Arduino Solar Charger- All You Need to Know about the Solar Charger System
Hey, I am John, General manager of OurPCB. I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.
Solar power is among the most easily dependable energy sources. Primarily, with a solar panel, you can tap the solar energy for your basic household use. We’ll explore a simple Arduino solar charger project that you can consider for your college or mobile project. Keep reading for further enlightenment.
What is an Arduino solar charger?
Figure 1: Illustrating the Solar Energy Flow from source to load It’s a stackable shield that you can use together with Arduino-compatible platforms that are primarily useful as an energy harvester. In addition, it also functions as an adaptive battery power source and finds specific use in in-field charging applications. Also, using it together with a 3.0V-4.2V battery will shift the voltage to a 5V output voltage.
Types of solar charge controllers
Figure 2: Solar energy is a renewable energy source.
Most PV power systems employ either of the following two charge controllers.
Working Principle of a PWM Charge Controller
Figure 3: Battery Charging With Solar Panel blue gradient vector icon
Primarily, the charge controller employs the Pulse Width Modulation technique in electric charge regulation. It pulls the solar panel voltage close to the battery voltage level.
Normally, the Solar panel Vmp to battery system voltage dragging doesn’t result in a current change.
Also, the system uses an electronic switch, often a MOSFET, to control the battery connection and disconnection. If the MOSFET is at a high-frequency PWM signal, while accompanied by various pulse widths, expect a constant voltage.
Therefore, the PWM controller self-adjusts through variations of widths and the frequency of the pulses.
A 100% pulse width will switch on the MOSFET, thus prompting bulk charging of the battery by the solar panel. Conversely, a 0% pulse width switches off the MOSFET.
How the Charge Controller Works
Figure 4: Illustrating the recyclability of Solar Energy
The Arduino PWM solar charge controller is an agglomeration of various circuits that we’ll explore at length below.
Power Distribution Circuit
The circuit’s MP2307 buck converter steps down the battery power to 5V. Next, the output voltage from the buck converter moves to the following four parts:
It has voltage divider circuits with several resistors. These are responsible for detecting the solar power voltage and the battery voltage. Also, the course has two filter capacitors responsible for unwanted noise signal elimination.
Further, the circuit has ACS712 modules for sensing the battery and solar panel currents. Besides, there is a DS18B20 temperature sensor for measuring the requisite battery temperature.
The circuit’s two MOSFETs are responsible for the control operations. The first MOSFET is handy in sensing a charging pulse to the circuit’s battery. On the other hand, the second MOSFET is imperative in driving the load.
Ideally, two transistors and two pull-up resistors facilitate the functioning of the MOSFETS driver circuits. Lastly, the transistors have two resistors that are handy in controlling their base current.
Figure 5: Solar Panel Battery
The circuit features a TVS diode for protecting the solar panel from an input overvoltage. Furthermore, a Schottky diode hinders a reverse current from the circuit’s battery to the solar panel. Finally, the course also has a fuse to enable overcurrent protection.
The system‘s LEDs indicate the battery, load current, and solar panel status.
In addition, it also has an LCD system for showcasing its varying parameters.
It also has a USB socket featuring a 5V output supplied by the buck converter. Thus, with a USB cable, you can charge your devices using clean energy from this point.
Lastly, a push-button is responsible for resetting the Arduino UNO/Arduino Nano.
Each of the above circuits and components is important in the operation of the charge controller. The system’s core is an Arduino Nano/Arduino UNO board. The Arduino detects the solar panel’s voltage and that of the connected batteries via voltage divider circuits.
Next, while using the information it has detected (voltage levels), the Arduino Nano controls the battery while charging the load.
The Video below Illustrates how a PWM charger circuit operates:
Figure 6: Two Arduino Nano Boards
Step by Step Guide
Figure 7: Assembling the Circuit
Foremost, you’ll need to make the connections of the lithium battery charger circuit. Ideally, the course will generate energy from the solar cells to charge the batteries. Next, it’ll boost the circuit output voltage to 5V for use by the Arduino UNO.
