It is always funny to me how old new age technology is. Hand-cranked gadgets go back a long time -- in fact, they predate electricity. However, there have been several new technologies made available that provide more modern hand-cranked, solar, and wind-powered products.
Off-grid living can take some getting used to, but there are all sorts of products, tools, and equipment to make the transition smoother.
Here are some of my favorite hand-cranked products.
Baylis Eco Media Player – A British inventor named Trevor Baylis created this hand-cranked MP3 player several years ago. One full cranking can provide about 45 minutes of playtime. This MP3 player has a built-in FM radio, LED light, SD card slot, and data. You can listen to music or watch videos.
Hand-Cranked Washing Machines – Since I first began researching off-grid and eco-friendly products, there have been more and more companies manufacturing hand-cranked washing machines. The Wonderwash is one of the most well known. You can wash 5-pound loads in about 2 minutes. It only uses 5 gallons of water and is hand cranked so there is no electricity required.
Hand-Cranked Dryers & Spinners – Just as there are hand-cranked washing machines, there are also hand-cranked spinners that will provide the spin cycle like a regular washer. Another oldie but goodie is a hand-cranked wringer. The wringer is what you run the wet clothes through and it wrings all of the excess water out so the clothes takes less time to air dry. Calliger is a good company to get the wringers from. They are built so that they attach to the side of tubs, Tupperware, and buckets.
Innovative Digital Hand-Cranked Cell Phone Charger – A lot of people are concerned about keeping a charge on their phone while camping or being off-grid for a while. This cell phone charger is hand cranked and uses a USB port to charge iPhones. It even charges different versions, from the 3G up to the 6+ phones.
Now that you’ve had a small glimpse of the hand-cranked modern products let’s take a look back in time at some of the classic and vintage hand-cranked tools that can still be purchased today. I already mentioned the clothes wringers -- there are also:
- Ice-cream Makers
- Coffee Grinders
- Grain & Meat Grinders
- Hand Drills
- Various Tools
- Food Processors
I’m sure there are some things missing from my list. I’m sure if you Google it you can also find the very old hand-cranked cars! Some of the more common and well-known hand-cranked gadgets consist of Lanterns, Flashlights, Radios, and Weather Radios.
Solar Powered Gadgets
One of my favorite things I learned about was the Solar Powered Generators. There are several companies out there that produce them now. No gasoline, fumes, or loud noise to worry about. These are good for back-up when living on the grid and you lose power, as well as for off-grid living.
Lights – There are so many different solar lights available it’s crazy. You can get the wrap around rope lights, sidewalk lights, lanterns, indoor, outdoor, and the list goes on. There are lights that are operated by a small solar panel and ones that have to sit in the sun for full function.
Showers – There’s nothing like a nice hot shower in the middle of the woods. You can find solar shower bags and whole solar shower set-ups all over the Internet. If you are an avid camper or if you live off the grid, the whole shower is the way to go. It is an actual pop-up shower similar to a tent but built for showering. The bladder bag hangs in the sun to heat the water and after a good day of chores, a deserving shower is wonderful.
You can even purchase battery-powered lawn mowers and weed eaters that can be charged using solar power. Solar ovens are nice during the summer when a fire can be too hot. You can make your own rack for dehydrating fruits and vegetables that you set in the sun and leave it to do the work.
The more we demand eco-friendly products from manufacturers, the more will be invented. Whether you are looking into off-grid gear for emergency only or if you’re looking for something more, these gadgets are worth looking into. For me, one of the greatest finds was the Wonderwash and similar products, since wringing clothes can be hard on the hands.
Just a reminder – The climate and weather in your location can help you choose which alternative energy would work best for you and your family. For instance, I recently visited North Dakota and wind power is definitely the way to go out there; however, somewhere like Arizona would do better with solar panels.
Sustainable Tip Of The Week
Unplug any unnecessary electrical objects every night before going to bed. This alone can conserve a lot of energy.