Over the last five years, I have owned a number of hand powered LED flashlights, some of them using a “direct feed” approach (generated electricity is used directly to power the light), others using a rechargeable battery to store the electricity.
My issue with the direct feed type is, that you need to “keep the motion going.” Stop operating the generator it, and you don’t have any light. This means that — for instance — you cannot put the flashlight down if you need both hands to do a job (replacing a defective fuse comes to mind).
The rechargeable battery type tends to work a little bit better, but I’ve yet to find an affordable type where the battery capacity does not start to diminish sharply after a fairly low number of recharge cycles.
Then, when shopping at Ikea a couple of months ago, I came across the LJUSA flashlight. It’s not the nicest looking or smallest flashlight out there, but it does have a number of things going for it: It’s sturdy, quick to charge (wind lever 20-30 times for 1-2 minutes of light), and fairly bright. Furthermore, it uses a capacitor rather than a battery to store electricity, so no more degrading battery capacity. What really blew me away, though, was the price: at €3.99 ($4.99 US) they are a true steal!
I immediately bought a couple for my kids. While I had some initial concerns about the quality of the lever, both flashlights have withstood months of abuse without breaking, and still function as well as the day we bought them. I’ve since been back to Ikea, and have bought a couple of additional units to keep them handy in our car, near our home’s fuse box etc., and have also recommended them to family and friends.