Next, set up an external timer circuit for periodic power switching off while the system is in idle mode and back on when necessary. Note that a timer circuit in an off way uses a limited amount of milliamps. Thus, it’s a handy energy saver.
After assembling the Timer circuit, move to the next step.
Once you’re sure the timer circuit is operational, connect its output pins to the Arduino’s GND and 5V pins.
You are now enlightened regarding the operational principle of the Arduino Solar charger circuit. But you’re also free to express your sentiments and questions on this system via our communication channels. Reach out to us, and we’ll respond immediately.
Building your own Sun Tracking Solar Panel using an Arduino
The biggest crisis we are heading into is the climate change due to excessive use of fossil fuels and to overcome these issues, we have only one solution that is utilizing Renewable Energy. Renewable energy is a type of energy that is harnessed from the nature without causing ill effects to the environment. One of the most prominent kind of renewable energy is solar energy. Solar radiation from the sun is collected by the solar panels and converted into electrical energy. The output electrical energy depends on the amount of sunlight falling on the solar panel.
Traditionally, solar panels are fixed and the movement of sun over the horizon means that the solar panel does not harness maximum energy most of the time. In order to maximize the power from the solar panel, the panel should face the sun all time. In this project, we will make a sun tracking system which will help the solar panels to generate maximum power. In some of our previous articles, we have built simple system to track power generated from solar panel and other solar energy related projects. You can check those out if you are looking for more projects on solar power.
How does a Solar Tracker Works?
You must be wondering how does it work? As discussed earlier, the solar panel should face the sun to harness maximum power. So, our system has two steps, first is to detect the position of sun and second is to move along with it.
Detecting the position of the Sun:
We measure the intensity of light with LDRs using Arduino and compare the intensity of light falling on both LDRs. The LDRs are placed on the edges of the solar panel as shown in the figure below.
Based on the intensity of light on the LDR, we give the signal to the servo motor to cause the movement. When the intensity of the light falling on the right LDR is more, the panel turns towards the right and if the intensity is higher on the left then the panel slowly turns towards the left side.
Consider a scenario of a beautiful winter morning, the sun rises from east side and therefore it has more light intensity than the west side, so the panel moves towards to east side. Throughout the day it will track the sun and by the evening, sun has moved towards the west, hence it will have more intensity than the east direction so the panel will face the west direction.
Components Required for Making the Solar Tracker
- 1 x Arduino Uno
- 1 x Servo motor
- 1 x Solar panel
- 2 x LDR
- 2 x 10k Resistor
- Jumper wires
- 1 x MDF board
Servo motor is used to rotate the solar panel. We are using servo motor because we can control the position of our solar panels precisely and it can cover the whole path of sun. We are using a servo motor that can be operated with 5volt.
Light Dependent Resistor (LDR):
A light-dependent resistor is made from semiconductor material having light-sensitive properties and hence are very sensitive to light. The resistance of LDR changes according to the light that falls on it and it is inversely proportional to the intensity of light. That is resistance of the LDR will increase at high-intensity light and vice versa.
Schematics and Connection of the Solar Tracker
The connection of the circuit is very straightforward. Here, I used an Arduino Uno as controller and connected the 2 LDRs to analogue pin A0 and A1 respectively. Pin 9 of Arduino is connected to the servo motor. Since, we have used a 5V servomotor, we don’t require any external power supply because all the components can easily be powered the Arduino itself. All the connections are shown in the figure below.
Assembling the Solar Tracker
The first step before assembling our solar tracker is to construct the base. For building the base, I am going to use a MDF board. First step is to cut and make rectangular pieces of 128cm and 122cm from the MDF board as shown in the figure.
Then stick 122cm piece vertically to the 128cm piece as shown in the image.
Next step is to attach the solar panel with the servo motor, for that we require the L-shaped contraption. For this, I am using a plastic piece, you can also make this by bending a plastic sheet or aluminum sheet and finally glue the solar panel to your contraption.
Note: If you are going to make a tracker for a large solar panel then you should use different materials for bases such as aluminium or wood.
