Whether you’re going camping or on a road trip, if you’re planning on heading off-grid for an extended period of time, you’ll need a practical and reliable source of power.
Even the most portable and functional standard generator can let you down at times. From battery failures to a lack of fuel, there’s plenty that can go wrong when you rely on your typical generator for your power needs.
On the other hand, you have the option of investing in a hand crank generator. Unlike standard generators, hand crank generators work by converting mechanical energy (created by you turning a handle) into electrical energy.
This produces an electric current that can then be used to charge your phone and other small electrical appliances such as flashlights and portable radios.
If a hand crank generator sounds like the answer to all your power struggles, you’ve come to the right article! We’ve done some pretty extensive research and found the top 5 hand crank generators to review for you today.
Don’t forget to stick around for the helpful tips in our buyer’s guide and answers to the most-asked questions surrounding hand crank generators below!
OUR TOP PICK
The first hand crank generator we’d like to recommend today is the HUABAN Hand Crank Generator.
This is a highly portable and practical hand crank generator that weighs just 480 grams, meaning it won’t weigh down your luggage on your travels.
However, just because the HUABAN Hand Crank Generator is lightweight doesn’t mean its construction is any less durable than the competition. In fact, this unit is highly wear-resistant thanks to its aluminum alloy build!
The maximum power rating for this hand crank generator is 30 Watts, which translates to a direct current output of up to 28 volts.
This is more than sufficient for charging mobile phone devices as well as tablets, flashlights, and chargeable radios.
HUABAN’s Hand Crank Generator comes with a regulator, which means that you can set the current output to a set level that is compatible with the device or appliance you want to charge.
This helps to ensure a safe and efficient charging process.
The generator also comes with everything you need to start using your hand crank generator right away, including an alligator clip, an aviation socket, and 2 USB plus (a mini plug and a 2.0), allowing for direct battery connection despite the fact that this generator doesn’t have a battery built into it.
Our only criticism of the HUABAN Hand Crank Generator is the fact that some users have reported intermittent handle resistance, which can make turning the handle difficult and tiring after a certain period of time.
- Aluminum alloy construction - Highly durable
- 480 grams - Lightweight and portable
- 30-Watt rating - Up to 28 volts DC
- Regulator, alligator clip, and aviation socket included - No extra purchases needed
- Includes 2 USB plugs - Allows for battery connection
- Some reports of handle resistance - May become tiring to use after a while
Our next recommendation if you’re looking for a high-performing hand crank generator is the YaeTek Portable Hand Crank Generator.
The first major benefit of the YaeTek Portable Hand Crank Generator is its robust metal casing and gear construction, which ensures longevity by providing a high level of wear and impact resistance.
But there’s so much more to the YaeTek hand crank generator than meets the eye!
Delivering 20 watts of maximum power, this generator is capable of putting out up to 15 volts for small charging jobs such as phones.
However, it’s important to note that the voltage (and, consequently, the amperage) is adjustable according to the pace at which you crank the handle, so you can tailor the current output to your needs.
This hand crank generator is very compact, measuring just 7 x 4.6 x 3.8 inches and weighing just under 794 grams (1.75 lbs).
Thanks to these dimensions and the lightweight construction, the YaeTek generator is highly portable and ideal for travel.
Plus, we love that the unit comes with non-slip foot pads underneath to enhance stability. This is a great feature for use during road travel.
However, it should be noted that this generator charges much more slowly via USB than through other connection methods.
This means that charging your phone, for example, can take significantly longer than it usually would because the generator operates at the minimum non-damaging current for USB devices universally.
- Metal casing and gears - Tough and impact-resistant
- 20 Watts maximum power - Up to 15 volts
- Adjustable voltage - Multipurpose
- 3.8 x 4.6 x 7 inches - Compact and portable
- Built-in foot pads - Non-slip
- Slow USB charging - Not a fast charging solution for phones
Qianson’s DIY Hand Crank Generator is an excellent budget-friendly solution to outdoor charging!
