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Types of Hand Crank Flashlights

There are a few types of levers and cranks that create energy in dynamo-powered flashlights and emergency power devices.

Lever-Crank Motion

The most distinct and easily recognizable model of wind up flashlight is the hand crank lever configuration. This model features a somewhat oblong, bulky but sleek body, and when a user wants to recharge the mechanism, he or she must flip out a lever that looks somewhat like a fishing reel lever to crank up the dynamo. This configuration became very popular during WWII, when such flashlights were necessary to survive in the battlefield or carried in fighter planes in case of emergency. Once finished cranking, the user would flip the lever back home, effectively concealing the lever into the flashlight body once again, making it easy to carry or store when not in use.

Twist-Crank Motion

This type of emergency light has the head and shaft of any other type of common flashlight, and instead of having the familiar hand crank, the twist-crank dynamos feature a ratcheting-like motion of the shaft of the device to charge instead of the reeling motion of the lever design. This is beneficial because in the case of a cheap flashlight the hand crank lever can break off, leaving the user unable to wind up the dynamo mechanism to create electricity, rendering the rechargeable lantern useless. There are some brands of twist-crank design that do not last as long as other designs, such as the lever, so if you are interested in a twist-crank flashlight make sure to do a fair amount of research and choose one that will last the longest on the fewest amount of twists; it is frustrating to have to constantly twist the flashlight for any amount of sustainable light.

Shake Motion

Yet other very popular hand crank flashlight designs include one that is shaken up and down or side to side to charge, or a hand-squeeze configuration whose shape mimics that of a garden hose sprayer fixture; some have heads that rotate or clips to fasten them to helmets or belt loops. As with the twist-crank models, some of these designs can be cheaply made and require near constant squeezing or shaking in order to use for any functional amount of time. As with any type of product, make sure to do enough research before buying so that you are confident in your purchase; make sure it lasts a long time compared to the time it takes to crank and charge. For instance, a light that requires one minute of cranking to provide one hour of strong, steady light is much better than a flashlight that requires one minute of shaking to provide five minutes of weak light.

Size and Design Choices

While there are many resilient utility-type models available, not every hand crank torch is so rugged, just as not every customer desires such a hardy device. Some hand crank devices feature Hello Kitty designs or attractive transparent neon bodies so that users can see the dynamo working inside and lanyards to keep them from getting lost. There are even models that look like ropes and are wound together similar to the interlocking Olympic rings logo! The manufacturer's of hand crank flashlight devices are very aware of the wide spectrum of their customers, so users can have safety that matches their style.

The size of such rechargeable flashlights is frequently small, about the size of a wallet, due to the fact that they usually need to be easily stored and readily accessible, but in the case of hand crank torches that include a radio, cell phone charger or siren, they can be the size of a palm-held camcorder. Users can choose from a large assortment of sizes and find a hand crank light to fit in a glove box, a hiking pack or even a kitchen drawer.

Light bulbs in hand crank lanterns have progressed quite a bit from the generations-old incandescent bulbs used in the WWII hand crank flashlights. Today users can choose from LED lights as well as incandescent bulbs; they can also choose colored bulbs or clear ones. Many of the latest models feature LED bulbs for two substantial reasons; first, these bulbs shine brighter and for further distances than traditional incandescent bulbs, and second, they use less energy than other bulbs, allowing them to shine longer with fewer cranks in between charges. Price also plays a part here; because LED lights last longer, they are cheaper in the long run for users because they have to replace the bulbs less frequently than older generation incandescents. Also worth mentioning is that LEDs are unbreakable and therefore desirable in hand cranked lights because of their durability in trying circumstances. There are many incandescent bulb models available though, for users who desire the traditional light of such a bulb.

Dynamo-powered flashlights have a long history of providing convenient lighting power without batteries or electrical lines. Lets take a look at some resources to get your own hand crank flashlights.