Now, we need to affix the LDRs on opposite sides of the solar panel and to do that, I glued the LDRs to the panel. Then, I connected the 10k resistors to one any leads of both LDRs and the other side of resistor should be connected to the ground. These are acting as pull-down resistor. Second terminal of the LDRs are directly connected to the 5v output. The output of each LDR, I connected it to A1 and A2 pins of Arduino.
Next step is to connect the servo motor, a servo motor has three wires, i.e. ground, V_in and a signal wire. I connected the V_in pin to the 5volt of Arduino, ground to the common ground and the signal wire to pin-9 of Arduino. That’s all about the circuit.
Now, all we have to do is assemble everything. First, I glued the Arduino on the base sheet. Then I attached the servo motor to the vertical section using glue gun. Finally, I fixed the solar panel with the servo motor’s hand and secured it with a screw.
Let’s see how does the code works?
The complete code for this project can be found at the bottom of this page. First step before writing the code is to download the Servo Library. We need a servo library to control the motion of the servo. The step-by-step explanation of the program is given below.
First, I included the servo library and created a servo object and named it as ‘servo’.
int eastLDR = 0; int westLDR = 1; int east = 0; int west = 0; int error = 0;
Here, I have assigned the analogue pins A0 and A1pins for LDR and declared the variables for sensor values.
This variable is for calibrating the system, if you are using exactly same LDRs on both sides then you can leave it as zero. But if you are using different LDRs then you should use this to calibrate. To calibrate, follow the instruction in next paragraph.
Serial print the sensor values and check the reading of each sensor in the noon or place a light source just above the solar panel. If the reading shows the same values, then you can leave this as it is and if it shows any difference, then you have to copy those values here.
This variable is to store the servo position.
In the section, I have defined the servo pin as pin 9
east = calibration analogRead(eastLDR); west = analogRead(westLDR);
In the loop section, first step is to read the LDR values using the analogue read function of Arduino and store it in east and west variables.
This if condition is for turning the solar panel back to the east side, i.e. if both the LDRs read low value then the panel moves towards the east side.
Here, we calculate the difference between east and west readings. If the error value is positive that means east has more intensity and if the error is negative then west has higher intensity of light. So, according to this error value, we can rotate the servo to the low-intensity side.
If the error is positive and greater than 30, it means that the east side has more intensity. So, initially the system will check the starting position of servo and if it is less than 150 degrees then it rotates to the east direction. You can adjust these angles according to your system.
If the error is negative and less than.30 that means the west side is more intense, hence servo rotates to the west side.
So, that’s all about coding. Now you can open this code on your Arduino IDE and upload the sketch to your Arduino.
I hope that you enjoyed this project. It has a lot of application in real life and it is implemented in a lot of solar farms and individual solar harnessing setups. You can enhance the scope of this project by replacing the 5V servo motor with a high torque servo motor and connect it using a relay and power the servo from an external source. As mentioned above, if you are having bigger solar panels, then you will have to use stronger material such as aluminum for base.
#include Servo servo ; int eastLDR = 0; int westLDR = 1; int east = 0; int west = 0; int error = 0; int calibration = 600; int servoposition = 90; void setup servo.attach(9); void loop east = calibration analogRead(eastLDR); west = analogRead(westLDR); if (east 350 west 350) while (servoposition servoposition; servo.write(servoposition); delay(100); error = east. west; if (error 15) if (servoposition servoposition; servo.write(servoposition); else if (error 15) if (servoposition 20) servoposition; servo.write(servoposition); delay(100);
Design of an Arduino based Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Solar Charge Controller
In this project we are going to build our own MPPT Solar Charge Controller using Arduino and by combining many active-passive electronics. MPPT means Maximum Power Point Tracking Controller. Most solar panels produce much higher voltage than is necessary to charge a 12V battery. A 12V charging panel will actually produce 16 to 18 volts, depending on conditions, but only about 14.6 volts is necessary to charge most 12V batteries. There most of the voltage is wasted. Using the MPPT Charging Technology, we can convert the excessive voltage to current, and hence we can increase the efficiency.
