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What is a Crank Flashlight?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A crank flashlight is a terrific gadget that provides emergency light, without needing to worry about batteries. Battery-powered flashlights that sit for long stretches can sometimes lose their power, and those in use for a while can quickly run out of battery juice too. To counter this, many have turned to lights where power is generated by using a small hand crank. Most brands state that half a minute of cranking the light can provide about half an hour to an hour’s worth of light.

The modern crank flashlight usually features LED lights that are quite bright, even besting the light offered by traditional flashlights. They’re inexpensive devices, which are useful in homes, cars and emergency kits. Frequent playing with the crank flashlight, by children for instance, or dropping the light can result in breakage, but many of these lights can last for years and be an excellent back up for battery-powered flashlights.

Since these lights don’t contain batteries, they make good toys for older kids, without costing a lot to power them. Kids may enjoy having a crank flashlight in their room at night, so they can quickly shine a light on any suspicious sounds or suspect monsters in the closet. It is recommended that parents follow manufacturing guidelines when determining whether one of these flashlights is appropriate to a child of a certain age range.

A disadvantage to the crank flashlight is that it may not hold power well. This means if the light has been sitting for a long period of time, it may need to be cranked for a half minute to a minute first before it can be used effectively. In certain emergencies, it might not be possible to wait this time period. As a backup, people may want to keep a small battery powered flashlight on hand too.

There are numerous companies that sell several crank flashlights in a single package, which may represent a savings and provide flashlights for plenty of home locations. It’s definitely worthwhile to keep one of these in an emergency preparedness kit too. Any car is a great place for a crank flashlight because they’re usually easy to store, and reach; keep one in the trunk and one in the glove compartment. Other places where these flashlights can be useful include in schools, dark basements and washrooms, and in retails stores, offices and warehouses.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By thumbtack — On Oct 19, 2010

I have found that the best place to buy a crank powered flashlight or another alternatively powered flashlight is on the Internet. There seems to be a much greater selection from these types of outdoor and survival websites that people can make a much better choice.

Often, retailers in local areas and even big-box retailers simply do not have a great selection of these alternatively powered flashlights. My guess is that as they become more and more popular these crank style flashlights will see a greater emergence onto our market.

By Burlap — On Oct 19, 2010

I think one observation that often gets overlooked thinking about these low powered and highly efficient flashlights is the type of bold that they use inside. Simply put, there was no way for old incandescent powered light bulbs to ever have enough energy produced by a hand crank or shaking motion.

The use of LED flashlight bulbs has revolutionized the way that low-power flashlights operate and the amount of power the vacancy. Some people do not like the color that LED flashlights output but it does allow for a dark situation to be illuminated.

By fitness234 — On Oct 19, 2010

Besides crank flashlights the market also has available for purchase the use of a shake flashlight. These work on the same principle of storing kinetic energy and return it to the light inside of the flashlight but instead of using a hand crank it uses the momentum of shaking the flashlight back and forth.

There are so many different types and ways of storing energy from movement that I wouldn't be surprised if we see a whole new line and type of flashlight sold on the the market.

By youbiKan — On Oct 19, 2010

When I became stranded in the words nearly 2 years ago a crank flashlight saved our day. The group of people that I was with only have flashlights or powered by batteries.

When those batteries failed it was my flashlight that illuminated our camp and made us feel much safer.

I will never go on another camping trip without taking a crank powered flashlight. I recommend that you do the same when you take your family into the woods to make sure that you are not stranded without light.

By Denha — On Oct 19, 2010

Some hand crank flashlights even have solar panels as well. I have a flashlight at home that can be either solar or crank-powered to use as a crank LED flashlight, as flashing light, or as a crank radio. Flashlights with multiple uses such as this are very useful in emergencies, though it is true that they do not always hold power over time.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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