Using the handle on this hand crank generator, you can produce an output of up to 15 volts, meaning that the Qianson unit is highly compatible with various appliances and devices.
Thanks to its compact build, measuring just 1.95 x 2.34 x 0.96 inches, you can easily carry this hand crank generator with you wherever you go.
It also helps that the generator is very lightweight, weighing just 50 grams.
Compared to the vast majority of generators on the market, both hand crank and fuel designs, this generator is amazingly affordable, making it the perfect choice if you’re working with a budget.
However, because the maximum current output you can derive from this hand crank generator is 300 mA (milliamperes), you can only expect a relatively slow charge, especially if you’re trying to charge a slightly larger device such as a laptop.
- Up to 15 volts output - Widely compatible
- 1.95 x 2.34 x 0.96 inches - Compact design
- 50 grams - Extremely lightweight
- Highly affordable - Budget-friendly
- Maximum current 300 mA - Quite slow-charging
This Hand Power Generator from VEVOR is a high-quality, versatile hand crank generator for all your off-grid power needs.
The VEVOR Hand Power Generator is made of die-cast aluminum, which is not only very durable and wear-resistant but also shockproof, ensuring the safest possible charging experience.
In addition to this, the outer casing of the generator is completely waterproof, so you can use it in any weather without worrying about water damage.
Using the dial on the included regulator, you can adjust the voltage output from 0 to 28 volts.
This gives you quite a lot of flexibility in terms of which appliances and devices you can connect to the generator.
Speaking of flexibility, you also have the ability to use the VEVOR Hand Power Generator as a handheld charger or fix it to a suitable area to make the charging process physically easier.
You can do the latter using the portable bracket that comes in the package, which is easy to attach.
Not only does the VEVOR Hand Power Generator come with a regulator and bracket, but it also comes with an aviation plug and an alligator clip to facilitate compatibility.
While this wouldn’t be considered an overly loud hand crank generator, there is a noticeable amount of noise output which might not be ideal if you were hoping for a completely peaceful charging experience.
- Die-cast aluminum - Durable and shockproof
- Waterproof casing - Damage-resistant
- 0 - 28 volt regulation - Flexible operation
- Includes portable bracket - Easy fixation
- Comes with regulator, aviation plug, and alligator clip - Complete package
- Some noise output - Not the quietest model on the market
The Powerhouse 60 Watt Hand-Crank Generator is the hand crank generator we’d recommend if you’re seeking a high-powered, eco-friendly charging unit.
This hand crank generator is made from a combination of aluminum and steel, which makes it both lightweight and wear-resistant.
This is an ideal combination for activities like camping, where you need to travel as light as possible while being exposed to the elements.
Speaking of the elements, a kit bag is provided along with the generator.
This kit bag is not only practical for transport purposes, but it’s also water-repellent, which will help to protect your hand crank generator in rainy weather.
This generator is rated at 60 watts, so it’s powerful, and the voltage output can be adjusted from 5 to 20 volts for versatility in terms of connection.
You can use this generator to power and charge various devices, and you can even charge 2 devices simultaneously.
A silicone mounting pad is included with the generator which, combined with the mounting bracket, provides a safe and secure system for using your hand-crank generator in the most convenient and practical way possible.
USB charging is also facilitated, but there’s no fast-charging capability, so you’ll probably find yourself waiting a little longer than usual for your phone to charge.
- Steel and aluminum construction - Impressive durability
- 60-Watt rating - High-powered
- 5 to 20 volts - Versatile use
- Silicone mounting pad - Non-slip
- Includes mounting bracket and kit bag - Practical and waterproof
- No USB fast charging - Slower USB charging pace
Best Hand Crank Generators Buying Guide
No 2 hand crank generators are exactly the same, which means that choosing the one that will be most compatible with your needs can be tricky.
Luckily, we’re here to help you out. We’ve put together a guide to the key features you need to keep in mind when evaluating your options.
The power rating and output of your new hand crank generator is the most important feature to consider before you buy.
