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A hand crank generator is a cute and marvelous device. But, is it really useful or is it an obsolete source of power?

After all, small solar panels are quite affordable nowadays. There are power stations and several types of generators to help you get through power outages. Still, there are people who buy these generators. And they don’t do it to amaze their kids when the lightbulb lights up after you have turned the crank.

So, let’s delve into this and see if these nice devices can actually be helpful.

What Is a Hand Crank Generator?

It is a power generator and you are the power source. By turning the crank, you are turning your muscle power into electrical power. It’s the simplest and the most reliable way to produce power to run or charge your small devices. Yes, it is a rudimentary and a bit cumbersome process, but it can save the day in emergency situations.

What Is It Good For?

Hand crank generators are by no means a necessity. However, if you’re smart, you might consider getting one. Here’s why.

Our society is heavily dependent on power. And so are we as individuals. For most modern amenities there are simple solutions in cases of emergency. Well, if you are prepared, that is. You can store food, find alternative water sources, hunt, fish, grow food… Actually, you can live pretty much sustainably away from civilization. But, the greatest challenge is a possible lack of power. We can survive and even thrive without power, but it’s way more difficult. So, how does a decent prepper or survivalist deal with this?

There are many ways to provide backup power. Gas generators, power banks, solar panels, and windmills are the most common solutions. All these devices are useful and sometimes indispensable. However, none of them can run forever. Sooner or later you may run out of gas. Solar power generators won’t work when it’s raining or at night. Wind generators, well, they don’t work most of the time unless your bug out location is at the top of the windy hill.

So, when you’re out of options, a hand crank generator will come to the rescue. You can use it to recharge your small devices, emergency radio, rechargeable flashlights, or to run some low-wattage kitchen appliances.

Obviously, these generators are no toys and can be very useful. However, it is only a backup, emergency power source. You can’t rely on it for everyday use. It doesn’t produce that much power, and you would need to keep cranking all day long. But, as a backup power source, it is the most reliable one. 

What to Look For When Buying One?

You should carefully assess your needs and preferences and look for a matching device. If you need it only to charge your devices on camping trips, you don’t need to go overboard and buy a more expensive and versatile model. On the other hand, if you’re serious about being prepared for a variety of possible disasters, you should look for more powerful models.

Power Output

Power output is one of the most important features of hand crank generators. It determines which devices you can charge with it. Basically, the stronger it is, the better. However, stronger and more powerful hand crank generators tend to be larger and heavier. You probably don’t want to carry around a heavy and bulky generator, only to recharge your phone or radio. So, there’s a trade-off.


Whether you’re preparing for potentially tough times or you’re an avid hiker or camper, portability is one of the most important things. The more equipment you use, the heavier it gets. Weight slows you down and it’s progressive. Each added pound makes it harder to pack and carry.

So, this is quite simple. You need every piece of your equipment to be as lightweight as possible while still being fully functional.


Modern hand crank generators are pretty efficient when compared with older models. And it’s not just about converting the energy. It’s equally important to be able to keep turning the crank without getting tired too quickly.


Survival or emergency equipment needs to be durable. You want your gear to be reliable when it gets ugly. If it’s not sturdy enough, it might break in harsh conditions. It’s not like you’re going to crank it under the heavy rain or hit it with a hammer, but you probably won’t be able to handle it gently. So, look for sturdy and possibly water-resistant models.

Top 5 Hand Crank Generators Reviewed

1. HUABAN Hand Crank Generator High Power Charger

best hand crank generator

Click to see the current price on Amazon!

HUABAN is lightweight and compact, yet powerful hand crank generator. With a power output of 30W and a lifetime warranty, it is a great bargain.


  • 30W power output
  • 5-28 voltage output
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Several different adapters and cables to connect with batteries or devices


  • Not the most affordable model

2. Tech-L Hand Crank Generator

best hand crank generator reviews

Click to see the current price on Amazon!

This generator looks almost identical to HUABAN and has very similar specifications. It is a little bit heavier, but it’s also water and shock-resistant.


  • 30W of power
  • Rugged and durable
  • Temperature range from -40 to 60°C
  • Water resistant
  • Shock Resistant


  • Hand crank is a little bit short

3. K-Tor power box IMPROVED! 20 watt pedal generator

hand crank power generators

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Strictly speaking, this is a ”foot crank generator”, but it’s the same type of device. The only difference is that you will be pedaling instead of turning the crank. A pedal variant is easier to use because our legs are more powerful than our arms. On the flip side, pedaling generators are heavier and bulkier.


  • Reliable
  • Sturdy
  • It regulates to 120 volts DC


  • A bit heavy

4. Weather Radio Onlyee Solar Hand Crank Emergency Radio

hand cranked generator

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This is more than just a hand crank generator. It includes a radio, flashlight, solar panel, and power bank! The green color model comes with an SOS alarm and compass.


  • Versatility
  • 2,000 mAh power bank
  • Fleshlight
  • Water resistant
  • Compact


  • Solar panel is small, so it takes forever to charge

5. Qianson DIY Hand Crank Generator

best hand cranked generators reviews

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If you’re looking for a budget option, this is the one. It is a very affordable, yet reliable hand crank generator. 


  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Very affordable
  • Flashlight


  • Only 4W power output


You won’t use a hand crank generator in everyday life. But in cases of power outages, natural and other disasters, or on your camping and hiking trips, you’ll be peaceful knowing that you can never run out of power completely.

They can’t produce large amounts of energy, so you can’t expect to use it as your main power source. But, if you need to charge your emergency radio, flashlight, or your electronic devices you can do it over and over again. During powerful storms or in emergency situations, it can make all the difference in the world.