In this article, we will learn about Solar Power Charging Technology and go through MPPT Charging Technology. Later using the Arduino and many electronic components we will design the schematic and PCB for MPPT Charge Controller. Then by writing the Arduino C code, we can program the Arduino Nano to visualize all the charging parameters related to MPPT Solar Charge Controller on a 20×4 LCD Screen. The code has all the parameters and functions to measure Solar Panel Voltage, Current, Power, Battery Voltage, Charger state, SOC, PWM duty cycle, load status.
Later we can test the Charger the whole day and find out whether it is perfectly working or not. This design is suitable for a 50W solar panel to charge a commonly used 12V lead-acid battery. This article is very detailed with a lot of explanation and design methods involved which we shall discuss.
Bill of Materials
We will use the following components in our project to build an Arduino Based MPPT Solar Charge Controller.
You can purchase all the components from the given links.
What is a Solar Charge Controller?
A solar charge controller is an electronic device that regulates the flow of electrical current from a solar panel to a battery or a bank of batteries.
It ensures that the battery is not overcharged or undercharged, which can damage the battery and reduce its overall lifespan. The solar charge controller also prevents the battery from discharging back through the solar panel at night. It is a critical component in a solar power system.
Types of Charge controller
Every solar panel system that has batteries needs a charge controller. Its purpose is to regulate and control the power coming from the solar panels to the batteries to prolong the health of the batteries.
There are three types of charge controllers:
- Simple on-off Controller (ON OFF)
- Pulse Width Modulation Controller (PWM)
- Maximum Power Point tracking controller (MPPT)
On-off controllers are very simple devices. All they do is detect the voltage of the battery bank and turn on or off the power.
Pulse width modulation controllers will charge a little bit faster than on-off controllers, and then they taper down the voltage as the battery gets full. When the battery is full, the controller switches to a float charging profile, which basically just keeps a trickle of current coming into the battery to keep it from discharging. PWM controllers will extend the life of a battery over simple on-off controllers.
Maximum Power Point Tracking Controllers (MPPT)
An MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charge controller is an electronic device that regulates the charging of batteries from solar panels by maximizing the amount of power from the solar panel that is stored in the battery. It does this by continuously adjusting the voltage and current of the solar panel to match the optimal charging voltage of the battery. This allows the battery to charge more quickly and efficiently, and can also increase the overall power output of a solar system.
Maximum PowerPoint tracking controllers are much more advanced and much more efficient than the two above-mentioned older types. These controllers are Smart enough to be able to convert excess voltage into an additional current that normally would be wasted by a PWM controller.
Most solar panels produce much higher voltage than is necessary to charge a 12V battery, or 24 or 48 volts if you have that configuration. A 12V charging panel will actually produce 16 to 18 volts, depending on conditions, but only about 14.6 volts is necessary to charge most 12V batteries. So, the MPPT controller can convert those extra volts into more current, which will charge the battery faster and be much more efficient.
Advantages Disadvantages of MPPT Solar Charge Controller
The MPPT controller can convert those extra volts into more current, which will charge the battery faster and be much more efficient. Another advantage of MPPT controllers is that they can handle much higher voltage configurations of solar panels to help minimize voltage drop or line losses. In other words, you can wire more solar panels in series in order to increase the input voltage, allowing you to run smaller gauge wires or travel much farther distances between panels and the charge controller without big losses. This benefit also allows you to run bigger panel arrays than you normally could with a PWM controller.
So if you’re grid-tied and you want to add some batteries in for backup power, MPPT is the only way you can do it. MPPT controllers are about 94% to 99% efficient, which can be as much as 30% more efficient than a similar PWM controller. However, they usually cost two to three times more than PWM. Because MPPT is still a new technology. They’re also usually much bigger than a PWM controller.
MPPT controllers are critical for off-grid solar panel systems in cold climates or areas with lots of Cloud cover, as they can extract every bit of solar power that’s available. One of the only other drawbacks to MPPT is that they don’t work very well in low light conditions because they have a hard time finding that sweet spot of maximum power. Luckily, those conditions don’t last very long, and it more than makes up for it the rest of the day.
