energy. An aircraft-grade aluminum housing protects everything and keeps it compact and durable.
This model comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
- Quick charging
- Two USB ports
- Slightly heavy (weighs like a six-pack)
- Not water resistant
3. Qianson DIY Hand Crank Generator Flashlight Portable Charger 4W Dynamo Hand held Generator 100-300m
This is a basic hand-crank motor for a flashlight. It can be used as a mobile lighting tool or it can also power a DIY hand crank flashlight.
It has an output voltage of 15V/1000r and an output current of 100-300mA/l000r. Its portable enough so that it can be included in an emergency kit.
- The motor leads can be fragile
- Made in China
4. Hand Crank Generator High Power Charger for Outdoor Mobile Phone Computer Charging 30W / 0-28V with USB Plug (Green Generator + DC Regulator)
This is a military-grade hand crank generator that’s capable of a three watt output anywhere from 0 to 28 volts and a maximum current of three amps. One user said that with two to three minutes of cranking, one can make a single call or send an email on a cellphone or a tablet.
Its outer casing is made from aluminum and the handle is strong and durable. It also has three positions: folded in, folded out, and straight on. Its best feature, however, is the hand crank’s adaptive resistance. This means one can calmly crank it up slowly and still consistently generate electricity.
This model comes with a regulator, a 1 x 12mm aviation Socket , and an alligator clip 5.5mm plug.
- Rain/puddle resistant; durable
- High gearing
- Doesn’t contain a battery
- When used on some iPhones, you might get a “this accessory is not supported” notification
How To Pick the Best Hand Crank Chargers
Hand crank chargers generate electricity by using a dynamo to convert the muscle energy that one expends cranking the charger. The more time one spends turning the crank, the more power one can get.
But not all cranks are equal. Some will have higher efficiency than others. A charger with a high-energy conversion is the best one to have because this will mean that you won't work as much in turning the crank to get enough energy for your needs.
Most manufacturers will say that a standard hand crank charger will take about 10 minutes of cranking just to make a single call. But with more improvements to the basic design these days, you can easily find a model that offers a quicker and easier way to get the power that you need.
Additional features will make your hand crank charger versatile and useful for a lot of situations. The most common type is one that bundles an emergency radio, a flashlight, and a charger all in one design. There’s even one that has an ultrasonic dog whistle. This makes it practical for disaster situations.
Another type offers multiple charging options and USB ports. They may come equipped with a battery, mini-solar panels for charging, or a port for charging through an electrical outlet. Some offer more heavy-duty features, like durable metal housing and water- or shock-proof coating
Size and Weight
Both go hand in hand. If you’re looking for a product that’s portable, the smallest size available is a pocket-sized model that can charge a simple flashlight or cellphone through USB connections.
Larger ones are best for camper vans, boats, or cabins. They’re more efficient for powering large battery banks and appliances. But they tend to be a bit heavy which is why they are best stored in a drawer or a corner.
Most models, especially those that are made overseas, don’t come with warranties. And even then, it’s hard to gauge the product's reliability when the manufacturer is located in a faraway place like China. If you’re in doubt about the quality of a product, check out its review section and see how users are rating it. It’ll give you an idea if the product is a solid buy even without a warranty.