Are you looking for the best hand crank radio you can afford? If you’re not, then you ought to be. An emergency radio for camping or home use should probably be just as mandatory as seat belts and air bags in an automobile. These are the kinds of items that’s better to have even when you don’t need them, than to need them and not have them.
A hand crank radio is great when the power is out and the internet is down. How do you know what’s going on? When will emergency first responders arrive? You need information, and a hand-crank radio can get you that info reliably.
Best Hand Crank Radios Review
However, not all emergency radios are equal. Some are definitely better than others. To help you find the best hand crank emergency radio, we have compiled 10 of the best options you can get in the market today.
1. Kaito KA500 5-way Powered Dynamo Hand Crank Radio with Flashlight
This comes in a variety of attractive colors, though you may want to get the bright yellow. That makes it easier to find in low-light conditions.
While this is a hand crank radio, cranking isn’t its only power source. When times are good, you can power it with a wall-power adapter. This way, you’re also charging the built-in replaceable NiMH battery in the unit.
You can then use the power of the rechargeable battery when the electricity is out, as you can recharge it by cranking. There’s also a USB port that you can use to recharge it if you have a portable charger. In addition, you can also use 3 AA batteries for this.
The power lets you get the 24/7 real-time weather forecast if you’re in the US or Canada, along with the Public Emergency Alert System. You also can access 2-band shortwave along with the usual AM and FM stations. This comes with an advanced 14.5-inch antenna for great reception, and you also get an LED signal strength indicator.
This comes with an LED flashlight, along with a red SOS light. There’s also a 5-LED reading lamp that’s bright enough for reading. You can also use the USB port to recharge your mobile devices, such as your smartphone.
It’s made of tough ABS, so it’s designed for outdoor use. It is both water and impact-resistant.
- Tough for the outdoors
- Gets you 24/7 weather reports and the PEAS
- Works as a flashlight and as an emergency light
- Great reception for radio station signals
- Can be powered in 6 different ways
2. Sangean MMR-88 Weather Alert Emergency Solar Hand Crank Radio
This is a digital AM/FM Public Alert Certified Radio, which you can power in 3 different ways. You can just turn the crank, recharge it through the USB port, or use a solar panel to recharge the 850mAH rechargeable battery here. You can also replace this battery if you want.
This has a 4-level battery indicator so that you know how much battery juice you still have. With this, you can even recharge your smartphone.
This lets you get the news and weather reports, along with the usual music, talk show, and sports broadcasts. This comes with the DSP Digital AM/FM/WX Tuner to give you access to these stations. You even have 19 presets so that you can easily find your favorite stations. This sounds good enough for your needs, and you can even use the headphone jack for stereo output.
This works well in emergencies as it also doubles as a flashlight. You’re able to adjust the light to high or low, so you can conserve power. You can also set it to blinking mode or SOS mode, to help first responders find you if you’re in a difficult spot. There’s a loud emergency buzzer as well, so that you can use it to call for help if you’re unable to shout.
The LCD display comes with bright backlighting, which makes it easy to use even in the dark. The display also shows you the time. You don’t need to worry about wasting power though, since you can use the sleep feature here so that it automatically shuts itself off in 90 minutes.
It’s easy enough to carry around as well, as it comes with a hand strap. That should keep you from dropping it accidentally. It is also compact with a length of just 6 inches, and it only weighs 13 ounces.
All in all, this is superior to many of the emergency radios you can find today. It’s well-made and very dependable, and you won’t need to worry about it in an emergency.
- Rechargeable battery can be powered by cranking, USB port, or solar panel
- Speakers are good enough for music stations
- IPX3 water-resistant
- Doubles as a flashlight and emergency light
- Can emit a loud emergency buzz
- Easy to carry around
3. Midland – ER310, Emergency Crank Weather AM/FM Radio
This is also another nice portable unit that comes with a convenient handle. That helps to make sure you get the news reports you need at any time. This radio automatically scans through the 7 weather band channels, and will find the strongest signal to give you your news. You can also get a weather alert from NOAA (complete with an alarm) if there’s a possibility of severe weather.
To make sure you have enough power to hear these news reports, you have several ways to recharge the great 2600mAH rechargeable battery. There’s the cranking method of course, but at least you won’t have to do this too often. The built-in battery can last up to 32 hours straight before it runs out of power.
You can also recharge this through a solar panel. Its solar panel works well enough, even on a cloudy day. Another way to power the radio is to use 6 AA batteries, which can work as your backup power. Cranking it is quite efficient though, as a single minute of cranking effort will give you about 10 minutes of listening to news.