You’ll want to look into the Wattage, voltage, and amperage for the best possible overview of the generator’s power and compatibility.
Wattages for hand crank generators typically fall between 20 and 40, although it’s not too unusual to find these generators with Wattages of 60.
In terms of voltage, the key is adjustability. A higher voltage signifies greater efficiency, but it’s important to note that not all devices can safely operate at high voltages.
For instance, most phone chargers come with voltages between 5 and 12 volts, so it goes without saying that charging your phone at the 20-volt maximum offered by your generator isn’t a good idea. Therefore, it’s best to have some adjustability, either according to handle turning speed or a rotary dial.
Amperage is an indicator of current, but it’s not indicative of how much power is being transferred into a device. Instead, it’s actually a measure of how effectively a generator can run without overheating (the higher the amperage rating, the better).
Taking all of these factors into consideration, combined with the maximum voltages of any batteries in devices or appliances you’ll need to charge, will give you a good indication of whether a hand crank generator is a good fit for your needs.
You should also consider how exactly you will connect your appliances and devices to your generator. This will depend on the different ports and connections offered by the generator.
For example, if you’re planning on charging your phone or tablet, you’ll need a generator that offers USB charging. If you’re lucky, the generator may even come with USB charging cables for this purpose.
Alternatively, if the device or appliance you need to charge doesn’t have a USB port, you’ll need another connection method such as an aviation socket or an alligator clip.
Sometimes, manufacturers will provide these accessories with the generator to make your life easier, so be sure to keep an eye out for these additional features.
Key safety features you should prioritize in a hand crank generator include shockproof and waterproof casing. This is especially important if you’re going to be using your generator outdoors because the last thing you want is for water to interfere with or damage your generator - or worse, put you in danger.
The materials out of which your new hand crank generator is constructed will play a key role in determining its longevity and durability, so make sure not to skip over this detail.
Materials such as aluminum and steel are the best choice because they are lightweight as well as resistant to damage from impact and corrosion.
You should always pay attention to the dimensions and weight of the generator. If you’re planning on taking your hand crank generator on your travels, it’s in your best interest to make sure it’s as compact and lightweight as possible.
You can find hand crank generators that weigh as little as 50 grams, which is far more easily portable than generators that run on fuel.
We’ve already spoken about a couple of additional features you can get with hand crank generators, such as alligator clips and aviation plugs.
However, there are plenty of other accessories manufacturers may provide to enhance the value of your purchase.
One helpful additional feature is a mounting bracket or non-slip mounting pad.
Accessories like this provide a helpful way to take some of the physical effort out of using a hand crank generator because you don’t have to hold it in place while turning the handle.
Non-slip pads underneath the generator can help to create the same effect.
We also recommend looking for hand crank generators that come with carrying bags, especially waterproof ones.
This makes things like going camping much easier because not only do you have a convenient way to carry your generator around but it’s also an effective protection method against the elements.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does A Hand Crank Generator Work?
On the simplest level, hand crank generators work by converting kinetic energy (energy from movement) into electrical energy.
Your hand crank generator will connect to the device or appliance you want to charge using either a USB cable, an aviation plug, or an alligator clip. Once connected, you will begin to turn the handle.
At this point, the handle will be causing gears inside the generator to turn. These gears interact with rotors, creating torque around the axis of the rotor and converting the kinetic energy into an electrical current.
It is this electrical current that travels to the charging port or power inlet on the device or appliance you have connecting, allowing it to charge and run.
Are Hand Crank Generators Better Than Regular Generators?
If you’re looking for a high-amperage, high-voltage generator that doesn’t require any physical effort on your part to run, then your standard petroleum or diesel generator will definitely be the best choice for you.
However, there are many advantages of hand crank generators over fuel generators. For one thing, hand crank generators are often the cheaper option. They are also much more lightweight and compact, which makes them easier to carry around on your travels.
Because petrol and diesel are not good for the environment, another benefit of using a hand crank generator is that the electricity produced will be more eco-friendly.
Plus, turning the handle at a steady pace makes for a great arm workout!