10 Best

Hand Crank Radios

of October 2023

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A Guide to Buying a Hand Crank Radio

Samuel Gilmour

How should you choose a hand crank radio?

It is always important to be prepared for an emergency. Therefore, it makes sense to own an emergency kit. One of the essential tools included in that kit that you will need is a good hand crank radio or an emergency radio. It is important that you buy a high-quality, reliable hand crank so that you know you have something to fall back on when you are in an emergency situation.


What is a hand crank radio?

A hand crank radio doesn't require external electricity to operate. With the crank, the user can charge the onboard battery, allowing these devices to function even when the power is out. This makes them essential additions to emergency kits.

How does a hand crank radio work?

The crank radio generates its power by using a special magnet and conductive wire. A coil is wrapped around a magnet, and when it is spun, an electric current is generated. The crank rotates the wire around the magnet, and the regulator ensures the circuits don't burn out when a power overload occurs.

What reviewers say

What are the advantages of having hand crank radio?

The following are some of the benefits of having a hand crank radio:

  • Keeps you updated: Staying safe is easier when you have a standby radio especially when the power is out. Listening to weather stations will keep you aware of emergency situations, and other life-saving information. A hand crank radio can alert you to tornadoes, blizzards, and other public safety emergencies.
  • Power Charger:  When the power goes out, they make excellent power banks for charging devices. With just 10 to 15 minutes of cranking the handle, a smartphone will be able to charge for quite some time, allowing you to make emergency calls or send text messages. 
  • Multi-purpose: Hand crank radios can be also used as power flashlights. It comes with a solar panel to charge the battery during the day and a hand crank to recharge it after dark, so you'll never have to go without a flashlight for long. Some models include the SOS flashlight beacon and ultrasonic dog whistle in the event of a Search and Rescue operation.
  • Portable: The fact that they are powered by hand means you can take them wherever you are without worrying about plugging them in. Many hand crank radios even have alternatives for powering up, such as solar cells and rechargeable batteries. 

Important Features

What should you consider when buying a hand crank radio?

There are several types of hand crank radios, differing in their shapes and sizes. You may feel you can grab just about any such radio, but that is not the case. After going through thousands of hand crank radio reviews online, we have listed a few important things you need to consider before finalizing your choice:

  • Portability: Most hand crank radios are compact and easy to carry, but there are a few features to consider, such as folding handles and telescopic antennas, that keep the device streamlined and convenient to use. Similarly, consider a model with a smaller battery to keep it lighter and more portable. Hand crank radios with a design that has carrying handles onto which a carabiner can be clipped make one model ideal for mounting on a backpack.

  • Consider the basics: For an emergency radio, you need one that will deliver the National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration (= NOAA) alerts and other warnings. Consider the option of whether you would want to communicate with others as well. If so, look for a model that serves as a two-way radio as well.

  • Look for standard notification logos: Look for the ‘public alert’ and ‘NOAA’ stickers on the radio. This will indicate that the radio is capable of receiving area-specific alerts, something that is immensely important during an emergency. These stickers also indicate the quality of the radio.

  • Check for multiple power sources: It would be good to buy a hand crank radio that can be battery-operated as well as through external power from an AC/DC adapter.

  • Frequencies: With a high-quality hand crank radio, you'll be able to select different frequencies easily. You should choose emergency radios that can receive AM, FM, and weatherband signals. Local FM radio stations provide location-specific reports, such as weather-related closings and emergency information useful to people living in the area.

  • Power: The best hand crank radios offer multiple power-source options, including recharging the batteries onboard and charging them via a solar panel or USB port. There are options as small as 1,000mAh batteries for stowing in a bag or glove box, and as large as 5,000mAh batteries for longer charging and flashlight use. Batteries with longer life spans can run a radio for over 12 hours or a flashlight for more than 15 hours.

  • Water Resistant: Consider a hand crank radio with a weatherproof rating to ensure its reliability in rough weather conditions. Users will be able to access the latest emergency information without worrying about damaging their radios from water, dust, or other elements.

  • Look for additional features: Some of the best hand crank radios have additional features, such as the ability to charge your other devices, such as your phone. Some also feature a flashlight, solar panels for extra charging or if the batteries die out, or are programmable, with the ability to store multiple stations. 

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