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Hand Crank Power Charger vs. Solar: Which is Better?

Self-sustainability is made much easier thanks to modern technology such as solar power and hand-crank chargers. Both of them have their ups and downs, but how do you know which one is right for you?

Solar power is better if you have access to sunlight throughout the day, whereas hand crank power chargers are more practical if you’re using it indoors. Both of them are excellent tools for convenience and survival purposes.

Throughout this post, you also learn the following information:

  • The best of each tool
  • Which one is meant for you
  • What the primary differences are
Hand Crank Charger and Solar Charger Side by Side

What’s the Difference Between a Hand Crank Power Charge and Solar Power?

Hand-crank chargers have been used for many years to supply power to a battery bank, like this one found on Amazon. If you don’t have a bank to store the energy, then you’ll have to use the electricity as you’re cranking the tool, which simply isn’t practical.

On the other hand, solar power is useful for those who have access to several hours of sunlight per day. If you’re able to lay the panels out in the sun from morning until night, you’ll be able to charge all sorts of devices.

Let’s check out the five main differences between these two useful tools:

  1. Hand-crank power chargers usually have additional components, such as a radio or a clock. This is because they’re usually used for survival purposes, or by people who live far out in the middle of nowhere. Without cell reception, these radios become an essential part of living.
  2. Solar power doesn’t require any manual labor. Unlike a hand-crank system, solar panels only need to be set down in the right place. The most exercise you’ll get from a solar charger is moving it from one place to another to ensure that it’s getting the proper amount of sunlight throughout the day.
  3. Hand-crank power chargers don’t need any fuel sources other than the motion of the handle turning. You can use them on sunny days, rainy days, or snowy days. It doesn’t matter. Sunlight isn’t a factor, though there are some models that include a small solar panel on top.
  4. Solar panels can last as long as the sun is out. If you have a charger that includes a battery bank, then you’ll never have to worry about running out of power. Unfortunately, hand-crank chargers stop working the second the bank is depleted. This requires constant cranking several times per day.
  5. Portable solar panels are typically much smaller than hand-crank chargers, making them more ideal for backpacking and camping. However, getting one with a battery bank can drive up the price, even though the addition comes stock with all hand-crank chargers on the market.

Which Should You Get?

Before you proceed to the next two sections to make a selection, you should write down a few notes to figure out which you should choose. They’re both excellent choices since you’re getting a top-notch electricity source without having to make monthly payments.

It comes down to pros and cons, so let’s examine everything below.

Pros of Hand-Crank Chargers

  • Hand-crank chargers don’t need sunlight, 12V plugs, water, or wind. They’re usable wherever you go. All you need to do is wind it up and watch as the battery bank fills up over time.
  • The additional amenities can be the difference between thriving and surviving. You’ll have a radio, flashlights, and other features that come stock with most hand-crank chargers these days.

Cons of Hand-Crank Chargers

  • Using a hand-crank charger gets exhausting after a while if you use it often. The battery bank inside is limited since there’s no way to build a massive amount of electricity from hand motions. Unlike windmills or hydroelectric plants, they don’t have enough force to keep a steady charge.
  • They’re almost always much heavier than solar panels. Since they have so many extra features and a bigger battery bank, you’ll have to lug around a bigger charger wherever you go. In addition to that, they’re quite bulky, which makes them a pain to bring on backpacking and other outdoor trips.

Pros of Portable Solar Panels

  • You can set a portable solar panel out in the sun and forget about it. There’s no need to check on it unless you want to get a better angle of light or use it. They’re lightweight, durable, and they don’t overheat.
  • Portable solar panels are better if you want to clip them on the back of your backpack when you’re hiking. You’ll get electricity just by walking around the forest rather than having to stop everything you’re doing to crank it.

Cons of Portable Solar Panels

  • If it’s not sunny outside, you might not get any electricity. Some panels are designed to pull UV rays through the clouds, but even then, you’ll only get about 20% to 40% of the maximum charge over the course of the day.
  • Since they’re so compact, portable solar panels don’t have radios, clocks, and other useful features. However, they sometimes include a flashlight at the top, which can become very useful when you need it the most.

Recommended Hand Crank Charger

The best hand-crank charger on the market right now is this one found on Amazon. It comes with a built-in radio, a powerful flashlight, and a rope for convenience purposes. It’s also red, which makes it harder to lose when you’re using it in a dark place.

What makes this hand crank charger so much better than the rest of the competition is the mounted solar panel. You get the best of both worlds with this charger. When you’re out in the woods and their no sun, you can crank the handle. Once you find a clearing, set it out and watch as the battery bank fills up.

If you bring it home and you don’t want to crank it or leave it out in the sun, you can charge it up completely with a micro USB cable. Be prepared with a full battery bank before you head out on a trip, then refill it once you’ve depleted the charge.

Recommended Portable Solar Charger

The best portable solar charger on the market currently is this one, also found on Amazon. This powerful charger has 25 times the amount of solar energy as the previous product, although it doesn’t have the option of hand cranking. Much like the hand crank one from above, this one can also use a micro USB cable to charge up all the way.

If you’re looking for portability, then look no further. The trade-off of a slightly larger set of panels is made better by the fact that they each fold over each other. When you’re not using the charger, you can fold it up to the size of a tablet.

It has two USB ports to charge a couple of devices at the same time, a bright flashlight on the back, and up to 9 days of usage packed into a charger that only weighs 1.1 pounds.


When it comes to hand-crank power chargers and solar power, there’s no denying that they both have amazing benefits. They’re fantastic survival tools and even better for convenience purposes while hiking or walking around the neighborhood.

If you stay at home and you want something for emergencies, then the hand-crank radio charger mentioned above will be the best choice. If you want a product to charge while you’re enjoying nature or a long road trip, then go with the solar charger.

Helpful Recommended Products

Here is a summary of the recommended Amazon products mentioned in this article.

I also recommend checking out My Patriot Supply for many of your survivalist needs. This includes food for long term storage and more. Here are some items you may be interested in:

For more, check out 7 Best Ways for a Man To Carry a Cell Phone.