This works as an emergency flashlight, and the light is adjustable. You can set it to High, for max brightness, though in its Low setting it’s still bright enough for most situations. You also save power this way. There’s an SOS mode as well if you want to signal your location in an emergency. In fact, this radio even comes with an ultrasonic dog whistle. Most search and rescue teams work with dogs, which can then hear the whistle to lead the team to your location.
While you wait for help, you can use this to pass the time listening to AM or FM radio. You can also use this to recharge your mobile devices, such as your smartphone.
- Works as adjustable flashlight with SOS emergency mode
- Emits dog whistle
- Can be recharged by cranking or solar power
- 6 AA batteries for backup power
- Can recharge your mobile devices
- Good sound and signal reception
4. FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio
It’s feels great when you happen upon an affordable hand crank radio and find that it has the features you might find in the more expensive models. It’s even better when you realize that this is meant for a lifetime of use.
Inside this radio, you’ll find a 2000mAH rechargeable battery. It has enough juice to power not just the radio, but your mobile devices as well. The battery can also last up to 3 years before you need to replace it, if you limit your use to 3 hours a day.
To recharge this battery, you can of course just turn the crank. But this also has a solar panel for extra recharging power. For backup power, you can put in just 3 AAA batteries, which are available in any convenience store.
This radio doesn’t just get you AM and FM stations either. It’s a true emergency radio, as you can get access to NOAA weather radio as well. This works as a flashlight as well, and you can use it for general lighting (or for reading). It also emits an SOS alarm should search and rescue teams approach your location.
This is a tough radio you may want to bring along when going camping, as it is quite durable and tough even in challenging outdoor conditions. The design is “drop-proof”, plus it offers IPX3 water-resistance as well. The crank lever won’t break either.
- General high-quality build
- Great AM and FM radio reception
- Comes with NOAA weather access
- Emits SOS alarm
- Works as flashlight and reading light
- Resistant to impact and water
5. RunningSnail Solar Hand Crank NOAA Weather Radio for Emergency
The RunningSnail brand is known for its affordable emergency radios that offer excellent features. This is a good example of how this brand earned that reputation.
It offers several ways to power its built-in rechargeable battery. Aside from the hand-cranking, you also can use the USB port or solar power. You can back up this rechargeable battery by also putting in 3 AAA batteries.
The 2000mAH rechargeable battery isn’t just for the radio, either. It works as a portable charger, as it can recharge your smartphone too.
Its main job though, is to make sure you get the latest news about any emergency situation. This gives you access to the NOAA weather alert radio, which can update you with immediate news. In addition, you can use this for AM and FM radio. Fully recharged, you can get at least 6 hours of radio before you need to crank it up again.
This also works as a flashlight, so that you know where you’re going in the dark. It also works as a table lamp, as it’s always better to be in an illuminated room during an emergency. It also emits an SOS alarm that can call attention to your location. You can get 12 hours of illumination from a fully recharged battery.
Bring this along with you when there’s an emergency at home, or if you’re going camping. Its rather small, as it fits in your hand like just another smartphone. With its 6-inch length and a width of less than 3 inches, you can even fit this inside a large pocket.
- Gives you AM and FM radio
- Offers NOAA weather alerts
- Works as a table lamp and flashlight
- Emits SOS alarm
- Can be powered via solar power or through USB
- Can recharge your smartphone
6. RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Self Powered Radio with Flashlight
Here’s another RunningSnail radio that’s even more affordable. It’s cheaper because it only has a 1000mAH rechargeable battery, but that’s still a lot of emergency power. You can, of course, just crank it up to recharge it, though you can also use USB charging or solar power with its built-in solar panel.
This has enough power to run at least 10 hours before it needs recharging. In fact, you can even use this to recharge your smartphone.
However, its main use is to get you access to emergency weather alerts. This does let you get NOAA weather alerts, and you’re also able to listen to AM and FM radio. That makes it terrific for use in hiking or camping. You can listen to background music, and get your NOAA alert if the weather is about to turn ugly. It also works as a flashlight too.
It’s also small enough to fit inside a large pocket, as its size is comparable to a smartphone. It’s only 5 inches long and 2.4 inches wide, and less than 2 inches thick.
- AM and FM radio, plus NOAA weather alerts
- Extremely compact
- Very affordable
- Works as a flashlight
- Can be recharged through USB or solar panel
- Can recharge your smartphone
7. POVO Survival Hand Crank Self Powered Emergency Radio
Here’s another small radio that’s only as long and wide as a smartphone. This is small enough to fit a jacket pocket. Yet despite its size, it comes with lots of nifty features. It’s even designed to last a lifetime.