Designing of MPPT Solar Charge Controller using Arduino
Now let us design the MPPT Solar Charge Controller project using Arduino. A lot of calculations and complex algorithms is considered while designing this project.
This project is designed with reference taken from opengreenenergy and asmlektor design. We have modified the design according to our requirements.
The charge controller has the following features:
- Based on MPPT algorithm
- Multiple LED indication for the state of charge
- 20×4 character LCD display for displaying voltages, current, power, load state, etc
- Overvoltage / Lightning protection
- Short Circuit, Overload and Reverse Polarity protection
- Rated Voltage= 12V
- Maximum current = 5A
- Maximum load current =10A
- Input Voltage = Solar panel with Open circuit voltage from 12 to 25V
- Solar panel power = 50W
A solar panel will generate different voltages depending on different parameters like the quantity of sunlight, connected load temperature of the solar panel.
The project consists of many steps and has a lot of design calculations involved. All the steps are explained in this section. Here is the complete schematic for this project.
As the sunlight quantity changes throughout the day. Hence, the voltage produced by the solar panel will constantly vary. Due to the varying voltage, the varying current is produced. The amount of current produced in Amps for any given voltage is determined by a graph called an IV curve which looks something like this.
In this graph, the blue line shows a solar panel voltage of 30V corresponding to a current of about 6.2A. The green line shows a Voltage of 35V corresponds to a current of 5A.
We know that, Power = V x I
In the above graph, there is a point where voltage is multiplied by its corresponding current will yield Maximum power. This maximum power is called Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT).
The Solar Panel used in our project has the following parameters defined as shown in the image below.
Design Considerations Selecting Right Component
For a 50W Solar panel and a load of 12V lead-acid battery, we need to design a Buck Converter. The Buck converter in our case is designed using the Inductor, Capacitor, and MOSFETS. The switching frequency is inversely proportional to the size of the inductor and capacitor and directly proportional to the switching losses in MOSFETs.
Keeping these constraints into consideration the selected frequency is 50KHz. To achieve this frequency, we have used an inductor of 33uH and a Capacitor of 220uF. For the MOSFET part, we used IRFZ44N MOSFET as it is easily available. The IRFZ44N MOSFET Vds and Ids value have enough margin low Rds(On) value. For driving the MOSFET, we need a MOSFET driver IC. The IR2104 Half-Bridge driver is best suited for this application. The IC takes the incoming PWM signal from the microcontroller and then drives two outputs for a High and a Low Side MOSFET.
Working of the Circuit
The Solar Panel voltage is fed as an input voltage. The buck converter is made up of the synchronous MOSFET switches Q4 and Q5 the energy storage devices inductor L1 capacitors C4 and C9. The inductor smooths the switching current and along with C4, it smooths the output voltage. Capacitors C3 Resistor R4 are snubber networks, used to cut down on the ringing of the inductor voltage generated by the switching current in the inductor.
The MOSFET Q3 is added to allow the system to block the battery power from flowing back into the solar panels at night. Q3 turns on when Q4 is on from voltage through D2. R3 drains the voltage of the gate of Q3 so it turns off when Q4 turns off.
The IC IR2104 is a half-bridge MOSFET gate driver. It drives the high and low-side MOSFETs using the PWM signal from the Arduino Pin D6. The IR2104 can also be shut down with the control signal from the D5 Pin of Arduino on pin 3. D4 C6 are part of the bootstrap circuit that generates the high side gate drive voltage for Q3 Q4. The software keeps track of the PWM duty cycle and never allows 100% or always on. It caps the PWM duty cycle at 99.9% to keep the charge pump working.
There are two voltage divider circuits (R1, R2, and R7, R8) to measure the solar panel and battery voltages respectively. The output from the dividers feeds the voltage signal to Analog Pin A0 A2 of Arduino.
