When the power goes out, a hand crank phone charger can really come in handy. Sure, having a backup generator or mobile battery charger is great, but those eventually need to be refueled too.
That’s why it’s a good idea to have a mechanical charger. Nowadays we are dependent on electronics. We often don’t realize it until we lose access to power. Having a hand crank cell phone charger for electronics in your home or car is a very smart idea. Many of the hand crank products on this list have USB ports built in, so you’ll be able to recharge your phone regardless if it’s from a flashlight combo, radio combo, or stand alone charger.
You never know when the next power outage, natural disaster, or zombie apocalypse is going to strike.
The good news is…
Hand crank USB chargers for phones are really cheap considering the amount of utility they provide.
Phone batteries don’t last long. Even if you have a new iPhone that hasn’t lost is maximum charge capacity from being charged over and over again, it still might not last all day on a single charge. If you’re the type of person who uses apps like google maps, Facebook, or Pandora then you already know how fast phone batteries can be drained.
- Here Are the Best Hand Crank Phone Chargers in 2019
How do Cell Phone Crank Chargers Work?
Turning the hand crank generates power through electromagnetic induction, which basically just means as you spin the handle it spins a magnet within a wire coil. As the surfaces pass one another electrons are stripped from the magnetic field creating a sustainable form of electricity. They energy is then stored in the battery or capacitor to be used as needed.
3 Considerations To Find the Best Hand Crank Phone Charger for You
Check the Battery Capacity (usually listed in mAh)
If you don’t already know what mAh means, it stands for milli-Ampere-hours, which is a measure of the batteries energy storage capacity. For example, comparing it to a cars gas tank, it’s basically just how much “fuel” the tank can hold. The higher the mAh rating the longer the device will likely last on a single charge.
Look at the Hand Crank Conversion Efficiency
This just means for every minute you crank how many minutes of power you get. I’ll list the specs for each product below if the manufacturer notates it on the packaging.
Does it have all the features you want?
If you’re looking for just a hand crank phone charger, the cheapest made by the Red Cross might be just fine for you, but if you need an emergency radio or want a product with multiple charging method capabilities you might want to choose another product on this list.
Ok, that covers the basics…
Here are some of my favorite products that can be used stand alone and double as hand crank cell phone chargers.
Here Are the Best Hand Crank Phone Chargers in 2019
1. Red Cross Clipray (Cheapest)
I have a text review of this light below, but if you’re more in the mood to watch a video the one below does a pretty good job summing up the features of this light. This light is pretty good for emergency purposes, but don’t expect it to generate enough power to be playing games or listening to music. It’s best used as a hank crank light and to change your phone enough to make emergency phone calls.
We all know how frustrating it is when our flashlight’s batteries die, or the batteries are running out of juice so the beam is very weak. With a hand crank flashlight, also known as a mechanical flashlight, you won’t have to worry about that.
The Red Cross Clipray is the cheapest product on this list. Along with being a pretty solid flashlight, it also doubles as a USB cell phone charger.
It’s certainly not the best charger on this list, but it will get the job done and give your phone enough juice to make a phone call or check the messages on your phone during an emergency.
Cranking for one at a speed of 2 cranks per for second for one minute generates enough power for 10 minutes of light use. It has 3 LED bulbs that are bright considering its price point. There is a light on the side of the device and it makes a distinct sound that lets you know when it’s charging.
The carabiner clip is nice because you can attach it to the outside of your backpack or other gear. It is compatible with iPhones, Samsung series, HTC series, and most cellular devices.
- 3 bright LED bulbs
- Carabiner Clip
- Made by Red Cross
- Hand crank is moderately efficient
- Cheap plastic
- Not as efficient as more expensive products
- Only one charging method
Note: While cranking does store power to the battery for the light to be used when needed, to charge your phone you’ll need to continuously crank while the phone is connected.
2. Esky Portable Emergency Charger (Best Value)
If you’re looking for straight value this charger by Esky is a steal! It has hand crank and solar power capabilities.
The brightness of the flashlight on point considering you wouldn’t want a hand crank device to be too bright (it would draw too much power).
Along with the hand crank phone charger function, you also get the flashlight, radio, and a 2.5mm output mini USB charging cable, 1 2.5mm connector to USB converter, Esky weather radio warranty card, user manual.
Working voltage is between 2.7 and 4.2 volts. It can be powered by battery as well (requires 1 lithium ion battery). You can pick this product up in multiple colors.
- Water Resistant
- NOAA Radio
- Multiple Charge Modes
- Micro and Standard USB Ports
- Only 1000 mAh Battery
- Not Waterproof
- Doesn’t hold a charge as well as more expensive options.
3. Compass Culture Hand Crank Device (Recommended)
The Culture Brand’s solar hand crank phone charger multi-functional device is very cheap considering its functionality. There are 4 separate ways to charge the device. (solar, wind up, USB, or 3 AAA batteries).
It has an emergency radio with AM, FM, and 7 NoAA weather channels, so you’ll know what’s going on if you’re using it during a storm or power outage.
If you plan to charge your phone solely through hand cranking you can expect to get 3-5 minutes of cell phone power for every 1 minute cranked. It’s not great but remember this is a last resort type charger to give you enough juice to make that important call or get updates on what’s going on.
A mechanical flashlight is a perfect emergency tool to keep in your car, RV, home, or emergency gear stockpile just in case something should happen.