Foremost among these features is the terrific 2200mAH battery. It has enough power to spare that you can use this radio as a power charger for your smartphone. You can recharge this battery with the hand crank, a USB cable, or the solar panel. You can also use 3 AAA batteries for backup.
However, you may also want to use this to get news when you’re in a disaster situation. This gives you access to NOAA weather radio stations to make sure you’re updated with any weather news reports.
You also get access to AM and FM radio stations which can also offer some news. But you can listen to FM radio music as well. If you’re bored just sitting around while waiting out a storm, you can even use this as your music player. It has micro-SD and USB ports, so you can stick in a flash drive and it will play your MP3s.
At least you won’t have to sit around in the dark either. This works as a flashlight too, as well as a reading lamp. It also works as an SOS beacon.
- Extremely portable
- Uses 2200mAH battery
- Can be recharged with solar panel, USB, or cranking
- Lets you get NOAA alerts as well as AM/FM radio
- Can also play music in flash drive
8. Greadio Hand Crank Radio with SOS Alarm
This looks like a small boombox, and the sound is definitely better here with its 2 speakers. It even has an aux-in jack so you can play your smartphone music. Your tunes will definitely sound better than what you get with your smartphone speaker.
That may be a rather frivolous use of your smartphone when you’re in an emergency. But then again, your radio has a built-in 4000mAH battery. This has enough power to recharge that smartphone of yours. When it’s fully charged, you can get 15 hours of radio listening.
You can charge this battery by cranking, with the solar panel, or by micro-USB. You can also put in 3 AAA batteries for backup.
This lets you listen to AM and FM radio, but you also get NOAA. The NOAA weather alerts can make sure you’re updated with the latest news updates.
You also get 17 hours of illumination, as this works as a 3W LED flashlight. It also has a 1W light for reading. You can use these lights to call attention to search and rescue teams, and it has an SOS buzzer as well.
- AM/FM with NOAA
- Flashlight with reading light
- SOS buzzer
- 4000mAH battery gives you 15 hours of radio listening
- Solar panel and micro-USB charging
- 3 AAA batteries for backup
9. American Red Cross Emergency NOAA Hand Crank Radio
It’s hard to ignore this radio, since it comes with the American Red Cross imprimatur. At least you’re equipped with the radio recommended by actual emergency experts.
Like many of the other radios on this list, this comes with numerous functions. Chief among them is its ability to give you AM and FM radio stations, plus the all-important NOAA radio. This gets you all the 7 NOAA and Environment Canada Weather bands.
It works as a flashlight, as well as an SOS beacon with its flashing red light. You can also use this to recharge your smartphone.
To recharge this radio, all you need to do is to crank it up. But when you get tired, you can also just leave it under the sun. Its solar panel can continue to recharge the 2600mAH battery.
- 2600mAH battery
- Solar panel with cranking for recharging
- Can recharge your smartphone
- Works as a flashlight and as SOS beacon
- Gets NOAA and Environment Canada weather bands
10. RegeMoudal Emergency Solar Hand Crank Radio for Emergency
Last but not least, we have this affordable radio that still gets you all your emergency radio feature that you need. These start with NOAA access, along with the usual AM and FM radio stations. The 2000mAH battery is powerful enough to give you 4 to 6 hours of radio listening before you need to crank it up.
You can also just recharge it with the micro-USB cable, and it has a solar panel as well. You can then also use this to recharge your smartphone, at least so you’re able to use it for emergency calls. For backup, you can also install 3 AAA batteries.
This works as a flashlight, or as a reading lamp as well. If you’re in need of immediate assistance, you can get the attention of search and rescue teams with the SOS alarm and flashing red light.
- NOAA and AM/FM
- Solar and micro-USB rechargeable (along with cranking)
- Can recharge your smartphone
- Doubles as flashlight, reading light, and emergency beacon
- Emits SOS alarm
- Compact and lightweight
- IPX3 water-resistance
Best Hand Crank Radio Buying Guide
So how do you know which crank radios are worth your money? What you need to do is to read reviews like the ones you have here, along with the reviews from customers. You should also check out the specs of the radio you’re considering. When reading the specs and the reviews, focus on the following factors:
Yes, the radios we’re discussing here can be powered by manually rotating the crank. But that shouldn’t be the only power option.
It might be better if you can also power it with replaceable batteries. Such batteries are cheap enough, very portable, and offer lots of reliable power. It may also be powered by a USB port. You even have radios that can be powered by a solar panel.
All these provide backup power just in case something goes wrong with a particular power option.
