In this article, we’re exploring how you can choose the best power bank for Arduino. Some of the main topics included in the article are:
- the power requirements of the Arduino and its various models
- what specs to look at when choosing a portable charger for Arduino
- our top 5 Ardunio power bank picks
Arduino is a standardized hardware platform with processors, interfaces, the ability to expand the hardware inexpensively and a software to develop and upload. Behind it is a modular system for programmers who want to develop hardware-related solutions as quickly as possible. Anyone that wants to create something with microcontrollers, finds Arduino to be a simple system to getting started with a microcontroller. Unlike other microcontroller systems, Arduino is very suitable for beginners.
Sneak peek: Our top 5 Ardunio power bank picks
In case you’re in a hurry and just want to see our favorite power bank options for powering an Arduino, here they are:
- The Anker PowerCore Essential 20000mAh
- The Aukey 20000mAh
- The Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux
- The AUKEY Basix Pro
- The Xiaomi Mi 10000mAh
Arduino power requirements
The Arduino needs a minimum input voltage of 5V, which in most cases gets transmitted via a USB-port. The value for the current depends on the model that you use, but approximately they need a current between 20mA and 50mA, as an Arduino does not power any high energy components. An Arduino needs is around 250mW up to 500mW of power, but this also differs from model to model.
The Arduino can be powered in different ways:
- via the USB port
- via a power adapter and 5. 5 mm plug
- via the Vin Pin
- via the Vcc-Pin
Depending on the application, the solutions mentioned offer advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore each of them:
Powering via USB:
The easiest and most affordable option of the Arduino power supply is by using a USB cable and a USB power supply. This option is particularly interesting if the demands for a stable power supply of the connected devices are rather low. Depending on the load of the Arduino, the voltage at the Vcc Pin can drop considerably. However, the price and the high availability of power sources (mobile phone charging cable, PC, car, etc.) are advantageous.
Powering via power adapter:
The use of a power adapter to supply the Arduino offers above all the advantages of voltage stability. However, in this case, the internal voltage converter of the Arduino is used. As this is uncooled in the standard version of the Arduino, only a very limited power can be passed on to external devices. When choosing a suitable power supply, it should be noted that it has a 5.5mm round plug and provides a voltage between seven and nine volts. Theoretically, it is also possible to use a 12V power supply. However, in this case, the loss of power and therefore also the heat development on the voltage converter increases significantly. Another disadvantage is the slightly higher cost of this solution.
Powering via Vin pin:
In addition to the use of the 5. 5 mm socket of the Arduino, it is also possible to ensure the energy supply via a pin. This is even necessary for some models, such as the Nano since it does not have a power supply connection. The wiring, however, is rather uncomplicated. The minus pole of the Arduino power supply is connected to the ground pin and the plus pole to the Vin pin.
Powering via Vcc pin:
Powering the Arduino by means of the Vcc pin is the most complex option. However, it has the advantage that the voltage can be kept stable and higher power can be called up. In this case, however, it is necessary to provide an external operating voltage of five volts. I achieved a very good result by using a nine-volt power supply and a small voltage converter. This option is especially recommended for larger projects, as the voltage conversion takes place outside the Arduino, which becomes just another consumer in the grid. The disadvantages of this option are the slightly higher price and the additional space needed for the voltage transformer.
Key specs for portable chargers that can power an Arduino
Here are the optimal specs to power an Arduino properly:
- The minimum output should be 5 Volts and the value for current depends on the model. Let us take the Arduino Uno as an example. It needs a voltage of 5Volts, a current of approximately 400mA, and a power of 2Watts. The power bank should at least deliver 1-2A with a power of 5Watts, that should be enough.
- A power bank with a capacity of 2500mAh is able to run an Arduino for 2 days.
Depending on the interval you want to run your Arduino, 50mAh would be enough to run the microchip for 1h, 500mAh for 10h, and 7500mAh for approximately 7days.
- Most power banks automatically shut off if the current consumption is below 100mA-200mA. Since Arduino boards need a very low current to run, make sure your power bank has a low current feature, so that it won’t turn off, when an Arduino is connected.
- Another note worth mentioning is to keep your voltage stable. An unstable voltage can cause a very weird behavior of the microcontroller, which we of course want to avoid.
Our top picks for the best Arduino power banks
Anker PowerCore Essential 20000mAh
Read our full review of the Anker PowerCore Essential 20000mAh
Read our full review of the Aukey 20000mAh
Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux
Read our full review of the Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux
AUKEY Basix Pro
Check out our full review of the AUKEY Basix Pro
Xiaomi Mi 10000mAh
Read our full review of the Xiaomi Mi 10000mAh
So, let us revise the most important things to consider when powering an Arduino. Make sure you power the microcontroller with stable 5Volts and enough current. Keep in mind that some power banks turn off, when the current consumption is low, make sure to check this, it will save you many hours of wondering, why the microcontroller is not doing anything.
Now you are well informed about how to power an Arduino. It is time to use this knowledge now in practice. Try to power your super cool Arduino project with those tips!