The company recommends charging the radio to full (takes 2.5 hours by USB) to get 6 hours of radio, 15-20 minutes of light. To fully charge the device through solar power takes about 20 hours.
- 2000 mAh battery capacity
- Multiple charge modes
- Efficient power usage and generation
- Adjustable light intensity and zoom
- Bracelet with compass
- Magnesium flint fire starter
- Loud and clear speaker
- Lifetime customer service
- Reading lamp and light
- Next product has a higher battery capacity
- Not Waterproof (but could keep it in a dry bag)
4. Wayl Buzz4000 3000 mAH Radio Combo (Highest Rated)
If you’re someone who needs social proof to buy something, then this hand crank radio with USB phone charging port might be for you. It has the highest overall rating of all the hand crank charging devices on this list.[Small, but mighty!/su_pullquote]
This radio has a seriously impressive battery capacity (4000 mAh).
The radio has bright flashlight built in to the side which is perfect when you’re carrying it by the handle while walking. There is a reading light built into the handle that can be propped up.
As far as efficiency, one minute of hand cranking provides up to 30 minutes of light or 15-20 minutes of radio life. It also has a dedicated USB port, so you can charge the device through a computer or outlet charger.
Pros: Headphone Jack, 4 power modes, dedicated USB port, veryefficient power conversion, LED flashlight, LED reading Light, dual speakers, removable lithium ion battery, MP3 USB player port, SOS Alarm, Folding Handling, water resistant (IPX3), money back guarantee.
- 4000 mAh Battery
- Efficient power conversion
- Water resistant (IPX3)
- Multiple Power modes
- Great radio (dual speakers)
- dedicated USB port
- Headphone Jack
- Mp3 USB port
- Power efficient
- Removable and replaceable battery
- Reading lamp
- A little more expensive
- Not fully waterproof
5. Eton FRX5-BT (Best Tech)
The biggest thing that makes this product stand out as far is tech is that it has Bluetooth syncing capacities. During an emergency situation, you’ll be listening to music while others are struggling to make ends meet.
Although it does have some great features I do think there are better products on this list for the money.
There are a lot of mixed customer reviews for this hand crank phone charger multi-functional device so be sure to read what other customers are saying about the pros and cons before you purchase this product.
The Eton company cells a few different products, so you might want to check out some of their less expensive hand crank phone chargers. You can find them on the product listing page for this device.
- Music streaming
- Durable (drop proof up to 3.5 feet)
- 2000 mAh battery
- Splash proof (water resistant to IEC IPX4)
- multi charge methods
- digital tuner and display
- Requires some programming
- Smaller battery capacity than cheaper products
- not fully waterproof
6. Sangean MMR-88
This thing looks like a tank or a radio you would take to a construction worksite. It has a digital display that is backlight so you can easily see how much battery is remaining and exactly which of the 19 preset AM/FM radio stations you’re on.
Like many of the other chargers on this list, there are multiple ways it can be charged (Hand Crank, USB, or Solar).
The battery capacity seems a little low to me (850 mAh), but it does have great reviews, and for emergency situations, it will do the job. I did read one review that said, “what battery.”
Not the best hand charger on this list, but also a respectable alternative if you don’t like the others on this list.
- 19 preset stations
- Certified weather alert radio
- USB to micro B cable included
- Digital display
- Splash Proof
- Battery capacity
- Not water proof
- High price point for the technology
7. RunningSnail Solar Crank Radio
This radio is another good option. I like that is capable of running on replaceable AAA batteries. Other than it doesn’t have any real stand out features that separate it from the other chargers on this list, which is why it’s near the bottom, but it’s certainly a solid option.
As far as battery life and hand crank efficiency this product is on par with most of the others on this list. The 2000 mAh battery gives about 12 hours of light or 4 to 6 hours of radio playtime.
I do like the positioning of the solar charger, but I’ve never actually tested this product, so I don’t know if it functions better than the others on this list.
- Sos alarm with red flashing light
- Good battery life
- multi-mode charging
- good radio
- Lamp and light functions
- Battery capacity
- Not water proof
- High price point for the technology
Remember what you’re using it for…
I added this to the list because after reading customer reviews I saw some people giving certain products 1 star reviews because it stopped working after 3 months. These are mostly designed as an emergency tool, not as a primary charger or radio.
Don’t wait until it’s too late…
It’2018, crazy things happen all the time. Here are some situations a hand crank phone charger might come in handy.
- Outdoor Survival
- Additional Tips
- Storm Power Outage
The first hand crank cell phone was designed after the designers realized the necessity after hurricane Katrina left tens of thousands without power. America saw firsthand what happens when our power grid is compromised. The inventors saw a golden opportunity and funded their project on Indiegogo, and since then the idea has taken off!
Tips on how to make the battery last longer
If you’re charging your cell phone it will charger faster if you turn it off. When you’re cranking you won’t be able to use your phone too efficiently anyway so just turn it off or put in in power save or airplane mode.
Also, keeping the radio on low volume of the lights on low will increase the battery life
That does it for this review. If you have tried any of these products feel free to share your experience. If you know of a good product you think should be added to this list please let me know.
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Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines. As an outdoor enthusiast, he has been testing outdoor and tactical style gear for over 20 years. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. On this website, we only write about things within our range of expertise like tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. Check out the “About Us” tab to meet the team.