The diode D3 is supposed to make the converter more efficient. The diodes D1 D5 are TVS diodes used for overvoltage protection from the solar panel and load side. The MOSFET Q2 is used to control the load. The driver for this MOSFET consists of a 2N2222 transistor Q1 and resistors R5, and R6.
The current sensor ACS712 senses the current from the solar panel and feeds it to the Arduino analog pin A1. The 3 LEDs are connected to the digital pins of the microcontroller and serve as an output interface to display the charging state. The backlight switch is to control the backlight of the LCD display. If the user presses the switch then it will be on for 15 secs and again go off.
Before soldering you should clear about the Power and Control Signal. Do not mix up between them. Otherwise, you will fry everything.
To assemble all the components as per the circuit diagram I used the Zero PCB or a Vero Board.
For our project, I used 24V Solar Panel. The Solar Panel is huge and can collect a large quantity of light. The Solar Panel is connected at the Input Terminal of the assembled circuit. Similarly a 12V, 7Ah Lead-Acid Battery is connected as a battery Terminal. The Load can output the required voltage. The Load can be directly connected to an Inverter or some battery-operated devices.
To power the Arduino Nano Board and some other part of the circuit, a 5V-9V DC Adapter can be used.
Project PCB Gerber File PCB Ordering Online
If you don’t want to assemble the circuit on a zero PCB and you want PCB for the project, then here is the PCB for you. I used EasyEDA to draw the schematic first. Then I converted the schematic to PCB. The PCB Board for this project looks something like below.
The Top Side of the PCB has all the components that need to be soldered.
The Gerber File for the PCB is given below. You can simply download the Gerber File and order the PCB from ALLPCB at 1 only.
You can use this Gerber file to order high quality PCB for this project. To do that visit the ALLPCB official website by clicking here: https://www.allpcb.com/.
You can now upload the Gerber File by choosing the Quote Now option. From these options, you can choose the Material Type, Dimensions, Quantity, Thickness, Solder Mask Color and other required parameters.
After filling all details, select your country and shipping method. Finally you can place the order.
Arduino Source Code/Program
We can use Arduino IDE to write the MPPT Solar Charge Controller Project Code. The code has all the parameters and functions to measure Solar Panel Voltage, Current, Power, Battery Voltage, Charger state, SOC, PWM duty cycle, load status. The 20×4 LCD Display will show the real-time status of this parameters.
Copy the following code and upload it to the Arduino Nano Board.
This tutorial demonstrates how to power your Arduino Uno with a solar cell. Solar cells can be a useful solution for powering projects that require portability or remote monitoring. This tutorial uses concepts drawn from the following resources:
This project requires the following components:
he following steps describe how to set up your Arduino Uno with solar power. As a note, components should be soldered together for stability.
Step 1: Solder M-M jumper wires to the positive and negative (-) terminals of the solar cell.
Step 2: Solder the other end of the M-M jumper wires to the input terminals of the TP4056 battery charge controller.
Step 3: Solder the output wires from the battery holder to the TP4056 battery charge controller B and B- terminals.
Step 4: Solder a second set of M-M jumper wires to the output terminals of the TP4056 battery charge controller.
Step 5: Solder the other end of the M-M jumper wires to the input terminal of the XL6009 – Voltage Adjustable DC-DC (5v-35v) Boost Converter. Use a voltmeter connected to the output terminals to determine the output voltage. Powering the Arduino Uno through the Vin port requires an input between 7 and 12 Volts, so the desired output from the Boost Converter is 9V. The voltage output can be adjusted by turning the knob located on the blue rectangle.
Step 6: Solder another set of M-M jumper wires to the output terminals of the Boost Converter. Insert the other end of the M-M jumper wires to the Arduino Uno with the positive terminal connected to the Vin pin and the negative terminal connected to the GND pin (-).
If working properly, the green light of your Arduino Uno should light up and it should now be ready to use!
Can I connect the solar cell directly to the Arduino Uno?
This is not a good idea for several reasons. Due to variability in sun This is not a good idea for several reasons. Due to variability in sun exposure, the solar cell may not provide a steady stream of power. The Arduino Uno may not be able to draw the maximum power at any given instant from the solar cell. Additionally, the power demands from the Arduino Uno may overload the solar cell. Using a rechargeable battery provides a constant, reliable energy source.