Sure, many radios offer you AM and FM radio. But these stations aren’t enough. You need a radio that can receive signals from dedicated weather bands that repeat their news on a continuous loop. That means when you turn on the radio, you won’t have to wait for the information. You get the news now.
Some alerts like those from the NOAA weather radio gives you automated news 24/7. Some of these alerts can even reach you when you’re just using the radio for music, or even if the radio is turned off.
A radio isn’t much good for emergencies if it’s overly fragile and sensitive. It’s better if it’s designed for tough outdoor conditions. Some level of water-resistance is great, and it should still work even if you drop it to the ground.
Often you need to carry this radio around with you during an emergency. That way, you’re always near it to get the latest disaster news. It’s best if this radio is compact and lightweight. A handle is also nice.
Ease of Use
The good news is that in general the controls in hand crank radios are logically designed to be easy to use. However, you may want to check if you can still use it with no trouble even when it’s dark. It’s best if you’re display is backlit for these types of situations.
One common extra feature in many of these radios is that the LCD display also shows you the time and date. A flashlight is another great safety feature that you should look for. Some of these radios may even emit SOS signals that can help emergency first responders find your location.
Easy to Find
Once you’ve taken a look among the better hand crank radios, you may notice that many of them come in vibrant colors. This isn’t just for aesthetics, even though a few people do buy things because of how nice they look,
The real reason for these bright colors is that they’re very eye-catching. That makes them easy to find inside a room, even if it’s a bit dark. In fact, some radios even have panels that glow in the dark to make you sure you can find your radio even at night.
What Is a Crank Radio and How Does It Work?
A crank radio is a great radio for any type of emergency, whether you’re at home or on a hiking trip to a remote area. Its main distinctive feature is a lever that you can rotate by hand to power the radio. Think of it as similar to winding a manual watch so it can tell time for a few days.
In a crank radio, when you rotate the power lever you actually spin it around a magnet in the radio. this action generates an electric current, which then recharges the rechargeable battery that’s also in the radio. It’s that simple.
Importance & Advantages of a Hand Crank Radio
So why is it so crucial to have a hand crank radio?
- You get more reliable power that virtually don’t run out. Once electrical power is out, you’re not going to have regular rechargeable batteries that will last. Solar panels also don’t work well on cloudy days/
- The radio can give you weather updates, news reports, and statements regarding evacuations. These are the reports you need to hear about immediately, and your crank radio can make sure you get them.
- These units are often built to withstand tough outdoor conditions. A good radio will work even when it gets a bit wet from the rain, or even when you accidentally drop it to the ground.
- You may even have a radio that also doubles as a flashlight, and this is crucial at night when power is out.
- Other crank radios can even use a USB port to recharge your smartphone. If your smartphone can get a cell or internet signal, you can call for help.
Should a I buy an emergency radio online or in an actual brick and mortar store?
It’s true that there are advantages to buying this type of radio in an actual shop. In the shop, you can hold it in your hand and see if you can easily use it. It’s much easier to discover if a radio meets your needs.
Once you pick one, you can then take it home right away. You won’t have to wait for delivery, and you won’t need to worry about any damage it may suffer during the shipping process.
On the other hand, you’ll have a lot more options when buying online compared to the meager stock in an actual shop. Many online shops also come with verified customer reviews, giving you a more accurate read on the dependability of the radio you’re considering.
Finally, the prices are generally lower online. After all, you’re not covering the overhead costs of an actual shop.
The best scenario is probably to window shop in a store and check out which brands and models impress you. Then you can buy a particular radio you want online, as you’re already aware of how it meets your needs.
Isn’t a smartphone enough during an emergency?
No, it’s not. One problem is that the internet may be down. Another issue is that your battery will inevitably lose power.
You may want to use the hand crank radio to get information, while you reserve your smartphone for actual calls and other means to communicate.
What types of emergencies require a hand crank radio?
In the movies and TV, you often have characters using (or wishing for) a hand crank radio during a worldwide epidemic, a zombie apocalypse, or an alien invasion. Obviously, these disasters are very unlikely (knock on wood).
The problem is that many homes do face the very real possibilities of floods, hurricanes, storms, and blizzards. You can’t discount earthquakes either. In these cases, you need to be updated with real time information regarding emergency decrees, evacuation orders, and disaster updates. The information you get can tell you when to expect emergency relief, or tell you where the safe areas are to head to.
Every home needs the best hand crank radio for any emergency. It’s imperative that you get one, and now you have no excuse. One of these things can save your life, and one of these affordable radios can become your best investment!