What is a Crank Radio?

If you have purchased a weather radio, or even done some research to see what different options are available on the market, then chances are you might have come across the term ‘crank radio.’

If you are wondering what a crank radio is, you have come to the right place. In this article we will take a look at crank radios, or hand-cranked radios as they are better known, to give you more information on their background, their uses and a few of their advantages.

To finish, we also take a look at a few examples of crank weather radios currently on the market, to give you a little bit of inspiration to find one for yourself.

What is a Crank Radio?

A crank radio is one which generates power by turning a hand crank and generating power internally through a conductive coil wire and a magnet. As the crank is turned, it heats up and generates power to the radio.

Crank radios are used when out in nature, and when traveling in rural areas with little to no reception. They are great for reaching various NOAA weather broadcasts and keeping you informed of any dangerous weather conditions around you.

These radios have helped many people through storms and hurricanes, where electricity was no longer functioning, and in places where there was no place to charge. This is because they generate power manually, and so have been a lifesaver in many cases, and keeping people safe from danger.

Background of Crank Radios

The original idea of the crank radio came around in 1831, where Micheal Faraday discovered it was possible to collect power via a conductive wire in a magnetic field. He then went on to create the generator which led to the electric motor and transformer that we know and see today.

Hand-powered weather radios have been around since the 1960s and were used mostly for military applications.

How Do Crank Radios Work?

Crank radios function like standard hand-powered generators and are very simple to use. They produce their power through a special magnet and conductive coil wire. The coil is wrapped around the magnet, and when it is spun, a current of electricity is produced. The crank rotates the wire around the magnet, and to make sure you don’t overdo it, a regulator can control the process so that even if you crank too fast, it will make sure the circuits don’t burn out with a power overload.

Advantages of Hand Crank Radios

Hand crank radios bring have a few benefits with their manual labor way to generate power.

No electricity required

As the weather radio has a hand crank, it can generate power through merely turning the handle round and round. This means that no electricity or battery power is required, meaning it can save money and also time spent charging. Just put in a little bit of manual labor, and you will generate as much power as you need.

Perfect for power outages

If you are experiencing a significant storm and lose all power, then there’s no need to worry with the hand crank radio as you won’t need any electricity or outlets to make it work. It is also great if you are in rural areas where there is no possibility of finding a place to charge, as you can directly power it up yourself.

Good as a plan B

The majority of modern weather radios these days will feature more than one way to generate power. This can include through batteries, or rechargeable batteries and even solar power as well as the hand crank. Therefore, if you have a radio which includes all four methods of generating power and some of them fail, at least you will always be able to use the hand crank in emergency situations.

If instead, you have purchased a portable weather radio with only battery use, and you run out of batteries in a rural area, you might not be so lucky.

Top Crank Radio Examples

Are you interested in finding a crank radio for yourself? Then look no further as we present a few examples of popular products below:


This is a very popular crank radio on the market as it has a very efficient hand crank, super clear reception without any static, and a loud built-in speaker to go with it. This is perfect for those traveling near water or performing water sports as it is water resistant.

RunningSnail Crank Weather Radio

Another popular crank radio is the weather radio by RunningSnail. This is pretty durable radio which can not only be used by hand-crank but also by battery power. This gives it more than one power option to rely on. This radio also has an emergency siren and good water-resistance rating, making it perfect for use in light rain.

Eton Scorpion II

The Eton Scorpion is known as being one of the most durable crank radios on the market, and it also features a carabiner handle to attach to your backpack. It produces a lot of battery life in just a few minutes spin of the hand crank, making it a must-have on any journey.

Final Words

Hopefully, this article has helped to answer the question, “What is a crank radio?” moreover, now you should be a bit more knowledgeable about these types of radios, and how they can be beneficial to you.

If you are looking for a radio which can be used when camping, hiking, when performing watersports, trekking, or just exploring new territories, then a crank radio should be on your to-get list before you leave.

Crank radios can be a lifesaver if you should ever find yourself in a situation without electricity and can help you get help thanks to their excellent level of reception. Some models also have internal USB charging ports, which can be used to charge other electronics.

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