Power your Raspberry Pi with a solar panel

Article By : Julien Happich

PiSolMan is a Kickstarter campaign for an add-on board that uses solar power for Raspberry Pi at an overall efficiency of 90%.

In almost every battery-operated system, it is essential to monitor energy consumption at all times. PiSolMan is an integrated electronic module designed to continuously power the Raspberry Pi Zero from a 12V battery and a solar panel. Its compact size and IC make it achieve an overall efficiency of up to 90%. It is also capable of providing key information in terms of current, voltage, power and overall power efficiency.

Proposed as a Kickstarter project starting at €59 ($62.54), the add-on board is compatible with any of the Raspberry Pi models with the 40 pins header and also compatible with any 5V device like Arduino or BeagleBone. Abel Rodriguez de la Concepción, research assistant at Italian university Politecnico di Torino, envisages his board could help others implement solar powered projects with the Raspberry Pi and keep an eye on their overall system power consumption. The electronic engineer cites wireless camera applications as an example.

Such an add-on module could benefit many remote automation systems including for irrigation or IIoT.

"Although the Raspberry Pi Zero energy consumption is relatively small, when adding the Pi Camera module and a wireless modem (3G/4G or Wi-Fi) the situation changes drastically. PiSolMan is capable of powering such a system from solar energy while continuously monitoring and optimising the energy consumption. A weather station in itself does not consume too much power. However, if a Wi-Fi or 3G module is needed, the majority of the power is consumed by these devices. With a simple script running on the Raspberry, the connection could be disconnected and used only when needed based on the power level information provided by PiSolMan," he explained on Kickstarter.

First published by EDN Europe.

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