10 Ways to Power Your Raspberry Pi

All the ways you can deliver power to your Raspberry Pi projects

Every model of Raspberry Pi requires a low amount of power compared to a standard desktop PC. Despite hardware improvements, the latest Raspberry Pi 3 only marginally increases its power draw over previous versions.

The Pi 3 has a recommended power supply of 5.1V at 2.5A, which covers most situations. Earlier models demanded a lower draw of 5V at 1A, but in practice, greater amperage is usually preferable. For low-power projects, you can reduce the amperage quite a bit before it affects performance or stability.

Here are 10 ways to power a Raspberry Pi, which you may consider when troubleshooting or experimenting with different projects.

01
of 10

The Official Power Supply

The official Raspberry Pi power supply
ThePiHut.com

While not the most interesting or mobile option in this list, the official Raspberry Pi power supply unit (PSU) offers 5.1V at 2.5A—plenty for most Pi projects.

It's also one of the safest options. With some reports of unofficial or unregulated power supplies burning out, the official PSU is a reliable power solution.

The official supply is made in the United Kingdom by leading power supply manufacturer Stontronics, available in both white and black, and is available for around $9.

02
of 10

PC USB Power

Laptop USB power

Kelly Redinger / Getty Images

Some Raspberry Pi models can be powered from a PC or laptop. This solution may not be a perfect power source because computer USB port power can vary. Also, other attached hardware draws from this power source, but USB is an appropriate option in some situations.

03
of 10

Charging Hubs

USB charging hub
Anker

Similar to the PC USB port, a charging hub can be a convenient and quick desktop power solution for a Raspberry Pi. With recent models offering 5V at 12A+, your Pi should have no problems keeping up with whatever you do with it. This power is shared across all ports.

Prices vary depending on the power and number of ports. The example featured is the Anker PowerPort 6, which retails for around $36.

04
of 10

LiPo Batteries

ZeroLipo board
Pimoroni

Lithium Polymer batteries have gained popularity in recent years because of the small size and impressive specs. Holding voltage levels at a steady rate and storing masses of power in a small footprint makes LiPo the perfect power source for mobile Raspberry Pi projects.

Pi superstore Pimoroni invented a small and inexpensive board for connecting LiPo batteries, which powers the Pi through the GPIO pins. The ZeroLipo retails for $13 and includes low-battery indicators, GPIO warning options, and a safety shutdown feature to protect the batteries.

05
of 10

Spare Batteries

MoPi board
MoPi

If LiPo batteries are out of your budget, make use of your spare batteries. If you have old batteries capable of at least 6.2V under load, wire those batteries into the MoPi add-on board to power the Pi. The MoPi can use anything from old laptop batteries to unwanted RC power packs. It has a smart UI configuration tool to prepare it for whatever battery chemistry you decide to use.

It can also be used as an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) by using mains and batteries at the same time, and it features over-current protection, indication LEDs, and timer-based wake-ups.

06
of 10

Solar Power

Small solar panel for Raspberry Pi

AdaFruit

You may be able to take advantage of the sun's rays and inject some solar power into your projects. Small solar panels have boomed in recent years, giving you a choice of different brands and sizes. The most basic solution is to charge batteries with a solar panel and then connect the batteries to the Pi.

Adafruit Industries makes a couple of great products to help you harness the power of the sun, including the USB Solar charger board and the 6V 3.4W solar panel. There are also solar-powered battery chargers that charge a Raspberry Pi over micro USB.

More advanced setups are possible, including some that continuously charge a connected Pi.

07
of 10

Boost Converter and AA Batteries

Adafruit PowerBoost 1000
Adafruit

Another cheap and easy option is to use a boost converter with readily available AA batteries. These are also known as step-up or DC-DC power converters.

Boost converters take a lower voltage, such as 2.4V from rechargeable AA batteries, and boost the voltage to 5V. Although this solution comes at the cost of the battery's current, it can work well with a Raspberry Pi that isn't connected to power-hungry hardware.

Boost converters have a simple setup with two wires in (positive and negative) and two wires out (positive and negative). A good quality example is the Adafruit PowerBoost 1000, which provides 5V at 1A from source batteries offering as little as 1.8V.

08
of 10

Power Banks

Anker PowerCore+ Mini
Anker

You may own some form of mobile power solution to get your phone through a long day. That same 5V power bank can be used to power a Pi, making it a versatile, safe, and affordable mobile power solution for your projects.

Take a look at most Raspberry Pi robots, and you'll likely see one. The reasonable weight and small size make power banks great for robotics projects, with the added benefit of being easy to charge.

Look for small affordable options such as the Anker PowerCore+ Mini, which retails for around $14.

09
of 10

Power Over Ethernet (PoE)

PiSupply PoE Switch HAT
PiSupply

A good way to power a Raspberry Pi in an awkward location is to use Power over Ethernet (PoE). This technology uses a standard Ethernet cable to send power to a special add-on board fitted to a Raspberry Pi. It has the added benefit of connecting a Pi to the internet at the same time, using special injectors.

The injector combines an Ethernet connection from the router with power from a wall socket. It sends this down a standard Ethernet cable to the Pi's add-on board, which then splits this back out.

The setup cost may be one of the highest here, but it's a good solution for projects that are hard to reach or far from a conventional plug socket, such as Pi CCTV.

10
of 10

Uninterruptible Power Supply

Pi Modules UPS Pico
Pi Modules

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a small battery combined with a clever circuit and the usual mains power. Mains power runs the Pi and charges the battery. When that's disconnected (on purpose or by mistake), the battery takes over, ensuring the power supply is uninterrupted.

A few Pi-specific UPS add-on boards have been released, including the UPS Pico from PiModules, the MoPi (featured in this list), and the PiSupply PiJuice.