Is It Possible to Run a Raspberry Pi on Solar Power?

There are many different things you can do with a Raspberry Pi. However, you might not have realized the extent to which it can even help in the fight against climate change.

One simple reason why is that a Pi can use renewable means of sourcing the electricity it needs. This can prove a real game changer when it comes to your Pi creation’s functionality. 

Imagine being able to leave, say, a Pi-based weather station or toy vehicle to essentially run entirely by itself. You could be particularly enticed by the prospect of tapping into solar power, a form of electricity converted from the sun’s energy.

Still, all of this does beg the question of how, in a practical sense, you would be able to set up your Raspberry Pi in such a way that it can regularly draw upon solar power.

Have a Raspberry Pi ready 

That’s obvious advice to provide, but you probably shouldn’t act on the temptation to just reach for some dusty old Raspberry Pi that you have left on a shelf for years.

The Raspians website explains: “We strongly recommend having the latest model of Raspberry Pi if possible, as it will be able to more efficiently make use of solar panels, and will more likely be compatible.”

Select the Right Type of Solar Panel for the Job

Two things you have to take into particular account here are the voltage (V) and the wattage (W). Generally, a solar panel must output at least 5V in order to power a Raspberry Pi. 

Meanwhile, you should heed the following explanation from Circuit Basics: “The wattage and current ratings of the solar panel will determine how fast the battery charges.” 

The site adds, as an example of how this works, that “a 2W solar panel can charge a battery twice as fast as a 1W solar panel.”

In practice, however, the voltage and wattage you should choose for your Pi’s solar panel can depend on the nature of the project as well as what Pi model you will use for it.

Find the Right Battery and Power Management Board 

While a lithium-ion battery can be cheaper and lighter than a lithium-polymer battery, the latter is likely to be smaller and enable you to use space more efficiently. 

You are urged to read SustainableWWW’s comprehensive rundown comparing li-ion and li-po batteries so that you can more easily make an informed choice.

Meanwhile, with a power management board from The Pi Hut’s Maker Store, it is possible to ensure that a Raspberry Pi’s battery charges safely.

Put All of the Crucial Components Together

Once you have got all of the parts you need for your solar-powered Raspberry Pi project, you can obviously proceed to start building it.

That will include first attaching the power management board to the Pi before hooking up the battery and later the solar panel. This panel should be connected to the Pi indirectly, via the power management board, to help prevent you from overloading the battery.