Are lithium-ion batteries safe to work with?
Lithium-ion batteries are extremely sensitive to charging characteristics and can easily catch fire or explode. It is necessary to take precautions when working with these batteries, considering they contain a high amount of energy and volatile chemical content.
The TP4056 battery charge controller works to mitigate the risks of working with lithium-ion batteries. The controller regulates the current produced by the solar cell to protect the batteries from overcharging. The controller detects when the battery is fully charged and can stop or limit the current received by the battery. Additionally, the controller also protects the solar cell by stopping reverse current flowing back from the batteries when there is no sunlight.
How do I choose a solar cell and battery?
The TP4056 battery charge controller has a maximum input of 6V, thus, the solar cell should be at maximum 6V. The voltage of the solar cell should be at least 1.5 times the voltage of the battery. So a 3.7V lithium-ion battery needs a solar cell of at least 5.55V. The current of the solar cell should have 1/10th of the capacity of the battery divided by 1 hour. So a lithium-ion battery of 2000 mAh, should be supported by a solar cell with around 200 mAh.
Why do I need a boost converter?
The power source that connects to the Vin pin on the Arduino Uno has to be 7 to 12 volts for the regulator to work reliably. The Vin pin converts unregulated input voltage to a stable 5V. The output voltage from the lithium-ion battery is 3.7V. A boost converter converter can step up the voltage from its input to its output to meet the desired input range of the Vin pin of between 7 and 12 volts.
Solar Powered Arduino: Can Solar Generator Power An Arduino
Many tinkerers, hobbyists, and makers use Arduino to design and build devices. It’s an open-source platform used for creating electronic projects. The multi-controller board supports multiple power options. However, charging the Arduino becomes a significant concern during remote projects. That’s where a solar-powered Arduino comes into the picture.
A solar Arduino is what it sounds like – an Arduino that runs on solar energy. You can use solar power to keep your Arduino running without relying on traditional sources.
The exact number of watts used to run Arduino depends on the specific model and what it’s being used for. Being a low-power-consuming device, it consumes around 0.3-0.4 watts. Jackery Solar Generator 300 can be a reliable and portable solution to charge these low-power-consuming devices for hours.
In this guide, we will reveal what a solar-powered Arduino is, its types, and how to power it using a solar generator.
What Is A Solar Powered Arduino?
An Arduino consists of a physical programmable circuit board and a piece of software. The electrical device is used by designers, artists, newbies, and others interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
The solar-powered Arduino is used in data monitoring, remote sensing, and data logging projects. The solar panels absorb the sunlight, and the charge controller in the power station converts the solar to a stable regulated voltage to power the Arduino battery.
The Types Of Solar-Powered Arduino
There are four main types of solar-powered Arduino. Let us discuss them briefly.
It is a small and compact board with approximately 22 digital input/output pins, out of which there are 14 digital pins and 8 analog pins. Therefore, Arduino Nano is suitable for projects where space is limited.
Arduino Pro Mini
The Pro Mini version is the stripped-down version of the Uno board with a reset button, 14 digital input or output pins (of which 6 are used as PWM outputs), an onboard resonator, 6 analog inputs, and holes for mounting pin headers. Projects that require a small form factor can use Arduino Pro Mini.
The Uno is one of the best choices for starters. It features 14 digital input or output pins (of which 6 are used as PWM outputs), an ICSP header, 6 analog inputs, a USB connection, a power jack, a 16 MHz ceramic resonator, and a reset button. In addition, it contains components to support microcontrollers. You can power it with an AC-to-DC adapter or connect it to a computer with a USB cable to get started.
Unlike Arduino Uno, it has around 54 digital input/output pins, a USB connection, analog inputs, a reset button, and a power jack. This type of Arduino is suitable for projects that require a bunch of digital inputs and outputs.
