Most Arduino projects I’ve made were getting energy through my computer’s USB port because I needed it to stay on for a limited amount of time. But some projects required my board to stay on for longer. It could be as long as a day, a week, or even months.
But, how long can an Arduino stay on? Arduino can run 24/7. There’re plenty of options available to power on an Arduino, and each option offers a different amount of time for which it can keep the Arduino powered on.
For instance, if you’re using it as a home security system, your Arduino should stay on 24/7, which means you’ll have to supply it with a continuous source of power, but it also depends on other factors. So, how can you keep your Arduino on, and what are those factors is what I cover in this article.
How do I Power an Arduino?
You can power your Arduino in several ways: using the USB port, barrel connector, or the Vin pins. Powering through the 5V pin is also an option, but I don’t recommend this option.
Let’s take a look at each of these options one by one and see how long they can keep an Arduino board running.
Connecting Arduino to a computer via the USB port is the most common way to power it. Almost all of the tutorials that you’ll find on the internet use the USB port for running Arduino boards.
But, how long can you power an Arduino board using your computer?
In such cases, the project will only work until it gets power from the computer. Once the machine is off, so will your Arduino and your project won’t work.
Another useful way to keep Arduino running for a long time is to power it using a DC adaptor. The circular pin of the adaptor fits into the barrel connector present on Arduino boards and supplies it with a DC level of 12 Volts (usually).
The output DC voltage of an adaptor is printed either below its plug pins or at its back. The voltage regulator embedded on Arduino boards brings the energy down to a level of 5 Volts, suitable for the microcontroller board.
How long can an Arduino stay on when powered by a DC adaptor? Well, as long as the adaptor is plugged in and supplies the right amount of power, your Arduino project will remain on. If several other factors are ideal, the Arduino board can run for as long as you want it.
The most common way to power Arduino is through its USB port, but one cannot power all Arduino projects this way. Some projects require mobility, and that’s where batteries come into action.
With batteries, you have the advantage of mobility at the cost of unlimited on-time. Batteries will eventually run out of power. No matter how powerful a battery is, it will ultimately discharge when used in a project.
Now, you can calculate the exact time that a battery will supply power to your project based on the type of project you’re working on. To see what kinds of batteries you can use in Arduino projects, click here.
Which Factors Can Affect Arduino’s On-Time?
Under ideal conditions, you can keep your Arduino board running for as long as you want through a DC adaptor or a computer.
But practically speaking, several factors contribute to the amount of time an Arduino board can stay on. These factors are:
Power Requirements To Keep Arduino On
The amount of current your Arduino board requires depends on the number of loads connected to it. Some loads, such as LEDs require very less current, while other loads, such as motors, can consume a significant amount of current. The overall current requirement can determine how long an Arduino will stay on for when batteries power it.
Check these two parameters when using batteries– the number of volts they provide and their Ampere-Hour (Ah) rating.
By dividing the batteries Ah value by the number of amperes your project requires, you can obtain a theoretical value of the number of hours these batteries will last.
The actual number of hours will vary a bit, but you’ll get a rough idea of how long the Arduino will stay on.
Quality of Materials
Some energy dissipates as heat when the current passes through a metal. So, how long Arduino stays on also depends on the amount of energy dissipated as heat; in other words, the energy lost.
If you use high-quality components made from pure semiconductor materials, they’ll lose less energy, and your project will run for a longer time.
On the contrary, using poor-quality components, they might burn out quickly and may also destroy your Arduino board.
So, to make sure your Arduino stays on for a long time, invest in the right quality components for your projects.
Another way to keep your Arduino running for a long time is to protect it from power surges by deploying external protection circuitry.
External protection circuitry is nothing more than a combination of diodes and fuses. One can also include relays in some cases.
To learn more about protection circuitry, click here.
Sometimes, Arduino boards stop working when they get stuck in an infinite loop and cannot get out of it on their own.
Infinite loops might happen at any moment because of a clocking error, so most Arduino users include a watchdog timer in all their programs.
A watchdog timer resets the Arduino whenever it’s stuck in an infinite loop, and you can use it to make an Arduino stay on for a long time by avoiding such errors.
For a detailed guide on implementing the watchdog timer, click here.
How to Keep an Arduino On for Long? Maybe 24/7?
Now that you know what factors influence the amount of time an Arduino stays on let’s take a look at some of the ways to keep an Arduino running for a long time.
First and foremost, what every Arduino programmer needs to do is double-check all the connections before supplying power to a project.
It might happen that your Arduino board instantly gets damaged when you switch on the power because you connected an input pin with an output pin or reversed the polarity of the power supply.
Therefore, to save your Arduino from getting fry, get in the habit of double-checking the connections.
Activate Watchdog Timer To Keep Arduino On Longer
As discussed in the previous section, the watchdog timer is a smart programming technique that can keep an Arduino board running for a long time by avoiding infinite loops.
Therefore, you should include it in every project that you make from now on.
Use the Right Components
As discussed earlier, heat dissipation is a primary concern when it comes to electronics. Similarly, if you opt for an Arduino clone instead of a genuine Arduino board because of the price difference, you’re decreasing the lifespan of your microcontroller board.
A genuine Arduino board will run smoothly as compared to a clone; hence, if you want your project running flawlessly for long, then you need to stop leaning towards cheap Arduino clones.
Consider Cooling Options
Excessive heat can hinder the way your Arduino project works, so consider some cooling options for your projects.
Heat sinks are a great way to save electronic components from overheating. Another way is to install a cooling fan with your project to ensure proper ventilation and introduce a cooling effect.
Remember that energy dissipates because of excessive heat production, so to make sure your Arduino runs for a long time, consider some cooling options.
Ready to Keep Your Arduino on?
Now that you know how Arduinos you can keep on your Arduino projects for an extended time, I’m confident you’re ready to put your learning into action and implement what you’ve learned from this article into your next Arduino project.
Keep all the factors as mentioned above in mind and start working on your Arduino project now!
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