Q&A: Can you run Raspberry Pi outdoor continuously on battery power?

pibQ: Can you run Raspberry Pi outdoor continuously on battery power?

A: Yep, no reason why not but you’d need a combination of battery large enough to run for extended periods and a charging mechanism fast enough to recharge the battery during daylight hours.

The best type of battery for this sort of job would need what’s called ‘deep discharge recovery’, which means if the battery is completely drained, it can be brought back to life with a simple charging.

Doing the sums, the Raspberry Pi needs around 5VDC at about 600-700mA of current on its own, depending on the application. If you’re talking about remote outdoor work, you’re not likely going to be processing 1080p H.264 video so it shouldn’t demanding that much power. If you want to ensure the Pi could run for up to 20 hours on a single charge in a worst-case weather scenario, you’d need a battery with 20hrs x 600mA capacity or 12,000mAh (12-amp-hour).

The best type of battery for this work is what’s called an SLA or Sealed-Lead-Acid battery – possibly a 12V/12Ah type – and you can get these for around $55 from electronics retailers.

Now if you want to charge the thing back up again, you’d need a solar panel/charger setup designed to handle SLA batteries to do the job. You’d want something that could deliver around 2A of charge current, which would basically go close to fully charging a 12Ah SLA battery in somewhere around six hours of daylight. A 12V/40W solar panel and associated charger should give you at least two-amps of current and set you back around $150┬ádepending on where you buy. A solar charge controller for a 40W solar panel shouldn’t cost you more than $30.

Of course, you’d need a weather-proof chassis for the Pi but we’ll leave that one to you.

Please note, we’ve not tried this so we can guarantee it’ll work perfectly but this is where we’d start from if wanting to create an outdoor 24/7 Raspberry Pi setup.

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