Solar Powered Arduino Vs. Solar Generator For Arduino
Solar-powered Arduino and solar generators for Arduino are the two popular charging options for Arduino. While solar-powered Arduino is compact and helpful for small projects, solar generators are known to charge multiple other devices and Arduino.
A solar generator is a powerful power solution suitable for outdoor events, camping trips, or anytime you need power on the go. Let us briefly compare the solar power Arduino with the solar generator for Arduino.
DFRobot Solar Power Manager 5V
Connect the Arduino battery to the solar power manager via battery terminals.
Connect the solar panels to the solar power manager via solar terminals.
Plug the device into the USB port located on Solar Power Manager.
Highly efficient power module
Double charging mode with a USB charger and solar
Features a constant MPPT algorithm
Weather conditions can affect the charging capability
Solar Charge Controller with USB Port
1 Connect the charge controller and the battery via battery terminals.
Connect the solar panels to the charge controller using solar terminals.
Plug the Arduino into the charge controller’s USB port.
Efficient charging and solar system protection
USB ports for charging devices
Limited features compared to the high-end charge controller
Solar Charge Controller with 12V to 5V Converter
1 Connect the charge controller and the battery via battery terminals.
Connect the solar panels to the charge controller using solar terminals.
Connect the 12V to 5V converter to the charge controller using load terminals.
Built-in voltage converter available
May not be suitable for large systems
Solar Generator for Arduino
1 Connect the solar panels with the portable power station.
Plug your electrical device into the power station.
Portable and highly efficient
Can power multiple devices with the help of ports available
Suitable for outdoor adventures and camping trips
Solar Powered Arduino
There are three methods to power a solar Arduino.
DFRobot Solar Power Manager 5V
Those looking to choose an affordable method to power their Arduino can opt for DFRobot solar power manager 5V. It works with a 3.7V lithium-ion battery and does not require any components. You can connect the solar panels with the Arduino to transfer solar energy and power the device.
Solar Charge Controller With USB Port
The solar charge controller connects the solar panels and the Arduino battery. The best part about the method is that it regulates the voltage of the solar panel and current to prevent overcharging and safely charge the battery. The downside of the technique is that it’s costlier than other solutions.
Solar Charge Controller With 12V to 5V Converter
The third method allows you to power the Arduino without a USB port. It is a simple solution to charge an Arduino compared to other methods. You only need a screwdriver to connect the solar charge controller to the electrical device.
Solar Generator For Arduino
Unlike solar-powered Arduino, a solar generator can help you charge an Arduino (and other devices) for long hours. It combines solar panels and an electric battery storage system to provide stable power to all electrical appliances.
Jackery Solar Generators are a reliable green energy solution for powering Arduino or home/outdoor appliances during off-the-grid living. RVing, and home backup. Plug and play button of the solar generator makes it easy to use.
The powerful generator collects, converts, stores, and powers appliances without any installation. All the Jackery Solar Generators come with a pass-through charging feature, meaning you can charge the device while keeping it plugged into the solar panels.
How Many Watts Does An Arduino Use?
Before understanding how many watts a solar power Arduino uses, let us learn what is watt-hour (Wh), milliwatt (mW), and voltage. A watt-hour is the unit of energy represented when an appliance consumes one watt of power in one hour. It is used to measure the energy consumption of larger devices like refrigerators, coolers, AC, etc.
For smaller batteries, a milliwatt-hour is used. One milliwatt-hour is equal to 0.001 watts. As a solar power Arduino consumes less energy, it is generally measured in milliwatt hours. The voltage consumed by Arduino is around 5V, depending on its size, capacity, and type.
An Arduino typically consumes around 286mW and 1282mW of power. When Arduino powers display and uses wireless communication like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, it draws higher power. In sleep mode, the Arduino consumes as low as 230mW.
How Much Solar Power Does An Arduino Need?
The power consumption of an Arduino depends on the type and the purpose for which you are using it. Below we have curated a list of power consumed by Arduino based on different parameters.
Reading (C Tester)
Reading (M Tester)
Reading (Watt Meter)
Length of Time
Daily Power Consumption